Pop culture

5 years after death, Michael Jackson lives on in best viral videos

June 25, 2014 at 7:43 AM ET

Michael Jackson died five years ago, on June 25, 2009, but his fans — and the Internet — certainly haven't forgotten him. If anything, the King of Pop's music is as popular as ever, and provides the soundtrack for numerous viral videos.

From subways to wedding receptions, kid talent shows to college football games, a mix of offerings pays tribute to the singing and dancing that made Jackson one of a kind. Unique treatments of classics such as "Billie Jean" and "Thriller" help Jackson's musical legacy thrive on YouTube, even as newly released music and a moonwalking hologram make it seem like he never left us. 

The sporting types

You've probably seen plenty of high school and college marching bands take on "Thriller." When the Ohio State University band moonwalked across the 50-yard line during a Jackson tribute, they scored a viral touchdown for the ages.

Way above the action on the field, a kid in the stands at a Seattle Mariners baseball game stole the show with his own moves, captured on Safeco Field's giant video screen.

The wedding dancers

The mother-son dance at a wedding is usually a tad slow. For these two, a reserved start quickly gives way to some familiar music — and a loud cheer from assembled guests.

"Smooth Criminal" might not be the label you'd want to wear as a newly married man, but if you can dance this well, the "Bad" will bring plenty of good.

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'Billie Jean' to a different beat

There's no shortage of covers of the 1982 hit, but a couple since the death of Jackson come at the song from interesting angles. Denmark's Bottle Boys quenched our thirst for unique instrumentation by playing the entire song on beer bottles.

Who needs the dancing? The Civil Wars (Joy Williams and John Paul White) put a sexy spin on the song armed with nothing but their sultry voices and an acoustic guitar in this live rendition.

America's got talent

We've all tried moonwalking or popping and locking to varying degrees of success — probably in a time before everything ended up as an Internet photograph or video. Pulling off the King of Pop's moves in front of a bunch of kids and judges takes skill and nerve. High school junior Brett Nichols wowed the crowd at his Turlock, California, school's talent show.

By the time he gets to high school, 6-year-old Jake Rivera could be the world's most popular entertainer himself. "Smooth" moves, kid.

Long live the King

Justin Timberlake would certainly be on the short list of music stars who have taken the baton from Jackson. In "Love Never Felt So Good," it's easy to see how much of an impact one had on the other. "Let me see you move," Timberlake sings, to a fan base that is clearly listening.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, as all of the above have shown. The closest thing to Jackson in the flesh will have to be his hologrammed self singing and dancing on stage in Las Vegas last month. The song is "Slave to the Rhythm," and we're slaves to the technology that keeps Michael alive in our hearts and minds five years later.

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