It's probably time for the Michael Jackson media coverage to shift focus to what will happen to his estate and legacy. But before that happens, here’s one last look at both the highlights and the more questionable elements of Tuesday's memorial.
Paris Jackson takes the stage
If the photo of John F. Kennedy Jr. saluting his father’s casket was the iconic image of a son saying goodbye to his father, Paris Jackson’s speech at the Staples Center will become the iconic video of a daughter saying goodbye to her dad. It only took Paris two sentences to spread the message of Jackson as loving father, a message that hadn’t been believably conveyed in her dad’s lifetime. And the candor and bravery she displayed at the mic was most honorable. Paris might not enjoy the media attention she’ll garner as a result, but I can’t imagine it will be a decision she ever regrets.
One ‘American Idol’ sings to another
Numerous celebrities honored Jackson through song, but a very pregnant Jennifer Hudson’s performance of “Will You Be There” was the most majestic of all. Travis Payne, Jackson’s choreographer for the “This Is It” tour, staged the performance perfectly, and producer Ken Ehrlich’s finishing touches — especially ending with a poem spoken by Jackson —completed the piece. An “American Idol” singing to America’s idol became an unexpected passing of the pop torch.
‘We Are the World’
Originally written for a supergroup of artists that included Jackson, Willie Nelson, Tina Turner and Billy Joel, “We Are the World” might be the singular song that resonates with every Jackson fan alive. It came along in the mid-'80s, prime time for both the Jackson 5 and the “Thriller” fan bases, and is iconic enough to serve as a reference point for fans who weren’t even born when it debuted. When it was sung at the memorial, a crowd of 19,000 found common ground. Jackson would have been proud.
Shaheen Jafargholi’s performance
Michael Jackson had handpicked 12-year-old “Britain’s Got Talent” finalist Shaheen Jafargholi to appear in the planned “This Is It” concerts, but there’s a tremendous difference between being a competent enough showman for a concert and a credible performer for a tribute. Jafargholi sang “Who’s Loving You” without any of the soul that so impressed Smokey Robinson when Jackson performed it at the age of 10. Not to mention, you have to wonder if this wasn’t some sort of hint that Jafargholi could find his way onto Joe Jackson’s record label. Enough said.
Dancing, or lack thereof
Michael Jackson’s dancing was every bit as responsible for his iconic status as his vocals. So why wasn’t there more choreography in the celebratory moments of the memorial? I’m not talking about an imitation moonwalk, but didn’t the dancers from the tour actually dance, not just sing, as they did during “We Are the World”? His fabulous footwork is a piece of Jackson’s legacy that is imbued in modern music videos to this day; it would have been nice to see it at the memorial.
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee
It might be a stretch to say that the remarks from Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas were too great an overlap between church and state. However, the flow, tone and tenor of the memorial was not one where it was appropriate to announce intentions to introduce a House resolution, regardless of its intention and connection to Jackson.
All that said, the memorial remains a 90-minute lighting strike in a bottle. What a fantastic, human tribute. Jackson was flawed, but those flaws are what separates an icon from a role model, and that’s OK. His influence remains the same regardless, and I remain honored to have experienced firsthand the memorial to the “King of Pop.”
No Jackson birthday concert?No official decision regarding a Michael Jackson tribute concert has been made, and it doesn’t look like one is likely in the short term.
The original idea for such a tribute was announced by Kenny Ortega at a private gathering of cast and crew of the “This Is It” tour on June 26, the day after Jackson’s death.
Ortega said that Jackson would have wanted his message to be seen, and that the concert planned for London would thus live on as a special tribute show using the same rundown, choreography, and where possible, wardrobe.
A source very close to the tour confirmed this chain of events on June 27, but now, it appears the idea is just that — an idea.
“It’s entirely up to the family,” said a rep for concert promoter AEG, “and right now is not the appropriate time to approach the family about when and where they’d want to do such a thing, if they wanted to do it.”
The event could have included as many as three concerts, tentatively beginning on Aug. 29, which would have been Jackson's 51st birthday. As of June 27, the location for the shows was to be Staples Center, where “This Is It” rehearsals had been taking place, but recently the idea of doing the tribute in London was floated.
As for when the family might make a decision, a rep for the family said “no comment.”
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