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by Oscar van Duijn
The King Of Pop is back again! With a new album entitled "Invincible" and a brand new single called "You Rock My World," Michael Jackson tries to conquer the world of pop music once more.
It has been a while since we last heard from him on the musical scene. However, it is never truly quiet around this man, as he seems to be surrounded by lots rumors most of the time. For instance the new album has been subject to much speculation thanks to its budget and huge expectations of the public and Sony, who wanted "another Thriller."
The controversy around Michael Jackson seem to have divided the world into two camps: those who admire the man for his music, and those who'd prefer to use the term Wacko Jacko. Now which camp will gain more members after people get their hands on "Invincible"?
Michael Joseph Jackson was born on the 29th of August 1958, the son of Joseph and Katherine Jackson. He had seven elder brothers and two younger sisters. Michael's father founded the infamous Jackson Five when Michael was at the tender age of five.
Together with his four older brothers Jackie, Jermaine, Marlon and Tito, they were signed to the Mowtown label. The band became a huge success, with young Michael being the centerpiece of the group. His unique voice and childlike innocence soon captured the hearts of millions. This didn't pass by unnoticed and it was therefore no wonder that Michael soon was given the opportunity to develop all kinds of solo activities next to his appearances in The Jacksons (the new name that the brothers had adopted in 1976 when they moved to Epic).
The first well known solo album of Michael came in 1982 and was called "Thriller." It was the best selling album ever at the time. The singles that were released from it (such as "Thriller," "Billy Jean" and "Beat It"), were all accompanied by videos that seemed to be short movies rather than music-videos. It was a live performance of the song "Billy Jean" where Michael also first performed his famous Moonwalk for the first time. This would also be the title of his autobiography (1988) and a movie about his life ("Moonwalker"). Book and movie were attempts to correct to the media, which told so many lies an rumors about him.
But before that, Michael first teamed up with Lionell Richie to write the USA For Africa song "We Are The World." He also released another hugely successful album entitled "Bad" (1987), from which each song was released as a separate single. The album was followed by Michael's first huge world tour.
In 1991 Michael's next album followed called "Dangerous," which didn't live up to it's high expectations. The album "HIStory : Past, Present and Future Book I" did, however, riding on the success of old songs like so many artists did in the second half of the 1990's. In 1999 Michael released his latest album to date called "Blood On The Dance Floor." The album featured the long awaited duet of Michael with his sister Janet. It was part of the album with the same title, featuring also the songs "Ghost" (again with a video that resembled a small movie) and "Morphine."
But with the life of a star also the rumors come, especially when your star status reaches that of mega-star, which Michael's easily did. The tabloids were eager to write something, anything about him. Infamous are the rumors about his skin disease. Michael suffers from a rare skin disorder called vitiligo, which gives him a pale look. Also the oxygen tent, in which Michael supposedly sometimes remains, is subject for many articles.
His love life is a subject on its own. In 1994 Michael married Lisa-Marie Presley, a marriage between the King of Pop and the daughter of a pop legend. If that doesn't feed the tabloids, then what will! Michael supposedly married Lisa-Marie to deny speculations about his abnormal sexual preference. The marriage couldn't handle the pressure that was being put upon it, and in 1996 the couple divorced.
But instead of suffering from a broken heart after the divorce, Michael remarried that same year with Deborah Rowe. The couple have two children, Prince Michael Junior and Paris Michael Katherine. In 1999, Michael's second marriage also ended. This was reason enough for the media to speculate if the whole thing wasn't pre-arranged by Michael. He wanted to have children but not a wife, so he made up a contract being able to get rid of Deborah after she finished her "job."
His fascination with children on itself has not passed by on the media. Regularly Michael invites groups of children to visit him on his Neverland Valley Ranch in California. The media like to speculate what's going on in there, up to debating the man's sexual preference!
Fact is that in some cases Michael gives the media every reason to speculate. He usually appears before the camera with his face covered with a handkerchief, sunglasses and a big hat. Also, everyone who is allowed to visit the Neverland Valley Ranch, first has to sign a contract stating that he or she will not tell a living soul about what he is about to see and hear there. No wonder the media start speculating on what is going on in there.
And not only the media try to ride along with Michael's success. A lot of people are trying to be successful at the cost of this man. Take for example professional prankster Weird Al Yankovic. His parodies of "Bad," called "Fat," and "Beat It," called "Eat It," made him famous throughout the world. Of a more recent date is the cover of "Smooth Criminal" by Alien Ant Farm. Whilst the band made a reasonably good rock version of the song, in the video the band can't refrain from mocking Michael. His moves as well as images from several videos Michael shot, are repeated with exaggeration to make it funny.
Michael tries to fight the media. His song "Just Leave Me Alone" is the proof of that. In the song he asks al the media to stop spreading lies about him. Unfortunately this only leads to more speculation. The fact that in the video, the reporters were depicted as drooling dogs didn't help matters. Unfortunately, the media gets distracted too easily. Not many people know, for instance, the good work Michael does with his "Heal The World" foundation. With this foundation, Michael shows his concern for children and the environment.
It seems Michael's new solo album ,"Invincible," has been released against a world of prejudice either good or bad. Will it truly climb the charts and stay up there invincibly for a while? Or will he lose out to younger acts? Fact is that Michael has been working very hard to get the best out of himself for this album, inviting many top producers and adopting many concepts.
So what will it be, King of Pop or Wacko Jacko? Most of the people have probably made up their mind already. It is a shame, because this way he does not get a chance to prove himself. We must take into consideration that Michael never knew a different life than that from a famous pop star. He has been in seen and heard by millions since he was five years old, that is bound to get anyone a bit twisted.
The man simply doesn't know what it is to lead a normal life. But at the same time, we shouldn't believe everything we hear about him in the media. The tabloids make huge amounts of money on spreading rumors, and they have got an easy shot at Michael, who doesn't seem to be able to adequately defend himself against it. As for his music, we should have a keen eye and an open mind about it, as Michael has surprised the world more than once with it.