The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'michael jackson'
What's wrong with the recording industry today (an ongoing series): introducing Sony Music's latest star signing, the late Michael Jackson, whose $250m, 10-album deal dwarfs that of any living musician in history:
Sony and Jackson's estate have already planned a series of releases including an album of previously unheard songs scheduled for the end of this year, a series of Best Of collections and expanded reissues of Jackson's best albums, Off the Wall and Thriller. The Wall Street Journal reports speculation of a Cirque du Soleil show in Las Vegas based on Jackson's music.10 albums. So that's Jackson's half-dozen or so albums "remastered" and bulked out with demoes and remixes in the currently fashionable styles, plus his songs sliced and diced across a number of "greatest hits" albums (presumably each with a unique rarity, requiring fans to pony up for the whole thing to get it; it worked for Warner with The Smiths, though that was in the pre-iTunes age when you actually had to buy the filler), an entire album of unreleased tracks (which will have to be different than the bait placed on the "greatest hits" albums as not to cannibalise sales), and perhaps some tangentally Jackson-related third-party tie-ins. Perhaps they'll do something grisly like digitally splicing Jackson into posthumous duets with up-and-coming Autotune stars or something. (Unfortunately for them, the experimental software for replicating musicians' styles doesn't look like synthesising vocals any time soon, though perhaps virtual-actor technology will soon catch up to the point where we (and, more importantly, Sony's shareholders) can see all-new Michael Jackson albums roll off the production line.) In any case, he's going to be one busy dead guy.
It's not clear what Zombie Michael Jackson will do with the money, though industry sources say that the "fruit and flowers" part of the budget will be smaller than for most living artists. Sony Music (whose fortunes, along with the rest of those dinosaurs of the age of scarcity, the recording industry, have been better in past decades) will presumably have to cut A&R budgets and the development of new artists, but at least they can count on the late Michael Jackson to personally lobby for copyright extension when the time comes around next.
The ghost of Tupac has reportedly instructed his clairvoyants to renegotiate his deal.
John "Kill Your Friends" Niven gets stuck into the blind spot in recent coverge of Michael Jackson's death:
What has stunned me and truly floored me in the past week or so has been the complete sidelining by the entire media of Jackson's later life. Across the board, from every news channel to all the quality papers, there has been wholesale collusion in the notion that "he was a great artist and, yes, there was some, umm, troubling stuff later on, but let's forget all that right now and just celebrate the music".
He went on to say, unchallenged, how there were different Michaels and that he wanted to remember "the Michael who made Thriller and Off the Wall". There were also, presumably, different Hitlers. Some people might like to remember the Hitler who reunited Germany and brought back full employment. Not the later Hitlers, with their "attendant problems". The problem is that people keep on bringing up all the bloody stuff that these other later, more troublesome, Hitlers did. You can probably make a claim for several different Peter Sutcliffes, one of whom was a model employee who was very nice to his mother. The problem is....
I am very familiar with the argument of separating the art from the artist – Philip Larkin was a compulsive masturbator with racist views who loved pornography. The poems were magisterial. Wagner was a boiling anti-Semite. The music is timeless. Now, having racist views, masturbating to pornography, I can guarantee that everyone reading this paper has had some contact with practitioners of these dark arts. I would not venture that everyone is on handshake terms with people who get little boys drunk and then try to abuse them – I'm afraid I can't embrace the good tunes and overlook the "troubling stuff" and the "attendant problems" just yet.
Ultimately one is faced with two options. Either Jackson really was an innocent, a childlike man-boy who simply enjoyed hanging out with young boys, up to and including having them sleep in his bed ("There's nothing more loving you can do," he told Martin Bashir in the infamous 2003 documentary, while Arviso cuddled him adoringly), and that some of these children decided – in collusion with their money-grabbing parents – to take Jackson to the cleaners. Or Jackson was an active, predatory child molester.
Search giant Google confirmed to the BBC that when the news first broke it feared it was under attack.
Before the company's servers crashed, TweetVolume noted that "Michael Jackson" appeared in more than 66,500 Twitter updates.And Farrah Fawcett (whom one really has to feel sorry for; what a way to go) wasn't the only one eclipsed by the "King of Pop" going supernova; the entire Iranian protest movement was as well.
That put news of Jackson's death at least on par with the Iran protests, as Twitter posts about Iran topped 100,000 per hour on June 16 and eventually climbed to 220,000 per hour.(It's probably, in the Blairite parlance, a good day to bury bad news; I wonder whether the Iranian government has taken advantage of this to hastily machine-gun all those pesky protesters into freshly dug trenches while the world's mourning a pop star.)
Michael Jackson's death will almost certainly go down in history as one of those iconic events that everyone remembers where they were when they heard of it, like the Kennedy assassination or the passing of his erstwhile father-in-law some three decades earlier. Only, this time, it happened in a highly networked world, so the recollections will surely reflect this. I first heard of it when I saw someone log into an instant messaging service with "RIP Michael Jackson" as their status. Though one may well have found out about it by reading Wikipedia's revisions page:
(cur) (prev) 22:49, 25 June 2009 TexasAndroid (talk | contribs) m (119,637 bytes) (Removed category Living people (using HotCat))Which is somewhat less ignominious than Wikipedia's summary judgment of non-notability on Steven Wells. (Wikipedia appears to be locked in a deletionist spiral of radicalism these days, as editors prove their hard-headedness and ideological purity by being increasingly ruthless with what is deemed "notable".)
And the Register' article on the Michael Jackson Twitter meltdown ends with some speculation about what's likely to happen in the days and weeks following his death:
We can expect floods of tributes, detailing how Jackson changed the face of pop music (a reasonable claim) was the biggest record seller in history (probably) and invented the moonwalk (absolutely not).
This will be quickly followed by floods of revelations about the singer's murky private life, now that libel restrictions no longer reply - at least in the UK.
But first of all, we can expect a flood of malware spam, likely promising post-mortem pictures of the star's body.The spam, it seems, didn't take long.
And bound for Valhalla today: gonzo music journalist Steven Wells (who wrote for the NME back when it was more interesting), actress Farrah Fawcett (who was most famous in the 1970s) and fairytale prince and self-styled "King of Pop" Michael Jackson.
A guy named Paul Scheer went to the exhibition of Michael Jackson's possessions, which were due to be auctioned, with a camera and took some photos. These have been posted here. It is a grotesquely unique collection, and one betraying the peculiar obsessions of one such as Jackson. There are plenty of portraits of Jackson in fantasy mediæval finery and heroic poses, or presented as various historical figures:life-sized little ginger girl dolls, just far enough inside Mori's Uncanny Valley to give you nightmares.
(via Boing Boing)
Looking for some unique artefacts to decorate your home? Some of the possessions of the world's only living fairytale prince, Michael Jackson, are being auctioned, and they're a peculiar lot:
Jackson surrounded himself with regal finery. There were suits of armour, display cases of custom-made crowns and an ornately carved throne with red velvet upholstering in his bedroom. "King Michael" even had a royal cape, a Father's Day present inscribed inside with a message from his children "Princess Paris" and "Prince Michael". In the lobby of the house was a commissioned portrait of Jackson as a young man in Elizabethan dress, holding a crown on a velvet pillow.
In a nondescript warehouse on the outskirts of Los Angeles, the famed gates of the Neverland ranch now sit against a wall. The interior of the warehouse is littered with the ornaments that once decorated the grounds. There are bronze statues of frolicking cherubs, replica marble busts of Roman emperors, a huge statue of Prometheus that used to sit on a skull near the entrance. On shelves there are child-size diesel-powered race cars that used to zoom around the grounds. There is a Pope-mobile-style electric buggy fitted with tinted windows and stereo system. Another buggy has the King of Pop's face painted on its bonnet.The collection will be toured as an exhibition before it is actually auctioned.
A few controversies from the 8-bit music world: claims that electro outfit Crystal Castles ripped off the work of various chipmusic artists, violating the terms of their Creative Commons licence (though this Pitchfork article clarifies this, stating that the tracks in question were never actually released). Meanwhile, this documentary puts forward the theory that Michael Jackson (yes, that Michael Jackson) wrote the music for Sega's Sonic 3 video game on the MegaDrive/Genesis.
One of the journalists who covered the Michael Jackson trial is going into the wine business, by marketing a brand of wine named Jesus Juice. The label on the bottles will feature a photograph of a Jackson-like figure in a crucifixion pose, wearing one glove and a fedora:
Jackson's lawyers have threatened to sue the winemaker. It is not clear on what grounds: will they claim that Jackson owns the trademark "Jesus Juice", or instead claim false advertising given that it is a wine rather than a sugary alcopop?
Spare a thought for Michael Jackson, found innocent of child abuse in a court of law but guilty of general creepiness in the court of public opinion; his recently released greatest-hits album has sold just 8,000 copies in its first week, a far cry from the zillions of copies of Thriller sold and even the relatively respectable two million copies of his last original album, Invincible. (Remember that one? Me neither.) Meanwhile, the former fans aren't the only ones who don't want to have anything to do with him:
"He came to me a month ago and I turned him down," [PR troubleshooter] Mr Clifford said. "It would be the hardest job in PR after Saddam Hussein and I would be astounded if he could turn things around. "People were extremely offended by even some of the things he admitted in court.Meanwhile, Saddam Hussein, former dictator and bad novelist, has his own courtroom woes, with an unidentified man attacking him in the courtroom.
An image recently found online:
(Posted on the unpopart LiveJournal community, which appears to be a den of Satanists, Nazi-fetishists, serial-killer fans, misanthropes and aesthetic extremists connected with the likes of Adam Parfrey, Boyd Rice and Jim Goad.)
I wonder whether the resemblance between Michael Jackson and Ronald McDonald is pure coincidence or intentional. Ronald McDonald predates Michael Jackson's adult career by more than a decade. Could McDonalds have finetuned their mascot's appearance to be more Jacksonlike during the 1980s (when Jackson was hot property, and was moving lots of units for Pepsi)? (The alternative theory would be that Jackson (consciously or otherwise) modelled his public image on the World-Famous Magical Clown, perhaps to better appeal to children.) Also, could McDonalds' recently announced makeover of their mascot also be an attempt to shed similarities to Michael Jackson (which could be more of a liability than an asset these days)?
This just in: Michael Jackson is not a child molester; just a misunderstood individual with a messianic complex who lives in an amusement park and shares his bed with children. Jackson's fans are acclaiming the verdict as a historic moment (while Jackson's own web site has compared the acquittal to the fall of the Berlin Wall, the birth of Martin Luther King and the release of Nelson Mandela), and it looks like the kingdom of pop is saved from collapsing into anarchy as its king returns.
What will happen to Jackson's career is another question, now that his image has been somewhat tarnished. (For one, the sordidly mundane public revelations of his tastes in pornographic magazines probably won't sit well with the larger-than-life personae he had cultivated, and some of the magic will be gone forever.) Some say that his brand is effectively finished, and his debts will take care of the rest; others are saying that what he needs to do is immediately depart on a world tour playing all the old songs people still hold in reverence.
If the new, post-abuse-trial Michael Jackson is a timid, emasculated creature fearing controversy, then any new music he may make, however much studio gloss and big-name production is applied, won't capture the imagination. In the old days, Jackson flirted with an image of being vaguely dangerous (witness Thriller, Bad and Dangerous and his 1930s-gangster image). Perhaps, by that token, what he should do now to reignite that dangerous frisson would be to take on the role of the Childcatcher in the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang musical?
A map of Neverland Ranch, Michael Jackson's estate/theme park, for those curious about what goes on behind the kingdom walls of the world's only living fairytale prince. Note the graphic of a little boy on the moon (shouldn't Mr. Spielberg's lawyers be on the phone about that?), the usual vaguely Edwardian childhood affectations, facilities run by other friends of children such as Nestlé, and other things (is Club KISS run by Gene Simmons, or does Michael Jackson actually mean "kiss" in the other sense?). Not to mention two train lines, one seemingly leading out of the estate to parts unknown.
(via bOING bOING)
The mother of the boy allegedly abused by the world's only living fairytale prince, Michael Jackson, feared that her children would be abducted from Neverland by hot air balloon. Well, you've got to give him (or her, if she's making it up) points for style.
It looks like Michael Jackson's legacy may be to do for the old-fashioned trappings of childhood (fairgrounds, hot-air balloons, and fairy-tale-style theme parks; all those things seen as somewhat twee, a touch anachronistic, but harmless and innocent), what John Wayne Gacy did for clowns.
Holbrooke said that, while the living Jackson is the leading suspect in the murder investigation, he "could be another victim of some sort." "Basically, we have no idea what type of creature we are dealing with," Holbrooke said.
Allard said he thinks that the imposter broke ties with Jackson's former friends and surrounded himself with children who were too young to notice the radical change.``
"This is very disturbing news," Gustafson said. "But to be honest, it's kind of a relief too. Thriller and Off The Wall are really amazing records. Now I can pull them out of my 'ruined by child abuse' storage bin and start listening to them again."
Momus weighs in on the Michael Jackson trial, painting it as a tragic triumph of warlike Spartan puritanism over a future of limitless, polymorphous opportunity:
One of the reasons the Michael Jackson trial is so unfortunate is that the world of Either-Or will pass judgment on a creature of Yet-Also. The world of clear, unambiguous categories will pass judgment on someone who flies Peter-Pan-like over the binaries that confine and define the rest of us.
Jackson is what all humans will become if we develop further in the direction of postmodernism and self-mediation. He is what we'll become if we get both more Wildean and more Nietzschean. He's what we'll become only if we're lucky and avoid a new brutality based on overpopulation and competition for dwindling resources. By attacking Jackson and what he stands for -- the effete, the artificial, the ambiguous -- we make a certain kind of relatively benign future mapped out for ourselves into a Neverland, something forbidden, discredited, derided. When we should be deriding what passes for our normalcy -- war, waste, and the things we do en masse are the things that threaten us -- we end up deriding dandyism and deviance.
Mind you, from what I heard, the court case is not about Jackson's deviant refusal to fit into binary categories or to obey the stern laws of the joyless, unimaginative "Never-Fly", but about whether or not he buggered some children. And surely if he represents a viable future of humanity and is convicted or otherwise put out of action, some alternative, non-child-buggering manifestation of Homo Sapiens 2.0 will come along and carry on the Great Work. Surely Mankind's salvation from a soul-crushing dystopia of war, sexual puritanism and manufactured mass entertainment doesn't literally rest with one man.
Meanwhile, in the LiveJournal comments for this entry, there is an interesting tangent, quoting a New Scientist article on Michael Crichton's latest book (a thriller which paints the scientific basis of environmentalism as fraud and environmentalists as fanatical terrorists):
When I visited America during my time working for Greenpeace International in the 1990s, time and again people would say to me "we really don't approve of the way your organisation blew up that French ship", or words to that effect. It happened once at the end of a meeting with a lawyer in Philadelphia. He was defending Lloyds of London against a suit filed by Exxon after the Valdez oil spill. He wanted to thank me kindly for all the excellent free technical information I had furnished him with in support of his defence, but he really hadn't enjoyed having to talk to me because my people had murdered somebody in New Zealand.
How could it be, I used to wonder, that Americans got the French secret service's sinking of the Greenpeace ship the Rainbow Warrior the wrong way round so consistently? I encountered the phenomenon in no other country. I never knew why for sure and still don't. Whatever the explanation, it happened so many times to me and my colleagues that I had to conclude it was something cultural.
Which sounds like cognitive dissonance in action. Perhaps, to many people in the U.S., the claims that the French government blew up a Greenpeace ship jar so much with their beliefs about the nature of environmentalism (according to this New York Times article, 41% of Americans consider environmental activists to be "extremists") that they have to mentally correct the "error" in the reported facts, turning them around to make more sense.
Say what you will about The Sun (and I think they cater to humanity's basest instincts; them and the Daily Mail and such), their headline today about a pyjama-clad Michael Jackson arriving late at his trial was inspired.:
It has emerged that Michael Jackson had written a film about a man who transforms into a car for a young boy to drive; Jackson wanted to play the starring role in the film. Isn't there a word for this particular fetish? (via Die Puny Humans)
Michael Jackson joins Nation of Islam, the paranoid black-nationalist UFO cult which seems to be a popular choice with Africa-American celebrities in trouble with the law (see also: Mike Tyson). Maybe if Michael Jackson's music career continues (and, given that Gary Glitter is still releasing CDs, albeit ones that nobody distributes, anything's possible), his output may get less bland and more challenging.
The world is in shock today as Michael Jackson was charged with sexually abusing a 12-year-old boy, believed to have been a cancer survivor relying on Jackson to pay for treatment. Everywhere you go there is a stunned silence as people struggle to come to grips with the possibility of Jackson having done such a thing. And with the King of Pop's career in ruins, the world of pop music has been particularly hard-hit, and now faces an indefinite period of anarchy and turmoil.
In other news, Phil Spector has been charged with murder.
Make your own joke: Michael Jackson is about to release a new single. The song is a ballad, co-written by R. Kelly and titled One More Chance. Really. (via Rocknerd)
Never let it be said that Michael Jackson, for all his eccentricities, is out of touch with important issues in his community. The reclusive pop star recently left his ranch to visit his congressman, demanding more fast-food restaurants in the area. Jackson was wearing a Spider-Man mask at the time; he was quoted as saying "I love Taco Bell".
The Top 10.25 Things Women (genders 1-2.5) Don't Know About Men (genders 3-5): (via friday6pm.com)
Yes, we know the JebJeb can sting you to death if it's brought into the exterior. Yes, we know it lives in your cloaca. But still, we are turned on by the image of you catmating with a 2.5-3 constricted JebJeb. It's just how we are.
And then there's Selections from My Name is Blanket, © 2046 Blanket Jackson:
From observing the children my father invited to the ranch, I assumed that everyone outside of my family had a terminal disease. I desperately wanted to be as ill as them. When I was about to turn 10, he asked me what I wanted for my birthday. I said, chemotherapy.
I spoke about going to college and having a life of my own, like my brother Prince. I wanted to study veterinary medicine. But my questions fell on dead ears. Finally he erupted. No one else is leaving the ranch! No one! His legs were shaking, but he steadied himself and walked across the room to a statue of Apollo, flipped open its marble head, and pressed a keypad hidden in its neck. Sirens went off. The sound of deadbolts locking echoed throughout the room, and great mechanical noises came through the window. In the distance, a hippo lowed.
At the end of the clanking, a moment of total silence. Finally, my father said, "We are a happy family, Blanket."
One-time big-name pop star Michael Jackson is releasing his first album in many years; and attempting to put his freak-show image and child-abuse allegations behind him, has attempted to make it as straight and boring as possible, with any eccentricities swept under the carpet of slick, commercial-strength R&B production. According to The Guardian, however, the result has been not only tedious, but also unintentionally disturbing:
Then there is The Lost Children, a hideous, syrupy sub-Broadway showtune featuring Jackson and an infants' choir. It ends with a fearful child's voice saying "It's so quiet in the forest... it's getting dark, I think we'd better go home now." It's creepy, has deeply unpleasant connotations and is appallingly misjudged.
Make your own joke: Michael Jackson to open the day's trading at the Nasdaq, the battered high-tech stock exchange.
Odd film concept: Michael Jackson to play Edgar Allan Poe in big-budget Hollywood film?