Friday, June 26, 2009

Does the music sound better?

Michael Jackson died today. That's just in case you lost use of all your senses today, have only recently recovered them, and you decided to come here before anywhere else on the web.

Now to be honest it doesn't really affect me much. I don't own any of his CDs, and wasn't a big fan of his growing up. I think I once had a dubbed tape of his "Bad"album - quite liked the song "Dirty Diana". But he was such an enigma that he wasn't real in any sense that he impacted on our lives on a daily basis.

Now take say Madonna - she is still recording, putting out some pretty cool songs, and is in the magazines most weeks. She is a real presence in life - even in that peripheral celebrity fixated sense. If she were to die suddenly, whoah! That would hit me (and probably also because I was a huge fan of hers in the 80s and early 90s). In fact I'm betting a lot more people would be looking at each other at work saying "What?? You're kidding me!?" than what happened today.

Jackson was such a recluse that we'll hardly notice his lack of presence.

When I got home from work on the USA itunes store, 18 of the top 100 singles were by Michael Jackson. A couple hours later he now has 20 songs in the Top 100 (6 in the top 25), and 19 of the Top 100 Albums - (6 of the Top 10). On the Australian version, 14 of his tracks in the top 100, and 12 of his albums are in the Top 100 Albums.

Now what I want to know is why because he has now died would someone who up till this point has not bought Thriller, would want to buy Thriller? But forget Thriller, because that's actually a good album, but why on earth would you now want to buy the "We Are the World" EP? And yet that is now Number 49 on the US chart!

Perhaps people want to have a collective remembrance of his songs, and I know this happens when any famous musician dies (certainly did with John Lennon and Elvis), but I have to say, I don't get it. His last album, Invincible, was released in 2001, I'm thinking if you didn't like what you heard 8 years ago when you decided not to buy it, it'll be much the same now.

His Greatest Hits CD, "The Essential Michael Jackson" released in 2005, only sold 420,000 copies in the USA (by comparison Thriller sold 28 million copies in the US). It is now Number 1 on itunes in Australia and the USA, and will no doubt be one of the biggest selling albums of the year.

Perhaps people subconsciously think that now he is dead no more of his CDs will be made, so they better get them before they run out!

Or perhaps, it's just a case of no publicity is bad publicity - and his death is the biggest publicity he'll have ever gotten.

UPDATE: Woke up this morning - Jackson now has 25 singles in the Australian itunes Top 100 (plus 4 by The Jacksons), and 20 Albums. In the US, he now has 40(!!!!) singles in the Top 100 (plus 4 by The Jacksons) - 11 songs in the Top 20. Last night he had 19 Albums in the Top 100, now he has 23 - including the all of the Top 9! Over on Amazon, the top 16 selling albums are all Michael Jackson ones.

Absolutely amazing. The reports yesterday were that his estate was in debt. I doubt that'll be the case now.

UPDATE #2. Well he now has 42 singles in the US Top 40 (plus 5 by The Jacksons). That's almost 50% of the entire top 100. Truly amazing (though there are a few of double ups - eg 3 versions of "Beat It"). He now has 29 singles in the Australian Top 100.

Whatever you can say, you can't say people didn't like his music.

The general consensus across the world is that "Man in the Mirror" is his most popular track.

I was also thinking that he really is the first major pop singer to die unexpectedly in the itunes era. In the past, record stores would sell out of his records (no doubt JB HiFi have almost been stripped bare). But there is no selling out of stock on itunes. It will be very interesting to see just how many albums/singles he sells this week. I'd say without any trouble he will sell more music this week than anyone ever has.

It is a weird effect - I have to admit almost considering downloading some of his songs - but I found my time much better served by watching a few videos on youtube.

It’s easy to be cynical of people who are feeling absolutely shattered at the moment. But I’d say most of us have musicians with whom for whatever illogical reason we feel a connection with. As I said above, were it Madonna who had died, I'd be feeling a lot more emotional about it all. When someone who you put posters of on your wall when you were a teenager dies, it's hard not to feel a part of your memory has as well.

Music is an amazing thing.

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