There is a name in music that will always be known no matter what kind of music you listen to. The name that comes to mind for me is the late and great Michael Jackson. The man was literally a genius. If a beat would come into his head he would be able to sing each and every note so that each note was precise and according to his artistic vision. If that isn’t a musical genius I honestly do not what is. Jackson could sing, write music, dance (obviously), and act. As I listen to his music 6 years later after his death, it honestly doesn’t even feel like the man is gone. Jackson made so many timeless records that you can’t really put a date on it. What makes him such a special artist is that he had a record for every kind of emotion you had throughout the day. We’ve all has those “She’s out of My Life” days to those “Why You Wanna Trip on Me” days, and even those “You Rock My World” days. Jackson even had songs dealing with the world’s problems. “They Don’t Really Care About Us” comes to mind when I think of songs that showcase our world’s problems. Take that how you will. Nevertheless Michael Jackson is a musical talent that left his mark on the industry as an artist that was not only known the world over, but had more hits than most Pop and R&B artist could ever hope to achieve. The man also had a heart of gold, always giving to charities, helping children, and people all over the world. Privately, Jackson was also quite the funny and caring man. I wish such a talent did not have to leave this earth, it feels weird even after all these years saying he is no longer with us. But like many great musical geniuses, in my lifetime or not, I feel they are in some musical heaven somewhere, taking care of us music makers and lovers from afar. With that being said this top 8 list is dedicated to the beautiful and amazing Michael Jackson. You may be gone, but your voice still remains in my ears and in my heart forever.
1. “Slave to the Rhythm”
Before anyone goes saying that “You are only saying that because that’s on the tribute CD”, let me be clear that this takes the number one spot because of the lyrics and the beat. The song is sad and depressing lyrically on so many levels, I realize this. But the beat disguises this song as a dance record rather than a song to be sad and depressed over. This is why I feel this deserves the number one spot, as the song can be taken at so many different angles yet still be a song you jam to on your car.
2. “Why You Wanna Trip on Me”
This song takes the number two spot for three reasons. One, that guitar solo in the beginning is amazing. Two, the beat is energetic but not to the point where it becomes obnoxious. Third, lyrically is real, relatable, and hits hard emotionally. One cannot help but feel that Jackson at the time was dealing a lot with the media and while other major things were happening in the world, they were more focused on him. A lot of people can identify with this on many levels where it seems like people are more focused on your life than you are. Which is why this makes the second spot on this list.
3. “Loving You”
“Loving You” is great song because it brings a feeling of nostalgia with magical undertones. It takes us back to a simpler time, whether we were born when this song was made or not. As with the last two songs, the lyrics are what definitely pull you into this song. “Hello August moon, where are the stars of the night? You promised me too soon cause it’s been cloudy all night.” Michael Jackson was a big reader, so there is no doubt in my mind that he had a writers brain when you get beautiful lines such as this one right here. It’s a beautiful love song that even makes tomboys like me weak in the knees. As a writer and poet myself, this will always be a favorite to me.
4. “Love Never Felt So Good”
What is there not to like about this song? The highly instrumental backtrack to the vocals of this song is what really makes this song come alive. I don’t know a person alive that will not get up and dance to this song, and I’m not the best dancer in the world. Not to mention, it really feels good on the vocal cords when you sing it. It’s no wonder Justin Timberlake can sing the pants off this song. For me this is one of the best songs Jackson has ever done.
This is a great song on so many levels, main reason being it’s Jackson in his young age. This came at a time where Jackson was really starting to come into his own as solo artist, having already 5 albums under his belt at the time this hit came out in 1982. It also has to be understood that the song came out after his fifth album Off The Wall in the 70’s, which would have been a tough album period to beat at the time. The beat is infectious and really gets you moving. Easily put, if you haven’t listened to Michael Jackson, this song is a good one to start off with. Quite easily, Thriller was huge success with 7 songs from the album reaching number 1. So if that doesn’t prompt you to take a listen, I don’t know how else to communicate how great this album really is and I was not even born when this came out. It goes to show you that good music never dies, only gets better with age.
6. “They Don’t Really Care About Us”
Another song with an important message behind it all. Funny how songs from the past can still be highly important in the future, especially with what is going on in the Unites States today and gun violence. He warned us all back then what this would do to our country, but like most warnings, we catch on to them too late or quite often not at all. This timeless song shares a big message that every generation should learn from.
7. “You Rock My World”
Quite easily one of the best songs on this list not only because it’s a great song, but also because the song has such a great video. Michael always had a knack for creating a theatrical experience with all of his music videos. We need not only look at music videos like “Thriller” and “Remember the Time” to convey this. It is for this reason that this is number seven on my list.
8. “She’s Out of My Life”
I had a tough time in deciding between this song and “Slave to the Rhythm” being the First of last song on the list. This song is on the list because it is such an emotionally taxing song to listen, sing, and perform. It is very hard for all of these things to happen with one song. It is often said that Michael even had a hard time even singing the song himself, as he always resulted in crying either in between the song or right after he had finished singing it. I feel you can almost hear that pain in his voice even in the final version of the song at the end in the actual record. Sometimes a song is so powerful, it can do a number on your emotions. This is one of those songs, and one I find myself listening to constantly because it is such a powerfully emotional song lyrically and musically.