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Genius Michael Jackson

Time for Jackson to reclaim his throne

Erald Kolasi, Cavalier Daily Opinion Columnist

IN 2007, the King of Pop will reclaim his rightful throne. According to several reports, Michael Jackson has been working on a new album, to be released later this year, with red-hot performer "will.i.am" of the Black Eyed Peas. Several songs already have been recorded and the album should be finished shortly, which would represent Michael Jackon's first album of completely new material since the release of Invincible in 2001. The most impressive achievement of this album, however, would be to restore Michael Jackson's iconic status and recapture lost glory by transforming the way people think about him, putting the focus back on the music and away from his personal life.

During the 1980s, Jackson was the biggest music icon in the world. Released in December 1982, Thriller, the greatest selling album of all time, defined '80s pop and catapulted Jackson's fame to uncharted heights. According to Guinness World Records, Thriller has sold well over 100 million copies worldwide; no other album even comes close. The King of Pop scored nine number-one singles in the Hot 100 during the decade, more than any other artist. His fame dwarfed that of any other human on the planet; in 1997, a survey found that Michael Jackson was the most famous person in the world, beating out President Bill Clinton and Pope John Paul II, according to his biography on IMDB. God would probably have been the only entity humans recognized more, and God's existence is in dispute!

A series of controversies surrounding his personal life, however, gradually removed the focus from his music, although Jackson continued to have phenomenal worldwide success throughout the 1990s, releasing chart-toppers like Dangerous (1991) and HIStory (1995) along with Blood on the Dance Floor (1997), which became the greatest selling remix album ever. Nevertheless, his activities with children at Neverland Ranch in California received increasingly skeptical attention. In 1993, he responded to accusations of child molestation by settling out-of-court for an undisclosed sum of money. Over a decade later, he stood trial for child molestation, but was acquitted on all charges in June 2005. Following a few travels after the trial, Michael Jackson has returned to the United States and now hopes that those glittering gloves will shine as brightly as they once did.

His chances for continued success are very real, but to better understand the inquiry, the upcoming album must be placed in the context of Michael Jackson's status as a cultural icon, not merely his musical prowess. Once upon a time, almost everything associated with Michael Jackson was, well, "cool," from the moonwalk to the way he adorned his fedora hat at the start of "Billie Jean" performances. As the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame explains, Michael Jackson "enjoyed a level of superstardom previously known only to Elvis Presley, the Beatles, and Frank Sinatra." Today, however, when many people think of Michael Jackson, they are often struck by preconceptions of an aloof individual who did horrible things to his face and molested children. Michael Jackson's iconic image has been heavily bruised, but it's not completely gone, and if anyone has the talent to revive his or her career, it's Michael Jackson.

The 2007 album must seize on that hope that remains to rescue his status by shifting those negative public perceptions. After all, he does not have anything more to prove musically. He has established himself as one of the greatest dancers ever, if not the greatest, and his vocals are legendary, a fact still recognized by will, who has praised the King of Pop's singing and just about everything else relating to Michael Jackson's musical genius. He is one of the greatest selling artists ever, has won 13 Grammy awards, charted 13 number one Hot 100 singles in his solo career, and has set whopping concert attendance records through his global tours.

This effort should be more about history and legacy; unless someone as spectacular as the 1983 Michael Jackson emerges, nothing will ever approach Thriller's success for decades anyway. If all this new album does is get people to start thinking more about his music rather than his personal life, it would have been a success.

Erald Kolasi, Cavalier Daily Opinion Columnist

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