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YMMV: Michael Jackson
  • Author's Saving Throw: HIStory didn't go over very well, as there was no way to buy it without also getting the Greatest Hits Album that comes with it, so Michael decided to create Blood on the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix, which has some new material, as well as remixes of songs from HIStory, so that songs would both get more exposure to people who didn't buy the album, and still be something new to listen to for the people that did.
  • Broken Base: Bad rep aside, there are fans that prefer his pre-Thriller work and some like his work up until HIStory, the first post-allegations album. Oh, and some who like it till the end, including Invincible.
    • Whether or not Bob Fosse had a influence on the Billie Jean dance.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: The Memetic Molester jokes, at least during the year or three Too Soon grace period.
  • Ear Worm: Most, if not all, of Michael's songs are very catchy and can be identified within the first few notes.
    • Casual music listeners of all kinds may not be able to identify the most sampled drum beats of all time (such as the Amen Break or Funky Drummer) but they know when "Billie Jean" is playing.
  • Epic Riff: "Beat It." Just "Beat It."
    • The bass riff in "Smooth Criminal" too.
    • And the opening synth piano to "Leave Me Alone".
  • Epileptic Trees: Considering the guy's strange life, it can generate all manners of theory, particularly about his death.
  • Even Better Sequel: Off the Wall? Awesome. Thriller? SUPER AWESOME.
  • Face of the Band: He pretty much was the only significant member of the Jackson 5.
  • Family-Unfriendly Aesop: The public relations folks at Motown taught Michael and his brothers that it was okay to lie for the sake of their image.
    Ed Sullivan: How old are you, Michael?
    Michael: Nine. (He was eleven.)
  • Fanon Discontinuity: The first four albums of his solo career, Got To Be There, Ben, Music & Me, and Forever, Michael, were made under the Motown banner and Michael himself didn't have creative control. Thus, some fans often do not consider them a part of his official solo catalog. He would get complete creative control with the move to Epic Records, starting with his next solo album Off The Wall.
    • His posthumous album, Michael, especially considering that the authenticity of some of the tracks was questioned.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: The Thriller video became scarier by the mid-2000's when the real appearance of Michael mimicked his zombie makeup.
    • And of course, there's the fact that now he's actually dead, which has just launched roughly a billion or so of these moments, from the amount of parodies and jokes at his expense over the years. Of course, there's a limit to how much it applies, given that he's presently dead as opposed to undead like in the music video.
      • There are t-shirts originally printed for his upcoming tour featuring Thriller zombie Jackson with the words "This is It" (the name of the tour) emblazoned across them. They didn't go on sale until after his death.
    • There was a painting done by artist Dana Schutz, called "Autopsy of Michael Jackson". It was painted in 2005.
    • In This Is It, the new video for "Thriller" ends with Michael and the other zombies ascending into heaven...
    • In "They Don't Care About Us", these lyrics are sung by Michael:
    "Beat me, hate me / You can never break me / Will me, thrill me / You can never kill me"
    • The best "Funny Aneurysm" Moment came almost two decades before his demise, and had absolutely nothing to do with his death. Say hello this cover to Disney Adventures's June 1993 issue. Michael's smiling and hoisting Pinocchio on his shoulders, and there's the promise of things the reader (probably) didn't know about Michael Jackson. This was a mere two months before the disturbing sexual abuse allegations became public and shone a whole new light on the cover.
    • Michael Jackson claiming "I'm not like other guys" in the music video of Thriller is very funny in the light of everything that happened to him next, to the point that it could be called Captain Obvious.
    • When Michael sang "Man In The Mirror" in 1987, about changing the world by starting with yourself, his facelifts had already significantly changed his own view in the mirror, and considering he just kept on changing his face...
      • For that matter, his unwillingness to stop spending so much of his time with young boys despite advisors' and friends' warnings that it looked bad would lead to his career's ultimate implosion at the Turn of the Millennium.
    • Just before his death, Q magazine published an article questioning whether or not his fragile health could take the strain of another tour.
    • Michael singing about the things that begin to beginning to "notice boys you like" during his 1991 appearance on The Simpsons. It's a song about the changes an eight-year-old girl goes through, but, still.
    • "Billie Jean" (in which Michael's character is dogged by rumors that he had children out of wedlock) became a lot more ironic once Michael had children and was dogged by rumors that they weren't his.
    • "Off The Wall" qualifies too. If there was ANYONE (other than Elvis Presley before him and Kurt Cobain later) who needed LESS craziness and MORE 9-5 everyday normality in his life, it was Michael Jackson.
    • The bridge of "Give In To Me" all but predicts the joke he would become later in life and has the chilling line "You won't be laughing, girl, when I'm not around"
    • In the music video of 'Leave Me Alone', there a scene with a newspaper where it says Michael Jackson frozen for 50 Years. Granted it said he was frozen but still...
      • "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)" became this after the pedophilia allegations. The video for "The Way You Make Me Feel" features Michael following a woman around and coercing her into getting into a relationship with him.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: As popular as he was in the United States, he was more popular in other countries (including Germany) due to the negative press being not as bad there. In the end, while he had tours for Dangerous and HIStory mounted, they did not include stops in the continental U.S.; he was planning for the Dangerous tour to reach the U.S., but then the first round of abuse allegations arrived. His This Is It tour was planned to be exclusively held at a single stadium in London.
    • It should be noted that the negative press was bad in the UK and he was a running joke (the song "One More Chance" coming at the height of his second pedophilia allegations didn't help), but most people simply didn't care and wanted to hear the songs and witness the guy on his last tour.
  • Glurge: He wrote a book called Dancing the Dream about, as a reviewer summarized: "a fanciful collection of poems, reflections and photographs that champions kids, endangered species, the homeless, AIDS victims and planet Earth."
    • Ghosts and "Earth Song" also qualify, especially the notorious Brit Awards performance of the latter in 1996 (see Messianic Archetype on the main page) which Pulp's Jarvis Cocker crashed at the midway point.
    • There's a lot of this in the rabid fandom too — the website Inner Michael is completely devoted to propping him up as a shining exemplar of humanity who was pure and perfect, a helpless victim of the evil-hearted folk of the world who displaced their vileness onto him by distorting his forever-innocent behavior.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: The song "Morphine". Made in 1997, it was about his addiction to prescription drugs. Even when he was alive it was pretty chilling. But now that it is suspected his death may have been linked to use of prescription drugs, and that's when it became downright scary.
    • There's also Harsher in Hindsight if you watch Ghosts, which is about Michael's character's house being raided by an angry mob of people who hate him because he's strange. At the end, he asks them if they still want him to go and the mob leader says yes. He says something "Fine, I'll go" and pounds himself into dust on the floor. It was just a ruse on Michael's character's part, but it's still creepy as hell now that the guy is actually dead, especially considering how much of his poor mental state and isolation was due (from his perspective) to people treating him like this.
    • Then there's the fact that his never-performed 2009 comeback tour was to be called This Is It.
    • His 1995 song "Tabloid Junkie" has a disturbingly prescient line about the tendency of media to hypocritically Never Speak Ill of the Dead: "If he dies, sympathize".
    • And this.
  • He's Just Hiding: When his death was announced, several people thought he was staging it in order to boost his sales and a lot of fans believed/still believe he is actually still alive.
  • I Thought It Meant: Smooth Criminal is often used as a nickname for Michael and a lot of people think he is the title character in the song and music video; the title character is an unseen scumbag who has beaten up (possibly to death) a woman named Annie in her apartment. It's quite a bit darker than its often remembered as too.
  • Memetic Molester: In the eyes of sizable chunk of the population, with another sizable chunk being offended on his behalf, and a third sizable chunk sick of hearing about it one way or the other. It didn't help that Michael was an emotionally regressed child who on several occasions proved that he didn't understand why a 40 year old man having sleep-overs with children might be considered inappropriate by the population at large. Jackson also told people to stop criticising him instead of stopping doing the things they were criticising him for, which is very much the mentality a child and/or autistic has.
  • Memetic Mutation: HEE HEE!
  • Mondegreen: Ask ten people what the lyrics to "Smooth Criminal" are, and you'll likely get ten different answers.
    • Also, the repeated cries of "cha-mone!" in his songs are actually, if one cares to but look at the printed lyrics in the album sleeve of the "Bad" CD, just Michael unclearly singing "come on!"
    • Generally, Michael Jackson's lyrics are sometimes hard to discern.
  • Narm Charm: Is Michael's vocal style way over the top and flamboyant? Yes, that's part of what makes his music great.
  • Needs More Love: Many fans agree that the Invincible album is terribly underrated. It was voted the best album of the 2000s in a Billboard magazine reader survey at the end of '09, though that was clearly influenced by Jackson's passing.
    • HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I is another one. The second disc is pretty solid, with favorites such as "They Don't Care About Us", "Stranger in Moscow", "You Are Not Alone", "Earth Song" and the Janet Jackson collaboration "Scream". Unfortunately, to this day it's only available on CD bundled with a greatest hits album, which makes it significantly more expensive than Jackson's other albums and is probably part of why it didn't sell as well as hoped.
      • The CD was bundled with that greatest hits album with the intent of making it sell better: the producers were targeting newcomers that didn't buy Michael Jackson's precedent albums and they wanted to take no chances after his reputation was soiled by the child molestation case.
      • It still sold enough to be considered, alongside Pink Floyd's The Wall, to be one of the best-selling double albums of all time.
  • Never Live It Down: "I liked him until he became white."
  • Older Than They Think: Many people think Michael invented the moonwalk, but Jazz musicians like Cab Calloway were doing the move as "The Buzz" as far back as the 1920s.
    • He also did not invent the story-driven Concept Video; George Harrison (see 1976's "This Song") and David Bowie (who was doing them at the end of The Seventies) are just two artists who predate him in that area.
    • Nor did he invent the one-glove look. That one dates back to 1920 and Enrico Caruso, arguably the King of Opera, after an apparent stroke crippled his right hand. He even joked that people would just see it as a way of getting publicity.
    • However, this is averted in that he did invent the equipment for the famous leaning move in the "Smooth Criminal" music video. You can read the official patent for it yourself.
  • Protection from Editors: Why Dangerous, HIStory and Invincible ended up how they did.
  • Sequel Displacement: As noted above, it's usually acknowledged that his solo career starts with Off the Wall, which marks his departure from Motown to Epic Records.
  • Signature Song: "Beat It", "Thriller", "Billie Jean", "Bad", "Smooth Criminal" or "Man in the Mirror".
  • Snark Bait: His last album Invincible, which was actually followed by his career bottoming out as he left Sony. The typical joke was/is to say "Ha! MJ is certainly no longer invincible!"
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: His entire life dropped two anvils - child abuse is bad, and dealing with fame is hard.
  • Stuck In Their Shadow: With the exception of Janet, who launched her career in 1982 but didn't hit it big until '86, no one seemed to care about Michael's siblings once he became a megastar.
  • Suspiciously Similar Song: The "Stranger in Moscow" tune seems to be a suspiciously similar version of the ending music theme of Sonic the Hedgehog 3.
    • Which is unsurprising, given that Michael Jackson was originally hired to compose music for the game. He backed out when he found that the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive could only produce a limited number of sounds, although not before composing some tracks that ended up in the final game (and were replaced for Sonic 3 and Knuckles)
    • Also, the guitar riff of "Black or White" is similar to that of The Rolling Stones' "Rock and a Hard Place."
      • Which is itself extremely similar to that of the Stones' own "Brown Sugar." It's a very regularly recycled riff in classic rock.
    • The vocal melody sounds strikingly similar to that of the Duran Duran song "Hungry Like A Wolf".
    • It actually sounds a lot more like the riff to John Mellencamp's "Hurts So Good." In fact, some listeners born after about 1980 might hear "Hurts So Good" nowadays and think, "Hey, 'Black or White'!"
  • Tough Act to Follow: Thriller and its followup Bad
  • Uncanny Valley: Michael's plastic surgeries steadily pushed him into this.
  • Vindicated by History: Blood on the Dance Floor and some of his other later works were re-examined after his death and found to be actually quite good. Most critics came to the conclusion that they had been dismissed at their time of release because of Michael Jackson's increasingly bizarre behavior and the horrific allegations that had been thrown at him.
    • "Morphine" especially was given a sudden burst of publicity and acclaim after word spread that it was essentially an open confession of the drug use (right down to the name of the drug) that would later kill him.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: "Black or White" and "Remember the Time".
  • Vocal Minority: His U.S. fanbase from 1994 onward, best summed up by the throngs that hung out around the courthouse during his 2005 trial and the small, stunned crowd which gathered outside the hospital where he died shortly after it was reported that he was there (and before it was announced he had a heart attack, was in a coma or dead).
  • Wangst: "Childhood" is just one example, and it comes complete with the lyrics "No one understands me"! Even his friends remember how prone he was to wangst.
  • What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?: He toed the line between this and What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids? He started out as a squeaky-clean child performer with the Jackson 5, a group that got their own Saturday morning cartoon, and as an adult cultivated a family-friendly Friend to All Children image. He narrated an E.T. storybook album, made Captain EO for the Disney Theme Parks, contributed songs to the first two Free Willy movies, and frequently pushed messages of nonviolence, peace, and charity in his work. His 1993 Super Bowl halftime performance ended with him surrounded by hundreds of tykes as he sang "Heal the World". He was well aware that he was a hero to kids. Yet much of what he aimed at them was less than family-friendly by conventional standards.
    • His most famous solo song, "Billie Jean", is about an affair that may or may not have yielded a child. Similar "evil woman" songs appear on other albums.
    • "Thriller" and its spiritual successors have horror themes that are extensively played out in the "Thriller" video and the short film Ghosts.
    • In Moonwalker, the longest segment of the film is "Smooth Criminal", in which he plays himself as a superhero saving kids from an extreme version of The Aggressive Drug Dealer. The song itself is about a woman's murder, and in the Gangsterland dance segment featuring the song, he beats up or outright kills several people before whipping out a tommy gun to shoot at the villain's mooks. In the climax, he transforms into a robot (later spaceship) and mows down mook after mook without a care in the world. Note that there was a tie-in book for kids for this film, and it had to Bowdlerise the story quite a bit by leaving out the darker lyrics of "Smooth Criminal" and the mass killings (with the exception of the Big Bad's demise).
    • His crotch-grabbing dance move. He was doing this as early as the video for "Bad", but the video for "Black and White" made it infamous. This was because the clip was hyped for its kid-friendly, high-tech special effects, a prominent role for Home Alone star Macaulay Culkin, and even cameos from Bart and Homer Simpson. (The Simpsons has always had a lot of kids in its fanbase despite being aimed at adults.) Families really didn't expect the video to end with a long, music-free sequence of him dancing, grabbing his crotch, and smashing up a car and storefronts. In fact, director John Landis tried to talk him out of the crotch-grabbing, pointing out that his fanbase was full of kids, but was overruled. In the subsequent public outcry, press speculated that he ended the video this way because there's No Such Thing as Bad Publicity, while Jackson himself claimed he meant no offense at all.
    • After he was accused of child molestation in 1993, his work became Darker and Edgier and was no longer pushed to families, but he still presented himself as a Friend to All Children and his fans and estate push him as that to this day. It's come to the point that the fan-assembled video for the posthumous track "Behind the Mask" included a shot of a pint-sized Jackson fan grabbing his crotch.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids?: Most of the time his music actually falls into this category.
    • 'Don't Stop Till You Get Enough' - Michael's mom, who was a devout Jehovah Witness, was upset with the lyrics of the song, saying that it was a bit risque. Michael told her it wasn't about sex.
    • 'Rock With You' was originally called "I Want To Eat You Up", but the title was changed to better fit Jackson's squeaky clean public image.
    • The entire 'Off The Wall' album was basically about partying and sex.
    • 'Eaten Alive' and 'Muscles', written by Michael for Diana Ross, who he was rumored to be having an affair with at the time. When asked, Michael said the song 'Muscles' was named after his pet 'snake'. Oh and 'Eaten Alive' was obviously about oral sex, no questions about it.
    • Most of his songs are variants of Intercourse with You.
  • The Woobie: He never had a normal life, had an abusive dad, and had his public image ruined forever due to accusations that were most likely have been false, so many (if not most) of his fans regard him as this.

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