YMMV: Michael Jackson

  • Author's Saving Throw: HI Story 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: HI Story in the Mix, which has some new material, as well as remixes of songs from HI Story, 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 HI Story, 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.
  • 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. He took this seriously once superstardom hit in the 80s, fabricating some of the weirder stories about him that spread through tabloids.
    Ed Sullivan: How old are you, Michael?
    Michael: Nine. (He was eleven.)
    • This goes into Harsher in Hindsight territory when he suffered severe burns while filming a Pepsi commercial back in 1984. The severity was downplayed in public, but after his death, it was acknowledged that the burns marked the beginning of his troubles with painkillers and other medication.
  • 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"
    • Then there's the things not about his death, but the child molestation allegations. Say hello to 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"
    • Comedian Richard Jeni opened his show A Big Steaming Pile of Me with five minutes of Michael Jackson jokes because, according to Jeni, Jackson was the one topic he could riff on, "without pissing anybody off." By 2009 both Jackson and Jeni were dead before their time.
  • 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 HI Story 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.
  • 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."
    • "Heal the World", 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 black-hearted folk of the world who displaced their evil 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.
    • And this.
    • Also, the burns he suffered while filming a Pepsi commercial back in 1984 was downplayed back then. In hindsight, the severity of said burns marked the beginning of his troubles with painkillers and other medication.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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!"
  • 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; David Bowie (who was doing them at the end of The Seventies) is just one artist who predates 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.
  • Overshadowed by Controversy: To the point only his death permitted his work to again be appreciated without remembering all the bad and weird stuff MJ went through in his life.
  • Protection from Editors: Why Dangerous, HI Story and Invincible ended up how they did.
  • Popularity Polynomial: Started to decay after Dangerous. Was beginning to go back into the spotlight prior to his farewell tour - only for the unfortunate Author Existence Failure to ensure he remains popular and revered instead of a reviled freak.
  • 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.
  • Seinfeld Is Unfunny: Given every pop artist since the 80s is influenced by Jackson in a way, his then groundbreaking work can be seen as aged by younger audiences.
  • Signature Song: "Beat It", "Thriller", "Billie Jean", or "Bad".
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: His entire life dropped two anvils - child abuse is bad, and dealing with fame is hard.
    • Add a third one: Don't lie or downplay injuries for the sake of your image.
    • "They Don't Care About Us" drops an major anvil about institutionalized racism in the criminal justice system.
  • 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.
  • Surprisingly Improved Sequel: The first posthumous album, Michael, got mixed reviews and even raised controversy on whether it featured Jackson. The follow-up, Xscape, on the other hand, was much better received.
  • Tough Act to Follow: Thriller and its followup Bad. Allmusic even states Dangerous (which has the twofer of following both and being contemporaneous to Grunge) is "the rare multi-platinum, number one album that qualifies as a nearly forgotten, underappreciated record."
  • 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.
  • The Woobie: He never had a normal life, had an abusive dad, and had his public image ruined forever due to accusations that may have been false, so many (if not most) of his fans regard him as this.