In case you hadn't heard yet, MICHAEL JACKSON died. I know I'm a little late to this news — the sonofabitch waited till the day after I turned in last week's column — but I'm gonna go ahead and mention it anyway. Even if I got scooped by everyone else, I believe my inimitable wit will ensure that my reportage goes down in history as the definitive account, so here goes: Michael Jackson died.
Since then, all media hell has broken loose. The American press has been traipsing through the minefield of whether it's tasteful to mention all the weird shit; CNN went so far as to publish a round-up of unflattering British press accounts, a clever way to introduce all the tabloid elements without having to take the blame. MTV, which famously denied Mike airtime for being black, practically hyperventilated with self-congratulation; after CBS Records humiliated it into playing "Billie Jean," Michael Jackson became synonymous with MTV and vice versa, and MTV really wants us to know that. It's even resorted to airing music videos, for God's sake.
Meanwhile, every celebrity on earth has released a statement. "A massively talented boy man," recalled Paul McCartney, violently snapping the world's eyebrows into the "hmm" position.
In normal-people land, the reaction has been pretty unanimous: we get to like Michael Jackson again! He's no longer out there spiraling down the career drain and displaying a well-intentioned but unsettling fondness for youths. He exists only on record now, and his records remain boss as heck — freed from the context of a living weirdo guy, buyers have snapped up hundreds of thousands of MJ records and close to two million downloads.
If you didn't spend at least a few minutes this week having a little "Smooth Criminal" anti-gravity-lean contest and watching all your friends fall over, you probably just suck. (There's still time, though.)
On to other news, if anything is news by comparison . . .
This is only halfway related to music, but I've oft mentioned piracy (and how much we all love it), so I thought I'd fill you in: notorious file-sharing site the PIRATE BAY, whose owners were recently denied a retrial after being sentenced to prison terms, has been sold to a company that wants to take it legit. Somehow. New owners Global Gaming Factory "intend to launch new business models that allow compensation to the content providers and copyright owners." Yeah, I'm sure the major studios will all be lining up to sign content deals with a site called the fucking Pirate Bay. Brilliant investment, GGF!
CHRIS BROWN was axed at the last minute from performing at the BET awards, which must come as a real slap in the f. . . . Which must be a really hard bl. . . . He must be pretty bummed.
This week's LEAST APPEALING HEADLINE — even beating out the ones about a public viewing of Michael Jackson's corpse — comes courtesy of the reliable NME.com: "Fucked Up's Pink Eyes: 'I videotaped a man shitting himself at Glastonbury' — video."
In other death news, STEVEN WELLS, my greatest inspiration, died on June 25. When I was a kid, this guy was my Michael Jackson — oh, shit, that was pretty much the worst sentence ever.
Anyway, he wrote some of the best, funniest most biting criticism of music ever printed. Please don't read it, or I'll look like a worthless hack by comparison. Among many other things, he contributed to perhaps the greatest radio comedy show of all time, the BBC's On the Hour, and wrote essential pieces about politics, pop culture, and his own battle with cancer for the Philadelphia Weekly. I had the pleasure of corresponding with him only a few times, but his advice and encouragement meant a lot, and I hereby dedicate every word I write this year to him. (Even the really shitty ones — sorry to embarrass you, Mr. Wells, but this is your come-uppance for all the mean things you said about poor, blameless Morrissey.)
DAVID THORPE |email@example.com