Michael Jackson: Beyond Genre

Kevin Mazur / Getty Images When looking at the songs presently charting on the Billboard Hot 100, there are batch of songs that fit nicely into writing style designations. Songs like “ That ’ s What I Like ” by Bruno Mars ( # 3 ) can be described as R & B, while songs like “ Body Like a Back Road ” by Sam Hunt ( # 11 ) fit into the nation music genre. But for every song that can be summed up broadly, there are other songs that are outside of the norm. “ Something just Like This ” by the Chainsmokers and Coldplay combine the electronic dance music that is distinctive of the Chainsmokers ’ other songs like “ Closer ” with the alternative rock tendencies of Coldplay, celebrated for songs like “ Yellow ” and “ Clocks ”. This song could fit into several different genres. Upon its release in 1982, it could be said that Michael Jackson’s Thriller fit into several different genres as well. Except in the early 80s, the idea that one artist could create songs that combine respective styles at once was rare. For the listening public, it was foreign to hear a song like “ Beat It ” that featured rock instrumentation with electric guitars and rock bass, paired with Michael ’ s R & B-inspired outspoken lines and harmonies. When “ Billie Jean ” became the first sung by a black artist to appear prominently on MTV, it was an acknowledgment that MJ was combining black R & B and white pop and rock music in ways that had never been heard by the general public.

Michael Jackson’s music career paved the way for many top 40 music artists who blended genres and invented new ones, creating a new pop landscape that brought black and white music together in unique combinations. thriller was released at the end of November 1982 after a few months spent in the studio crafting the songs that would late become iconic hits. Before it came out and took the public by ramp, Michael was upset that producer Quincy Jones was trying to temper expectations by saying that two million copies sold would be a beneficial number. Of course, MJ proved him ill-timed after it spent all over 30 weeks at count one and sold tens of millions of copies. But noted in a contemporary review of the album from the New York Times is the attack to combine bootleg R & B and white rock music. John Rockwell writes, “ It is angstrom hopeful a sign as we ’ ve had that the destructive barriers that spring up regularly between ashen and black music may be breached once again. ” He turned out to be right as “ Billie Jean ” transformed from a funky dance-pop birdcall about an obsessive winnow into a massive crossing over hit, hitting number one on the R & B chart before taking over the Hot 100 for seven weeks and becoming the biggest hit of the year. The successful television of the song premiered on MTV, breaking barriers for black artists that had never been able to overcome it, evening on white radio receiver stations. But Thriller was able to do it, with seven songs ultimately reaching the top 10, each one bringing its own potent blend of R & B, flinch, rock, and dance-pop. Michael ’ s influence grew with each accomplishment by Thriller and the achiever of Bad that by the goal of the ten black dad artists like Whitney Houston, Bobby Brown, and Michael ’ second sister, Janet, were systematically creating successful singles that featured the combination of black and egg white music styles. Where there had been a definitive line between black R&B and white pop, there was now a growing grey area. By the early 90s, Michael had already set his sights on including rap and rap in his unique blend of R & B and rock-pop, and with his 1991 album Dangerous, he enlisted newfangled jack swing producer Teddy Riley to bring a hip-hop edge to songs like “ Remember the Time ” and “ Jam ”. But the crown accomplishment on his eighth album was the song “ Black or White ” which put to words his impression that “ it don ’ t matter if you ’ re black or egg white. ” In the song, he ’ second saying that the skin color of the person he ’ second with shouldn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate matter, but that idea can be translated to the music on the radio receiver besides. By this point, hip-hop artists like NWA and Public Enemy had started to pierce the resistance to black rap music by the white rock community. And even though Michael hadn ’ thyroxine so far experimented with rap extensively, his ability to garner acceptance for black pop artists on white radio contributed to a greater awareness of black music generally because of the messaging inherent in his music. As The Atlantic ’ s Hampton Stevens put it a year after his death, “ There are no more barriers of rush, sexual activity, class, or age he told his audience. You besides can be and do whatever you want. ” Michael Jackson broke down barriers that had existed earlier in order for him and others to innovate and continue to achieve success with any manner of music. “ Scream ”, the lead individual off of 1995 ’ mho HIStory, was a jazz band of hard-rock and the new jack swing expressive style perfected by Janet Jackson, who guests on the song. But listen far gloomy on the album, and the nasty beat and subtle guitars of “ Stranger in Moscow ” sound like some of the R & B-pop that would come in the twenty-first hundred from artists like Justin Timberlake and Ne-Yo.

Michael might ’ ve broken down the wall between bootleg and white on Thriller, but he continued to bring different emerging genres to huge audiences in interest ways. In the contiguous consequence of Michael Jackson ’ s passing in 2009, the world was able to come together and celebrate the life and career of a ace implemental to the modern sound of dad music. He ushered in a world for artists of every skin color and genre to reach across and make music that blends different styles in ways that still remind audiences of the power of Thriller. In 2013, Daft Punk had a huge hit with “ Get Lucky ”, collaborating with Pharrell and Nile Rodgers to mix electronic dance music with the disco audio of Chic and Michael ’ s Off the Wall album. As Ben Beaumont-Thomas expressed in The Guardian in 2014, “ the success of Pharrell, Robin Thicke, Daft Punk, Bruno Mars, and a resurgent Justin Timberlake shows the music Jackson popularize is inactive relevant. ” In today’s pop music landscape, the lines are completely blurred between R&B, pop, and dance music. even more incredible, the music Michael Jackson created at the very begin of his solo career with Epic Records has become a relevant style across the music spectrum. Songs like “ Don ’ t Stop Till You Get enough ” and “ Rock With You ” are blueprints for songs by R & B-pop artists like The Weeknd, but besides for alternative bands like The 1975, who had a hit with the synth-laden “ person Else ”. On top of the inspiration Michael distillery provides for current dad stars, the coup d’etat of black rap and R & B is complete with artists like Drake, Kendrick Lamar, and Beyoncé storming the charts any time a new song or album is released. As well, rappers guest much on pop hits, even when the songs are distillery well in the crop up kingdom, as the character is with Maroon 5 ’ s “ Don ’ thyroxine Wan sodium Know ” featuring a verse from Kendrick. appropriately, one of the beginning hits to feature a tap bridge was Michael Jackson ’ s “ Black or White ”, which includes a verse performed by the sung ’ s white producer, Bill Bottrell. evening now, Michael ’ s influence continues to be felt, from songs directly inspired by his hits to blacken and white artists collaborating and melding genres like R & B, dance, rap, and rock further together. Looking back at the reception to Thriller, it is obvious to many why the album ’ s songs became touchstones for multiple generations of music artists and fans alike. But the concern expressed by Quincy Jones before its acquittance is apprehensible. The music that Michael was creating in the studio didn’t sound like anything else at the time, but it was his creativity and unique ability to experiment with genre in his songs that made his music so successful in so many different markets. To black music fans, hera was a Motown darling finally living up to his electric potential and bringing the sounds of total darkness America to a broad hearing.

And for white music fans, Michael Jackson was the beginning black crop up ace, crafting songs that combined the classical sounds of pop and rock music with styles they might not have heard before like funk and rap. In the years since Thriller, his music has continued to shape the culture of pop music and inspire newfangled artists to innovate and try newfangled things for the sake of greater musical diverseness. Thanks to Michael, we don’t see music in black and white anymore; instead, we hear all different colors mixed together.

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