President George W. Bush had a lot of screw-ups during his eight-year term, but he did do a couple things right. One of them was proclaiming June as Black Music Month on May 31, 2002. June is here,* and to celebrate Black Music Month, I'll be featuring one of my favorite artists each day, sharing my first or most personal memory of them, and explain what their accomplishments are and why I felt they should make the Black Music Month Top 30 list. There will be some oldies, some newbies and some artists you may not know of yet.
Black Music Month Heat Factor "Why's this artist hot?": Michael Jordan won six NBA championships and is a phenomenal athlete, but when someone says MJ, the first person I think of is the King of Pop. Born August 29, 1958 and passed away unexpectedly on June 25, 2009, Michael Jackson was the best performer, dancer and pop artist to ever hit the stage. MJ was your favorite artist's artist, and while so many have tried to emulate him none have succeeded. And when both MJs worked together on "Jam," basketball and pop fans really lost it. But it was his surprise stage performance coming out with the cape for the Godfather of Soul, James Brown, that really left us in awe. There were countless iconic moments in his musical history, and even now, he's soul, funk and R&B's favorite legend.
First Memory, Most Personal Memory of the Artist: I was stunned to hear he was no longer with us. But for the entire summer of 2009, I listened to Michael Jackson on the radio and bought a collection of songs I didn't have. I've always liked Michael Jackson and thought he was a great entertainer, but I fell into the group of people who took him for granted and thought he'd make music forever. I never laughed at one joke someone told about his eccentric appearance or legal issues. It wasn't funny. I cheered when he was found "not guilty," even though I got many snide looks from my (then) co-workers. I felt like he was a really great person who both fans and foes took pleasure in bullying and rolled my eyes when everybody suddenly wanted to act like they forgot they used to dog him.
I was a loyal supporter from the time I was little up until now even though I didn't buy every CD. Although my mother talked my ears off my entire childhood about how she had such a huge crush on him and what it was like to see the Jackson 5 perform, it wasn't until he died that I realized I knew almost every single word of his songs. I thought I knew a few, but I can thank my mother for making me an MJ aficionado like her. I've always been partial to "Butterflies," but "Stranger in Moscow" and "Scream" followed close behind. I never saw him live although I saw many videos of him performing live, but my mother could paint a perfect picture for me. And anybody who walked by us watching the Jackson 5 "Soul Train" episodes in the DuSable Museum during the Freedom's Sisters event would swear we were the same age, trying to Moonwalk and (badly) mimicking all of the dances Michael was doing.
Accomplishments from the Artist: Michael Jackson was loved worldwide. In July 2009, he held 8 of the top 10 songs on the Billboard 100. He sold 1.1 million albums in one week in July 2009. If his success on the Billboard charts was real estate, it would make even his own Neverland Ranch look like your local motel. 1979's "Off the Wall" stayed on the charts for 169 weeks. 1982's "Thriller was on the Billboard charts for 122 weeks. 1987's "Bad" hung out on the charts for 87 weeks. 1991's "Dangerous" stayed on the charts for 117 weeks. Even as a child with his brothers, the Jackson 5 albums would stay on the charts from 26 to 50 weeks with albums like 1970's "ABC" leading the pack.
* This entry was originally published on Associated Content in June of 2010. It has been republished with permission from Shamontiel. To find out who the other 29 artists were who were selected in 2010, visit this Pinterest board.
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