By Mawuse Ziegbe
No need to expound upon his achievements or even mention his last name. We all have our favorite Michael moment. Mine is headbanging to “Bad” as a toddler in pre-school. Instead of nap time our teacher let us run around like, well, babies. Me and a roly-poly, pigtailed friend nearly snapped our necks every afternoon. I’m pretty sure that guy was fired. But I would always see him bopping around Boston with his headphones on; very likely bopping along to “Bad.”
Part of Michael’s legacy is the advancement of music videos. Every time we see a lit dance floor, an errant tiger, Prohibition-era pop-lockin,’ or massive flying marbles, Michael will be on our minds. But for every indelible hip thrust, he also left a rash of quirky videos that are largely beeping off the radar. Here are some of Michael’s equally awesome – if less celebrated – moments.
From entertainment luminaries (John Travolta, Steven Spielberg) to future hard-luck reality show cast members (Brigitte Nielsen, Lou Diamond Phillips) this video is pure 80s awesomeness. It’s a snapshot of his celebrity and his affect on his peers. Plus, he didn’t take himself so seriously that he didn’t see the humor in his persona. If you share a hairstyle with Weird Al Yankovic, you gotta chuckle.
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“Can You Feel It”
This is The Jacksons but Michael literally shines in this one. Rays of light are exploding from his Jheri curl for Pete’s sake! And those jumpsuits are another example of things only people whose name rhymes with Fichael Blackson can wear.
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“Blame It On The Boogie”
Another Jacksons hit that still packs dance floors. This is one of those clips from the nascent era of videos; before they were fussy, artificial, and characterized by gut-busting budgets. It’s also before Michael sadly became characterized with fussy artificiality. It’s just some easy dancing, a flourish of lighting, a flash of charisma, and an excuse for the ages.
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“Who Is It”
For whatever reason, this version of the Dangerous single never made it to American music television. MTV played a different version that was just a compilation of his previous videos. It’s comparatively more sleek and darker than many of his videos but it still has an intriguing narrative that we expect from Michael.
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“What’s Up With You”
Ok, this is Eddie Murphy’s doing and it effectively proves that no celebrity megastar friend, designer hair grease or doves can save your song from mediocrity. But however cheesy and heavy-handed the execution; we all get it. He was about love -and you can’t hate on that.
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Thanks for being bad. Thanks for being great. And thanks for the memories.