By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Tag: Michael Jackson

‘The Greatest Night in Pop’ should be a call to generosity

I’m late to this, so you may have seen it already. I finally got around to watching “The Greatest Night in Pop” (here’s the trailer) on Netflix, and it’s terrific. It’s about the making of “We Are the World,” the 1985 song and video with an all-star cast that raised more than $60 million for famine relief in Africa.

If you always thought the song was a bit treacly, well, blame Stevie Wonder. He was supposed to be involved in writing it, but no one could find him, leaving songwriting duties to Michael Jackson and Lionel Ritchie. And as you may have heard, there’s a scene of Stevie showing Bob Dylan how to sing his part — employing a dead-on Dylan imitation — that has to be seen to be appreciated.

The interviews with Ritchie, Cyndi Lauper, Bruce Springsteen, Sheila E. and Huey Lewis are especially insightful. That the entire project came together in one night is a testament to the professionalism of everyone involved, especially Ritchie and Quincy Jones, who was involved from the start and oversaw the whole thing. Well worth your time.

Famine in Africa continues — in Sudan and in Gaza, which is right at the nexus of Africa and the Middle East. “The Greatest Night in Pop” shouldn’t be just an exercise in nostalgia. It should be a call to generosity.

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Credit where it isn’t due

An odd assessment by the Chicago Tribune:

Gossip site, owned by Time Warner, was out in front with Jackson news and digital-era pipelines spread the word, as has happened before with other major celebrity news stories. But it was old media stalwarts that did the heavy lifting, with giants such as The Associated Press and the Web site of the L.A. Times, sister paper of the Chicago Tribune, reporting the fastest, most credible information on the emergency call for paramedics and ultimately his death.

In other words, TMZ broke the story. Got it? (Channeling Chris Krewson.)

Michael Jackson

Here’s a piece I wrote for the Boston Phoenix during Michael Jackson’s 2005 trial for child molestation. His death, at 50, was hardly unexpected — I think he’s probably been on the Next to Die list longer than Keith Richards, since Keef managed to crawl off of it at some point.

Jackson may be the greatest wasted talent since Elvis Presley, who could have packed it in after his Sun recordings in the early to mid-1950s. Jackson recorded his finest album, “Off the Wall,” 30 years ago. His audience-pleasing triumph, “Thriller,” came in 1982.

It has literally been all downhill since then — a sickening amalgam of molestation charges, plastic surgery, fake (or at least very weird) marriages and financial setbacks.

His was a sad life. But given the likelihood that he did enormous harm to some of the kids who worshipped him, my sympathy is limited. He was a terrific artist, washed up before his 25th birthday.

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