Jools - 24 year old stockbroker at Deutsche Bank, co-founder of AlphaParties Ltd, amateur musician, Oxford graduate and former BBC journalist, based in Central London, UK & Marbella, Spain.

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by Anjool Malde, 28th June 2009

Although I'm fortunate enough to have never lost anyone that close to me, I've always reacted to the passing away of people I've known with relative aloofness and lack of emotion. It may thus be treated with bemusement that I spent 24 hours perpetually teary-eyed upon hearing about the death of someone I'd never even met - straight after teasing my evening's date for weeping in uneventful film scenes. Only that morning I'd thought about how forward I was looking to seeing him live at the O2, and days before I'd recorded a cover of You Are Not Alone I deemed too mediocre to put online.

With everyone's Facebook news feeds inevitably monopolised by MJ comments, an unsurprising divide was seen over such a polarizing individual. Whilst most comments ranged from polite "RIP"s to devastation and passionate tributes, an emerging handful of detractors were telling us to get a grip, that he was "only a musician, not Gandhi", that Army fatalities were more worthy of tributes, disbelief at how much this was dominating the news coverage, making sarcastic comments and tired paedo/plastic-related jokes. Interestingly, it was the negative jibes that generated the most "Like"s (the authors perhaps said what others were thinking but didn't have the balls to write).

For many if not most people, music is an important facet of life, and can clearly bring happiness to both individuals and communities plagued with poverty or other misery. Given this, the detractors should note that the far-reaching positive impact he had on half a billion people's lives can only be rivalled by perhaps the Dalai Lama and the Pope. There was nobody more universally famous, with humble villagers in every continent growing up to his music, and perhaps only Barack Obama has the potential if he gets things right to rival MJ's status (until his post-1993 downfall) as a multi-talented, charismatic, universal superman.

The evolution of his music over four decades - seamlessly spanning multiple genres - is phenomenal and unprecedented, his contribution to accelerating mainstream access for black musicians is underappreciated (the first black musician to feature on MTV and the cover of Rolling Stone), his influence on musical style, dance and video production for decades of R&B / pop artists and choreographers probably underplayed.

Michael Jackson has provided the soundtrack to my life, and I'm sure tens of millions of others. Born in the year the Thriller single was released, Bad was the first CD I'd unanimously see in everyone's households, whilst the Moonwalker film, video games and Do The Bartman gave him elevated status during my infancy. I vividly recall the massive built-up hype and subsequent panther-related controversy of the Black or White premiere on Top Of The Pops, watched with my parents at age 7 and discussed with everyone the next day - likewise for his follow-up releases from Dangerous, the live Oprah interview, and continuing through the decade with HIStory's release and its groundbreaking Scream video.

Invincible was on repeated play during a miserable few months at 6th form, and the next year I remember late nights in my first term at Oxford with Aruna et al watching the pioneering videos from the 80s, jaws dropped at the flawless Motown 25 performance where the moonwalk was debuted, and as I built up the entire back catalogue Off The Wall proved to be a great feel-good album to work to.

Whilst most fans love the upbeat pop hits from Thriller and Bad the most, I find tracks such as Billie Jean (sung along night after night at every student union club across the country without most having a clue what the lyrics mean) somewhat overdone compared to many of the ballads and softer tracks that have been largely overlooked. From the simple, beautifully melodic She's out of My Life, One Day in Your Life and Human Nature from earlier albums, to the breathtaking, flawlessly produced Break of Dawn, Butterflies, Heaven Can Wait and Cry from Invincible, I can't think of a better ballad artist - these are certainly worthy of a revisit. Similarly my favourite album's Dangerous, where the later tracks Who Is It, Give In To Me (a powerful record featuring Slash), Will You Be There (from the Free Willy soundtrack) and the fitting Gone Too Soon didn't get the recognition they deserve.

As for all the infamous oddities, it surprises me that these seem to be universally met with ridicule without an ounce of sympathy. How do you expect someone with such an utterly surreal upbringing - and entire life for that matter - to behave normally? Nobody except the kids in question and alleged witnesses know for sure, but it seems to me from the Bashir interview and other statements that his inappropriate closeness with children was just an innocent, naive attempt to claim back the childhood he never had rather than actual paedophilia. Incidentally there's hundreds of Twitter posts right now about Jordan Chandler admitting he lied for his father about being molested, though I'm not sure how credible the source is.

In a shallow bubble where looks can matter more than talent, with his father teasing him through childhood about his nose, plastic surgery to attempt to overcome insecurities shouldn't be that surprising - its just a shame that the work emerged so horrifically botched in recent years. Similarly it is a fact that he had vitiligo, and it seems any bleaching / lightening attempts were just to smoothen things out rather than be covered in patches of different tones. Finally, he's hardly the only one who would lack financial astuteness when dealing with such unheard-of sums - at least he genuinely meant well with several philanthrophic ventures.

Regardless of your opinions over all the controversies, his unparalleled contribution, influence and inspiration to every aspect of the contemporary music industry over more than four decades (with more to come) - genre, style, dance, theatrical videos and breaking down barriers - cannot go unnoticed. It is awesome to see him bag 43(!!) of the UK Top 200 singles this evening, plus the #1 album; perhaps the best tribute video to him is the archive footage from his last hit single:

Responses on Facebook note:

FINALLY, at along last, someone has written the perfect review & tribute to MJ’s life and music. He clearly has charisma and sheer magnetism, in capturing and reaching the hearts of millions of people across the world. Those who have a strong passion for music can truly understand the impact his music had on people’s lives. He helped bring everything from joy, escapism and happiness, provided comfort for people in their testing times throughout their lives, and gave encouragement and inspiration for people to pursue their dreams especially in dance and music. It’s endless as to the contribution that Michael Jackson made huge global scale on people’s lives and on the music industry. If not everyday, then it would be every other day that I would listen to his songs from the rock/pop numbers to the heart-felt ballads, and will continue to do so. As accounted for millions of others, I grew up listening to his music, and he was for me the most prominent figure in music for decades to date.

As for the negative criticism and wrongful allegations against him, they were just nothing but based on greed, jealousy and hate. The malicious jokes meant that he was, and still is, clearly misunderstood by these types of people, because they are uneducated, ignorant, and must lack the emotional capacity and intelligence as to how such an upbringing can severely affect an individual throughout the course of their life, as was the unfortunate case for Michael Jackson. The ‘jokes’ were just distasteful and hurtful for him, his family, friends and fans. I agree have always believed and continue to uphold that ‘his inappropriate closeness with children was just an innocent, naive attempt to claim back the childhood he never had rather than actual paedophilia.’ Everyone is clearly entitled to their opinions and views, but these should be based on FACTS not wrongful allegations, he was found NOT GUILTY.

It is no surprise that as a result of this he became distant and isolated for a while before making his final comeback, as a true musical star and businessman would. Somewhere and somehow, I hope he can see the devastation that his death has brought around the world, the love and support of his family, friends and fans universally. He was one of a kind, and I feel privileged, even though I never got to see him, that I grew up being able to watch him grow to endless success in childhood and throughout my life. He was a man of great passion, and possessed perseverance on such a scale that he eventually overcame and became immune to any negativity and made his final comeback. His music will remain timeless, will live on forever, he will never be forgotten, and will always remain the KING OF POP xxx
Sandy Kaur Johal at 9.43am, June 29

Michael Jackson is in the Guinness World Book of Records as one of the biggest philanthropists ever, and was nominated TWICE for Nobel Peace Prize.

It will take another century or so before copyright and private interests cede the fruits of his genius to be studied and explored fully, before true appreciation for his work can rightfully eclipse whatever flaws he had as a human being.

Very well written Jools.
Incidentally, 'Give In To Me' is one of my favourites of all time ~ I think the success of more upbeat tunes is explained by the fact that one can enjoy the beat without having to listen into the song as much.

Irra K at 11.58am, June 29

Give In To Me is my favourite of the lot.
Anjool Malde at 12.02pm, June 29

A fantastic tribute, thanks for sharing this.
Andrew Hill at 12.15pm, June 29

Jools, you really have outdone yourself...give in to me is my favourite too!! soo undervalued!
Sanja Spasojevic at 3.31pm, June 29

i've personally not been overly moved/affected by MJ passing away but it takes courage to write something like this, thank you for sharing your emotions with us
Harjeet Taggar at 8.36pm, June 29

I was just about getting over it until I read this. :/ The first book I ever had was an MJ one which I used to re-read every night before sleeping and I remember trying to copy his dance moves since I was a little kid. What a legend.
Kulveer Taggar at 9.10pm, June 29

Good one Anjool!
Jemma Harris at 9.13pm, June 29

Human Nature and Man in the Mirror are my faves. Thanks for sharing man.
Aruna Dahanayake
at 2.43am, June 30

Thanks for this Jools - its hard to hear about the death of someone who has been the 'soundtrack to my life' as you poetically put it, when away from friends and family I've spent many hours watching and listening to his music with. May his afterlife bring him just 10% of the joy he brought to so many others.
Angela Isherwood at 12.02pm, June 30

Omar Ahmad at 9.07pm, July 1

Combines the personal with the analytical to superb effect. This is exactly what has been lacking in the press - an intelligent yet warm tribute from a true fan and a talented writer.

Thank you for going beyond the hits that are always cited in an MJ piece, and celebrating the depth of Jackson as a writer and musician.

Marcus Dubois (DJ, ex Universal Music) at 11.09pm, July 2

This page last updated 4th July 2009. (C) Anjool Malde 2000-09. Contact mail[at]