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 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

MUSIC

 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
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July 3, 2009
My first musical memory was the King of Pop's "Black or White" video. I asked my dad, "Why is that woman named Michael?" It premiered after The Simpsons and I was interested in everything about it: the face morphing, the crotch-grabbing, trying to decipher the rhythmic grunts because I (to this day still don't) trust my ability to hear lyrics, mesmerized by the guitar riff - which I didn't yet know was Slash, and thought it was the coolest thing ever that he got Macaulay Culkin - a star I recognized at that age - to rap in the video. Much grade school joking was centered around Michael Jackson molesting children, even before I really understood what molestation was; Q: "What do K-Mart and Michael Jackson have in common?" A: "They both have boy's pants half-off." So Jackson's artistic arc was considered to have topped out long before I cared about music for real, an interest which was brought on by Dookie. But, return to the car-ride special Dangerous - which had an album cover that blew my mind at the time - and you have everything. Just...everything. Forgive me if Thriller has always sounded quaint to my ears (eerily, I stopped in the Continental last night in Manhattan, which was playing "The Girl is Mine" while I was on the john).

But Dangerous...that's the real Chinese Democracy. Michael Jackson invented the blockbuster album as we know it, the way Jaws invented the summer movie. It's no wonder he was obsessed with stardom; his records weren't records but stuffed boxes. Madonna, that other immortal pop paragon of the 1980s, floated from cultural meme to cultural meme, but compared to Jackson's time-capsule monoliths, her persona's lukewarm. The way people joke about Brian Wilson's grandeur is the way he put his life together. Not 'drums go here, guitar goes there' but rather 'McCartney goes here, new jack swing under that, Eddie not available? Get Slash, get those Biggie tapes, get Elvis' daughter in the bedroom.' By right, he should have died five years ago.

Michael Jackson was a man who, whatever his personal misgivings, stretched himself beyond the limits of already unreasonable celebrity living. Forget everything-to-everyone; he didn't have time for rock vs. pop, disco vs. rap, funk vs. metal...if he couldn't be the nexus of all of it, it wasn't worth it. Dangerous has a dark, paranoid edge because that's where pop was going, but also because he was imploding by 1989. For funk he wanted factories of industrial clanks, for ballads he demanded no less than a choir and pews. No emotion went un-dubbed over 100 times moreover, and what a mess of emotions. Imprison "his love" in the closet? Because he "can't let her get away"? Because she may be fucking his brother? That is dangerous. And then it shifts into the Free Willy theme. Most tragically, by abusing children he was abusing his celebrity, the most dependent drug for someone with no real friends, only signifiers of fellow fame (and for the record: I blame the parents. Who leaves their child alone with an adult celebrity? This isn't a daycare worker or babysitter, it's a pop star of significant eccentricity and alienation. I call it starstruck neglect, and don't think the ones who came forward were the end of the story when you have that much available to pay off the starstruck.) Sick or not, as a culture we brutalized and cannibalized and consumed Jackson far ahead of Princess Di or Britney Spears, and he did not know how to get better again (or if he ever was to begin with). He simply became rich enough to afford to not think about consequence. He was lonely, obsessed with fame, obsessed with childhood, it's a wonder he was able to spin music from this emotional purgatory at all, much less strong, iconic, funny and danceable music. It's difficult to fathom, but I hope he is finally at peace.

--
Dan Weiss
Dan Weiss is the music editor for LAS. Formerly an editorial intern at CMJ and creator of the now defunct What was It Anyway?, his work has appeared in Village Voice, Pitchfork, Philadelphia Inquirer, Stylus and Crawdaddy among others. He resides in Brooklyn where he enjoys questionable lifestyle choices and loud guitars.

See other articles by Dan Weiss.

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