It’s hard to believe it’s been just over two years since Michael Jackson died. I knew I wanted to do something special to honor the King of Pop on Popdose – something that would capture the admiration and sense of loss that comes with being a fan of Jackson, as well as the warmth and enjoyment of sharing great culture with people you care about.
It was in that spirit that I pitched to Jeff the idea of a bonus podcast with a quirky theme: Michaels on Michael. I would enlist the help of fellow Popdosers Mike Heyliger (probably the No. 1 MJ fan I know) and Michael Parr (whose ’80s R&B loyalties run more purple, but is always great for cultural conversation), and we’d reflect, share and joke about Jackson in the great Popdose Podcast tradition.
Now, that sounds easy – but it wasn’t. I’ve said it a hundred times this past week and I’ll say it a hundred more: podcasting is not as effortless as Dave, Jeff and Jason make it look. Audio glitches necessitated no less than three attempts at recording this thing. Along the way, though, we did gain a neat extra: Heyliger added one of his colleages from his own Popblerd, Zack Stiegler, to wax informative on MJ. Ultimately, a good time was had by all – and even though this is coming at you a few days after the actual anniversary of Jackson’s passing, we remain confident that it’ll be a fun listen.
The Popdose Podcast Extra: Michaels on Michael (Plus) with Mike Duquette, Mike Heyliger, Michael Parr and Zack Stiegler
0:00Mike D. introduces our guests, and we’re off discussing the topic. First, each of us discusses where our love of Michael Jackson stemmed from. After the first moment of confusion over which Michael was starting off, Mike H. discusses his narcissistic love for MJ (growing up seeing his family pay attention to yet another Michael). Parr talks about his early years watching the awesomely bad Jackson 5ive cartoon and getting hooked on the “Billie Jean” music video. Zack talks about growing up in the ’80s and listening to Thriller (courtesy of the Columbia House Record Club), and Mike D. – the runt of the Popdose litter – talks about getting into the music and videos of Michael Jackson in the early 2000s, long after his popularity had peaked in America (but arguably at the last moment in his life when his influence was felt among the crop of artists on TRL). Digressions include Parr’s not-so-embarrassing tale of meeting Mike D., stylishly dressed in an a-ha T-shirt in 2011.
11:40 The group discusses their moments of establishing a deeper connection with Jackson’s discography. Zack cites the release of Bad and the crystallization of Jackson’s superstar status, along with his first viewing of Captain EO. Mike D. seconds the impact of Bad and its overt commercial aspirations. That leads to a digression about Jackson’s post-Thriller aspirations to one-up himself, particularly on the divisive Dangerous – which Mike H. expertly defends for still being slightly ahead of the pop cultural curve, circa 1991. The gang also discusses the increasing grandiosity of Michael Jackson’s videos, the endearing creepiness of the E.T. Storybook, the popularity of Jackson’s CD singles (ahh, music retail), initial reactions to Jackson’s first legal woes and a digression on DualDiscs.
33:42 Discussion moves to the visual side of Jackson’s catalogue. Parr waxes nostalgic on early attempts to moonwalk, Mike H. recalls staying up past his bedtime to watch the Motown 25 performance as it aired. The gang reflects on discovering lost MJ moments through YouTube, including Jackson’s live performance with James Brown and Prince, a rare performance on Midnight Special (featuring a surprise appearance by Jermaine!) and the Jackson Family Honors fiasco. There’s also talk about J. Randy Taraborrelli’s often enlightening, occasionally frustrating biography of Jackson, first released in 1990 and sordidly updated twice since. (We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that some other guy at Popdose has penned a book on Jackson, too – one largely lacking in saucy details.)
42:54 Things get serious in discussing where everyone was when Michael Jackson died. Zack reflects on the emotional impact of his passing, as shared with ’80s fans at a dance club. Parr notes the rise of TMZ in reporting Jackson’s death ahead of other news sources and the sudden emotional impact of “Man in the Mirror.” Mike D. reflects on drowning his sorrows over Michael in the Motown catalogue. Mike H. revisits the personally numbing day when Jackson passed, but notes that he wasn’t as affected as he expected. All share their reflections of the summer of 2009, when Michael Jackson was, once again, an inescapable force of pop culture, and their hopes for the future of the King of Pop’s catalogue.
Wrappin’ It Up
And so ends this enjoyable little sideshow. From my end, I’d like to thank Michael Parr, Mike Heyliger and Zack Stiegler for participating and putting up with several different technical shenanigans, Dw. Dunphy for his uproarious illustration and, most of all, Dave Lifton for making podcasting look easy.
And of course, if you like what you hear, please leave us a review on iTunes, and don’t forget to visit our Facebook fan page as well as the Popdose Twitter feed. Thanks for listening and check back soon for the next regularly scheduled episode of the Popdose Podcast!