July 8, 2009
On the Memorial Service for Michael Jackson
Yesterday was the public memorial service for Michael Jackson at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Over 1.5 million people registered for the chance to get a ticket (though the site itself had over 500 million hits), but only 11,000 were actually awarded a seat.
People all over the world were watching the service on TV and on the internet; everyone was brought together for one day to celebrate the life of one of the greatest performers of all time (if not the greatest), so it was only fitting that he was memorialized with a concert-like show.
The event itself included star-studded speeches and performances to pay tribute to their friend and colleague; many played songs written and performed by Jackson himself. Performances were made by the Andrae Crouch Choir (“Soon and Very Soon”), Mariah Carey and Trey Lorenz (“I’ll Be There”), Lionel Richie (“Jesus is Love”), Stevie Wonder (“Never Dreamed You’d Leave in Summer”), Jennifer Hudson (“Will You Be There”), John Mayer (“Human Nature”), Jermaine Jackson (“Smile”), Usher (“Gone Too Soon”), Shaheen Jafargholi (“Who’s Loving You”), and finally a group of various people who performed a medley of “We Are the World” and “Heal the World.”
John Mayer Performing “Human Nature”
Usher Performing “Gone Too Soon”
Medley: “We Are the World” and “Heal the World”
All the performances were genuine and filled with emotion—very appropriate for the event. Everyone came to pay the greatest tribute possible to Michael Jackson and to highlight and reflect upon some of his best qualities, both as an artist and as a person. He was always adamant about expressing his humanity, and appreciated those who recognized him as a human first, and as a famous singer second.
A few of the performances stuck out more than the others, though. Sometimes a strong, powerful voice isn’t what it takes to be striking. John Mayer’s rendition of “Human Nature,” for example, was quiet and subtle, but really shined. It was as if Mayer didn’t want to be in the limelight for himself, realizing it was not his day or his place to be the star of the show. He simply played his guitar and left the song as instrumental, even though “Human Nature” has incredibly influential lyrics. He was alone with his electric guitar on stage, not flashy, and had a few background vocals as support.
Another touching performance was that by Usher, singing “Gone Too Soon.” The song was produced by Jackson and released as a single on his album, Dangerous (1991), and was dedicated to a young boy who had suffered from AIDS. Usher sang directly to the casket on stage, and nearly choked with emotion by the end.
Those who spoke (instead of singing) reiterated Jackson’s affection for the world and his passion for helping people. He was an artist who genuinely loved his fans and had the greatest joy from bringing happiness to others through music and dance. As Jermaine Jackson said, Michael’s favorite song he ever wrote was “Smile.” Out of all of his super-hits, like “Thriller,” “Billie Jean,” and “Beat It,” the song he loved the most was the most humble and optimistic, and wasn’t even released as a single.
As Berry Gordy stated in his speech, Michael Jackson “was the greatest entertainer that ever lived,” and there may never be another even to come close to rivaling him.
Posted by Shaane at 2:49 pm