Will there ever been another artist as big as Michael Jackson?

I was watching the Michael Jackson Dateline special last night and they were talking about how “Thriller”, the song and the video were such a huge turning point in music.  And it’s true.  Musically, it was a turning point merging disco and pop into a form that would dominate the 80’s radio scene.  The video, artistically, took the concept of a music video to new levels.

But is it any sort of deep art?  Pop music is an odd beast.  Much of it exists only to entertain.  And yet we’re drawn to it because it’s the soundtrack of our lives.  And that’s why we will miss our biggest artists.  Elvis, Lennon, MJ, Kurt.  Today’s memorial isn’t for Michael Jackson.  It’s for us because a piece of our past is gone and now only a memory.

The interesting thing about Thriller is that that impact was about the art.  That artistic achivement rocketed Michael to a new level of stardom.  Can that happen now?

There are millions of extremely talented artists with amazing songs out there.  And because of that it’s difficult for even the best to stand out.  People always talk about the cream rising to the top musically, and I don’t see it happening.

Go to http://cdbaby.com/cd/maximocouce and listen to “Sing For Me”.  That’s an amazing song and you’ve never heard of it.

How about amazing performers?  Check out http://stormlarge.com Storm is one of the most powerful performers I’ve ever seen.  And you probably haven’t heard of her.

The things that people talk about now in breaking and artist are all about marketing.  Rarely is there discussion about the art.  Artistic achievment is still best, but it’s the new marketing gimicks that get talked about.  What kind of promotion is Trent Reznor doing this week?  How are artist promoting themselves on iTunes?  How did Amanda Palmer make $19,000 in 10 hours on Twitter?

Those are the things that get talked about that make an artist famous.  No talk of the songs except how they’re monetized.

And fame is going to be a smaller thing.  Nobody currently coming up the ranks is going to be remembered like Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley, or John Lennon.  There’s not one artist it this week’s Billboard Top 10 that will be remembered in 40 years from their first record.

We’re seeing the end of an era today.  Not just for Michael Jackson, but in the artistic industry as a whole.

Go out today and find a great new song that you’ve never heard before.

Phil Johnson

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