I didn’t watch all of the Billboard Music Awards, I was just waiting for the Michael Jackson performance.
For a while now they’ve been promoting the Michael Jackson performance as something new, unprecedented, one of a kind and spectacular, so how could I not watch? My formative years were studded with similar moments, gathering around the TV to watch a new Michael Jackson moment make its debut. This time felt poignant and important, because MJ left us in 2009 and now, 5 years later there is new music that we’ve never heard before.
XSCAPE is Michael Jackson’s second album release of posthumous, previously unreleased music. This album focuses more on Michael’s vocals rather than including a bunch of collaborations. The tracks come from a range of Michael’s albums. “Love Never Felt So Good” was recorded in 1983 as a demo. “Chicago” was recorded in 1999 for the Invincible album. The song that was performed at the Billboard Music Awards, “Slave to the Rhythm,” was initially recorded in the time of Bad. I was so looking forward to seeing how they’d present this performance. Would it be everything the fans hoped it’d be?
You tell me. Here’s the video from last night’s performance (via WSHH).
My reaction in real time:
1 – Anxious anticipation. IT’S THE RETURN OF MICHAEL! A NEW SONG IS ABOUT TO DEBUT!
2 – Palpable excitement. MILITARY DANCERS! LIGHTS! THEATRICS!
3 – Confused deflation. This is it? This is the new hologram experience? It looks like the Dangerous album cover is coming to life. Is this a hologram, or something else? There’s a real person involved somehow, right?
4 – Sadness.
I’m equal parts creeped out and intrigued. I think Michael would have approved of all of the spectacle. But it makes me sad #BBMAs
— afrobella (@afrobella) May 19, 2014
I don’t know what I expected to feel at the end of that “Michael Jackson performance,” but it wasn’t this. I feel sad for what we’ve lost.
— afrobella (@afrobella) May 19, 2014
5 – Depression. After watching it, I really sat there for a while feeling some kind of way about the whole thing. I felt compelled to write something but before too long I just felt the need to go to bed. Meh.
From what I’ve read, a lot of hard work went into making the spectacle we all saw last night, according to Billboard “the result of nearly half a year of planning, choreography and filming, not to mention the development of new technology.” We can definitely see that a lot of money and technology went into this. Despite all of that, it felt off putting and ultimately kind of hollow to his fans. Jezebel called it weird. Buzzfeed called it creepy. There were many tweets that reflected those kinds of reactions.
About this whole hologram trend…I’m not really here for it. But I guess this is par for the course now, for our favorite musicians who have passed on. First Tupac, now Michael Jackson, and there have been a few others as well. I wonder who will get the hologram treatment next? For now I’m giving Xscape a listen via Spotify. The original version of Love Never Felt So Good is my jam, but I know I’m not the only one who thought it was weird to see it immediately in a car commercial. According to that Billboard article, “…music from “Xscape,”according to (LA) Reid, will also be featured in ads by Xperia, a line smartphones and tablets by Sony, Epic’s parent company. The label chair said the ads will air outside of the U.S. ”
I’m happy that there’s new music by one of my favorite artists and I love that Michael Jackson’s been trending on Twitter since the performance aired last night. It just made me feel a bit strange and sad, as a lifelong fan of his music. Obviously there will never be anything like the real thing, but I can’t help but feel that sense of realizing exactly what we’ve lost.
That’s just how I felt. How did you feel about last night’s hologram performance? Were you a fan, or not?
** gif images via Billboard.com.