Spike Lee isn’t a name that instantly springs to mind when you think of Michael Jackson. The director of films such as Malcom X, Mo’ Better Blues and the forthcoming (and completely pointless and irritating) remake of Oldboy strikes me as the sort of man who’d hate Jackson, the mega-popstar who seemed to want to be white more than he wanted to be black.
But it appears I was wrong, you see the other night I happened across a rather excellent documentary by Mr. Lee on the 25th anniversary of Michael Jackson’s groundbreaking album: Bad.
The format of the documentary saw a track-by-track walk-through of each of the songs on the album; the story behind the song, who wrote it, the short movie that went with it (Jackson didn’t call them videos), choreography etc, etc.
It threw up things like a whole beginning to the Bad video I hadn’t seen before, not to mention that Martin Scorsese was the director, the decisions about how the tracks ended up on the albums and much more. Tracks ended up on the albums by simply playing them in the studio, if Jackson started dancing to it, the track made it on the album – in case you were wondering!
There were interviews with everyone you can think of, engineers, producers, other artists (Chris Brown, Mariah Carey, Sheryl Crow, CeeLo Green, Usher etc, etc) and the same thing came out again and again which was simply the talent and work ethic this man had. He would be in the studio for 12 hours a day at least, he would be rehearsing dance moves till 2am.
In fact at one point it was said that he’d rehearse moves so much and for so long that he could drop out of a choreographed routine, improvise a few moves, and drop instantly back into the correct dance step at the correct time as the rest of the dancers who’d carried on as they were told.
It was a fascinating story, it was interesting to hear Sheryl Crow, after she’d gotten a glimpse of his life touring with him for two years in the UK, she commented that if that’s your life from the age of five, it’s kind of no wonder that you’re a little messed up.
Michael Jackson was a man who chose to speak with a high-pitched voice because he didn’t like his normal, naturally lower voice. It was a man who worked all day long to bring music the people of the world loved. Whatever you think of him, there’s no doubting he was a genius, flawed or not.