Two of my daughters have become Michael Jackson fanatics in the weeks since his death, and the copy of The Essential Michael Jackson I bought for them has been on high rotation, causing me to realise a few things:

  • Everything up to and including the singles from Off The Wall is faultless, except for that one note he hits really sharp in “I Want You Back.” And the song “Off The Wall” could probably do without the creepy laughter in the intro.
  • Speaking of creepy, “Ben” is a beautiful little ballad, and probably the oddest chart hit in pop history.
  • “Rock With You” is sublime. I liked it a lot when I was ten, and now I know why. Those vocal harmonies in the chorus are incredible.
  • “Black or White” is surprisingly enjoyable, considering how much I disliked it at the time of its release.
  • The girls reckon Bad was when it all started to go wrong. I think it was Thriller. “Billie Jean” and “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin'” are as good as anything else he did, but the title track and “Beat It” aren’t quite as good.
  • It’s strangely fascinating to hear his vocal style as it dissolves into twitches, hiccups and mannerisms.

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