Flashback: 2009 – The Year of Michael Jackson

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I just stumbled across this piece. I wrote it back on New Years Eve, 2009 – six months after we lost Michael…

“Something needs to put a jolt back in the music industry. And the only thing that can do that is the jolt itself. The energy that sparked the imagination of the kids.. Me, the Justin Timberlake’s; we’re all products of this. So the only person that can put that jolt back in; that monstrosity of entertainment and music, is the one who created that.”

Those are the words of will.i.am (Black Eyed Peas) when being interviewed alongside Michael Jackson in October, 2006. Jackson was then taking the initial first steps towards re-entering the music industry’s limelight after a lengthy and well earned break from recording and performing. The break served as a chance for Michael to raise his three young children.

For three years following that interview, producers and musicians spoke to media about working with Michael Jackson. None of them were able to talk in detail about the projects, but they all had one particular comment in common; MJ was in perfect form, focused, being very picky and coming back in BIG way!

Fast forward to March, 2009. 

The words of will.i.am from his 2006 interview rang immediately true. The jolt, the “monstrosity of entertainment and music” was put back in the music industry in way that many critics, and even some fans, had never expected.

Jackson stepped out on a podium at London’s O2 Arena looking better than he had in a decade. He looked young, fresh, rejuvenated and most striking of all, confident! He looked like the superstar that many believed was a thing of the past. He spoke briefly but strongly. He was returning to the stage to thrill his fans once again.

He announced that he would perform right there in London, at the O2 Arena, 10 times over in July, 2009. He expressed that these shows would be his last ever in the city of London, calling the concert series “This Is It” and refereeing to it as his “final curtain call”. Fans went crazy. MJ’s catalogue albums went on sale. The name ‘Michael Jackson’ returned to peak positions in the charts and the front of every newspaper – for the RIGHT reasons! Michaelmania was buzzing intensely and he hadn’t even stepped on stage yet. The King of Pop was BACK!

Tickets went on pre-sale. The demand was so enormous that an additional 21 shows had to be added. MJ was now doing 31 shows in London; a feat never before achieved. But that still wasn’t even close to enough. 31 soon became 50 shows; all to be carried out at the O2 Arena in London. All 50 shows sold out in merely hours. Approximately one million tickets were snapped up instantly. I got my tickets and it was surreal. This was really happening!

As months passed by Michael and his team of directors, choreographers, dancers, vocalists, band and technical crew worked tirelessly on what was being billed by concert promoters as the biggest, most technologically advanced and expensive arena show ever mounted. Two hour all-singing, all-dancing spectaculars incorporating a diverse balance both of iconic and new choreography and costuming blended with brand new video elements and sets designed to take the audience on a visual and musical adventure never seen before in live concert entertainment.

June 25th, 2009.

We all know what happened that ill-fated day in June ’09. The tragic passing of the world’s greatest ever star. Michael Jackson dies from cardiac arrest at his Los Angeles home while his “This Is It” crew sit around, unaware, in the change rooms at The Staples Centre, watching videos of MJ in “The Wiz” on a laptop, waiting for him to arrive for yet another regular but gruelling day of rehearsals. MJ would never arrive. The rehearsal that day, and the shows in London, were not to be. In the ironic and chilling words of Michael Jackson himself; “This is it, this is really it.”

That day, the world stopped. When I say world, I mean the entire world. Michael Jackson is the ONLY person to have truly impacted on every corner of the globe. Every country. Every race. Every religion. Every colour. Every age. Even language barriers didn’t stop people from knowing who Michael Jackson was, listening to and singing his music, and loving him wholeheartedly.

The world mourned his passing, and celebrated his life at the same time. As I always say, we need not be depressed that MJ was taken from us, but be eternally grateful that he was given to us for 50 world-changing years in the first place. He is gone in body, but his spirit, soul and message are now spreading and infecting the world all over again, and will continue to do so forever. Heaven couldn’t wait, MJ was called, and he moonwalked right through the gates. And although the man has passed, his star is now shining brighter than ever!

R.I.P. Michael Jackson
I love you.

2009 Statistics

Before his death Michael broke the record for the highest amount of ticket sales in a single city, selling nearly one million (1,000,000) tickets to his fifty concerts at London’s O2 Arena.

The brightness of his star was also reflected by his record breaking post-death achievements.

In the past 6 months (since June 25th, 2009) Michael Jackson has sold approximately 30 million (30,000,000) albums. This does not include his single, video, ringtone or DVD sales. Those stats included you can readjust the figure to somewhere over the 50 million (50,000,000) mark. These sorts of sales numbers could be achieved by Michael Jackson and ONLY Michael Jackson.

Michael’s memorial service was broadcast live on television, radio and internet simultaneously around the world and was seen and heard by more than ONE BILLION people.

Michael Jackson’s This Is It documentary film grossed $250 million at the box office in its limited time showing in cinemas – Only 5-6 weeks (depending where in the world you are). It became the biggest earning concert/documentary film in history in both the USA and Worldwide. Once again, only Michael Jackson could achieve this; and it will never be topped.

His Internet achievements are nothing short of mind blowing either! Some 15 BILLIONMichael Jackson video clips were streamed online this year. Astonishing considering there are only 6.6 billion people on earth. MJ’s Facebook page accumulated over 10 million (10,000,000) friends; more than any other Facebook page in existence. He broke the world record on iTunes for music downloads; becoming the first artist to sell 1 million downloads in a week. Not only was he the first to achieve this, but he did so by selling 2.6 million downloads in a week – feat that will likely NEVER be conquered. And, of course, the words “Michael Jackson” were the most frequently entered in search engines during 2009. People wanted to know about MJ more than anything else in the world.

Additionally, MJ was nominated for 5x American Music Awards this year! Going into the night he already held the world record for having won the most American Music Awards in history; 22 in total. By the end of the night his overall tally had increased to 26, afterwinning four out of a possible five trophies!

The Future

The records and accolades won’t stop now, as we transition from 2009 to 2010.

In January, 2010, Michael will be awarded with his 14th Grammy award; A Lifetime Achievement award. This will be Michael’s first Grammy Award since 1996, and almost certainly not his last.

Sales records will likely continue to tumble also. His record label Sony Music Entertainment has a golden opportunity to give fans some incredible releases. Special editions and repackages of his existing albums will almost certainly come out by the many; the first of which being an already in-the-works ‘30th Anniversary’ edition of the “Off the Wall” album.

DVD and Blu-ray releases have limitless possibilities too, especially with the endless state of the art visual library of music videos, concerts and behind the scenes documentary footage Michael had filmed throughout his life.

On top of this, there are ongoing discussions between Michael Jackson’s Estate and those who Michael was collaborating with on brand NEW music before his passing. Hearing Michael’s final recordings would really be incredible.

Final thoughts

Michael Jackson was the physical embodiment of love in its purest form; a messenger for peace, caring and humanity. Not only was he the world’s biggest icon of music, dance, videos and performance, but in many ways he was somewhat of a religious figure to fans around the world. It’s not hard to see why. Take the lyrics of songs like Can You Feel It, We Are the World, Man in the Mirror, Heal the World and Earth Song for example. These are not just songs. These are messages that Michael wanted to, and did, expose to the world. His music catalogue is unbelievably extensive. It could be looked at as an audio autobiography, a bible or guide on how the world should be. If we all just listened to Michael Jackson, the world we live in now would be a far better one.

Happy New Year,
Damien Shields

Follow: twitter.com/damienshields

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