Ben Westhoff is a regular contributor to Creative Loafing and the Village Voice. His blog, The Healthiest Man in Park Slope, has been widely lauded as the Internet’s finest portal regarding all things John Corbett. 

Aside from “Thriller,” most Michael Jackson videos are terrible. “Billie Jean” is a clumsy, pretentious mess, “Dirty Diana” borrows its big-hair/concert spectacle atmosphere from the cock rock culture of its time and “Smooth Criminal” plays like it’s being fast-forwarded. “Black or White” has a guitar-playing Macaulay Culkin turning his speakers up to 11 and blowing his dad (George Wendt) out of the house, but it also has Jackson dancing with mask-clad African indigenous types, surely to the chagrin of Greg Tate. Most everything in the “You Rock My World” video rings false as well. It’s hard enough to believe that Michael Jackson and Chris Tucker hang out, for starters, and it only gets more absurd when they refuse to pay for their $4 rice bowls, Tucker makes a point of referring to MJ as a “black” person, they gawk at women and MJ plays the tough guy. It seems to have employed a focus group in its attempts to portray Michael as anything but a effete, billionaire, skin-bleaching wuss.

And yet somehow it works. Maybe because it features cameos from Michael Madsen and Marlon Brando – perhaps the planet’s second weirdest person at the time — or maybe because MJ suddenly starts breaking bottles. It helps that the song is awesome. Jackson and Darkchild collaborated on the production, which features a buttery smooth synth beat that pretends the ‘90s never happened. If you heard the song out of context you might think it came from Off The Wall, perhaps the “Rock With You” B-Side. But, no, it was off of Invincible, Jackson’s last studio album, which was released in 2001 and proclaimed a failure despite the fact that it sold eight million copies. That doesn’t include the $1 pirated CD I bought on the streets of Buenos Aires, where I was living that year, and where people wanted the new Michael Jackson album to succeed. That wasn’t true in the U.S., where it was clear that most everyone had turned on him by then. Of course, as a fan of Woody Allen, R. Kelly and Marv Albert, I’ve long been nonjudgmental about the personal lives of my favorite entertainers, and I would have happily bought $1 pirated copies of his albums for as long as he kept making them.

MJ eventually stopped making music because he didn’t think the public desired it any more. All he wanted in life was for the whole world to love him again, and through his untimely demise he finally got his wish.

MP3: Michael Jackson-“You Rock My World”

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