In honor of Michael Jackson, who passed away today at the age of 50, I've compiled a list of some of my favorite MJ songs and have matched them up with an athlete that best personifies the song. Anyways, enjoy it, folks.
5. Man in the Mirror. The fourth no. 1 single off of Jackson's Bad album lands at number five on this list. The song is about making a change in the world, and how if we want to make progress, we need to start with ourselves. For this song, I think one of the best athlete fits for this song would have to be Alonzo Mourning. Sure he was a great basketball player, but as an athlete, the man has done a lot for the city of Miami, as I detailed here. He was recently at the White House mingling with President Obama, who also happens to be known for his "Change" slogan. Mourning was there for a summit on good fathering (along with Dwyane Wade and other fathers). Side note, Zo said he doesn't see politics in his future, and that he can do more good from the position he's already in, rather than a political office.
4. Billie Jean. Another phenomenal song from Jackson. This one brought us all the renowned dance move that everyone in America tried in the mirror over and over again: the Moonwalk. For that reason, I want to nominate the king of the touchdown dance: Chad Ochocinco. However, he's not the only athlete for this song. You got it, another double whammy. Ochocinco may be a good fit for the dance craze that this song inspired, but the athlete that best personifies this song has got to be suspended NFL runningback, Travis Henry. Henry has nine children by nine different women. As we all know, the famous lines from the song: "Billie Jean is not my lover, she's just a girl, who thinks that I am the one. The kid is not my son."
3. Beat It. Another brilliant song off of Jackson's best album (and probably one of the five greatest albums of all-time), Thriller. I was looking into information about the songs meaning, and on the Wikipedia page for the song (because I can trust it since this isn't a research paper), it said this: "The lyrics of 'Beat It' are about defeat and courage, and have been described as a 'sad commentary on the human condition." (italics mine). There's one name that comes to mind when I hear the word defeat: The Detroit Lions, who went 0-16 last season. Also, for those pop culture fiends, you've got the Wizard of Oz tie-in here, with the lion who wanted heart, and courage. That makes the Detroit Lions an even more perfect fit for this song. Not to mention that the city of Detroit in this current economic state can also be described as a sad commentary on the human condition. Plus, the song has a sick guitar solo by Eddie Van Halen, which has nothing to do with the pick, but it does have something to do with why it's on this list.
2. Black or White. This isn't number two on my list of his favorite songs, but it's still a classic about racial unity, with the irony of it all being the transformation of Jackson's complexion over the years. This also happens to be the second song on the list that has one of the top guitarists of all-time lending his skills to the track, this time in the form of Guns N Roses guitarist Slash. But on to the pick of the athlete. This one is an all-time great as well: Jackie Robinson, the man who broke baseball's color barrier back in 1947 with the Brooklyn Dodgers. It seems fitting, as Robinson was a pioneer in baseball, being the first African-American to make it in the majors, while Jackson's popularity led him to breaking the color barrier on MTV, and being the first African-American musician to have his videos played on the networks airwaves.
1. Thriller. This is the quintessential Jackson song. It's the one video that everyone knows, and the dance is epic. The title also describes what Jackson was to the entertainment world: a thriller. He was one of the greatest artists, and performers the music industry has ever seen. For the pick here, I had to narrow it down to two athletes, and I'm not the type to throw these two names around in the same sentence lightly. If we are talking all-time thrilling athletes to watch, than this song goes to Michael Jordan, in my opinion, hands down. But if we are talking current athletes, then I have to give it to LeBron James, who's thunderous dunks and ability to take over a game make him one of, if not the most thrilling athlete today. To settle it, we'll talk all-time, since Jackson was a legend, too.
Couldn't embed this video, so here's the link of Thriller in its entirety:
Other great Jackson songs to not make the list: The Way You Make Me Feel, Don't Stop Till You Get Enough, and Wanna Be Startin' Something.