I am not a musician by profession so if you are looking for a technical answer I cannot supply that. I can only respond to your question from the layman’s viewpoint but I certainly have a lot to say about his talent as a musician.
I would say that Michael Jackson felt music throughout his entire being. One cannot talk about his skills as a musician as separate from his skills as a dancer. From early on in his solo career he would judge a songs viability based on whether the music made him want to dance. He was famous for dancing in the studio while he was singing and his brilliant music engineer, Bruce Swedien, built Michael a special platform so that he could dance while recording. Swedien also left in a lot of Jackson’s dancing sounds in the recordings. Whether he tapped, finger popped or clapped, the sounds became an integral part of the music.
One comment I always like to make to people about Michael’s music is the fact that it really never becomes dated or boring. I can literally listen to his albums time and again on a long car ride and never get tired of them. I have gone through similar experiences with other musical artists over the years but eventually I will become bored of them. But with Michael Jackson, it just never happens. I can only attribute this to the fact that his music is exceptional and he is more talented musically than any other recording artist that has crossed my path.
As to Michael Jackson’s songwriting, I don’t think he’s ever received enough credit. If you listen to the progression of his skills in this area you cannot help but be impressed. Technically he knew everything about how to make a great song and between his lyrical abilities, his musical instincts and his actual performance as a singer he cannot be touched. His phrasing alone just blows me out of the water.
It’s always a pleasure to talk about the true value of Michael Jackson’s musical gifts. Michael Jackson wanted to find immortality through his music and as long as we, who have the privilege to write about him, stick to his true gifts his wish will come true. I just wish the Michael Jackson estate would get off their butts and put out albums with his unreleased music. His vault is filled to the brim with unpolished gems and I hope I’m alive to see some of these fill the airways and bring new music to new generations of fans.