How good of a musician was Michael Jackson?


By Blackbandit at 01/17/2020



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.


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I think people tend to judge Michael Jackson more harshly as a musician because he didn’t “professionally” play a musical instrument. In reality, however, Michael could play drums, piano and guitar but felt that this wasn’t where his best talents lay and so he let others who were more proficient in those roles do their best work. Michael always had a great instinct to find the right people for the right jobs and was always very gracious and honest in giving people their do. Unfortunately, later in life, Michael became out of touch with those instincts and let very questionable people into his most intimate of circles. But that’s an answer for another question.
Michael’s real musical genius lay in the fact that he could create entire songs in his head and use his vocal abilities to convey each part or instrument to those people who would be playing the song. He spoke many times about the fact that he had tunes crop up in his mind at all hours of the day and night and either sang them immediately into his trademark tape recorder or beatboxed the song out loud to his collaborators. He would do this to encompass every single instrument that would be needed for each song. He never learned how to read music so his renditions came from a very instinctual place and until we know more about how the brain operates, I don’t think it’s possible to fully comprehend the extent of his musical gifts.


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.



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