Remembering Michael Jackson: A Tribute to the King of Pop.

Kendall Rivers
7 min readJun 25, 2022

On this day, June 25th 2009 we lost one of the greatest celebrities in history and arguably the number 1 greatest singer(especially in the Pop genre) of all time. Today we’re gonna honor this icon whose endured a lot of attempts to taint and even demolish his legacy, especially ten years after he passed in 2019, but we’re not gonna let that happen are we? Michael Joseph Jackson was to pop as Elvis was to rock & roll, as James Brown was to funk, BB King was to The Blues, Duke Ellington was to Jazz and Beethoven was to classical music.

Jackson was (and still is) one of the most influential culture figures of the 20th century. He was influenced by such icons as Little Richard, James Brown, Jackie Wilson, Diana Ross, Fred Astaire, Sammy Davis Jr., Gene Kelly and David Ruffin. But it was Little Richard and James Brown that had the biggest influence on Michael; Brown, however, was his greatest inspiration and we could surely see that from his wild, flamboyant clothing to the similarly wild and flamboyant dance and performance style. Jackson once said that when he was little his mother would wake him up whenever Brown appeared on television. To quote him he was simply: “mesmerized”.

the legend: James Brown.

The other most influential figure in Jackson’s life was good friend and The Wiz co-star Diana Ross, whose vocal technique served as a major influence; his oooh interjection was inspired by Ross’ use of it in many of her songs with the Supremes. She became a mother figure to him, and had always encouraged him to have confidence in himself. Jackson used to talk about how his performance style was inspired by how Ross would move and sing in rehearsals that he’d watch.

The legend: Diana Ross.

Michael has also inspired quite a few admirers himself. The long list of artists most influenced include Madonna, Beyonce, Celine Dion, Chris Brown, Lady Gaga, Whitney Houston, Justin Timberlake and Justin Bieber.

The Moonwalk and The Robot:

Michael was as much an iconic and skilled dancer as he was a singer; He’s responsible for introducing two world renown dance moves into pop culture: The Moonwalk and The Robot; He first demonstrated the moonwalk at a iconic live performance of Billie Jean in 1983 and the robot in Soul Train 1974. These two specific dance moves would go on to be used at various parties or other functions where music and dancing is involved for decades. Oldies but goodies as they say.

I now just want to honor Michael by picking out my own personal top five favorite songs and music videos aka short films, in his entire career. From Thriller to Bad to Beat It, every time I hear these songs and watch the videos attached to them I am rushed with awe and nostalgia:

5. Thriller. 1982.

“Michael Jackson’s 14-minute short film “Thriller” revolutionized the music video genre forever. Hailed as the greatest music video of all time by MTV, VH1, Rolling Stone and others, “Thriller,” directed by John Landis, is also the only music video selected to be included in the Library of Congress’ prestigious National Film Registry. The groundbreaking short films for the Thriller album, starting with “Billie Jean,” following up with “Beat It” and culminating with the epic, nearly 14-minute “Thriller,” truly expanded the possibilities of “music video” as art form. “I wanted something that would glue you to the set, something you’d want to watch over and over,” Michael wrote in his 1988 memoir Moonwalk. “I wanted to be a pioneer in this relatively new medium and make the best short music movies we could make.”

4. You Rock My World. 2001.

“The short film to “You Rock My World,” the Top 10 hit single from Michael Jackson’s Invincible, features guest appearances from Chris Tucker, Michael Madsen and Marlon Brando, in one of his final film appearances. This version was edited for primetime video airplay.
Michael Jackson’s short film for “You Rock My World” was one of two short films produced for recordings from Invincible, Michael’s sixth album as an adult solo performer. As a single, “You Rock My World” was a №1 hit in France, Spain Portugal, Poland and Romania, and reached the Top 10 in another 16 countries, including Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Italy and Australia. In the United States, the single reached the Top 10 of Billboard’s Hot 100 (his 28th career Top 10 single in America), Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles, Mainstream Top 40 and Rhythmic Top 40-marking Michael’s fourth consecutive decade with a Top 10 hit since the 1970s.”

3. Billie Jean. 1982.

“Billie Jean” was the first short film made for ‘Thriller,’ the biggest-selling album of all time. The short film for this №1 single, directed by Steve Barron, made history as the first video by a black artist to receive heavy rotation on MTV, and was later ranked by the network as one of the 100 greatest music videos of all time.” The “Billie Jean” short film made history as the first video by a black artist to be played in heavy rotation on MTV, then in its second year. In 1992, the short film was inducted into the Music Video Producers Hall of Fame. MTV ranked “Billie Jean” as the 35th greatest music video of all time in 1999, one of three entries of Jackson’s on the chart alongside “Thriller” and “Beat It.”

2. Bad. 1987.

“For the first of nine short films for the “Bad” album, Michael Jackson enlists acclaimed filmmaker and director Martin Scorsese and together they create an epic 18-minute tale of urban and racial challenges in the 1980s inspired by the real life story of Edmund Perry. The “Bad” recording is the second of five consecutive №1 singles from the album making Michael the first artist to achieve this milestone and in 2014 Rolling Stone ranked this short film second on a list of Michael’s 20 greatest short films.”

  1. Do You Remember The Time? 1992.

“Michael Jackson’s “Remember the Time” short film was the second short film from the Dangerous album and continued to push the boundaries of the music video medium with a star-studded, nine-minute epic co-starring Eddie Murphy, Iman and Magic Johnson. Directed by John Singleton, this short film was hailed as a “gorgeous ancient Egyptian extravaganza” by Entertainment Weekly.”


Beat It. 1982.

Beat It was inspired by Michael’s love for the 1959 film “West Side Story”. It also inspired an iconic scene from The Jamie Foxx Show that we all remember:

Shout out to other gems such as Man in The Mirror, The Way You Make Me Feel, Smooth Criminal, We Are The World, Ebony and Ivory etc. So many amazing and iconic Michael Jackson songs and videos that we could be here all day… but for the sake of this article I just had to list the five that hit me most. I remember once at musical theater camp when we performed Bad for a whole audience and I gotta say, it was one of the most thrilling moments of my life.

Michael was one of the most celebrated, awarded and best selling recording artists of all time: 400 million records worldwide, 13 Billboard Hot 100 number one singles, and was the first artist to have a top-ten single in the Billboard Hot 100 in five different decades. His many honors include 15 Grammy awards, 6 Brit Awards, a Golden Globe Award, and 39 Guinness World Records, including “The Most Successful Entertainer of All Time.”

This was a man whose accomplishments and contributions to pop culture and the world at large knew no bounds. He’s had a complicated legacy but it is an incredible one. We all owe a debt to Michael Jackson for all he’s given us. His kindness, uniqueness and tremendous talent will always be with us. May he continue to rest in eternal peace. You’re still bad, Michael. Love, peace and chicken grease. Long live the king.

For more information on the legendary king of pop check out the main source for this article: Michael Jackson-Wikipedia:



Kendall Rivers

Kendall is a screenwriter who’s a huge fan of classic tv and movies. He enjoys creating good stories and characters.