Being 20: Spotlight on Michael Jackson

Earlier this week, I wanted to remind you, dear readers, of the promise and potential that has yet to unfold for David, who is all of 20 years old.  And his vlog this week was so upbeat and reassuring, it’s hard not to keep the optimism for where he will eventually take us with his musical genius and journey.

Re-reading my “Being 20” post, I realized I name-dropped a number of musical legends just to remind folks that, sometimes, greatness unfolds a bit later in life (if I’m judging by history, I’m giving David till age 25 to peak: haha!).

In light of this, I thought I would start a new Soul David series (not based on my going on a blog break but based on expanding the ideas I discussed in my “Being 20” post). I’m calling this the “Being 20” series, in which I will highlight some of David’s influential music figures (and some of my own) to see what they were up to when they were David’s age.

So, I begin the series with one of David’s musical heroes: Michael Jackson.  And what was Michael Jackson doing at David’s age?

First, he was unquestionably “black” and wore an Afro (see accompanying pic above of the legend when he was 20 yrs old).  And he didn’t have his first plastic surgery yet, which would come a year later when he broke his nose (and was never satisfied with the job, which is why he obsessed over getting this “perfect”).  Sometimes, there is innocence at 20, but there is also promise for greater things, right? 🙂

Another thing about Michael at David’s age is that he was three years into a record label, Epic Records, which he and his brothers of the Jackson 5 signed to when MJ was all of 17 (um… sounds familiar?) and itching to break free from dear old dad (again … sounds familiar?) since the move from Motown Records and its owner, Berry Gordy, wasn’t enough to challenge his artistic vision.  In short, Michael was looking to redefine himself as a serious music artist.  He was all too aware that his Jackson 5 experience branded him a “child star” and “teen idol,” that many in the industry viewed their music as “bubblegum soul.”  On Epic’s label, he and his brothers matured as The Jacksons and fit into the dominant sound of the time period – disco – giving us such danceable hits like “Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground)” and “Blame It on the Boogie.” But Michael wanted to do something more, so part of his eagerness to branch out included making some bad decisions: like co-starring with Diana Ross in the box-office flop that was The Wiz.  Of course, had it not been for his work on this movie musical, he would never have had that fateful meeting with Quincy Jones, who worked on the movie’s score and was a major jazz producer.  Michael’s creative mind was already working as he approached Quincy to help him work on his first solo album, Off the Wall, which came out a year later.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

If I had any major wish for David, which I didn’t indicate as a choice on my latest poll, it would be for him to have his own Quincy Jonesque fateful meeting and to collaborate with some major players on his next musical project.  He has the raw talent and the ambition.  Granted, Michael Jackson also had ambitions to be the greatest pop entertainer, which he eventually became.  I don’t know for sure if he had that particular ambition at age 20, but he definitely felt it after Off the Wall. Which just goes to show that genius needs the right nurturers and the right environment in which to grow.

Will David find that? Time will tell.

In the mean time, I will at least celebrate that David was able to break free from management and label that did not support his artistry in any profound way.

So, in tribute to the late MJ, and to David, here’s “I Can’t Help It,” a song produced by Quincy on Off the Wall, written by Stevie Wonder, and sung by MJ himself.  (What I would give to hear the Voice lay down some smooth tracks on this baby!)

Posted on February 25, 2011, in Being 20 Series, David's influences. Bookmark the permalink. 36 Comments.

  1. This is GREAT! HG :), i always talk to my sister about the similarities between David and other Big Ones in the Industry , making specific reference to the way he is maturing like artist.
    A couple names coming to my mind ,that found their independence like artists and owners of their own career and destiny at 20/22.

  2. I love MJ. He was on Epic records. I wonder if Epic as a label for David is at all possible. Sara Bareilles sent David a very nice tweet and she is on Epic. Not that it means anything. So are Natasha Bedingfield and Imogen Heap.

    • Is funny, some ‘random guessing girl’ in IDF pointed that maybe the information from the source on FOD has something to do with Epic Records………”David is gonna be fine, don’t need to worry about promo anymore, and that things are gonna be epic.” she speculated that the last part is a hint of the new label , of course this can be another case of over-analysis , after all we became experts in that department lol. 🙂

  3. Thanks, Tibitibi, and Marie, I agree that Epic records might work for David.

  4. Nice article. It’ll be interesting to watch David’s trajectory.

    I’d love him to pair up with some of those you mentioned who are currently with Epic. The three mentioned–Sara, Natasha and Imogene–are arguably his favorite female singers on the scene today so I would imagine he’d be thrilled to be with their label. On a radio show out of the Midwest while David was still on Idol (shortly after she’d smooched him and for which I will always love her), I heard Natasha say that she ‘wanted to write a song for David’. I’m still waiting, Natasha! Wouldn’t that be cool?!?

    Natasha is a very accomplished and successful songwriter, and has a style I would love to hear him embrace–soulful pop. He says he loves it. I can’t wait to hear it! It’d be cool if he’d duet a great song with Adele, Natasha, Sara, Jordin, maybe even Imogene. I’d be in hog heaven!

    BTW, I’ve seen a picture of David with Quincy Jones. For real! Close up and unmisakable. I can’t find it on the internet (and you know what happened to my huge beloved David file…*sniff*), so I can’t share it. David looked to be about 12 so I’m assuming it was around the Star Seach time period. Maybe they’ll meet up again. If we could just get David to marry his current pop music with his old Star Search R&B emphasis, we’d be getting somewhere. Somewhere wonderful! I think the public would go for it in a big way.

  5. I love the concept of a Soul David series! Michael Jackson–what can I say; I still miss him so much. Michael’s career had several peaks and valleys like many artists. I imagine that David’s will too. I’ve been trying so hard to ease away from the David day-to-day so that I could sit back and enjoy his accomplishments but I see, it’s not gonna happen. 🙂

    Re. Natasha B, last year she had out a great message song called “Strip Me” but it never got much airplay.

    Bookaholic, I’ve also seen the picture of David, #manincap and Quincy Jones. Maybe someone will find it and provide the link.

    From the previous thread: Comolaflor, glad you’re out and about blasting David’s music! 🙂

  6. Great idea for a Soul David Series HG!
    There are many similarities between MJ and David. Both have voices that touch peoples souls.
    It’s easy to forget in hindsight that MJ had many road blocks and growing pains in the industry as well.
    I also agree that Epic wouls be a great label for David.
    Btw- Has anyone taken the survey over at FOD? It is so tough to pick one song, but I went with Bubbly. His voice on that song is divine…like butter! I would love to see him do more soulful pop songs in the future.

    • I actually picked Angels on the FOD survey because it’s become David’s signature song (and ours as Arch Angels).

      • I picked the same one. i was not sure how many of us did- & suspected I may be the only one. 🙂 I feel it embraces his essence currently. It is a message song, acoustic, starts slow and builds up ( so he do the dramatic thing) has runs, is soulful and it still modern. I love the piano man look for David- like Alicia Keys. Really have been thinking about David and touring… ti keep costs down- just do an acoustic tour to smaller venues. David and the piano or keyboard, David and the guitarist. That is all I need.

  7. I think that Epic has an interesting mix of artists on it’s label. I love Sara Bareilles. I don’t see Imogen on their artist list anymore. They have Sean Kingston, The Script and The Fray among many others. I would love the soulful pop for David also. I saw that random guess on IDF and I hope that there is something to it.

  8. Wow, Usher, Beyonce, and Mariah Carey’s names are being dragged through the mud now that journalists have learned about their prior gigs performing for Qaddafi’s sons:

    Granted, I’d have heaps more respect for these so called journalists had they condemned them back when they DID perform and not at this present moment when Qaddafi is behaving true to form. Where was their outrage then? Why wait for a revolution in Libya to condemn them now?

    Hmmm, could it be because, back THEN, it was perfectly okay and reasonable for folks to think celebrities could perform for any and everybody so long as they’re getting paid? Were we really unaware that they were accepting blood money?

    Shame on the celebrities for not making better decisions about who they perform for (and let’s hope David never makes such bad decisions in his career) but shame on the reporters for not speaking out about these events when they actually happened.

    Digging up dirt is so unattractive! Not to mention that they sound like a bunch of hypocrites (Because you know, deep down, those fools would sell out their own mother for a good scoop, much less for $1 million).

  9. Oh and great series. Interesting about the comparisons between MJ & D… Gotta think lable changes are much more likely not. You know the saying the definition of insanity is to keep doing something the same way again and again and expecting a different outcome! 🙂 Change is good.

    • Rae, I wouldn’t be surprised if tons of Archies chose “Angels.” It really feels like his song, even more so than “Imagine.” I think David sings it especially for his fans. JMHO.

  10. I wonder if that survey over at FOD is really actually for David, so that he can see what his fans are looking for? e may have asked for it.

    My pick was SOMEBODY OUT THERE, but a second favorite of mine was SHOP AROUND.

    I would love to see him do soulful pop

    • Burkey~ I sure hope that survey isn’t for David. He needs to follow his own heart & instincts to find out who he is an artist, and not rely on the thoughts of a few fans. TBH, if he can’t figure it out for himself at this point, he’s in pretty big trouble I think. lol.

      • I hope you are right. I want him to think for himself also.
        That thought just crossed my mind about that survey. One reason I thought that is because it has been up there for so many days in a row.

    • I seriously doubt that survey is for David, i don’t know if they are saying that btw, but if is the case, i think is just old days manipulation games ‘we have the direct connection’ thing or maybe ‘someone’ need the information to try to score something with him, but i don’t think so . We are talking about a guy who forgot to share information with his mom about a very important event on his home state , the same who was asked by his sister on twitter how many time hes gonna be far of home, just before his travel to Asia……clearly David is very careful with what he is sharing……would be a totally joke to share with the world that HE is taking control of his life and career and then use one of his adults and very conservator fansite to decide what he wants to sing……kind of ODD, just like theory uh?

  11. I also love it that they can’t get a comment from these celebrities reps about them going to Libya.HG Those reps were there to take their share of the money from Qaddafi. David would have better judgment than they did because he is not all about the money.

  12. Here’s my issue with the whole Qaddafi-American pop star connection and why it’s now making headlines.

    Back in 2009, when Beyonce performed for Qaddafi’s son at a private NYE bash on the small Caribbean island of St. Bart’s, there were so many black and hip-hop bloggers condemning Beyonce and Jay-Z for the ultimate sellout: they were performing a “minstrel” show for a despot’s son. Libya is also known for having anti-black racist sentiments, what with their location in Africa but not wanting to be associated with the rest of sub-Saharan Africa.

    Bey and her hova were roundly criticized b/c they were basically saying, thru this performance, that hip-hop and soul music could be bought at any price, and it’s all good so long as you’re getting paid.

    I know, deep in my heart of hearts, that someone like David wouldn’t be caught in such scenarios b/c he doesn’t perform for the $$ but for the heart connection.

    My issue is, why are journalists and various industry folk condemning these stars NOW, when something should have been said THEN (especially when the hip-hop community was up in arms over this).

    It just feels like folks are using the Libyan revolution for cover to address all kinds of stuff going on in our culture.

    We’ve been getting the memo that “getting paid” trumps everything else for quite some time. It just feels a bit hypocritical for folks to be crying foul NOW (esp. someone like Anderson Cooper tweeting his disapproval – he can stop the moral outrage as far as I’m concerned).

    The other thing these nitwits seem to forget is that, back in those days when Bey, Mariah, and Usher performed for Qaddafi’s sons, Qaddafi was being embraced by the West b/c he condemned Al Queda, which still continues to be a threat.

    Politics makes strange bedfellows, as does entertainment. And even then, despite this geopolitical context, hip-hop fans were uneasy about Bey and Usher et al performing for someone tied to a despotic rule.

    In my mind, this is bad judgment and maybe even geopolitical naivete on the part of the pop stars, but I do think their reps did nothing to discuss with them what potential repercussions would come from accepting private money from certain ruling parties.

    I just think the current news items from journalists and industry insiders sounds hypocritical at best.

  13. hi hg – the quaddafi scandal is just a recycle revealing the depths of hypocrisy in the american media, and another expose laying bare the greed and love of money, above all else, that really seem to be the real power in our culture, and in the world. what these stars have done is no different than what many big name entertainers did – and were called out on eventually, in the 70’s-the early 90’s for playing in apartheid era south africa, or playing private gigs for dictators and royal families and other rich folk who were questionable. the media for sure knew then what was going on, but looked the other way, for whatever reason. usher, mariah and beyonce are just the very convenient faces for the hypocrisy that continues in this little game the media plays. how about some ‘fair and balanced’ [sarcasm intentional for fox news corp.] coverage, lol… i’m waiting for the expose and reveals of names and faces, of all the orgs, companies, religious institutions etc that have done the same thing, and continue to do business with some very questionable people and countries, all in the name of the filthy lucre.

  14. i will name names – the truth is the light, right, lol … elton john and the legendary rock band queen are just 2 huge names who played in apartheid era south africa, at sun city… does anyone remember a huge hue and cry from the american media then about this – ‘crickets’… has the rock and roll hall of fame neglected to keep either of these two out, or excoriated them for their turning a blind eye to the despicable policies of the south african government while they collected their millions… ‘crickets’… as far as i’m concerned, the , the media and the blowhards in the industry, can put a sock in it, or a ring on it, whichever one floats their boat. whole lotta shakin’, and hypocritin’ goin’ on round here, so i’m stocking up on popcorn waiting to see the fallout – and the spin, lol

    • Thanks for naming names, GG (and for jogging my memory!).

      • hi hg- just chilling here in paradise, and doing my best to keep ’em honest – an uphill battle yes, but some folks are just born windmill tilters, lol… i love this article, and look forward to all the articles to come in this series. i know they will be fun, thought provoking, entertaining, and it will be fun discussing /debating the parallels as they may relate to aspects of david’s life and career.

  15. HG and GG, thanks for sharing your thoughts on this matter; it’s one that I need to read up on. A couple of days ago when I saw the news video clip of Beyonce prancing around in a leotard at what looked like a bachelor party, I was dismayed. I agree w/the comments that many people are in this business for the money. I look forward to hearing how the celebs respond (if they do).

  16. I’m with you desertrat, I have a whole lota reading to do. I would like to know what our government’s positions have been regarding human rights violations, our diplomatic relations and propping up of despots as a means of maintaining stabilization of the area and protecting our own interests. I am really curious and will enjoy putting the entertainment industry’s positions in perspective. This is a complicated issue.

    Or I can cheat and speak to my significant other (political science major/current events extraordinaire) and go get a snack. Hmm?

  17. Hope it’s OK to bring up one thing from the last vlog. (I was too busy to read it until now)…I’m still concerned about whether David can get out of the hole that he’s in. I’m really glad that he dumped JIVE & WEG if they can’t support the artist he’s becoming. But he has lost a ton of fans by not being on the radio or in the public for the last 2 years. And every day that goes by, he’s losing more. So if it’s gonna take awhile before he gets his face & music back out there, I don’t know if there’ll be enough fans for him to have a decent income anymore.

    However, I agree that he needs this time to decide who he’s gonna be as an artist, and which label will best help him get there. Otherwise he’ll keep spinning his wheels. He does need a more defined sound and a more defined image so he’ll stick out in the minds of people. Right now he’s just not well-defined, which I think is part of the problem…Think I’ll just keep praying that things start coming together for him. Yep.

  18. *blog*, not vlog. Oops.

  19. david is 20 years old, and my best guesstimate has him earning more money in the last three years than many of us will see in a lifetime. i don’t concern myself about his ability to support himself, at all. david’s financial or future earning ability, regardless where the income stream is being generated, looks pretty darn bright to me. if music is not the way, then he can always go to university, get that medical degree and practice, or i’m sure there are more options on the table that won’t have him out on the street begging for spare change anytime soon. heh. regardless how long it takes, how many fans choose, operative word is choose, to either stick with him through this waiting period or not, regardless how long he stays off or out of the so called public eye, i just don’t worry about david being able to take care of david. i think most of us are more afraid of living in the world of dashed or scaled down expectations regarding david and his career… a lot of fans are taking a gut check right now, and some just may choose that it’s not worth it, and they may choose to move on. nothing to do about that, except wish them well. c’est la vie. it’s part of the risk you take trying to carve out a career in this business, and it looks like he has weighed the cost/benefit of continuing to pursue music as a career, and chooses to keep on keeping on. it’s also a question each person in this fanbase has to ask themselves from time to time… do the benefits of waiting, being an archuleta fan outweigh the ‘costs’… individual and universal gut check.

  20. Amen GG!

    I am not worried about him (anymore LOL). The second I heard him speak in his vlog of himself as an artist, I knew he will be fine and all my worries melted away. Prior to his vlog, the only thing I was wishing for him (not knowing where he was at considering all the fan speculations that he might call it quits and go on a mission) is for him to OWN his gift, the God given gift. And that he did when he told us he realized he had control over his career and life. How he does anything going forward, I’m sure there’ll be some mistakes or stumbles along the way, but whose life doesn’t? I have full confidence in him to know what works for him and he is only 20. He will continue to learn and grow. He has a good head on his shoulders, and what focus! As GG points out, the rest is our issues, our expectations and personal/individual wishes for him. When he said re: management, that it’s not where he wanted to be or needed to go to, I took that to mean he is not looking to becoming a mega star a la fetus or NKOTB. If he should become one, his music can certainly reach a broader audience, but being a household name is not a goal in itself. Hence the misalignment with management. I am excited for may come of his future. Go David!!

  21. I’m mixing my tenses in my sentences. Sheesh. Haste makes waste!

    I also want to say I really appreciate the issues brought up here regarding the entertainment industry/media/hypocrisy vis a vis the recent denouncing of the actions of a certain few celebrities. I too need to read up on it some more. Sadly though, the hypocrisy is so not new news but it’s always good to point it out or bring it out to the light.

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