Tuesday, June 14, 2005

I get press releases, Volume 16: Um, Michael what's-his-name, Michael, uh, Jackson. Wasn't he in court? What ever happened with him?

All things considered, it took a suprisingly long time for the first Michael Jackson-related press release to hit the 19 Minutes World Media Headquarters following yesterday's verdict. In fact, it was 7:10 this morning before the first such release simpered its way into our inbox, a fact I can only attribute to blatant disregard of public radio by PR firms when it comes to important developments in the entertainment industry. (Except for reissues of obscure jazz releases. Then they're all over public radio...]

We here in 19 Minutesland had been watching the Michael Jackson trial with rapt attention, or at least the last 20 minutes of the trial, while the “King of Pop” made his way back to the courthouse in that motorcade that looked suspiciously OJ-like, televised by the circling helicopters, accompanied by banal observations from commentators who must have once had ideals about the field they were going into.

(It was nice, however, to see the whole Jackson family turn out for the verdict. Here in the newsroom, we engaged in an informal [no wagering] "Spot the Jackson" contest. We believe we spotted them all -- Janet, Tito, LaToya, Jesse, Reggie, Shoeless Joe, Keith, Alan, Glenda, and Andrew. Let me know if we missed anyone.)

But our interest here fell way short of the real interest as reflected in this news release illustrating what passes for a sidebar to the Michael Jackson story:

The verdict is in and Michael Jackson, dubbed the “King of Pop,” has been found not guilty on all charges. As word of Jackson’s acquittal quickly spread, support for the legendary pop star and nostalgia for his work began surfacing on Amazon.com almost immediately.

Supporters of Jackson are stocking their catalogues with hits and rarities from his recording career. A quick glance at Amazon.com's Movers & Shakers for Music (www.amazon.com/movers-and-shakers) illustrates the intense customer demand for Jackson’s work as fans celebrate yesterday’s history-making news.


Just hours after news of the verdict broke, Michael Jackson albums were already taking over Amazon’s “Movers & Shakers” list for Music, holding four of the top five spots on Tuesday morning.

The Michael Jackson verdict propelled Off the Wall (remastered 2001 bonus edition), onto Amazon.com’s "Movers & Shakers" list for Music hours after the news broke. Currently, the sales rank of Off The Wall has jumped 2,975 percent, from No. 4,060 to No. 132 on Amazon.com's Music Top Sellers list, making it No. 2 on Amazon.com's "Movers & Shakers" list for Music.

Michael Jackson: The Ultimate Collection has seen a 2,830 percent increase in sales rank from No. 7,883 to No. 269 on Amazon.com’s Top Sellers list for Music. The album is No. 3 on Amazon.com’s “Movers & Shakers” list of Music

Thriller (remastered 2001 bonus edition) spiked from No. 1,504 to No. 89 on Amazon.com’s Top Sellers list for Music, an overnight increase of 1,589 percent in sales rank. It is No. 4 on Amazon.com's "Movers & Shakers" list for Music.
I'm just not sure I get the Michael Jackson cult of personality. I mean, even if you can get past the Charles Foster Kane's Xanadu-on-acid nature of the whole Neverland Ranch business, what exactly is it about the guy's personality that inspired the numbers of people to show up outside the courthouse and the ranch to show support?

Yeah, "Thriller" was a smash hit, and a pretty good album. Not my favorite, really, but it's tough to leave it off the list of best albums of the 1980s. But it's not like the lyrics to "The Girl is Mine" are anymore significant than "Jesse's Girl" by Rick Springfield. Nor do they speak to anyone in the kind of intimate way that a songs like Springsteen's "Thunder Road", "Closer to Fine" by the Indigo Girls, or even "Hip-Hug Her" by Booker T and the M.G.'s can. (Yeah, okay, "Hip-Hug Her" is an instrumental. My point exactly.)

On the other hand, the fact that it took the Not Guilty verdict to cause Michael Jackson music sales to shoot through the roof also raises some questions -- namely, what goes through the minds of a person who bases his music buying decisions on the California legal system? ["Say! I guess he's innocent! I guess I can't put off that "Off The Wall" purchase any longer! Honey, grab my MasterCard..."] And why would people wait for an innocent verdict to buy Michael Jackson CDs, but keep buying James Brown records, regardless of his legal status? And what about Snoop Dogg? (I don't really know anything about Snoop Dogg, but I thought he deserved a mention here.) And, most importantly, when will they convict all the American Idol contestants?

But I have to say I'm relieved at the Jackson verdict. If nothing, it spared us all the specter of the weirdest cover of "Folsom Prison Blues" ever recorded.

[An update: Meanwhile, the Achenblog has some interesting and potentially more amusingly inflammatory things to say about the Jackson case...]

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