Sunday, 28 June 2009

R.I.P. it up and start again

I see that, following Michael Jackson's death the other day (apologies to anyone reading this who may not be aware of his sad and scarcely-reported demise, by the way), sales of his back catalogue have skyrocketed. Seven of his albums are expected to be riding high in the UK charts this week, for example, including his greatest hits album Number Ones at, funnily enough, number one.

The download charts are similarly top-heavy with Wacko product, with a whopping eight of his albums in the current iTunes top ten best sellers list, while record shops all over the, erm, shop are selling out of his CDs almost as quickly as they're putting them on the shelves.

I liked the "tribute" on the Amazon front page the other day, by the way, that said something like: "Michael Jackson has died. Share your favourite thoughts about the great man in our special guestbook" - but which somehow managed to avoid adding: "Oh, and while you're there why not stock up on his albums from our very competitively-priced store." The temptation must have been great.

Going slightly, but not altogether, off topic, I noticed that the two big rolling news channels in the UK, BBC News 24 and Sky News, both had the legend MICHAEL JACKSON IS DEAD emblazoned across the screen in huge letters just above the news tickers all day on Friday, even when the news of the unfortunate megastar's demise had been in the public domain for almost 24 hours. It was almost as if they couldn't believe their luck in having such a big story to fill their bulletins with all day, or something.

Again, top marks for restraint must go to whoever decides these things for, in their obvious excitement, not adding an exclamation mark or three at the end of the onscreen headline: MICHAEL JACKSON IS DEAD!!! (Or even writing it in textspeak: MICHEAL JACKSEN IZ WEL DEAD INNIT WTF?? LOOLZ!!!???. Gawd help us.)

Anyway, back to the subject in hand. I do wonder just what the thought processes of the people buying all this Michael Jackson stuff are: "Well, I wasn't that fussed about him while he was alive, really, but now that he's dead I think he's great and must own everything he ever recorded immediately!"

I mean, they can't all be people who are too young to remember him first time round; and it's not as if he's been out of the headlines and therefore the public consciousness (whatever that is) all that much in recent years. A lot of the time those headlines weren't exactly positive either. Odd.

It's hardly a unique phenomenon, of course, this massive posthumous rise in sales; similar things happened in the past with John Lennon and Kurt Cobain, to name but two, when sales of their respective back catalogues shot up (sorry, poor choice of words there) as soon as they karked it.

Then, of course, we had Elton John's 1997 update of Candle In The Wind, recorded and released soon after Lady Di died (di-ed) - which I believe went on to become the highest-selling single of all time in the UK. And what a load of mawkish old bollocks that was. But the Candle In The Wind debacle more than anything just goes to show you: death sells. And how. Would you like a bag with that?

Altered Images - Dead Pop Stars mp3


fiftypercent said...

Very true. One of the reasons I didn't feel the need to comment on my blog. Having shunned him for about 15 years I think it's a little disingenuous for the media to pretend otherwise.

A great dancer, a decent singer, one of the best pop performers of his time. But when all's said and done, aside from his entertainment legacy, he remained an icon for the perverseness, selfishness, spaced out, unrealistic, naive, tortured and exploited nature of fame in all it's stark reality.

Davy H said...

'Karked it' - whadda phrase x

dickvandyke said...

Hear hear.
I agree entirely.

Cogent view of his karking!

The phrase 'may he rest in peace' seems overwhelmingly redundant.