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Song of the Day #940

Song of the Day: P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing), words and music by James Ingram and Quincy Jones, was the sixth single release from Michael Jackson's Grammy award winning and all-time best selling album, Thriller (which generated seven Top Ten hits in total).  I've highlighted so many of Jackson's songs through the years on my "Song of the Day"; today, I feature this one in the wake of his death. It's just fun ... a reminder of what fun Jackson's music was. And, well, "now is the perfect time..."


Not to diminish your enthusiasm for Michael Jackson, for music is to be judged by its effect, after all, and his music was undeniably effectual on a certain level, but he was not a melodist. He, rather, was a motifist. But so was Beethoven not a melodist nor Brahms. Except they were not repetitious. There was a richness of motific development in their works that Jackson's works lack. Granting that a pop composition doesn't allow the time for development as involved as a composition by either of the two Bs, nonetheless, it does allow time for melodic development, e.g., Paul Simon, Cole Porter, The Beatles, Creedence Clearwater, and so on. And if melodic, surely motific. I think a lot of the appeal of Jackson was the entertainment value of his dancing routines that distracted from the paucity of musical ideas. I'm not dogmatic about this.

I'm glad you're not dogmatic about this. :)

Truthfully, as you might be able to tell from "My Favorite Songs," the "Song of the Day" listings are quite diverse. They go from classical and jazz to pop, disco, Broadway and cinematic scores. I love Cole Porter and the Beatles too! My love of them and others, however, does not diminish my love for Michael Jackson, the entertainer.

Jackson was, quite simply, an extraordinary song and dance man. I think of him in terms of that whole package: a composer and songwriter, yes, and we can debate technically whether or not his musical ideas suffered from "paucity" (I think not: he composed great danceable pop tunes and some searching ballads, and knew his way around some rather menacing lyrics).

But he was also a soulful performer: his delivery was rich in the rhythm and blues, and steeped in the history of soul, influenced by Jackie Wilson and James Brown for sure, but also very much of his own voice. He could give us an astonishing falsetto. He could attack a lyric with percussive intensity and wonderfully bluesy inflection.

Yes, his dance routines were terrific... but, as I said, he was a "song-and-dance man." And, for me, seeing him in concert, listening to his music, and responding to it on a very personal level is what matters most.

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