Michael Joseph Jackson, the now-late “King of Pop”, was an icon beyond imaginable expectations and vision. In his life and now, death, Jackson has and will continue to influence people all around the world with his songs of love and superstar performances. Throughout the past 30 years, some of the greatest music artists of America have been touched by his presence, and these are some of the ones who shine brightest, in his present absence:
A former teen sensation himself, Usher Raymond is probably the closest current performer to Michael Jackson in terms of singing style and album anticipation. A friend of Jackson’s, Usher is the principal reason for the return of the popularity of choreographed dancing with current R&B; acts, and has come the closest to Mike in 25 years with his 2004 “Confessions” album being the best-selling R&B;/pop album in the 2000s.
Pharrell Williams & Chad Hugo (The Neptunes)
While The Neptunes have worked with a number of artists, much of their material that has been used by a variety of singing stars pays homage to Mike Jack. With one aspect of their unique sound being heard in the form of dramatic chord progression with crescendos and decrescendos being ubiquitous, The Neptunes have seemed to channel a Jackson-esque sound, particularly with Justin Timberlake, but even more so when Pharrell is also singing on songs, as he utilizes much of the same vocal stylings that made Michael a heartthrob in the late Seventies and early Eighties.
Compared often to The King of Pop and to his friend (rival?) Usher, JT is a de facto heir in the Jackson family of admiring music artists. Not unlike Jackson, his outstanding talent as a dancer and a high-range vocalist has lent him the honor of being compared to Jackson ever since his former N*Sync days. Interestingly enough, several of the Neptunes-produced songs on his debut solo album “Justified” were originally produced and intended for MJ in 2001.
Probably Michael’s equal as a female music artist, no one comes closer to him as an entertainer, and surprisingly, Janet could possibly be the better overall performer than her brother. Because of MJ’s influence, Janet became the virtual queen of contemporary pop/R&B; in sampling Mike’s flare for the dance floor and exciting and emotional songs which invigorated the music industry from the mid Eighties to the late Nineties.
A virtual equal to Jackson as a songwriter, many of Kelly’s most grandiose and rich compositions have been either for MJ (“You Are Not Alone”, “One More Chance”) or for himself, but inspired by the pop king (“Gotham City”, “I Believe I Can Fly”, “You Saved Me”, “Trapped In The Closet”). An odd pairing on multiple levels, both artists were at their best when they channeled each other as vocalists.
Though a derivative of Usher and Timberlake, much of Chris Brown’s root influence stems from Jackson. Brown is known for being more of a freestyle dancer and an underrated singer, but his youth and energy can give the young Michael a run for his own money. Also a teen idol like Jackson of the “Off The Wall” days, Brown, 20, is in the position of making the same transition that his idol did in catering to a more mature audience with an advanced sound.
The female equivalent to MJ ever since her arrival to the music scene in the Eighties, Madonna has strikingly given herself global appeal by consistently refining her style and jazzing up her sound for a number of releases that she has made available to the public, a signature trait of Jackson’s career.
While much has been made of her sometimes-questionable singing ability, Ciara passes the eye test as an entertainer overall. Jackson is the prime person of influence on the R&B; princess by osmosis, as most of the aforementioned artists are current contemporaries that also looked up to MJ directly for inspiration.
A rapper, yes, but Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter has drawn many comparisons to The King of Pop for his unique style and cultural influence in America, and Jay-Z has even started to carry his influence across the world as a sort-of global rock star. The Jiggaman has gone on record to self-comparison with Jackson on several occasions and made his own point clear when he was featured on Jackson’s “You Rock My World (Remix)” in 2002.
Also a global star coming from the hip hop music sector, Kanye West built his career as a producer sampling the likes of Jackson on the Jay-Z smash 2001 hit “H.O.V.A. (Izzo)”, utilizing the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back” and emphasized further his adoration for MJ on his 2007 hit “Good Life” with T-Pain, which sampled “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)”, a cult classic from Jackson’s “Thriller” album.
Menudo, New Edition, New Kids On The Block, N*Sync, B5
All of the above groups made use of the techniques that The Jackson 5/Jacksons created in the Sixties, largely with utilizing variances in members’ age range, a plethora of dance steps and five-part harmonies. Not surprisingly, each group had at least one designated group member that acted as a lead singer (and the unofficial heartthrob of the band).