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sexta-feira, 10 de setembro de 2010

Michael Jackson & Elvis Presley: Pretty boys gone wild
By Sheri Levine , Canwest News Service     July 3, 2009

First there was Elvis, the “King of Rock ‘n’ Roll,” then came Michael, the “King of Pop;” the only two musical artists ever to be anointed the title of King. Both their reigns came to an eerily similar, tragic end.

Each artist belonged to a generation coming of age in very different eras — the baby boomers grew up with Elvis while the subsequent generation laid claim to Jackson. But Jackson’s surprising death Thursday has not only sparked an outpouring of grief among fans and the music industry, but impromptu celebrations of his music. In death come the tributes and dissection of the superstar’s legacy — the good, the bad and the ugly.

And comparison’s to the first King, the one who elevated rock ‘n’ roll to dizzying heights, are inevitable.

Both musicians were troubled, both changed the landscape of popular culture with their music and style, both died too young, were victims of fame, and broke musical and cultural barriers. The untimely end of both men’s lives was shocking and tragic. Elvis overdosed on pills and there’s wide speculation that pills may have also contributed to Jackson’s death.

Elvis wasn’t nearly as eccentric as Jackson, but they both underwent physical transformations leaving them shadows of their former selves. Jackson started his career as the adorable, charismatic lead singer of the Jackson 5 who became a teen idol. Both Jackson and Elvis were pretty boys, adored by millions of screaming teenage girls.

Jackson underwent a backwards evolution by starting off as a regular, handsome young man who evolved into a strange, almost alien-like caricature — the man in the mirror staring back without any remnants of the Michael Jackson of old.

Elvis’s transformation wasn’t as extreme, but still dramatic given his start as a gorgeous, highly-sexual performer who burst onto the scene seemingly out of nowhere in the 1950s. By the 1970s, Elvis’s leading-man good looks had faded as he battled health problems and his weight. In one of his later performances he would appear dazed, bloated and unable to remember the lyrics to one of his most famous songs — Are You Lonesome Tonight.

Both Jackson and Elvis struggled with health problems and abused prescription drugs. They also had problems with their weight — Elvis packed on the pounds while Jackson shed too many.

Their upbringings were very different, but they had in common humble beginnings. Jackson grew up in Gary, Indiana; Elvis in Tupelo, Mississippi.

But what Jackson and Elvis contributed to popular music remains unsurpassed — Jackson is ranked alongside Elvis and The Beatles as the biggest pop sensations of all time. When Elvis first came onto the music scene he was doing what no one could even conceive of doing — his gyrating dance moves were too sexual and too controversial for the time, (so much so that one of his first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show was filmed from the waist up only.) Elvis moved like no other. His music crossed racial barriers by appealing to both black and white audiences due to his sound; a mix of rhythm and blues, soul and rock. He is regarded as the first “white man” to play “black man’s” music.

Jackson also broke a racial divide with a sound combining synthesized pop, R & B, hip hop and rock, which also appealed to both black and white listeners. In the infancy of music videos, Jackson was not only a pioneer of the new genre, but the first black artist to gain constant airplay on MTV. His spectacular dance moves, like Elvis, were natural and seamless, and bridged the gap between urban subculture and mainstream pop culture. Jackson’s (dance) moves were unlike anything anyone had seen before and like Elvis, the movements were innate gifts.

When Jackson and Elvis were on stage they couldn’t help but move to the beat of their own drummer.

They even had widely-known private sanctuaries — Jackson had Neverland, Elvis had Graceland. For Jackson, Neverland was a place to reclaim his lost childhood, a place where he could escape into his own fantasies. Meanwhile, Graceland provided Elvis with the solace and calm he often sought away from the spotlight.

John Lennon once said: “Before there was Elvis there was nothing.” And so perhaps that is why he is the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, the one people couldn’t help falling in love with. But the King of Pop isn’t too far behind. Jackson thrilled audiences just the same; he was bad, accused of being dangerous, but in the end he wasn’t invincible. He may be gone, but it’s unlikely he’ll be dethroned any time soon.

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

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