The Savage Animal 08.28.13: The Album Covers Of Michael Jackson
Posted by Mikey MiGo on 08.28.2013
Michael Jackson is known for many things, but how does his album cover history measure up? In this 359th edition of The Savage Animal, Mike looks at the album art of the ‘King of Pop’. This, the Top 7 Football Movies EVER, a review of Admission, and the ‘worst case scenario’ for the WWE Network! Click it or ticket! It’s the law!
"Top 7 Football Movies": The NFL season is starting soon so it's time to put away the Sundays best and dust off the obnoxious jerseys and fan gear. In America we call the NFL game "football". For America, it's "soccer". I think that's why America never fully gets behind soccer. The word "soccer" sounds lame. But the word "football" has some oomph to it. "Are you ready for the some footbaaaaaaaall?!" sounds so much better than "Are you ready for some soccer?"
That said, I love football. I grew up in the Chicagoland area so I've been trained and raised to love the Bears. I know it's like that for most people. Actually, if you're the dick that likes a team that's not from your general area or from a place you lived for more than a little while then you're someone you can't trust. Seriously, probably 9 out of 10 "non-local fans" are the first people who'll eat us when the zombies attack. They don't know loyalty.
Loyalty and not eating people is just two of many traits I think about when thinking about football. The movies that have been made about football capture the spirit of the game on many levels. Some of the football movies suck and some rock. I made a list! I didn't include "The Longest Yard", original or remake on this list. "Jerry McGuire" is a great movie, but not too heavy on the football. "The Program" stands out, as does "The Last Boy Scout", and the underrated classic "Seems Like Old Times". It's mostly guilty pleasures, but here's my top seven list.
This is one of the best "heartwarming" sports movies I can think of. It doesn't try too hard to be anything but a great story about an underdog getting his due time in the spotlight. The cast is awesome too. Lots of people pop up in it that I bet you've forgotten about.
6.) THE WATERBOY
This movie is so annoying that I still like it. Adam Sandler's silliness is something that's sorely missed in today's landscape. His style has definitely changed since this time frame. He plays a naive-do gooder who is a devote water boy for the crappy local college. What happens when they find out he's got an amazing arm? Hilarity, that's what!
5.) LITTLE GIANTS
This is an awesome kid's movie. Ed O'Neil and Rick Moranis lead two teams of children to play one big game to decide which team gets to represent the city and be the official team. Ed's team is made up of the typical jocks, but Moranis's team is the under dogs. You know that common scene where one kid goes on a mission and picks up new people along the way to join their cause until they have a team of their own.
"Football." Goldie Hawn rocks this movie. It's an 80's movie about football. The team gets a very unlikely coach in the form of Goldie Hawn. She has to balance her home life and make sure her team wins the big game and stays out of trouble. This isn't a great movie, but it's a fun football movie. I'm actually surprised that a sitcom version of this didn't happen.
3.) THE REPLACEMENTS
The cast is awesome in this one. It's a little football movie that doesn't seem to ever get any love. The NFL's on strike and the owners decide to go with replacement players, scabs, for you kind union folks. They get a rag-tag group together of fun and wacky characters, but Hackman and Reeves make this movie pretty legit.
2.) NECESSARY ROUGHNESS
I was a big fan of this movie growing up. I've not seen it in years and maybe that's for the best. I remember it being awesome fun. The cast was cool. It was about a Texas college team that sucked. They put together a rag-tag team and go at it against the world. And really, any movie that introduces a young pre-teen boy to Kathy Ireland is a good thing. This was a really fun movie.
1.) ANY GIVEN SUNDAY
Oliver Stone gets praise for a lot of movies, but it seems that people forget about Any Given Sunday. Outside of Pacino stealing the show, especially with his AMAZING monologue, this movie's cast is killer. Jamie Foxx comes out in this movie and shows off that he can really act if given the chance. We also get Cameron Diaz, LL Cool J, Quaid, LT, and A LOT more. The cast is overflowing with bad ass people.
What is YOUR favorite football movie?!
The Album Covers Of Michael Jackson
King of Pop… Art? Michael Jackson is the "King of Pop". I don't care if you hate him for what you've been fed as his public persona. I don't care if you think pop music sucks. I don't care if you think Prince is/was better. As interesting and controversial as the man's storied history was, Michael Jackson is and will always be the "King of Pop".
He released some of the most successful albums of all time. We all know the words to the hit singles and love digging deep into the vault to hear the old B-sides and tracks we forgot about. I've forgotten more facts about Michael Jackson than I'll ever know about some United States presidents. Despite the fact I consider myself to be a fairly bright guy who knows a little about a lot of various topics, but I know for a fact that I'm not alone in that. I know that says A LOT about the American education system, but it always says a whole lot about the impact Michael Jackson had just by existing and sharing his art with the world.
I don't need to sugar coat this. It's Michael Jackson. I'm from the same area he and his family grew up in and I've always had a place in my heart of the music and joy he brought to the table. You have your opinion of the man and that's you're right, but the music and art is what I want to get into. We know the words to his songs, we know the dance moves from the videos, and we all have tried to moonwalk at least twice in our lives.
But what about the album covers? So much focus and detail has been put into every aspect of this man's career that I wonder if that rolls over to the album art. I can already think of a few covers just off the top of my head of his that are iconic. Today we're going to look at the album art of the ten studio releases of Michael Jackson.
Album: Got to Be There
After years of tearing up the pop world with his brothers, Michael's first solo album was a pretty nice starting point. "Rockin' Robin", "Got to Be There", and "Ain't No Sunshine" stand out just off the top of my head. The cover is simple. It's a photo of a young Michael Jackson, with a lean and a smile. He's decked out in the wears of the early 70's and the photo is pretty to the point. The text is kind of just there and the name is almost hard to read. The hearts on the name font bother me. The way they did it, it could be "JMichael Jackson". Not good. It's a good photograph, but the layout makes it lackluster. Rating: 5. 0
I never knew the weird "JMichael Jackson" heart font would be a recurring nightmare. I like the boldness of the "BEN" on the front and the lay out this time out is much pretty presented. The photograph is kind of pimp. Michael looks like a bad ass. The out of focus nature background works well with the shot of Michael looking off in the distance. It's still a bubbley enough for girls to swoon over, but it's got some spine to it. The kid on the cover of this album looks worn out and pissed off. Tracks like "Ben" make more sense if take all of this into consideration. Rating: 7. 0
Album: Music & Me
This cover is straight out of the 70's. The lay out, the font, the coloring, and the imagery is pretty much standard fare. In the many resale and thrift shops I've been in, they have boxes full of albums with covers that look like this but with different colors and different faces. It's almost like a template. The album itself is one of the Michael albums that people seem to sleep on. This was a really interest point in his artistic development. He's in that awkward teenager phase. You can see it in the discerning look on his face in the picture and he's holding a guitar so that makes him even more "mysterious". I like this cover because it makes me think about thrift stores, but it doesn't say much for the actual creativity of the cover. Like I said, it's like a template. Rating: 5. 5
Album: Forever, Michael
Is it weird that this cover instantly made me think about Metallica? I think it's the boldness of the black border, the white framing, and the red font. It's just a strong design layout. The photograph of Michael looks to be his headshot autographed "Forever, Michael". It's not that flattering of a photograph. He just looks a little awkward and uneasy. I guess the CD version cropped the border off, which would make it even the weird photo even MORE in your face. He almost looks nerdy. I don't think that'd be the goal of the designer/photographer. Rating: 6. 25
Album: Off the Wall
Here we go! This album cover is awesome. It looks like a snap shot you'd see backstage at a SNL taping. Michael looks happy and to be having a good time. He's in a tuxedo in a playful pose in front of a brick wall. The font is kind of awesome. It's a scratchy look that almost has a "graffiti" look to it. It also helps that this is one of the best albums of Michael's entire discography. It's hard to hear this album AND see this cover and not feel good. Rating: 7. 5
This is one of the most iconic albums of all time, thus this image is embedded into pop culture forever. The music, the videos, and the craze this album caused was unheard of. No one has touched that kind of magnitude. I love the quote J. Randy Taraborrelli had for the phenomenon, "At some point, Thriller stopped selling like a leisure item—like a magazine, a toy, tickets to a hit movie—and started selling like a household staple". It's true. It's a black background with Michael chilling on his side in a white suit jacket and pants. The text portion is still a little weak. The signature is clear, but the word "Thriller" is a bit scribbled. If it weren't obvious Thriller or if I grew up under a rock, I'd have to look twice to read it. He gets away with it because of how iconic it is. You see this cover and tons of sounds and visual memories come at you. It's not the best picture of Michael Jackson and the lay out and font isn't even that great. It's still hard to give it a low score. This is one of those very rare cases where this album cover transcends "art" and goes into an area of being a "symbol". Rating: 8. 5
This is a cool cover. Michael is looking really serious in his black jacket. The background is white and the name and title is clearly there in their respective bold fonts. It's a bold design and a no-bullshit lay out. The songs on this album saw Michael getting a little more aggressive and angry. The singles on this masterpiece are among his best. As a kid, I loved this album more than any of his others. "Thriller" was epic, but this album felt more explosive. It was like Michael had something to not just say in his art, but something to prove. It's not the best shot of Michael, but with the font, the focus, and the attitude I can't hate on it too much. Rating: 7. 75
This album cover is pretty much art. I'm a bit bias towards this release because it's the first release of Michael's that I remember anticipating and going out and buying it with the assistance of my parents. I was just getting into music and forming my tastes at this time so this album got TONS of play on my crappy cassette players. It's not his best album musically. There are some great singles on it, but it's not as epic as his prior releases. Michael's tone seemed to shift to more snarky than the balance of being pissed off and playful. That said, this is my favorite album cover of Michael Jackson's great career. Artist Mark Ryden took months putting this masterpiece together. It's pretty much a collage of symbolist imagery that reflects who Michael Jackson was at the time. It's like a one big circus that's going at full force inside of Michael's head. There is TONS of little hidden things in this cover that have obvious and not-so obvious meanings behind them. I like that. When you can listen to an album and spend more than a song or two taking in the album art then you're not just getting to hear music, but you're getting an experience. Such a cool piece! Rating: 9. 5
Album: HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I
This album always rubbed me the wrong way. I don't know what it was. A few of the singles rocked, but it just didn't have that big of an imprint in my musical lexicon. The cover is pretty interesting. It appears to be a statue of Michael Jackson erected in the orangish clouds of the sky. The image of Michael like a statue isn't cool. I like the cloudy background and eve the simple and classy font but the shot of Michael, the subject of the image, is weird looking. Rating: 6. 5
Michael Jackson looks like an anime character here. The weird pixilation of his eye is interesting gives the art something to take in. It's a subtle cover, obviously, with the faded out and simple shot of Michael's face. It just doesn't pull you in. It feels more like a perfume ad than a cover for an album by one of the most successful artist of all time. The image is dull and that's fine, but it feels dull and that isn't. Rating: 5. 25
What is YOUR favorite Michael Jackson album cover?
Who doesn't love Tina Fey and Paul Rudd? They're two of the most lovable any enjoyable comedic performers alive right now. Paul Rudd is a trusty choice for any movie role. He's consistently awesome and has been in every movie and television show ever made. The dude is just charming. Tina Fey is pretty much in the same boat except she doesn't have the million movie list on her filmography. Her work on SNL and 30 Rock automatically makes her one of the "best female comedy performers ever", but she's more than a sex label. She's blankly one of the best comedic people ever. No need to use a genre. She's witty, relatable, and whatever the female version of "charming" is… she's that too. This movie has both Tina Fey AND Paul Rudd so it has to be great right? Well, sorta. The tone is much more mature than I expected. I wasn't expecting "Bridesmaids" or anything, but the tone to this movie is more comedic drama than comedy. I think I was expecting something a little sharper than "Date Night". I'm not complaining. I just had to adjust my laugh expectations as the movie went on. The story revolves around Tina Fey, a clean-cut admissions offer for Princeton. Everyone wants in and she's one of the filters to decide who's in or not. She's alone and her life is sucking until she meets Paul Rudd. Rudd plays a teacher at an alternative school, has an adopted child, and is really close to one specific teen. Rudd's character connects the teen to Fey as he finds out she may be his biological mother. In the process, some love and laughs happen. It's a romantic comedy. You know how these things work. The story is rarely ever that interesting. You watch because you get emotionally connected to the characters. These two are easy to connect to. The movie was a good experience. I'd not go out of my way to watch it again anytime soon, but it wasn't bad at all. It was a little drab at points and felt a little long, but again I was expecting "Date Night" and not "It's Complicated" for the 40-something. It's a solid romantic comedy starring awesome people. I'd recommend it if you like good rom-coms, the stars, or if you're looking for a good quiet movie to enjoy on a Sunday afternoon. B
"Worst Case Scenario" is a new take on the concept of "fantasy booking". For years professional wrestling fans would spend endless hours of thinking up the coolest things that could happen. Why waste the energy? This only leads to high expectations. "Worst Case Scenario" flips that. Instead of looking through rose colored glasses, let's take a bi-weekly look at the worst possible scenarios in professional wrestling. I'm not going to be malicious or anything too mean, but I will not refrain from letting my brain come up with the worst possible shit I can. Sadly, it seems the writers and producers of mainstream TV wrestling and the mainstream iPPV level indies are doing the same thing but charging us for it. And now…
"The WWE Network Arrives!"
The dream of many wrestling fans for years has been the mumbles of "what if there was a channel that showed NOTHING BUT WRESTLING!" Every wrestling fan that's been a wrestling fan long enough to dream that dream stopped breathing for a few seconds when the WWE announced they were going to be starting their own network.
This was a few years ago. Since making the announcement the WWE has really slowed their promo for it. At first it was coming soon and had some cool dub step promo advertising it. They even shot some promos, shows, and content for the channel. The Surreal Life rip off with old wrestlers was apparently shot and we've never seen it. In the mean time of the WWE announcing this new network they've added shows to the internet, to ION, and now to Bravo. They're spreading themselves out across different networks which makes me think they're slowing down their progress for the network.
If it does happen, great. It'll have tons of awesome content and I'm sure a lot of people will get lost in their programming and will never be seen again. If the WWF had it's own network when I was a child I'm fairly certain I'd have given up on speech and social contact all together. A lot of diehard fans will watch TNA or whatever else they can for the sole reason of "I'm watching it because it's wrestling". If there is a network, where do we "watch just to watch" fans go for help? There is going to have to be a rehab specifically for the WWE addicts.
But what if it sucks? The WWE doesn't ALWAYS deliver the good. Sometimes shit just doesn't work out. What's the worst the WWE could do?
How about a John Cena show? Who wouldn't want to watch a reality show of John Cena going around signing autographs, kissing babies, and taking meetings? If the Divas show on Bravo is any indication, their "worked shoot" idea is going to go reaaaaaally far.
There is also a content issue. It's true that the WWE had a billion hours of wrestling in their archive, but that doesn't mean they're just going to start playing random matches for no reason. They'll have to produce everything into neat programming that they can fully control the content of. If they don't want us to see John Cena lose to Umaga they're not going to show it. It'll be heavily edited and censored. Smaller channels on Direct TV seem to cycle their programming. They'll show a few hours of content a day and just repeat it a few times to fill up space. I'm sure the WWE would do better than that, but why should we get our hopes up?
Remember how people used to bitch about MTV never showing music videos anymore. Let's fast forward a decade for wrestling fans. How unsettling is it that it's REALLY easy to imagine snarky wrestling fans bitching with stuff like "Remember when the WWE Network actually showed wrestling! Gah! All of these reality shows suck!". The only hope we're going to have is if they go the VH1 route and still put out a WWE Classic channel for super nerds.
I can't wait to see all of those unedited ECW promos…. Right?
"THE DEVIL'S RAPTURE"
This movie is going to be a guilty pleasure. It's a small village where they are a really tight religious community. Six girls are born on the same day and on their 18th Birthdays they all start going missing. They tease it as being supernatural related, occult related, and just being screwed up. I recently saw Rob Zombie's "Salem" and it was really good and VERY well done. I doubt the substance of that movie will be here, but I have a feeling the action and jump moments will be bigger. I'm a big fan of Jennifer Carpenter. She is awesome on Dexter, but I've enjoyed seeing her in other things. She's seemingly perfect for horror movies and things like that. He just has a strong knack at emoting a "holy shit!" freak out vibe and at the same time "holy shit! Now I'm going to fuck shit up!" vibe is there too. It's a great balance. The rest of the cast is pretty interesting too. Lots of familiar faces. But let's not "get it twisted" as the kids say, I'm there for Jennifer Carpenter.
That's all for now! It's been another week. I'm particularly happy with this week's column. The content is just "above average" on my own personal grading curve. I'm excited about the NFL season starting up, Autumn is almost here, and next week is a three day weekend! Raise the roof! I wrote a column about old music related commercials, but I've been putting it off because I wanted to put it out to cross promote my upcoming comedy video, but it's just not going to happen. The column is getting dropped next week and should be a fun read. The comedy video has been taking a little longer than wanted, but the past two production days are coming and then I just have to edit it down and get it all pretty for everyone. So realistically, "Unpaid Programming 2" will released around Halloween but sooner the better. After next week, we hit a very important anniversary. It'll be the anniversary of Kanye West interrupting Taylor Swift! I have a whole ramble ready to unleash about it in a retrospective piece. After that, I'm going balls out with TWO two-part Top 20 lists. I'll be looking at the "Top 20 Frontmen Under 40" and the "Top 20 Non-Music Rockstars". After all of this gets out there, we'll be at that point where I'll have to figure out the next step. We'll see! Until next time… Have a Great Week!