It’s not all that surprising that the wake of Michael Jackson’s death has resulted in the pop titan possessing more than a third of the slots on the current iTunes Top 100. But the top-selling song on that chart is an unexpected one: It’s “Man In The Mirror,” the inspirational track from his 1987 album Bad that spent two weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 the following spring.
“Man In The Mirror” was by no means a minor hit for Jackson, and a good portion of its current chart success relative to monster tracks in his catalogue like “Beat It” and “Thriller” can probably be ascribed to the simple fact that a lot of people likely own those songs already–or are buying the album, which occupies Nos. 2 and 5 on the iTunes Store’s album chart. But part of me can’t help but wonder if the success of the pleading, self-motivating “Mirror” is also a sign that people are growing weary of the age of degraded celebrity, of which Jackson served as a sort of founding father and to which he will probably continue to be essential long after his death. Perez Hilton–whose pink-clad rump has been the ass of the nu-gilded age and its tailspin into being confused over whether it loves, despises, or wants to be part of the “famous” crowd–has spent much of this week melting down; the just-as-vile TMZ, meanwhile, is using its scooping of everyone else on the news that Jackson had passed on yesterday as a springboard into being taken seriously as a news source:
If the lack of widespread credit bothered Harvey Levin, the managing editor of TMZ, he wasn’t admitting it.
“That’s typical,” Levin said during a phone interview when asked about rivals’ hesitation to credit the site. “No matter what they say, people know we broke the story. That’s how competitors handle it. There’s no issue about our credibility.
“Today I made 100 phone calls, and everyone else made 100 calls,” Levin said of his staff. “Everyone blanketed the city. . . . We were getting calls from everyone under the sun, established news operations, asking, ‘Are you sure?’ That’s such an odd question. We would not have published it if it were not true.”
I know that on a personal level, my antipathy toward crediting TMZ as the lone source was the possibility that doing so would legitimize its other, grosser antics. Which they will probably continue to engage in, and which will probably continue to cause a lot of stomach-churning, hand-wringing, and insane traffic spikes. But for how much longer?
The full roster of Michael Jackson tracks on the iTunes chart as of this writing:
Michael Jackson – Man In The Mirror [Dailymotion]