Friday, June 9, 2017

REVIEW: Michael Jackson: Style by Stacey Appel

My rating: 4.5/5
When ‘Got to be There’ became a hit in 1972, Michael wanted to perform the song while wearing the applejack hat pictured on the cover of the album. He knew the audience would go bananas seeing him in that familiar cap, but his idea was rejected. When Donny Osmond imitated the style and started sporting a similar chapeau, the concert crowds went predictably crazy, Michael knew to always trust his instincts and it was a lesson he never forgot. Later in his career, he almost always wore variations of the white pinstripes suit when performing ‘Smooth Criminal’ and was never without a red zipper jacket if he was singing ‘Beat It’. Even years after these songs disappeared from the charts. The clothes remain inextricably linked to the lyrics and Michael made sure no one forgot them (as if we ever could). He loved his fans like few artists do and pleasing us was of utmost importance. And if sweating beneath a wolf mask during ‘Thriller’ was going to be met with jubilant enthusiasm, then he was all for it. Screams from the audience were like currency to him and in that respect, he was the wealthiest man who ever lived. -Stacey Appel
Michael Jackson: Style by Stacey Appel is glamorous. I'm impressed by how light Appel's writing is, and her reliability with information. Also, the fact that this volume is innocuous to Michael's legacy is a huge bonus for us MJ fans. However, the most dazzling feature of this book is the splendid (colored) photographic fiesta that covers his style (and his major achievements) starting from his early career to This Is It.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

REVIEW: The Dangerous Philosophies of Michael Jackson: His Music, His Persona, and His Artistic Afterlife by Elizabeth Amisu

My rating: 4.5/5
The unjustified ideas that Michael Jackson did not like being black, did not affirm his blackness, or did not feel pride in being a black man were unequivocally rebuffed throughout his life. He disproved those ideas not only in his short films and in his music, but also in his interviews (which were often given intentionally to black interviewers like Jesse Jackson and Oprah Winfrey), showing how much Jackson felt comfortable among people of his own ethnicity, who he clearly felt would be more sympathetic to him. The claim that Jackson purposely changed his skin was a complete fabrication that served to justify a racist assertion that any black man would desire to become white in the first place. The claim that Jackson's music style shifted from being inherently “black” to being more “mainstream” was also a fabrication. Jackson offered a less mainstream and more rhythmic sound in his later career. In addition, Jackson's so-called racial confusion was a third and final fallacy. What Jackson's work did, which was perhaps more controversial in America, was to show black people as a whole, and himself in particular, in positions of high status, which jarred greatly with the American culture of blacks as subjugated and segregated second-class citizens. However, what was spectacular about Jackson's Afrocentrism was how well articulated and consistent it was, and how little it rose up against the claims of his critics. He chose instead to remain synonymous with a message of peace and harmony. Jackson never showed a hierarchy of racial representation, and he opted instead for a message of egalitarianism for all ethnicities. -Elizabeth Amisu

Sunday, May 21, 2017

REVIEW: I Can See Clearly Now by Wayne W. Dyer

My rating: 5/5
“As I come to the end of looking back at my life up until now, I’m grateful to have been able to see so much more clearly how and why so many of the events, circumstances, and teachers showed up to guide me on this path of self-discovery. All my life I wanted to feel the excitement of being a person who would and could make a difference in this world. There has been invisible guidance there for me each and every step of the way, just as there is for you as well.”
Luckily for me, I haven't read except one book by Dr. Wayne Dyer, which is Wishes Fulfilled. I must say that my experience with Wishes Fulfilled was not enchanting, hence I haven't read anything else by him since I finished that book until I stumbled upon I Can See Clearly Now, and I listened to its audio book that is narrated by the author himself.

REVIEW: Xscape Origins: The Songs & Stories Michael Jackson Left Behind by Damien Shields

My rating: 5/5
“[Michael was] the most creative, innovative genius that walked the face of Earth,” says Jerkins. “And he was a really good man. I spent a lot of time with Michael in and outside the studio and he was just a great man. Working with him was the best experience of my life.”
Xscape Origins is a superb analysis of the posthumous album, Xscape. However, what makes this book special is how it shows you the master (Michael Joseph Jackson) at work and demonstrates clearly his creative genius. I, for one, was devastated with the remixed versions of Michael's work for a variety for reasons (I mean, have you heard the hideous "remixed" version of A Place with No Name? Good lord!) but I highly appreciated the originals versions, and I confess that I listened to them on repeat for a long, long time. Now, Damien Shields's work is a great companion to the album (original versions) as Shield takes us on a splendid journey into how each track was created, and let us into Michael's original concept told to us by Michael's close collaborators (producers, technicians, songwriters, and musicians) that were there working with the master himself.  The highest highlight of the book is, that unlike many other books about Michael Jackson's genius, Shield's extensively focuses on Michael's vocal mastery with anecdotes and vital information that largely covers his unique vocal delivery

Thursday, May 11, 2017

REVIEW: Michael Jackson: Making History by Adrian Grant

My rating: 5/5
I believe that is one of the reasons we love Michael, not only is he the world's greatest performer, able to make us smile with a single pirouette, but he is also a great poet whose thoughts can truly touch us. He is a child of the universe and he shares his love and wisdom with us all. -Adrian Grant
Grant associated closely with Michael Jackson for over 10 years and he grants the readers an exclusive interview with the King himself for this gorgeous colored picture-book.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

REVIEW: My Family, The Jacksons by Katherine Jackson

My rating: 4/5

“Michael is amazing. I’m not saying that because he’s my son; I really do find him that way. When he is with a celebrity, he “grows up” to their age. But then he has his candy store and his doll collection, and he rolls around on the floor with his nieces and nephews as if he were a child. He’s young. He’s old. As I said, he's amazing.”

Katherine Jackson is her children's biggest fan. That's what the first and last thought that stayed in my mind while and after I finished reading her only autobiography. They made her proud. However, what's more noticeable is her relationship with her son, Michael. Although, she might deny that she has any favorite child but it is so obvious reading these pages that he held a very special place in her heart.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

REVIEW: The King of Style: Dressing Michael Jackson by Michael Bush

My rating: 5/5

Check out my academic review on The Journal of Michael Jackson Academic Studies
“He didn't believe in the word can't. If a little boy from Gary, Indiana, the seventh child in a family of nine children, could teach himself to dance in a pair of ordinary shoes, then anything is possible.”
The King of Style charts the journey of Michael Jackson with his exclusive fashion designers Michael Bush and Dennis Tompkins. It's very rare to find such an intimate yet informative book about Michael that doesn't include some dirt or terrible commentaries. This one is perfect, every thing about it is exquisite starting from the majestic book cover to the content. It's filled with plethora of color photographs of Michael's clothing, along with Bush's thoughts, commentaries and entertaining reminiscences.

What makes this book a precious and a must read is the plentiful of information and anecdotes, which show us another side of Michael that was never explored before. Michael did not just wear random nicely made clothes, no. He with the help of his team (Dennis and Bush) created a “wearable art”. So, to study him, one must study the meaning behind his fashion.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

REVIEW: The First Book of Michael by Syl Mortilla

My rating: 2.5/5

I approach each read with open mindedness as I'm not the my-way-or-the-highway type of readers. is a book that didn't resonate well with the fans. Most of us just overlooked it because of the controversy of its author.  I won't be delving into that in my review but if you wish to know about it, check here, here, and here to read the mentioned article. I decided to look beyond the controversy and thoroughly read this book out of curiosity. So, I'm keeping my review solely on this book.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

REVIEW: Michael Jackson and the Blackface Mask by Harriet J. Manning

My rating: 4.5/5

Check out my academic review on The Journal of Michael Jackson Academic Studies.
"Blackness was for Jackson, not skin color but music, dance, and artistic sensibility [and the] quest for human dignity."
Every once in a while, we stumble upon a precious book that opens a new dimension that leaves us overwhelmed with its remarkability. Harriet Manning's Michael Jackson and the Blackface Mask is one of those books. What signifies it more than the usual Michael Jackson books is that although it could be regarded as a textbook (in the best sense of the word) due to its substantial content; Harriet is one hell of a story-teller and she is able to write her scholarly research in a way that's interesting to both academics and non-academics.

The minstrel show was the popular entertainment form of the 19th century, in which white men dressed up as black plantation slaves and savagely parodied their gesture, dance, music and ideas. Harriet Manning puts the forgotten legacy of blackface minstrelsy into display. Her argument is that despite the fact that the literal blackface mask is dead, its legacy continues to be subtly present in the contemporary pop culture. The fundamental intent for this book is to examine the continuum of blackface minstrelsy embodied by Michael Jackson, both as a phenomenal figure and as an artist.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

REVIEW: Facing the Music and Living to Talk About It by Nick Carter

My rating: 4/5

I grew up as a hardcore Backstreet boys fan and they were a big part of my life, however, I honestly wasn't expecting to like this book because Nick Carter was indeed my least favorite of the boys and that's the reason why I took too long to purchase it but when I finally did, I couldn't put it down. The fan in me was quite immersed that I couldn't read it fast enough.