So hopefully Oct. 2, 2013, will be remembered not so much as the day that AEG dodged a bullet/the Jackson family was denied justice (take your pick), but as the day that his musical legacy begins an uninterupted ascent.
Billie Holiday was a lifelong junkie and died a horrible death, after all, but that detail pales beside her work with Lester Young.
One glimpse at pop music in 2013 is enough to confirm that Jackson's musical spirit, that floating body of rhythm and bliss that typified his best work, is drifting through contemporary music at a steady clip. Hints of his sound permeate both hip clubs and the dance underground, and hum through the new frontiers of contemporary R&B.
The classic sound of Jackson circa "Off the Wall," "Thriller" and "Bad," for example, dots the new album "Days Are Gone" by Los Angeles sister group Haim. The stuttering lines that pepper the chorus of "Forever" are pure "Off the Wall" groove, worked into a funky stomp but fully connected to the joy of MJ release. "Go Slow" rolls along with the candlelit grace of "Human Nature."
Another relatively recent nod was delivered by Toronto seducer and Drake collaborator the Weeknd, whose breakout EP, "Echoes of Silence," featured a much lauded cover of "Dirty Diana" woven into his alt-soul groove.
Most prominently, this summer the wickedly funky guitar lines snaking through
So good riddance to the gory details. We've been reminded of the artist's flaws pretty much nonstop for the past few decades. He's dead and the blame has been legally resolved. Now let MJ rest in peace, so the melodies and grooves that changed the course of global pop can continue to wend their way through contemporary culture, blossoming in wonderfully unpredictable ways.
"Just take it slow, 'cause we got so far to go" indeed.