Michael Jackson: Pop Star in Life and in Death

Are we, as a nation merely morbid and ghoulish when it comes to the death of a celebrity, or, are we something more? There is no doubt we are all drawn to the strange and different while always curious about our own mortality (and that of others, especially celebrity). At the same time, as with the recent death of pop icon Michael Jackson, we gravitate to emotion and nostalgia and what such an artist (and his music) meant to us. We want to experience “the good times” again in order to temper our grief.

Record-setting record sales upon an artist’s death are certainly nothing new (consider Elvis and John Lennon, for example). Yet, just as Michael Jackson broke down all barriers related to sales, convention and race in life, his record-breaking modus operandi continues in death.

This week, his “Number Ones” CD has supplanted the latest release from the Black Eyed Peas on the Billboard Top 200 chart, at, fittingly Number One (with sales of 108,000 to 88,000). Peas, in fact drop to 4th place in sales, behind “Essential Michael Jackson” (102,000 copies) and “Thriller” (101,000). In all, an astounding 421,1000 copies of his solo LPs have sold in the past week (up considerably from the 10,000 sold in the week just prior to his passing). When you note that the Peas’ total sales are for a 3-week period, these numbers, today, are even more incredible.

On iTunes, Jackson has 38 songs in the Top 100, including 8 of the Top 10 most downloaded tunes; Ringtones, similarly, reports 3 of the Top 10 belong to MJ.

From Amazon to traditional bricks and mortar retail shops, Michael Jackson’s music is selling, selling out and once again, being experienced and enjoyed simultaneously by the masses. Interesting, isn’t it, that just as he revolutionized an industry, initially back in the 80s, he has become, once again its temporary savior.