Years before – and even after – his sudden death, countless platforms have paid homage to Michael Jackson through various original pieces. There are artists such as Paul Meijering, Nicole Wang, and David Lloyd Glover who gave creative impressions through fine art works. Others, such as Gala Bingo, paid tribute to Jackson’s iconic look via a themed slot machine game plainly called ‘King of Pop’. Basically, Michael Jackson’s influence has spanned generations and cultures, but non greater than his impact in music – more specifically rock.
Not many people know how Michael Jackson, the hands down King of Pop, made himself a hero to a wide generation of rockers. From Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard and Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell to Queens of the Stone Age and Alien Ant Farm, these musicians gave justice to the Gloved One’s artistry. Taken together, Jackson’s distinctive sound – complete with his trembling vocals and signature squeaks – has opened doors to a new wave of talents. ‘Thriller’ is even considered by Steve Greenberg as the one album that changed the world.
Despite not being technically a rock n’ roll record, ‘Thriller’ has had a huge effect on the genre – probably more than any other album of the past decades. For starters, Michael Jackson has been known inside the recording studio as a perfectionist, one who had great musical ambitions and had no limitations. It can be said that ‘Thriller’ wasn’t just another happy accident, as it’s the fruition, the epitome of hard work and pure musical genius. The album itself, the songs in it, and the artist himself, set the bar high for pop performers and musicians in general. In other words, Michael Jackson and ‘Thriller’ bent the typical rules of music and challenged it to be better.
At the end of the day, Michael Jackson’s influence on rock music is geared towards the cultural side of things, not the melodic. People would neither go to Coachella nor the Warped Tour just to enjoy and scour musical remnants of ‘Thriller’. Jackson’s most significant moments generally resonate behind the stage, the instruments, and the artists. Whether they’re huge fans or not, it’s this irrefutable force that drives these rock musicians into automatically appreciating Michael Jackson’s artistry and subconsciously applying it to their own style.