Why Prince Is Better Than Michael Jackson
It’s often said that there are two kinds of people in this world. There are various comparisons that follow, classifying everyone into one group or the other. Often times these sorts of generalizations are maddening, but in certain cases they ring shockingly true.
And there may be no truer case where they ring true than when asking the question of who is better: Prince or Michael Jackson.
Many people might think this sort of argument is a mere exercise in futility. And for many reasons, they’re spot on. It’s akin to comparing apples and oranges. MJ was the Kind of Pop, and Prince was an apologetically sexual blend of pop, funk, rock, soul, and nearly every other genre out there.
But when you dig deeper, the argument can easily be made for why Prince is not only better, but why he speaks to each and every one of us.
Michael Jackson, and the music he made, was perfect. He was a perfect performer, the likes of which had never been seen before. He was a slave to technical perfection. Constantly laboring over the right mix, the perfect tone of voice, and the perfect drums. And that showed in his music.
When a great Michael Jackson song comes on it’s impossible not to move. You unconsciously start dancing along, no matter where you are. His music dares you to sit still, and it feels oh so right when you finally let the rhythm take over.
Prince was the exact opposite.
It’s not like Prince was incapable of making an artistic masterpiece. But in his masterful artistry, Prince hit you with feelings on a much deeper level than anything Michael could ever hope to touch.
Prince was transcendent writer and musician. Perfection wasn’t the name of the game for Prince. For Prince, no matter the technical imperfections, he believed in bringing white-hot artistic fire and then letting the musicianship shine through.
And this perfection vs. imperfection is exactly why Prince is better than Michael Jackson.
Perfection, in all its perfect beauty, is boring. Perfection is the white picket fence with two kids and a dog. It’s fun to think and dream about. But after a short time spent with perfect, it becomes old. There’s not spice. There is nothing perfect about real life.
You can play a Michael Jackson song, and it makes you move, but it doesn’t transport you anywhere. As soon as the track stops playing, you’re left exactly where you started, exactly as you were before, wholly unchanged.
Music isn’t supposed to leave us unchanged. It’s supposed to shape us and give us a way to deal with the complexities of life.
Part of the reason we love music is that there are aspects of music we can hold close, and keep solely for our own interpretation and understanding. Those pieces of music that float deep into your cerebellum just right are yours to hold dear. We don’t get into music to experience perfection. We get into to music to, well, get into it.
You’ve probably noticed that both Prince and Michael Jackson were weird, each with their own flavor of weird.
Michael Jackson’s weird was a deeply flawed flavor of weird that we’ll never quite understand. It’ll leave us asking questions about growing up in the limelight, and what that can potentially do to a person.
Prince’s weird was wholly different. Prince, much like Bowie, created an alternate world where everything he did was perfectly okay, no matter how outlandish. He acted as if it was perfectly acceptable, and it was inspiring. It made us all hope and wish to do the exact same thing.
Prince was an audacious and unapologetic class of weird. He was a short, high heel donning, blouse wearing, in in-your-face sexually audacious style of weird that had no issue with telling you exactly how he was going to fuck you, and the only thing that could possibly be wrong with that is that if he didn’t actually mean it.
Bold and fearless confidence is sexy. It’s magnetic. It locks us in, and we have no chance or hope of getting away, and we’re okay with that. For better or worse.
That’s real life. That’s the kind of life we love, and the kind of attitude most of aspire to have one day. It’s what we fall in love with.
And while Prince could be inspiring us to get in touch with that primal and bold piece of ourselves; he could also highlight the flaws, pain, and heartbreak we all experience with stark clarity and realism.
Prince was a master at bringing those shades of grey we so often encounter to life with his music. He showed us that audacious was okay, so long as you believed in what you were doing. He was raw, emotional, and attainable.
And this is exactly why there is a stark difference between people who love Michael Jackson or Prince.
Michael Jackson and his music is surface level. There’s no deeper understanding or resonating that takes place when you throw on “Billie Jean”. You move, and it feels good, and then it’s done.
But Prince gets it. Prince understands the pain and the heartbreak. The suffering and struggle. And he inspires you to cast the fears aside and move forward, to embrace that bold and daring piece of yourself you’ve bottled up inside.
And yes, for those wondering, I did write this while listening to “Purple Rain”.