Since Michael beatboxed us out of the previous post, we might as well continue on that note. I didn’t know what beatboxing was until Michael blew me away with it during his interview with Oprah Winfrey. There are more impressive beatboxers around, obviously, but for Michael, beatboxing wasn’t part of his performances, it was part of his composition process. He didn’t read or write music, so beatboxing into a tape recorder was his method of assembling the complex rhythms he heard in his head.
Here’s a handy compilation of clips of Michael beatboxing (how much do I love Youtube?). Some are from interviews, and others are from depositions he gave in various lawsuits where other people had accused him of copyright infringement. As part of the depositions he’d describe exactly how he wrote the songs, playing back the demos from the time or demonstrating the beatboxing then and there. He won all the lawsuits.
For anyone who’s interested in hearing more of the depositions, there are longer audio clips available (the exact videos come and go on Youtube but searching “Michael Jackson mexico deposition” will get you what you need) where he goes step by step through the demo of The Girl Is Mine and explains exactly what’s happening in each stage of the creative process. I find it utterly fascinating – you get to hear him imitating a Moog bass and singing melody lines for each other instrument he wants to use, singing bits that never made it into the album version, and I particularly like how he explains what the “bridge” of a song is:
What a bridge is, is to take you from A to B…is to take you from the verse to another part. It is escapism from hearing the same mundane, trivial, ordinary thing that you’ve been hearing all the time ‘cause the ear gets tired of hearing the same sounds. So what a bridge does, it takes you away from all of that. Then when it finally comes back to what you were doing before, it’s stronger. It’s much stronger.
- Only Human (Michael Jackson, 1958 – 2009)
- Remember The Time
- Remembering Michael Jackson ( Part 1): Billie Jean After Motown 25
- Remembering Michael Jackson (Part 2): Beatboxing and Songwriting
- Remembering Michael Jackson (Part 3): Not Just A Dancing Machine
- Remembering Michael Jackson (Part 4): Actually, A Total Freaking Dancing Machine