You know that really bad cliché about truly great artists who will never die? These five artists are doing their best to make sure this cliché stays alive for the King of Pop.
He sings like him, glides like him, and owes 99.9% of his success to the late Michael Jackson. Usher’s R&B crown rests largely on the gloves and the smooth moves, trademarks of the original King of Pop. Apart from dance, Usher and Michael Jackson share an almost fanatical support from the African-American community at their respective heights of popularity. MJ’s influence on Usher’s performance style is so thorough that anyone who calls himself a fan of Usher (whether he knows it or not) is inevitably a fan of the man who originally popularized the moonwalk. Just sayin’.
You could call Usher the black Michael Jackson… or you could call Justin Timberlake the white Michael Jackson. At the risk of getting a “Too soon,” I’ll just keep my mouth shut. What’s there left to say? Ever since he ditched ‘N Sync, JT has made no secret about his love for Michael Jackson. His first ever solo performance at the VMAs had the fedora, the gloves, Michael-Jackson-inspired choreography, and falsetto after falsetto. Even after his music started transitioning toward a more rock and even electronic sound, JT is not afraid to experiment and take risks. Just like someone who released Thriller back in ’82. If Michael Jackson were 25 years-old today, he’d be Justin Timberlake. Except for the… never mind.
Chris, Chris, Chris. If it weren’t for his shocking assault on Rihanna, he’d be one of the biggest stars of this generation. Originally touted as the next Usher, this 20 year-old can literally dance his shoes off – as if you can be the next Usher without knowing how to do a decent glide. His singing leaves a bit to be desired, but hey. Like every other artist on this list, Chris Brown’s dancing is the most immediate connection to the legacy that Michael Jackson left behind; his tribute performances of Billie Jean and Thriller make that much clear. Now if only he can do something about that voice – oh and fix his ruined image.
Music, check. Fashion, check. Dancing – well, Ne-Yo poses more than dances, but close enough. Check. Shaffer Smith is the closest to what Michael Jackson would’ve been if he’d stuck with R&B instead of experimenting with different genres. He rocks the fedora too, but that might be more of a sneaky way to hide his receding hairline. Ne-Yo even has his own equivalent of MJ’s signature hiccup: the holler. Except of course it doesn’t sound as cool as the hiccup and he really overdoes it. And the choreography… it’s strange because the man tries to move, he really does. He has maybe two or three go-to moves/poses that come up about ten times per performance – check them out, they’re not hard to miss. Compared to the others on this list though, Ne-Yo is nowhere near the prolific dancers they are. Song-writing’s his bread and butter, and it’s probably better that way.
The only female on the list, Ciara Princess Harris has no problem taking risks with her choreography – just like… guess who. The woman who comes closest to putting on the moves like Ciara is probably Michael’s sister, Janet Jackson. Like Chris Brown, Ciara’s singing has a long way to go before she can get anywhere close to MJ’s level, and honestly, I can tell you it isn’t happening anytime soon. Her tribute performance of “Heal the World” is perfect evidence. Cici’s “1, 2 Step,” fortunately, is on point and her dancing is the best tribute that she could give the King of Pop.