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As a tribute to Michael Jackson, APA recounts a few of our favorite Michael Jackson-inspired videos of Asia and Asian America.
It’s been just over a week since Michael Jackson’s death came over us, and for some of us, it’s still a shock. With the Asia Pacific Arts’ office headquartered at UCLA, the news of Michael Jackson’s arrival at the UCLA Ronald Reagan Medical Center after undergoing cardiac arrest came to us as quickly as the news of his death. The campus became a media circus, Jackson’s classic tunes were blasted from all directions, and eventually, it did just sink in -- the King of Pop was really gone. Since then, all sorts of news, both positive and negative have flooded the radio, internet, and television, but most recently, this particular rehearsal video has probably left a lot of us in silence, because despite it all, Michael definitely still had it. His comeback would have been nothing short of amazing.
We all knew he had his share of problems. Jackson has had so much media attention surrounding him, covering all his troubles with the law and as well as with himself, as we all knew he battled all sorts of demons within. He had created a huge spectacle of himself as both a talent and as a gossip magnet. But, of course, that doesn’t even matter now. His death had sparked something in all of us, most importantly having us reminisce about the ways his music has left an impact. Hoards of people flocked to record stores, picking up his previous albums and leaving record stores bare of anything remotely related to Michael Jackson. The Internet wasn’t left behind in the mass movement to purchase Jackson’s music: both Amazon and iTunes had his singles and albums taking over their respective top ten sales lists. Even those out there who aren’t fans of Michael Jackson, or even claim to not have been impacted by the star, have all noted his legendary status as a perfromer.
Michael Jackson will always be Michael Jackson. He may be gone, but he’s still possibly the world's most influential figure in pop music today. Of course, this statement will continue to be challenged, but looking at what I have below, this is a Top Ten that may just convince you that it's true. We all know how much of an impact Michael Jackson has had on mainstream American pop culture – but let's take a look at how huge the impact has been beyond, in Asian and Asian American pop culture.
The list is more than just a love letter to Michael Jackson, it’s a visual essay of the many ways Michael Jackson's influence was translated and retranslated into something that is amazing on it’s own. Michael Jackson’s power have given many individuals the dream and motivation to become stars of their own. Over the course of his career, Michael Jackson broke down so many barriers for artists of color. He’s the reason why there’s such a thing as international stardom.
Without further ado, we present to you, the top ten:
“Billie Jean" and “Smooth Criminal,” Gong Ge'er
26-year-old Gong Ge'er hails from Mongolia and has made a name for himself on Chinese television by dubbing himself as the "Fat Michael Jackson." And really folks, underneath the suits, he is a bit on the heavy side. But given his stature, the impersonator really gives it his all, successfully showing off the flexibility of both his big body and his vocals. He also seems to have a funny side, as he sung parodies of Jackson’s hits “Smooth Criminal” and “Billie Jean” in the short film Niao Long Shan Jiaofeiji. He was also a hit on Chinese television with his English renditions of “Smooth Criminal” and “You Are Not Alone.”
“Bad,” Cambodia's Krem as Michael Jackson
Like many other Cambodians, I grew up knowing Krem (real name Bunarath) as the famed mustached comedian who hailed from Cambodia. He’s provided so many laughs for so many years, and he has worked Michael Jackson into his comedy routines. In an interview with VOA Khmer, he voiced his thoughts on Jackson’s death and talks about how his impersonations are well received by many Cambodians. In this old VHS clip, watch Krem win over the crowd with his own rendition of “Bad.”
Japan's SMAP meets Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson has always had a huge fan base in Japan, beginning when the Jackson 5 toured Japan as a part of their 1973 international concert stops. In 2007, Jackson made a very publicized visit to Japan for a fan visit, where fans paid $3,500 to attend the exclusive event: be treated to a buffet dinner, performances by Japanese Michael Jackson impersonators, and a 30-minute private meeting with the pop star himself. The year before, Jackson also performed eight concerts at the Tokyo Dome. While in Japan, Jackson made a quick pit stop to the set of SMAPxSMAP, where all five members of SMAP were given a surprise visit. For megastars like SMAP, it was very endearing to see all five men turn into complete fanboys in front of a very calm Jackson. Watch for their reactions and also Jackson’s fascination with their set's LED screen.
“Golimar” (Shoot the Bullet), Scene from Donga
1985 Telugu film Donga recreates “Thriller” in a musical number that’s garnered over 16 million views on YouTube (and a fan-translated version with obviously incorrect lyrics for comedic intentions). The video speaks for itself. Where are you, Bollywood?
“Dance like Michael Jackson,” Far East Movement feat. Quest Dance Crew (Wong Fu Productions)
Asian American hip-hop group Far East Movement teams up with America’s Best Dance Crew winner Quest Dance Crew to give us this winning combination of lyrical ingenuity and fresh dance moves -- all in order to pay homage to the late pop star. Of course, it’s only fitting for them to work with the Wong Fu boys. The video definitely stands out as one of Wong Fu Productions' best work to date.
“Billie Jean Bhangra” - Suleman Mirza with Madhu Singh (SIGNATURE)
Sure, Susan Boyle was all the rage on Britain’s Got Talent last season, but the one act during the audition process that stuck with me was the dual partnership of Suleman Mirza and Madhu Singh -- who’re also known as Signature. The video shows us what the standard for a Michael Jackson impersonation is -- and throws us in for an even more amazing experience by tossing in some Bhangra into the mix.
“Thriller”, “Ben”, “I’ll Be There”, and “We Are the World” Prison Dance Tribute, Inmates of the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC)
Whoa, 1500+ inmates in Cebu, Philippines? Does that ring a bell? I’m sure you’ve seen this many times over -- and this definitely has a spot on the list. Following the news of Michael Jackson’s death, the CPDRC put out a second video, this time in a very moving tribute that doesn't borrow from Michael’s classic dance moves a la “Thriller” or “Billie Jean”.
“The Way You Make Me Feel” and “Ben” – David Choi
David Choi has become a YouTube sensation with his videos, doing both covers and his own original material. In these two covers, he puts his own lovely spin on two Michael Jackson classics -- and easily wins a spot on this list.
Michael Jackson Dance Medley (“Billie Jean”, “Beat It”, “Thriller”, and “Dangerous”) – In order: Lee Minwoo (Shinhwa), Psy, Rain, and Jun jin (Shinhwa)
What’s a list without Asian pop stars doing what they do best? In this video, various artists channel Michael Jackson, bringing out the sweet, sweet moves to four of his classic megahits.
“Billie Jean” and “You Are Not Alone”– Charice Pempengco
After becoming a hit on YouTube (she was discovered on a Korean video sharing site) and on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, 17-year old singer Charice Pempengo headlines her first major concert in the Phillippines, at the SMX Mall of Asia. This clips shows Pempengo’s sweet tribute to Jackson. It’s also touching to see how much influence he’s had on the younger generation as well.
Michael Jackson Drumset Tribute, Wilbur Sargunaraj
“Thriller,” Unknown Vietnamese Kid at Hoi Cho Tet Fair
“Billie Jean” Violin Tribute, Woojoo Kim
Date Posted: 7/3/2009