Beyond Chris Brown & Usher: Female Artists Inspired By Michael Jackson
It’s pretty obvious and not even news that Michael Jackson has inspired the whole world. Whether you’re in awe of him or thought he was weird, there’s no doubt an array of artists pattern themselves after him. His signature voice, iconic fashions and his magical dance moves are the basis of many of today’s most successful artists — including Usher, Justin Bieber, Chris Brown, Jason Derulo, Ne-Yo and Justin Timberlake. But what about the ladies? The followers of MJ’s footsteps and those trying to be the current Michael Jackson are always deemed male artists like above.
But the King of Pop has equally inspired some of the greatest women in music of all time in distinct ways. Let’s honor MJ’s legacy on his birthday by highlighting the many female artists — legends in their own rights — he influenced to take the entertainment industry by storm. This one is for MJ and the ladies.
At the 2009 VMAs, Madonna introduced the Michael Jackson tribute (shortly after his death) with all of their similarities — like they were the same age and had close birthdays. But as MJ is king, many regard Madonna as queen of pop. As Michael Jackson dominated pop culture in the 80s, if any artist could rival him, it was Madonna. It’s no secret becoming a pop culture phenomenon and sharing a close a friendship with MJ, Madonna drew inspiration from one of the greatest to become one of the greatest. She showed exactly that earlier on in her peak with the above clip of her performing “Like A Virgin” with a twist.
I’m not too sure if musicians have resumes (especially in the traditional sense), but working with MJ would be a career milestone for any entertainer. No matter how much interaction she had with him, singing “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You” had to have a great influence on Crow. But she did the best in utilizing her experience with her talent to become a huge pop star herself. And the biggest influence MJ had on Crow? Well, his music represents joy and social messages of togetherness. Crow’s music represents the same.
MJ and Houston were dear friends. Both of whom were gone too soon. In the 80s, MJ broke down barriers for black artists in popular music — especially MTV’s audience, and he paved the way for more black artists to follow him. Houston became a megastar and pop icon simply due to her elegance and her voice. But Houston has shown her thanks and her friendship to MJ on numerous occasions and performances of some of his classics. Here’s one above.
Carey became one of the few artists able to take a classic and make give new life to it all over again. She did that with the Jackson 5 hit, “I’ll Be There” in the early 90s. She paid tribute to MJ at his funeral by performing the song.
Who would have thought three sistas with voices could sample and remix a mega hit off a super mega hit album, and turn it into a gem in its own right? The group created a classic of their own, “Right Here (Human Nature Remix)” and started a trend with sampling, “Human Nature.” But their remix is the best and most popular to date.
Baby sister, Janet, stepped out of her family’s shadow by declaring her independence with Control, her breakthrough crossover album. She became one of the best selling artists of all time and her own pop icon. But having a sibling who’s the biggest musical icon of all time, she followed in his footsteps. And like her brother, became an innovative, visually creative spectacle, mainstream, iconic dancing, reinventing of style and signature singing legend. After getting on her brother’s playing field with three consecutive successful albums, she finally agreed to collaborate with him.
Aaliyah was one of the best movers of the 90s and early 2000s, and she has influences like Janet and MJ to thank for that. Aaliyah has been said to love the album, Thriller. Then again, who doesn’t? Thriller was not only an Aaliyah favorite, but her “Got to Give It Up” cover samples MJ’s “Billie Jean.” Yes, the song is a cover of the hit by Marvin Gaye and the video plays tribute to him but Aaliyah snuck in a sample from the other icon.
Good thing Janet agreed to collaborate with her brother and then, created the most expensive music video of all time, “Scream.” TLC’s “No Scrubs” video was definitely inspired by “Scream” and check out T-Boz getting it like Mike in her solo scenes.
“Bootylicious” sampled Stevie Nicks, celebrated one’s body image, became Destiny’s Child’s 4th number one hit, and featured MJ’s signature vocal hiccup sound (by Beyoncé). The music video featured dance moves similar to the ones in Michael’s “Billie Jean” video. The group would later pay homage at “Michael Jackson: 30th Anniversary Special.”
Mya might have a soft, angelic voice, but she can bust out a mean move. Like for real, the chick can dance, and as one of her biggest idols, MJ is to thank for that. She had the opportunity to pay tribute to him at his 30th anniversary special with Usher and Whitney Houston.
Superstars like Madonna and Janet Jackson are usually cited as Spears’ biggest influences, but it’s also a comparison to them. Spears embodied MJ’s ability to dance, sing, put on a show and most importantly, his spirit of longevity. Britney would go on to become a popular culture legend with longevity in her own career.
She loved to use the word baby is about every song in her peak, but MJ inspired her to sample him on a remix to “Rock Wit U (Aww Baby).” The songs actually mashed well together, which to me says it could have been the original release by Ashanti. But it was the SECOND remix? No, MJ should’ve came first. Listen to Ashanti’s MJ remix here.
Rihanna has been inspired by many great artists from the 80s and 90s. MJ’s musical influence has been so great, she sampled him in a hit song about NOT stopping the music. It makes sense. “Don’t Stop the Music” features “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’” lyrics, “Mama-say mama-sah ma-ma-coo-sah.” Although the phrase wasn’t originally featured in his hit, Michael was still the one who popularized it.
Queen Bey’s biggest influence is MJ. She truly loves him and grew up listening to his music. “Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough” is a favorite, and she’s been performing “I Wanna Be Where You Are” since she was a little girl and featuring it on her “I Am… Yours” revue show. One of Queen Bey’s biggest pop culture moments, her “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” music video features a bit of Michael Jackson’s fashion and style. Do you remember the time at the end when she’s breathing hard after shooting the video in one shot? Of course you do.
One of Black Eyed Peas major influences is MJ, but Fergie (and will.i.am) took it a step up in 2008 when she provided vocals for the remix of “Beat It” — celebrating Thriller 25.
Elliott talked about how she dreamed her childhood idol would pick her up from school and aspired to be like him. Every kid dreams that, but she lived that dream. Like MJ, she created innovative, iconic music videos and was rewarded for it. Check out the above clip.
Gaga is today’s ultimate pop star, she’s both talented and is a living spectacle. So it only makes sense MJ is one of her idols and that she would be devastated about his death. Gaga and the world mourned, but MJ’s showmanship lives on through her.