I was back in the aisles yesterday, and instead of James Dobson's sneakily cheery voice, I heard Michael Jackson singing Heal the World. The whole Free Willy jazz didn't quite catch me, nor did the whole all-star show, but the actual music - just the pure, unmovienated and unstarsaturated sound - did get me. That whole album was quite something, it had the themes, it had the tunes, it had the rhythm... it had a voice that had something in the shadows that you didn't quite know why it was attractive, a sort of Mona Lisa of sound.
Then we had the whole Neverland Ranch fiasco - where the eventual acquittal didn't quite make up for the previous out-of-court settlement - and suddenly the little girl's voice intermingling with Michael's didn't seem quite as beautifully innocent as it used to.
That's unfortunate. Because ideally the music should stand on its own - if we end up liking the music based on whether we like the personality of the star, we're not really holding music up to a very respectable level. I think that was the basis of Daniel Barenboim conducting Wagner in Germany - the composer may have been anti-Semitic, but it doesn't mean that defined his music.
Perhaps that was the start of it all, Michael Jackson and songs like Heal the World and The Man in the Mirror. Somehow I don't think the greats like Mozart and Bach would have appreciated the idea of a music video determining how well we regarded their concertos. Or perhaps more interestingly, where the likes of Britney Spears would be without MTV.