If not for Michael Jackson, who would have ruled as King of Pop during the '80s?
As the world settles in for what is sure to be weeks if not months of second-guessing the life and death of Michael Jackson, here at Stuck in the '80s I find myself pondering a different question:
If not for Michael Jackson, his Thriller album, the landmark videos, etc. and so on ... who would have served as the King of Pop during the 1980s?
Who would have been the face of music that decade? The trendsetter? The innovator? And perhaps the one who self-destructed under the pressure of wearing the crown?
Obviously, everyone should add their own opinion below. But here are some names that come to mind right off the top of my head:
GEORGE MICHAEL: He left one best-selling group to go solo and found even more success. That sounds a lot like M.J. But aside from the obnoxious "Choose Life" neon shirts from Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go and the ripped-jeans look from his solo videos, his trendsetting accomplishments don't really stack up.
BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN: Sure, it's a '70s guy. (So was Michael.) But his landmark album -- Born in the USA -- was smack in the middle of the '80s. But aside from marrying Julianne Phillips, what other '80s-ness did he really do?
BONO: U2 was probably the band of the decade (depending how you define that vague label), but it just feels weird to hand all the credit over to its frontman. Plus, Bono had a mullet. (Is that a pro or a con in this argument?) In any case, I think Bono would decline the honor.
MADONNA: Maybe we should be talking about the "Queen of Pop" instead of King of Pop. A product of the Midwest (like Jackson), she sparked fashion trends, wowed audiences with her TV performances and has sold more records than anyone else on this list.
BOY GEORGE: Finally someone who can be both the king and queen of pop. Surely, Boy's look was a defining image of the decade. And like Michael, his personal life threatens to wipe out memories of the anything he recorded. But does the quality of his music hold up its end of the equation? Probably not.
PRINCE: Okay, okay. Now we're talking. Very eccentric personality. Musical genius. Great dancer. Won an Oscar and Grammy for Purple Rain. Did it all without any noticeable or publicized plastic surgery. Sure, his purple-infused French Revolution overcoat fashion statement didn't catch on like the single, white glove. And he had no Moonwalk (though he writhing and grinding during Computer Blue and Darling Nikki was just as fun ... and easier to replicate).
What other stars are worthy of wearing the crown of King of Pop during the '80s?