The other Jacksons’ solo work deserves another listen

by Rachel Baker on July 22, 2014

Here’s an interesting opinion piece on the merit of the individual surviving members of the Jackson family and the solo music they have produced over the years.

The fifth anniversary of Michael Jackson’s death arrived last month with a flurry of retrospective chin-stroking. Slate relied on the tried-and-tired, “Where were you when you heard MJ died?” approach. The Huffington Post ran a mawkish piece titled “Remembering Michael Jackson, Five Years After His Death,” presumably in honor of the first anniversary of The Huffington Post’s 2013 article “Remembering Michael Jackson 4 Years Later.” And People weighed in with a listicle of lofty claims about Jackson’s cultural legacy, every one of them overreaching at best, fallacious at worst. Whether bending over backward to out-hyperbolize their competition or pulling their hamstrings in the attempt to pull your heartstrings, these articles glance past a glaring fact: Jackson may have slept in a hyperbaric chamber, but he did not exist in a vacuum.

Jackson’s brothers and sisters, regardless of what they’ve accomplished musically, have become footnotes to his legend. That includes Janet, a superstar in her own right whose massive, singular contributions to R&B and pop are still eclipsed to a large degree by Michael. His other siblings—Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, and Marlon (his bandmates in The Jackson 5); Randy (his bandmate in The Jacksons); and sisters Rebbie and La Toya—are all but disregarded, in spite of their respective, and at times downright respectable, solo careers.

Granted, they haven’t exactly helped their own cause. The mercifully short-lived reality show The Jacksons: A Family Dynasty debuted a mere seven months after Michael’s death, and it’s as miserable a piece of exploitation as television as ever spit up—more of a cartoon than even the animated Jackson 5 series of the ’70s.

Minus Michael: The other Jacksons’ solo work deserves another listen

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