Michael Jackson or Prince

The poll on Loni Anderson versus Dolly Parton had a couple of mentions about Dolly Parton being similar to Prince and I basically agree with that. They are both polymaths in the music world that are both incredibly famous yet probably still underrated by the general public in terms of sheer talent.

I think this will be a better match-up:

Michael Jackson versus Prince. This has little to do with both of them being black men. It is more about skill versus skill and you have to pick one.

In one corner, you have the dead and crazy Michael Jackson, The King of Pop with mega-hits like Thriller as well as incredible dancing ability and general showmanship.

In the other, you have the eccentric but very much alive Prince who had some major hits like Purple Rain but is less appreciated in pop culture for his insane songwriting and musical instrument skills. For instance, he wrote Manic Monday on a whim just to impress one of the Bangles which they performed as one of their biggest hits. You can look up his songwriting credits on your own if you don’t know them but it is impressive to say the least. Prince is also supposedly one of the greatest guitarists in the world which would be cool if he wasn’t also almost as equally accomplished on many other instruments.

Ready, fight!

I like more Michael Jackson songs, and I like them more than the Prince songs I like.

Neither are my cup of tea. But I appreciate good musicianship. And Prince is a very talented musician. Jackson was not.

Prince needs to do an album full of him playing his guitar. Dude can play when he feels like it, to wit:

The little guy has way more talent than MJ could ever hope for.

This. And I’m no fan of Prince.

Classic. That’s a terminally dull, plodding, over-reverential bar-band cover version. quite shockingly poor, given the personnel. And then Prince turns up.

I love the bit where George Harrison’s boy just grins like Christmas at Prince. Also, I like that Prince just throws his guitar up to the roadie dangling from the lights, tips his hat and strolls off the stage,

Same here. Prince can really play.

Here’s a thread we did on this a few years ago. In that thread, I said:

Along with a bunch of other stuff…including this:

Putting aside their personal lives, I never had much regard for Jackson’s music. His songs were the fluffiest of pop. With Prince, there’s some substance behind the music.

The problem is that people are going to focus on the skills that they DON’T share in common. Like dancing. Michael Jackson sold himself as a dancing machine. His moves are his claim to fame, and IMHO there has yet to be anyone better in this department. But Prince has always been a rockstar. Rockstars may have swagger. They may move their bodies in creative ways while performing on stage. But they are not dancers and don’t pretend to be.

Prince is more of a musician. But it’s not fair to rate MJ against him because he was never billed as a musician. He was a vocalist and consummate performing artist. It’s like comparing a chef with a sculptor. They’re both artists. But they create different things. Their “things” shouldn’t be compared.

So I’ll stick to the things they do have in common: singing, song-writing, and work ethic.

Michael Jackson wins on singing. Prince has a great voice with an great range. And he does amazing things with his voice. But Prince has a voice that is made for rock and roll. Yeah, you gotta be able to sing. But if you’ve got enough soul, you can make even bad notes sound good. However, MJ has a voice that’s more R&B. You sang R&B, you don’t sing it. And MJ could saaaang.

Prince wins on song-writing, IMHO. MJ is credited with some great songs, don’t get me wrong. But I think they were great songs because he performed them. I don’t think anyone but him could have taken “Billie Jean” to the top of the charts. In contrast, Prince’s body of work is much more impressive, IMHO. There are a lot of duds on that list, to be fair. But the lyrics are deeper and more subjective. They cover a broader emotional range. They provide more of a social commentary. Prince has written songs that other artists were able to make popular. Michael Jackson’s songs are entertaining. But I think Prince is a more thoughtful artist when it comes to song-writing.

Work ethic is a tough one, because they are both known for being hard working. But I think Prince edges out over MJ on this metric. The sheer volume of work he’s produced is the most obvious testament to this. But his lack of a “tabloid life” is another indicator. While MJ was busy doing the whole Neverland Ranch thing with Lisa Marie and Debbie Rowe and Blanket and nem, Prince was working in the studio churning out album after album. Both MJ and Prince have a ton of natural talent. But I think Prince has worked very hard at being an artist and constantly refining his craft, which is why his work has changed so much through the years. But MJ’s style didn’t change. He just wanted to give the fans what they wanted. Which is what killed him, ultimately. Poor MJ.

Most people are going to think whomever they like best is more talented. As for myself, I just don’t have a definitive answer. I love both the same. Sometimes I’m in the mood for something deep and sexy, so I’ll listen to Prince. Sometimes I just want to dance and be happy, and I’ll listen to MJ. Talent doesn’t enter into the equation at all.

No contest at all for me. Prince took many more chances as an artist, and landed a hell of a lot of them.

hahahaha this is classic :slight_smile:

I choose Prince too, but I do think Michael had a lot more talent than some people are giving him credit for. He was a really good expressive singer, someone who could take mediocre material and really make you feel it, and he didn’t sell good material short, either (when he had it). As a vocalist, Michael was way ahead of Prince, way ahead of most people. Of course, in every other respect (except maybe stage presence and dancing) - creativity, versatility, instrumental chops - Prince was/is way ahead of Michael.

With all credit given to Prince’s playing skills I’ve never been a fan of his theatrics. He could make a peacock blush.

but I agree with your assessment. A room full of people come down from the mountain to hear his sermon. He preached it well.

Michael Jackson was a great visual performer. He never played anything I would sit down and listen to but his videos had no parallel.

I think Prince wins this one easily. That said, I’ve recently found myself going back to MJ’s music and I’m struck anew with how soulful, catchy and often groundbreaking it is. He didn’t have Prince’s chops as a composer or a producer (the latter trait is, I think, what truly sets His Purpleness in a league of his own), but he was the best pop singer of his time, and he had the ambition to constantly improve and reinvent himself. Jackson’s tremendous success spoiled him — he went from being a musician who grew and evolved into one whose only goal was to top himself, which is quite a different thing.

Anyway, Prince wins. But MJ was great too.

Interesting. I don’t remember that thread, but I participated in it, and voted Prince, “but it’s close.” This time around, I switched over to Team MJ. I guess it just depends what day you ask me.

I’m not really familiar with Prince’s music, but certainly aware of his presence. Not my thing, but I’m okay with in. Jackson, on the other hand, is one of those performers that makes me immediately change the channel when one of his songs comes on the radio. He was my generation, and I am therefore quite familiar with his body of work. I don’t dispute his talent, but I’m not a fan.

Not bad, but not such a big deal, either. Nice focus and showmanship but I see in that video more posturing and “riffing” than musical merit.

I think this just keeps getting repeated without much actual basis. I certainly don’t go over to Prince’s house to listen to him play guitar, nor have I even heard most of what he’s recorded, but none of what I have heard comes anywhere close to making him “one of the greats.” If you really like what he does, that’s fine, but let’s not exaggerate. There are some very good guitarists out there!

Don’t get me wrong: He plays well enough, and I haven’t even heard most of what he’s recorded, but if I’ve missed something, it sure isn’t the above video.