We recently brought the argument out of the barbershop and into our Madison Avenue offices. Shadow League All-Stars J.R. Gamble and Ricardo Hazell make their arguments and debate who'd get the nod.
J.R. Gamble's Pick: Michael Jackson
The battle of the love song titans is fitting for Valentine’s Day. Michael Jackson and Prince influenced love and relationships for decades with different styles and philosophical approaches but a common genius.
Michael's unique voice, versatility and sultry, soulful renditions dominate the mood for those who actually participate on Valentine's Day. As a young boy leading the Jackson Five, MJ’s voice represented a tender version of teenage Black '70s Love. His music matured with his age during his moonwalking, white glove-rocking glory in the 1980's, where he managed to stay classy and sentimental and badass in a very raunchy and cynical time and continued dropping iconic love joints until his tragic and untimely death.
He was versatile as heck though as we all know. In between his love songs, which were usually very respectful and appreciative of women and the emotional role they play in a man’s life, he managed to also drop a Prince-type joint denying that he is the father of Billy Jean's baby.
For the most part, however, Michael Jackson's songs promoted a peaceful, respectable love between a man and a woman and took you back to that place when you were young and your emotions were as erratic as the Atlanta Falcon's play-calling in the Super Bowl. MJ’s songs were like a blueprint and a guide for dealing with the trials and tribulations of relationships and feelings. He was the smoothest and iconically the coolest.
Prince was the bad boy rebel who mama told you to stay away from. His songs could teach you how to freak a girl and inspire unwanted pregnancies. They told of a tormented childhood with sex as his only true connection to humanity. His songs often spoke to the genitals and the testosterone levels, which could be a bit much for a more conservative love moment. Michael Jackson songs were the backdrop to that afternoon brunch or that serious conversation about reconciliation after a break up or even marriage.
From “The Lady In My Life” to “The Girl Is Mine” to “PYT” to “You Are Not Alone,” Michael more so tried to tingle the heart and provide answers to the mysteries of true love.
That’s what Valentine’s Day is supposed to be about. Celebrating that special someone in your life that has provided strength for your mind, body and soul.
So really, during the day, Michael Jackson is on repeat. Then, after dinner and the flowers and chocolates are presented and the sun falls and darkness takes over the city, romance turns to savage passion and the Prince joints come out. Or as Whoudini said, “The freaks come out.”
Those edgy, explicit yet genius melodies that hyptnotize women to ASAP to venture into unchartered sexual realms.
Michael Jackson is that first guy most girls loved. He taught them about love in a healthy way. He was the minister of administering songs which expressed the very emotions that people seek to capture and celebrate on Valentine's Day. A day where Prince is a nice cherry on top, but Michael Jackson is surely the cake.
Ricardo Hazell's Pick: Prince
We can sit here and go back and forth all day on the artistic merits of both Prince Rogers Nelson and Michael Jackson. However, when it comes to that visceral, raw and unapologetically sexual energy that moves both parties toward a greater appreciation of their own inherently masculine and feminine energies, perhaps no other artist and recent memory did that as effortlessly as Prince.
Who but Prince could drop a rock and roll song, followed by a funk-filled song, then an R&B ballad with each containing the same core elements celebrating the godliness of the female form?
Though Michael would have us dancing and grooving to many of his classic hits like 'Off the Wall', 'Thriller', and many, many others, his musical take on relationships and love was slightly 'polly ana-ish' in my opinion.
In real life, relationships go beyond professing love and holding hands, it's about passion and the maintenance of said passion. From the very beginning much of Prince's music and performances were all about that. His music spoke to the intangible want in us all and served as the catalyst that fueled our desire be held, to be kissed, and to have our world's rocked.
All of these things are apparent throughout his work. From the mournful and wailing guitar he incorporates in Purple Rain to the overtures of love and devotion on Diamonds and Pearls, Prince knew exactly how to get his point across to men and women, simultaneously, yet from two completely different perspectives.
Because, let's face it, as much we as a society that loves to clutch our collective pearls in judgement of the freaks of the world, a great number of us are secretly envious of those who shamelessly flaunt what the world deems as their indiscretions while the rest of us hide behind antiquated moral norms to fling judgement.
Additionally, through his music, Prince loved the female form. No, he worshiped it, and was in direct contrast to many who would blaspheme the celebration of the female form as his religion of choice. Like the natural world all around us, he balanced amorous thoughts with lustful ones, and reconcilatory tones with argumentative ones.
He jumped back and forth between the raw lust apparent in the funkiness of Get Off to the soothing production of Under the Cherry Moon. Through his music, Prince Rogers Nelson showed the world that there is much more to making love the act itself. The alchemic blending and molding of bodies in the heat of passion is but only a part of it.
True, it is the part many of us enjoy most, but getting there is oftentimes the most arduous part of the journey. Prince was acoustic Spanish Fly, foreplay in stereo. And for that he is the clear choice for you and your significant other to orchestrate ecstasy this Valentine's Day.