When a celebrity dies, especially those superstars who are recognized across the globe, the world stops for a moment. And when his or her death occurs under bizarre and mysterious circumstances, especially after years of public struggles and making questionable decisions, the world starts to analyze the crap out said famous person's life. Topics brought up by the media hounds are immediately discussed, tweeted, speculated, and debated in the days that follow. What could have been done to avoid this?...This was bound to happen...Let's remember her for her talent and not her troubles...Why do celebs think they live by a different set of rules and standards?...
This is NOT one of those nit-picking pieces.
Instead, what I'd like to focus on is a particular reaction fans (and anyone with an iTunes account) have as a result of a celebrity's (notably a popular singer's) demise.
When Michael Jackson passed away nearly three years ago, his stock in music went up, so to speak. His greatest hits collections sold out in stores. His name instantly soared to the top of the iTunes charts. Radio stations put him on heavy rotation. And clubs and bars blared his discography throughout the night (I had been in San Francisco at the time and couldn't escape "Thriller").
I am guilty of immediately hitting iTunes shortly after I heard the news about Whitney Houston (My where-were-you-when moment: I was at the gym attempting to burn off a pizza dinner and did a double take when I walked past a jogger's TV screen on his treadmill). I wanted to fill in any blanks I had in my music library. Shockingly, I didn't have her boffo single, "I Will Always Love You" (on sale for 69 cents) or "How Will I Know," taken from 1985 debut album.
When you get down to it, it's simply a matter of Don't Know What You Got Till It's Gone. When someone who has given us so much -- someone who has been associated with certain aspects of our childhoods or adolescences -- is suddenly ripped out of existence, we rush to collect all the things that remind us of who they were, what they meant to us. We resort to our younger selves, waxing nostalgic on times we now cherish in hindsight.
I'd like to think that I certainly knew what I had before it went away. Every once in a while I'd press play on "So Emotional" while huffing and puffing on the elliptical machine or add "I'm Your Baby Tonight" to a party playlist so that my friends could get their 1990 on. And thanks to the 13 Going 30 soundtrack, I had fallen in love with "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" in 2004 all over again. Whitney was always there, even up until the fall of 2009 when I was blaring "Million Dollar Bill" from her last album, I Look To you.
Now, listening to "Run To You," "I'm Every Woman," and "Queen of the Night" the morning after The News made me, like most of you, revisit snapshots from my pre-teen years. And with such reminiscing comes the realization of just how distant those memories have become and how damn old we've gotten. Inevitably, we're also briefly getting a glimpse of our own mortality - definitely a moment to stop and think.
And with that, I leave you this (a very telling moment comes in at the 2:10 mark):
Forever Wanting to Dance With Somebody,
Hiko Mitsuzuka, Executive Editor