July 3rd, 2009
06:04 AM GMT
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HONG KONG, China — Since the death of Michael Jackson, I’ve been thinking a lot about Prince.

Prince performs at the halftime show of the 2007 Superbowl.
Prince performs at the halftime show of the 2007 Superbowl.

That these two would weigh on my mind is unusual. As a teenager in the 1980s, you’d be more likely to find Jimi Hendrix, Pat Metheny, the Cure or the Violent Femmes on my turntable.

The seminal MTV moment for me wasn’t “Thriller” but the first time the psychedelic Bo Diddley riff of the Smiths’ “How Soon Is Now?” poured out of my TV. For a small-town kid stuck in the sonic prison of Top 40 pop and country radio the music was like tuning into signals from a distant planet.

And yet this week it’s Prince I can’t get out of my head. The career arc - if not trajectory - of Michael Jackson and Prince were closely matched. Both came out with brilliant career-making albums in the early 1980s. Both were credited with crossing color lines and musical genres. Both saw sales ebb in the next decade.

Musical taste and popularity aside –Jackson outsold Prince 10-times over - their careers are a contrast in two executive traits: the perfectionist versus the workaholic.

In the 27 years since “Thriller,” Jackson released only four albums of new material. Since his breakout album “1999” the same year, Prince has released 21 new albums.

While preparing his “Thriller” follow-up, “Bad,” Jackson reportedly had this note taped on his bathroom mirror –  “100 million” –  his sales goal. (The album sold well but never approached “Thriller” status.) When Prince’s album sales were at low ebb in the 1990s, he ignored industry advice and released a triple-CD of new material. When that did poorly, he followed it with a five-CD collection of unreleased songs. That also tanked.

In recent years, the music industry model has switched from album sales to live events as a major source of revenue. On this landscape, Prince staged a remarkable comeback: a nearly $90 million tour in 2004, the 2007 Super Bowl halftime show and 21-concert residency at London’s O2 Arena. Prince often follows his two-hour concerts with small-club after-shows of improvised jazz that stretches as long as three hours.

Jackson’s 50-date stand at the O2 Arena starting this summer would have been his first tour in 12 years. The start was pushed back to allow more time for Jackson, the perfectionist, to rehearse.

Post “Thriller,” Jackson’s life was tailor-made for the tabloids: chimpanzees, Neverland, dangling a newborn out of a window. His arrest, trial and acquittal on child molestation charges got more airplay than his music before he died.

Prince was no stranger to tabloids and eccentric behavior (such as changing his stage name to an unpronounceable symbol). Yet he seems to protect his private life. When Prince’s son died in 1996 from a rare disorder shortly after his birth, the singer eschewed press and sued the nannies that sold the painful details of the death to the tabloids.

Looking at the two lives, it seems to me Michael Jackson could have learned some lessons from Prince. High goals are important for career success, but pinning “100 million” to a mirror strikes me as the wrong ambition, especially in a creative profession.

Jackson and Prince both burst onto the scene when their talent and public taste happened to coincide – that rarely can be planned. While Jackson’s career got lost in “Neverland,” Prince focused on his work despite a fickle public. Fans went and then came back again – Prince’s work ethic never changed.

As a commercial act, Michael Jackson was the undisputed “King of Pop.” But as a career model, perhaps it’s better to be a Prince.



soundoff (87 Responses)
  1. NIls

    what a stupid question!

    July 3, 2009 at 7:41 am |
  2. caroas

    What a bad "comparison" – I wouldn't even call it like that... To create an artificial theory about these two artist based on MJ did something "reportedly" only serves the writers goal: to describe MJ as a commercial act opposite to Prince the artist. But the article collects only the kinds of information on the two artists which help its argument and overlooks others which would totally change the outcome. Therefore the article goes into the media frenzy surrounding MJ as if he wasn't protective about his privacy. (But to bring up that MJ was suspected w/ a sexual offence in an article which supposed to be about his art I think is disgusting. There was a trial, he was found not guilty. If that doesn't mean anything, the world hasn't evolved since the middle ages.) So the article pretends as if it was MJ who wanted to be a tabloid target just to become a "commercial act", while Prince, the workaholic concentrated on his art and kept his privacy. Too bad, that this supposition is simply false.

    The article argues: Prince released all his material, without selection throughout the 90s. Does it make him workaholic? In fact no. That's someone who's not going for quality songs. (If I remember well, he was called "lazy" at the time by critics for releasing his old, unused songs. That's not the word we use for a "workaholic", is it?) MJ had less albums than Prince, that's a fact. But everybody knows he always selected that few songs that made an album from a huge amount of compositions after a throrough selection process – becuse he was a perfectionist. And perfectionism in this sence is a good quality and talks of artistry. Or to put it simply: who knows how many albums would have been filled, if MJ chose to release the previously unused songs? (Right now: nobody.)

    On cross-over effect the two artists simply can't be compared. I can understand that the writer prefers Prince to MJ. Still when Prince dies you won't see the whole world mourning. Despite all the "bad" things MJ did or was said to have done, he could somehow connect w/ people through his music, his art in a way Prince could never do. MJ's artistic impact is just beyond amazing. It's not difficult to understand that this – his music, his art and its effect on millions of people – is what makes him the King, not the "commercial act" or his "career model".

    July 3, 2009 at 8:25 am |
  3. Manu the Prez

    Can you please be serious!!!!! I thought people with this school of thought went with the 80s, Prince maybe at best an interesting innovative musician but sales of his albums prove that it ends there.....he is not cut from the same cloth as MJ or Bob Marley or Elvis, how do you put out 5cds at the same time and fail to come up with a hit????............fact is people just dont like Prince as much as his die hard fans think, further more prince was just as weird as Michael Jackson so even as a career model i wouldnt recommend him.....bottom line is Prince cannot be compared to MJ in any area and come out tops....he is fourth in a race of 2

    July 3, 2009 at 9:47 am |
  4. what the

    This is one of the most ridiculous article I have ever read. I am surprised how this garbage material made it to CNN website.

    July 3, 2009 at 10:48 am |
  5. andreea

    i can t belive what comparation i have i front of my eyes....this is ridiculous. Prince will never compare with the King of Pop, the one and only...Here are u speaking about quality, not quantity...The worl knew and know every song from his albums...and there are a lot of song not included on the albums...so....please don t do this comparation...MICHAEL JACKSON WAS, IS AND WILL BE THE BEST ARTIST. GOD BLESS HIM HE IS GONE BUT NEVER FORGOTTEN

    July 3, 2009 at 11:08 am |
  6. Michael

    Michael Jackson is the biggest ever.

    You can't compare anybody to him. Its not fair to them as they will fade compared to the King of pop.

    July 3, 2009 at 11:09 am |
  7. David

    As I child of the 80's (born in the 70's) I too compare these two artists. Prince is much more of an artist, he plays many instruments, holds the patent for the keyboard-guitar, and has an almost mystic presence. Not to take anything away from MJ who is in my view the greatest pop start in the world. Not just in album sales but the fact that I can't imagine too many people who wouldn't want to see him in concert, whether you lkike his music or not.
    Both MJ and Prince are the pinacle of 80's music icons. Whether that applies or matters today I don't know.

    July 3, 2009 at 11:16 am |
  8. Constantijn Blondel

    Kids, kids, stop quarreling.

    Here's the deal : Prince is one guy making music, MJ was another guy making music. They both speak to a reasonably large audience and they both have had several hits. That's where the comparison stops.

    MJ can be regarded as most innovative in the area of entertainment (including the marketing aspect) and in giving chart-pop much well-needed quality music in a world filled with hacks, wannabees and other examples of gimmemoneyformycrap. He managed to attract and entertain many people, a lot of whom go precisely for his high quality entertainment and who are not interested in his music 'as music'

    Prince can be understood much better from the 'serious' (i.e. non-chart) rock/jazz viewpoint (not to mention the tons of other influences on his music), the kind that cherishes musical prowess, stylistic experimentation and the qualities that make rock and jazz so exciting to their audiences. In this respect Prince is virtually without peers in terms of talent, output, quality. (Miles Davis seems to have agreed with me in this respect. At least, he says so in his autobiography). Prince attracts a lot of people who are either musicians or very much into music 'as music' themselves. This makes his audience significantly smaller than MJs, because many people are interested in music for other reasons, which is their good right.

    Leaving aside the question of how you 'measure' an artists 'value' in those fields, you certainly don't measure it by record sales. Good record sales don't mean you 'are' good. Meagre sales don't mean you 'are' bad (no pun intended). One can only discuss whether a musician is good/innovative/creative in what he/she does, and both Prince and MJ are on the top of their respective games. They both have had tremendous succes in their work. The audience that buys Prince albums just happens to be significantly smaller than the audience that buys MJ albums. Just like the audience that buys Frank Zappa albums, Emperor albums, music by Louis Vierne or goes to a concert of Don Preston improvising electronic music tends to be negligible in comparison with chart-artist audiences. The only thing record sales say is how many people buy it. It leaves open the question of why they buy it, and the 'quality' of an artist is only a small part of what makes people 'buy' a certain album.

    Think about how ridiculous it would be to bash Tiger Woods for sucking as a race car driver......The same logic applies to MJ an Prince.

    And on a more positive note...why compare them. Is it written in stone that a Prince fan should hate MJ an vv. ? If so, why ? What is it that's supposed to be mutually exclusive to them. Why can't you just care for one more than the other while still respecting the one you happen not to like. Afraid you loose street cred if you say that you respect 'the enemy', despite not caring much for his music ?

    So stop doing two very creative individuals the disservice of that neverending and totally meaningless comparison and the world will be a little bit nicer.

    July 3, 2009 at 11:20 am |
  9. Bda 94east

    Good day everyone:

    I am a fan of both MJ and Prince. I do agree that there is no fair comparsion in regards to the two. I will describe MJ first: – He was a wonderful songwriter, producer, performer, entertainer – He is the King of Pop – rightfully named. Prince was different – Prince is the artist, musician, songwriter, musical savante – He is pure music in physical form. The difference is simple to me:

    MJ was about the business of music while Prince hated the business and was only about the music. What it is clear to me is this:

    MJ WORRIED ABOUT THE SUCCESS OF HIS ALBUMS AND MUSIC; PRINCE DIDN'T (and still doesn't by the way) CARE IF PEOPLE BUY OR UNDERSTAND HIS MUSIC – He shares the music because he is lead by God to create and share it. That's the only difference.

    I truly miss MJ and am hurt by the negative press and rumors surrounding his death – I wish we could all "Leave Him Alone" and allow him to rest in peace. However, I do respect Prince for his music and desire for music – it is pure and genuine.

    There is one MJ, and there will be only one Prince – period.

    July 3, 2009 at 11:36 am |
  10. Randir Jhagaroo

    What a load of nonsense! Prince is NOTHING compared to Michael Jackson. Michael worked tirelessly at producing only the best, he worked for perfection till the day he died.

    The fact that he produced only four albums since "thriller" that outsold Prince's 21 albums, says what?? Wowee all hail Prince's tanked 21 albums.

    Pinning goals around tells you that he aims to be the best, make music that people want to listen to.

    This writer had better stop smelling PRince's socks.

    July 3, 2009 at 11:45 am |
  11. J. Nienhuis

    Prince: Until the end of time!

    July 3, 2009 at 12:05 pm |
  12. Ikechukwu

    To the best of my knowledge as regards to the two men...michael is a pure king both in the music and in the world he lived...he stands out...and can't be compared both in his life and death!

    July 3, 2009 at 12:05 pm |
  13. Vanilla Ice

    Prince is the best!!! He is the better musician, dancer, songwriter and singer than Michael. Prince has a huge variaty of sounds, vocals and rhytms. Michael is just a show, freak show that is! Prince was then, now and forever. Michael was long gone before he actually was gone! R.I.P.

    July 3, 2009 at 12:20 pm |
  14. Ikechukwu

    He is great organiser, a great singer and a great perfectionist and that's where he wrapped it all...he got what it takes to win...i love him because he got the destiny and faith in his world!

    July 3, 2009 at 12:28 pm |
  15. claudia fariñas

    Michael Jackson es the only one KING

    July 3, 2009 at 12:44 pm |
  16. YIN

    I LOVE MJ.
    I LOVE HIS BEAUTIFUL SOUL.
    HE IS ANGEL.
    HE IS VERY KIND. I LOVE HIS SMILE.

    July 3, 2009 at 1:05 pm |
  17. Reinaldo Torres

    Is this article written to suck attention out of the Michael Jackson tragedy into Prince? Am I supposed to go to the record store and buy a Prince album? I am agree... how come this article made it into CNN.com?

    July 3, 2009 at 1:16 pm |
  18. Loranger

    Thery're totally different. Ones a living musical genius, the others a dead circus act .

    Prince won, deal with it

    July 3, 2009 at 1:27 pm |
  19. Manuel Vilhena

    Good article concerning career management.

    July 3, 2009 at 7:40 pm |
  20. Paul

    Prince v. MJ is not a fair comparison, but not because of the reasons these Michael worshipers are citing.

    Michael was a performer. Prince is an artist.

    Michael was amazing to watch. That's why his videos were events. The music was great, but not legendary. When you think of Michael, you think of moonwalking on Motown 25, Thriller video, live shows, etc. Without those visual cues, his music would never have reached the heights it did.

    Michael wanted to be accepted by everyone. He never took chances. He was...well...pop.

    Prince is more about the music and breaking new ground. Prince is more challenging to appreciate, because he is not as easily accessible. You can't pick up each album and find a pop song with a hook and a beat to dance to.

    But, to play every instrument, write, produce, arrange every song EVER is just ridiculous. He never had a Quincy Jones. It's always been his vision – like it or not.

    He is entertaining to watch too, but because of his immense versatility musically. To watch him play an instrument and command his band is awe-inspiring.

    If you ask musicians who is more influential, I'm sure Prince will outvote Michael every time. Michael was the King of Pop – no doubt. But, Prince is a musician's musician. There is no comparison.

    July 3, 2009 at 10:26 pm |
  21. Grant

    True was going to make bad he wrote 100 million on his mirror.

    After Prince released Purple Rain he was so disillusioned with people claiming to be fans who had never listened to him before that album. He went on to make an album called 'Around the world in a day' which could not have been more different from Purple Rain. When those around him expressed concern that he was alienating his growing fan base, Prince said "Well the real fans will stick around and any others are expendable"

    There you have the main difference. Jackson aimed himself at the masses. He made music that was chart worthy, non offensive.

    Anyone who works with Prince will tell you that he just doesn't care if people like it but just wants to be true to the art.

    I know people will disagree with this but I really don'y think MJ was that true to his art in the end. He just over the years worked on a winning formula and pushed it.

    July 4, 2009 at 8:43 am |
  22. tony

    I thank God for his life &pray that God to grant his soul eternal rest so that when we meet in heaven he can sing for us again.

    July 4, 2009 at 1:21 pm |
  23. Juize

    MJ was the master of attraction, channeling it.

    Prince did on some occasions well in this field, Purple Rain, Musicology, he did 21 concerts + in London and did not die over it.

    MJ was the robotic dancer, Prince did well on dancing, watch Sign 'o the Times, Prince did the splits.

    MJ did some tours as an individual and lost it after `96, he got inspired through Prince again in Vegas watching him play.

    MJ hasn't mastered any instrument beside his voice.

    Both were addicted.

    MJ sold more music, sure.

    July 4, 2009 at 3:19 pm |
  24. Ringo

    NIls, you're right.

    July 4, 2009 at 3:35 pm |
  25. Gultekin

    This article is OBVIOUSLY designed to stir up controversy and has therefore proven its point.

    July 5, 2009 at 1:10 am |
  26. ilinca

    There is only a difference between them.Michael was a genius

    July 5, 2009 at 6:30 am |
  27. Richard

    Apples and oranges. But I do agree, Prince handled some things better.

    July 5, 2009 at 9:01 am |
  28. Gazam

    Constantijn Blondel – Incredibly well put.

    Im a serious Prince fan, been so since '84. Prince made me fall in love with music more so after the fever of Thriller. I know details of every thing in his career, but I also love Micheal Jackson. I will say, my degree of being a fan was not as much as it was for Prince. I had to choose, it was all very overwhelming as I look back. But I always held Michael in a special light as he was incredible as a performer, singer, his was musical, magical, and a pretty great person. Prince on the other hand, was just as amazing, danced and grooved just as amazing, the added thing was that Prince was also an incredible guitar player, piano player, had a wider vocal range, just as passionate and charged and soul wrenching as Michael.

    What Im saying, is that both were and are diamonds cut from the same stone. Polished in different ways, and led through different paths. Prince had a childhood, he was more realistic yet mystical, evolutionizing. Micheal didnt yet he was more fantastical and had a wider appeal in age and audience. I love those qualities and I just can never pit one over the other. They both mean, meant a lot to me.

    On a slightly more realistic point, Prince's output even being more so in say, the last 10 years, has been a bit off here and there for various reasons. But he still has a set of stunning work from his debut era through the early to mid 90's.

    You have to have loved both if you loved the others music, they both had a magical groove, they are contemporaries that reclaimed Rock n Roll.

    July 5, 2009 at 10:17 am |
  29. Igor

    M.J. IS THE BEST-PRINCE SUCK!

    July 5, 2009 at 12:13 pm |
  30. Alan

    was Stupid... that's it.

    July 5, 2009 at 2:13 pm |
  31. Alan

    By the Way... what vanila ice said below was an INSULT to my inteligence

    July 5, 2009 at 3:06 pm |
  32. David Palomares

    Empress Donna listen to these jokers.
    'Fame' The Game you coined it best.
    They have killed off the King now the wish to bring down the Prince.
    I am so sick of this CNN only does this for ratings they don't care a fat flying-- about anyone they just wish to dig deeper and to keep pouring salt on the wound. Michael Jackson was talented just as talented as Prince. Barry White, Rick James, June Pointer, Luther Vandross and countless others. It is the industry that they you and others are in that tear their worlds apart.
    I know just looking at what the music industry is offering up now that there is little talent left. The songs they write now are throw outs hardly worth a dime. I feel lucky that I was witness to the best generation ever in music that was. What we have now is Luke warm compared to what once was.
    Sincerely,

    July 5, 2009 at 4:31 pm |
  33. lelectric 1

    Both of these powerful stars are good and people r always comparing them to me Prince will b the next king of pop

    July 5, 2009 at 5:20 pm |
  34. Lucciano

    I wonder Micheal where you are... :) I am sure you are fine and happy... I am going to watch your funeral same as you will be...and hope perhaps you can help some of the people here by getting your message across to the world,something that you could nt do when you where here..I am sure your children will see to that in the not too distance future.Soon we will all join you including those who are now taking this opportunity for there financial gain and attention.I am writing this before your funeral
    but I am sure that you are going to show the world even those who hate you...who you really are...I hope you touch their hearts during these days,by changing negative into positive energy.. thanks we need need it so we can pass it to our children so they won t need drugs...to get over their sadness,or create wars for financial gains,or hate because of race or colour,religon or power,so that we perhaps can improve not change the world we live in so that we don't need to leave like you....

    July 5, 2009 at 6:45 pm |
  35. japheth j o

    MJ is incomparable.he is invincible and he'd be greater even in death.prince who?

    July 5, 2009 at 8:08 pm |
  36. Manny

    Prince or Michael Jackson...
    They're both great musicians and can't be compared. Their music is completely different. I like them both, and listen to their songs with great pleasure. Even my father, the intellectual, saw something in these two incredibly creative people. I call them "iron butterfly" (powerful yet fragile).

    Man may come, man may go. And what survives is "culture" meaning Art, Music and Literature. Amen!

    July 5, 2009 at 9:54 pm |
  37. Raul

    They're monters of music...
    You cant compare them... you like them or not...you love them or not.. but none is better than the other... would you campare a mango with an apple... you can't!! You decide which one you eat, you decide which one you listen to... but what it's clear both of them deserve RESPECT and MJ did not recive much RESPECT. We cant never know how things would've gone if he'd have recived the RESPECT, ADMIRATION and LOVE for those who now are still writting about his life.
    I am from Spain, not an english-speaking, so I ppologize for any mistake.

    Michael, for me you'll always be here. You're not gone!! Never!!

    July 5, 2009 at 10:34 pm |
  38. REKI

    juST WANT SAY THAT MICHAEL JACKSON IS DEFINATLY THE KING POP! PRICE IS A GOOD ARTIST BUT NOT IN THE SAME LEAGUE LIKE THE KING OF POP AND HIS SHOWS! MICHAEL HAS GOT ALL, PRICE NOT REALLY SO GET REALL.. WITH ALL RESPECET T PRINCE WILL NEVER WILL BE ABLE TO TAKE THE THRONE FROM THE KING! DOESN´T MATTER ANYWAY MICHAEL HAS LEFT US BUT HOPEFULLY WE WILL SEE MUCH MORE FROM ART FROM THE UNREALEASES STUFF.
    REGARDS TO EVERYBODY....

    July 5, 2009 at 10:40 pm |
  39. Luciana de Lima

    What happened? cnn is running out of stories and are placing any crap now on the website?

    July 5, 2009 at 11:01 pm |
  40. Catherine

    2 artists, 2 performers, 2 genies

    MJ : an innocent angel
    Prince : a sex obsessed devil

    July 5, 2009 at 11:14 pm |
  41. marianne

    i trust CNN so much that i only chose msnbc and cnn about MJ's passing and updates...but i will have to think about it..now that it posted a very stupid article comparing MJ to prince....GIVE ME A BREAK!! prince didnt even come close...he is even weirder..i dont see any similarity with regards to talent...NEVER EVER...NO ONE COMES CLOSE TO MICHAEL JACKSON...A LOT OF ARTISTS PROVES THAT...MICHAEL IS A GOD-GIVEN TALENT, ITS NATURAL...HE IS A GIFT TO ALL OF US....AND NO ONE COMPARES TO HIM...I MEAN...NO ONE......PRINCE? PLEASE!!!! ELVIS MAYBE, BUT PRINCE...THIS ARTICLE IS CRAP....IM SORRY CNN BUT IT IS...I CANNOT EVEN IMAGINE THIS ARTICLE TO BE POSTED ON CNN...EXCUSE ME BUT MSNBC SO FAR HAVE BEEN GIVING FAIR AND BALANCED AND FACTUAL INFORMATION AND ARTICLES ABOUT MICHAEL...AND THATS THE WAY I WANTED IT TO BE.....SPARE MICHAEL THE NEGATIVE COMMENTS AND CONTROVERSY AND OBVIOUSLY PURE EXAGGERATION.....LETS JUST CELEBRATE HIS LIFE...HE DESERVES THIS.....THE WORLD LOVES AND ADORES MICHAEL..IT CLEARLY SHOWS....NO ONE'S GONNA DO THAT TO PRINCE....NEVER....NOT IN THIS LIFETIME.....MICHAEL IS HERE FOREVER....SINCE HE WAS 5 UNTIL HIS PASSING HE IS AS FAMOUS AND CELEBRATED THAN EVER.....NOBODY CAN TOP THAT...NOT EVEN ELVIS....IM SORRY BUT THIS IS THE TRUTH.....

    July 6, 2009 at 3:06 am |
  42. Jules Mad

    What you people forget is that MJ looked up to Prince.

    And both of MJ´s kids are named PRINCE.

    Let MJ RIP!!!!!

    July 6, 2009 at 3:19 am |
  43. marianne

    THE ANSWER TO THIS NOT WORTH READING ARTICLE WOULD BE...WHAT IS HAPPENING NOW...WITH MJ'S PASSING....ALL OF YOU KNOW THE ANSWER....NO EXPLANATION NEEDED.....MICHAEL IS, WAS AND WILL ALWAYS BE THE TRUE, NO DOUBT KING OF POP, ROCK AND SOUL.....DONT SEE A TITLE AND AFFECTION FOR PRINCE LIKE THAT.....NEVER....AND EVEN LITTLE KIDS NOWADAYS WHICH IS FAR FROM MIKE'S GENERATION LOVES HIM, IMITATES HIM AND ADORES HIM....ASK THEM ABOUT PRINCE AND THEY'LL GIVE YOU A QUESTIONING LOOK..AS IF...WHO IS THAT....
    THATS WHAT YOU CALL THE IMPACT OF MICHAEL IN EVERYONE'S LIFE...PERIOD.....

    July 6, 2009 at 5:33 am |
  44. armie jane apit-plaza

    one thing for sure..... MICHAEL JACKSON is incomparable.... NO ONE can ever matched him, NO ONE can ever be leveled to him. MJ is the greatest, the ONE & ONLY king of pop. That article written is absolutely meaningless, you should not have compare MJ to Prince because Prince is nothing compared to MJ (sorry to Prince fans, but that is my opinion). Long live MJ......

    July 6, 2009 at 6:11 am |
  45. sally-

    Michael is the best of best!!!!!!!!! A true KING..........

    July 6, 2009 at 11:37 am |
  46. Sheila Palmer

    Listen, Michael Jackson is the ultimate entertainer, singer, performer and dancer. He was a gift to the music industry. He's the greatest talent the music industry has ever had, has ever seen.
    The tabloids + press – you guys caused much trauma and pain to him.
    Let MJ rest in peace now.

    July 6, 2009 at 11:59 am |
  47. Steve

    Michael who?

    Prince is a genius. And still the best performer on the planet.

    Michael Jackson may have been influential until "Bad". The rest is a freak show, while Prince continued to do his own thing. People don't seem to understand that. Fans of MJ talk about him being King of Pop all the time. I mean, how can they even do that when since 1991 ("Dangerous") there's not one good album? Prince doesn't even care what people think. He is making music. That is the difference between the two.

    Lemme quote:

    "In the 27 years since “Thriller,” Jackson released only four albums of new material. Since his breakout album “1999” the same year, Prince has released 21 new albums."

    Hello?!

    July 6, 2009 at 12:25 pm |
  48. gita

    mj is one and only popstar of the century

    July 6, 2009 at 1:10 pm |
  49. johnabdul

    well well well!may i wrap it up with just one sentence...M-I-C-H-A-E-L won the heart of the world with his love,i guess thats all that matters.

    July 6, 2009 at 1:38 pm |
  50. SpeakaTruth

    haha, i laughed at some of the responses.
    Prince is a true music artist, MJ was an entertainer who was more marketable. At the end of the day, MJ sold more because his weirdness made him that more interesting. His music, good, Prince's good as well. Just becasue MJ will be "mourned worldwide" doesnt necessarily make him superior..it just proves how fickle the world is, seeing that years ago he was a "child molester." and accused as such. Please note MJ was the SELF PROCLAIMED King of pop. The "masses" never gave him that title. Prince used the symbol to get out of a contract that he didnt like and bad management. Musically speaking, lifestyle wise, Prince remains the winner in my book, becasue he's his own man. MJ catered to the fickle minded., and so they continue to worship him. With all the exposure he had, he chose to copy the King of Rock n Roll and do meds till he died. Honestly, all that money and no intelligence. Peopl wake up and see the truth. MJ was a great entertainer, and much like the music industry that is all about money and notu music today, they come and go.

    July 6, 2009 at 2:53 pm |
  51. mae

    the whole world mourns with the passing of the King of Pop, Michael Jackson. May he rest in peace. He is and will always be the King of Pop.

    as for Prince, well, he is only a prince, and Michael Jackson will always be the king

    July 6, 2009 at 3:12 pm |
  52. Nic. S.

    Who is this "Prince" ?

    July 6, 2009 at 4:20 pm |
  53. Marcolomiers

    Prince vs. MJ, what an old story.
    In France, Elite Rock Writers still consider Prince as the smart guy, the Artist, MJ just pop and bizness.
    100 Millions pinned on a mirror....
    Remember the old days, back in the 6O's, when Gladys Knight saw the kids from Gary, Indiana. What was Papa Joe first concern ? Make it big...
    Did MJ have the choice to do anything else but sell, at any price ?
    No choice but something else. He was not so clever to be an executive from his own record company as the kinky Bowiesque star. No calculation, but a special talent. "Un petit, je ne sais quoi..."
    By the end of the 70's James Brown was summoned to retreat, when Prince could not imagine more than a sex machine which is a treat. Good musician too. But no thrill.

    July 6, 2009 at 8:10 pm |
  54. Karissa

    MJ v.s Prince???...MJ wins this for sure...even though they both are talented..Michael Jackson is undoubtly better...he released considerably lesser amounts of albums and still outselled prince... (even with all those troubles he seemmed to be plagued by...). Overall Michael Jackson is way better and to me, a more lovable person.

    July 6, 2009 at 8:14 pm |
  55. Mai

    Internationally, United States strength is seen in :

    Google
    Coca Cola
    Windows
    Obama (Voting Black as President)
    Hollywood
    Michael Jackson
    CNN
    e.t.c

    Such product have penetrate the entire world and make many to
    love America or at least recognize that America is a greate nation.

    Elvis, Bing and Prince e.t.c

    This are greater American product which have made it outside
    of the country but not on every continent.

    So remember that people are crying for the lost of Michael in places
    like Brazil Japan Switzerland Nigeria. Even American Enemies
    Drink Coca Cola, they Google, watch Holywood films, say I saw it
    on CNN.

    Michael Jackson has taken his music to every country
    around the world. so please You have to defferentiate between
    a Music SuperPower and a successful local musician

    From Switzerland.

    July 6, 2009 at 9:03 pm |
  56. P.N.G.

    One cannot get too enamored in to the hype of Michael Jackson even at his passing. MJ was an astounding entertainer, but Prince Rogers Nelson is a full-on musician: completely self-contained. Michael was never without production teams and musicians to augment his vision and sound, although he wrote much of his own material as a solo artist.

    The styles are only comparable by some the more mainstream music they both released from 82-85. And even then, there is one fact that remains:

    They are completely different in style, approach and content. Prince dealt more with abstract concepts about sex, religion, and self-identity, themes that run concurrent even into "Lotus Flow3r", while MJ only went outside the love/sex pop-box expressionism with "Scream" (a brilliant song), and "Childhood", an extremely personal telling of a successful human being not 'whole' due to a childhood that was non-existent and beyond being recoverable. This was, in my opinion, his best work.

    In Prince, catharsis runs deep as well, and is not accessible in pop terms much of the time like MJ. In any event, the 'Scream/Childhood' combo that MJ out out in 95 is without equal in its unabridged emotional honesty. Prince has never come like that...and I have been a FAN of Prince since 'Dirty Mind'. And though Prince may have made incredible music under various names including his own, I would like to see him go where Mike did with those two songs.

    These are the only MJ songs I own for that reason.

    July 6, 2009 at 11:44 pm |
  57. Remy

    Prince is a MUSICIAN–he can play enough instruments to create a song BY HIMSELF, people. He had so much material in the 80s that he was just giving it out classic pop songs to other people like candy. Sheena Easton, Sheila E., The Time, Sushanna Hoffs ("Manic Monday"). Or look at the success others who have covered his songs: "I Feel For You" Chaka Khan, "Sugar Walls" Sheena Easton, "Nothing Compare 2 U" Sinead O'Connor etc !!!!!!! Prince's songwriting skills cannot be denied or duplicated.

    Look, I loved MJ as a child, but even I could not deny Prince after "Purple Rain". And out of the two, Prince's music means much, much more to me. Nothing MJ's done resonates as strongly to me as Prince's one song "Purple Rain". That song was a gift from heaven, I think. It's timeless in a way that pop songs are not supposed to be.

    Michael Jackson was a superior song and dance man. He perfected moves created by great dancers, namely Jackie Wilson, James Brown etc and gave the moves his signature. MJ ruled video as well. But his live performances? I have to be honest, most of them were lip synched over the years and a lot of his show was canned/scripted. He was not a raw and spontaneous performer, but he could move.

    To be honest, I haven't listened to a Michael Jackson song in years. It took his death to make me want to listen to him and I am already tired of his music. But, I continued to listen to Prince all these years. I even saw Prince in concert a couple years back–it was the best show I've seen yet (and I've seen Michael Jackson in concert 4 times)

    I loved MJ, but Prince reigns supreme for my tastes. Prince will never get the public adoration but he doesn't need it either–Michael did.

    July 7, 2009 at 2:57 am |
  58. Brian

    I know one thing–Prince kicked MJ's BEHIND when it comes to live shows and especially their Super Bowl gigs. Prince's Super Bowl performance remains one of the best ever. By comparison, I almost forget MJ even performed at the Super Bowl. Who's bad? lol Gimme Prince any day.

    July 7, 2009 at 3:33 am |
  59. Patrice

    I am an 80's kid. I grew up knowing both men's music. Michael Jackson's music was "current". Prince did not even make good music when I was 16! How can you compare such.

    If you haven't worked with both men then you do not have the right to compare the work ethics of these 2 artists.

    Prince is a good artist on his own but has not produced music that even hit the charts of even became #1. Jackson did have albums whose sales were not as big as the Thriller album...BUT...TAKE NOTE...all his album got songs that hit the #1 in the charts..

    What do you make of that?

    July 7, 2009 at 4:16 am |
  60. Kamala

    MJ vs PRINCE: an age old comparison. MJ wins hands down! True Prince has come up with 21 albums since. But who knows his songs? Die hard Prince fans claim that he is the true artist just because he writes and sings stuff that really matters to him and never cared about media and the appeal of his songs. Bull! I remember him from the 80s. If you call MJ a freak,then, Prince is Fa BIGGER FREAK. I can never connect to the messages in his songs. Ooops there was never any real message in his songs.

    Michael Jackson gave many people their childhood. Music would've been dull without him. As far as I'm concerned there was no King before Michael and there is never gonna be one after him. RIP: KING OF MUSIC!!!!!

    July 7, 2009 at 6:30 am |
  61. truword tyga

    Michael was a god, Prince is an angel

    July 7, 2009 at 8:30 am |
  62. Kelly

    Mai > you said it all. It wraps up everything.Nothing more to add!

    July 7, 2009 at 9:14 am |
  63. Ekanem Ita

    Prince and M.J cannot and should not be related...Michael is the King. His legacy will surpass Elvis, Marley and maybe the beattles...

    Prince on the other hand...is not really much of a legend to me...He should stick with his workaholic traits and live the world to mourn the true king.

    July 7, 2009 at 1:09 pm |
  64. joe

    JESUS is better than both and the only one worthy of worship. That said, Michael was amazing. Prince is amazing. Prince in his private life has not been accused of the things MJ was accused of, nor has he squandered the money he has earned. In his private life he has maintained sanity and balance. Michael Jackson was unbelievable with Quincy Jones producing him and was an amazing entertainer, but he squandered his gift, his health resulting in his death and his children being left as orphans. Who was the better performer, the answer depends on who you ask. Right now we are in a Michael Jackson emotional high. May GOD BLESS Michael and have mercy on his soul.

    July 8, 2009 at 4:23 am |
  65. Wally

    This is a futile exercise, it's unbelievable! The writer made a determination after looking over the sum total of their careers that overall Prince's BUSINESS decisions appear more sound than MJ's. He never made a final determination as to who was the greatest all time artist of the two......GAWD people read!

    I myself was a fan of both-they both grew too weird for my taste or maybe I grew too conservative for theirs, either way I simply saw MJ as the world's greatest all-around entertainer/performer and Prince as the world's most innovative musician/singer/song-writer/producer of multi-talented funk groups (i.e. The Time).

    July 8, 2009 at 5:48 am |
  66. Anita

    I'm a huge Prince fan, but I was a MJ fan first. You cannot compare the two, becuz they are very different and both great at what they do, that's all to it.

    July 8, 2009 at 1:58 pm |
  67. Patrick Brown

    It is silly to compare these two. Both are great at what they do/did. It is not a competiton. I grew up with the Jackson 5 and they defined the course of my musical taste for the early part of my life. Then, I found Prince. Playing all of the instruments on his albums, transcending genres, singing at various octaves, dancing like...well like only Prince can, and I was hooked.
    I loved MJ. Let him rest in peace. Only in the pop culture machine with nothing creative to pedal do we need these hollow and shallow articles. What is the purpose? Those of you that think lowly of Prince know little about musical talent. Stop the comparisons. It is an insult to Prince.
    I hope MJ may now have a "normal" life.

    July 8, 2009 at 8:51 pm |
  68. evolsidog

    hi guys uhmm!!did you ever seen m.j play instruments on stage??how many albums in 30 years?still boring pop . do you remember american people after purple rain, around the world in a day ,parade and sign of the times ..and the relative incredible tours?prine made pop, jazz ,funk rock .and the minneapolis scene?he wrote amazing and artistic songs for many artists..what about from 82' the time apollonia 6 sheila e,madhouse, martika. prince is a real and incredible artist on 360 .m.j was a popular dancer and amzing singer but nothing to compare to a real musician and genius tha really changed r&b!! people don't lie yourself please wake up!! music is not only businnes!great comment patrick!! from ITALY edoardo

    July 9, 2009 at 1:57 am |
  69. Kone Mohammad

    Stop it now ,

    Prince fan are open mind and free thinkers , we do love Mj but we opt 4 the PRINCE , but MJ fan want the whole world to love MJ ! they very hostile people ! with prince ur open to any music .

    MJ was keen on trade ! he want to sale 100 Million CD or Tape let him sale 1000 Million ! is over ! everyone will die ! but we must die at hard place ! Prince work hard and MJ use only marketing and viusal tools to size people ! Prince was having world message !

    Listen to : Around the world in a day ! by Prince and MJ run 2 do we are the world ! shame why he want 2 b prince this man !
    prince sing : sign of times ! great LP stronger than any MJ LP !
    it is shame to think about music as only HIT BOB MARLEY how many number 1 , he have ?! how many LP he sold ! so 4 MJ fans , BM is nothing !

    Purple Rain give hope 4 any one to overcome trouble and B what he want ! but MJ Thriller or BAD do not have ideas it is about dancing ! and music Video so MJ can stand with Madonna in the same line !

    prince will stand with The Beatles,Hendrix , Led Zeppiln , RS, BOB Marley , The doors , James brown , bob dylan all mentioned above
    was having ideas and messages .

    MJ was for kids only ! no wonder he end doing to them something that he call BAD

    July 9, 2009 at 11:13 am |
  70. Joanne Likely

    What about Freddie Mercury?

    July 10, 2009 at 12:47 pm |
  71. Pascal

    IMO, Prince and MJ are being compared for only two things: Firstly, they happended to be simultaneous 80's chart toppers making cross-over music, and secondly because one was nicknamed the King while the other was named Prince by his father, which I guess got people thinking the two still were in some kind of competition.

    I've often wondered where that "king of pop" nickname came from: was it some media guy in need of a catchline who invented it or some marketing thing from MJ's own camp?

    Whatever the answer is, MJ made his best to live up to this nickname, and it's all about that you know: trying to be the king at being popular (which equals trying to be the king at selling as much records as possible, as the common way of measuring a singer popularity is salescount)... and MJ did pretty well: well-marketed product (great videos, omnipresence on Mtv, radio friendly music, greatly staged shows) and very slow output, in order to create a need and make every release an event in itself. Nothing wrong with that If you consider music as, let's say, a product, that can be enjoyed through sci-fi videos, rehearsed dance routines and why not lip-synched concerts.

    I personally think music is above all an artform meant to be performed ... then later something you record and try to sell. I also believe that the quality of the music should be measured by the quality of it being performed and the skills of the person performing it. Or it's capability of getting you to places you've never been. Quality doesn't have much to do with the amount of CD's being sold. And in this regard, I guess Prince is the best: the guy is always going on tour, and doing what a musician is supposed to do: play music. And he does it so well, that he sells out almost every show without getting much airplay, without ever making a good commercial video (IMO) and without much advertisement. And that's what a real music artist is to me: someone who concentrate on his craft, has an ethic about it and sticks to it.

    I'm now 31, and I guess I did spend the first half of my life grooving to MJ. Not to MJ's music, but to the whole MJ concept: the dance moves, the videos, the glorified media-tailored-superstar. And it was good for the kid I was, like watching a movie full of special effects.
    Later as a teenager I started searching for "my own" music (not just eating the cold soup I could get from the radio or Mtv) and browsing record stores, going to concerts, etc... and Prince was one of those few folks that truly astonished me: his skills as a performer blew me away and I loved his I-do-what-I-want-when-I-want-to ways. And I still cannot find anyone who can compare to him in this regard. I cannot say that I always love what he records, but whenever he plays live I know I'll get some tickets and have a funky good time.
    Since my teen years I stopped getting interested in the whole Jackson circus but yet I remember recently thinking that If today, someone like Britney Spears can afford to go on a stage in front of 20 000 persons and lip-synch without being kicked out, It's that some so-called King did it in the first place,... and that's very very sad!!
    (No offence intended to no-one... and sorry for my probably sometimes bad english)

    July 10, 2009 at 1:16 pm |
  72. Steve

    Thank You Speaka Truth!

    Michael Jackson is for kids, Prince is for adults.

    Full stop.

    July 13, 2009 at 1:30 pm |
  73. born

    well i see we are back to that old 80's battle! in this corner the contender prince/ against the all time great micheal. if i became a musician what type of artist do i want to be, is it the one as jay z said " i want to have my records play on the radio a lot" so therfore u must make pop(poular) music : music that is popular all over the world!! period! when prince did his 1st two albums he said those were for the public. which pretty much ended that. so every time he wanted to be our darling he would just release another pop song! hint;;kiss, rasberry beret, i would die for u! ther is only one similarity wit these two born african american icons! ther influences are different; u can hear it in their music; micheal-james brown for his energy; and for his suave -"liza;old blue eyes,all things broadway and rat pack–prince-james brown, p-funk ,lil richard for his energy and for his suave- miles davis, john coltrane and all things jazz!!!

    July 13, 2009 at 11:32 pm |
  74. Greg

    Well said!

    July 13, 2009 at 11:41 pm |
  75. maria

    Great article!

    I´m so tierd of this MJ Marketing Machine! And seems like it needed his death to make some more money. $$$ I am so fed-up with this clown!
    He´s not even a dancer – he has a few jerky moves, which totally lack sex-apppeal and power!

    People! When are we going to stop measuring art according to the millions it generated?! Especially now, in this digital age – all songs should be listened to FOR FREE. And we should have ´Top Listeners Charts¨. Who cares about blockbusters?! I don´t care how much millions they made, all I want to know is how this art touched my life!

    Mr. Voigt pointed it out – musicians can make a decent living from their live performances... then maybe we wouldn´t get freaks like MJ who tape money notes on their mirrors. Only to go and spend them on the most ridiculous objects, as if humanity had vanished, only remaining as words of a song.

    July 17, 2009 at 7:41 pm |
  76. xerxses

    MJ is a baby who forgot to take his botty. The only reason the article was written and the comparison borne, is becuase one of he two is now DEAD. If someone did not forget to take his bottle and DIED, we would have no need for all this wasted energy. Nevertheless prince MUST be declared victor becuase he is still LIVING.... aaaaah meant as something like this he can still do an INDEFINITE ammount more than MJ. Who knows maybe in two years Prince will outsell and out perform MJ on ALL front. Thats the thing with DYING, you are freakin GONE. But as for the living well we all know very well ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE. amen

    July 20, 2009 at 8:45 am |
  77. lixline

    MJ still the best.

    July 21, 2009 at 12:02 pm |
  78. Kaya

    I don't know how any one with a soul can think that MJ made better music than Prince.

    Don't you want the person singing about love, sex God to sound believable? LOL Cause Michael Jackson surely failed on that front. No one believed him singing "the way you make me feel" or "keep it in the closet" LOL Pluuueeze. Michael was good at talking about ghosts, a pet rat, or giving vague cautionary tales about "groupies" out to getcha!! (Billie Jean, Dirty Diana, Heartbreak Hotel). That's all he could do. Oh, and let's not forget world peace and smiles for the little children. The guy had talent but the more he got swept up into his own little world, the less believable he became.

    Prince on the other hand, has always been believeable. He writes, plays and sings like a man who knows the wonders of the flesh, God and the power of music. Listen to "Adore" "If I Was Your Girlfriend" "I Wanna Be Your Lover" "Let's Go Crazy" "Raspberry Beret" "Purple Rain" "When Doves Cry" "She's Always In My Hair" "Kiss" "1999" "Little Red Corvette" "Alphabet Street" "I Would Die 4 U" etc...I was listening to that "Parade" CD, a soundtrack from a horrible movie, btw, and could not get over it. No one made songs like Prince's and no one ever will. I hear many people copy Prince's sound these days but they cannot pull it off (The Dream, Justin Timberlake etc).

    I feel bad for Michael's fans, I really do. But I am glad my favorite is still alive and kicking butt!! Long live Prince Rogers Nelson!!!

    July 25, 2009 at 8:11 pm |
  79. Gazam

    Kaya – I beg to differ. I have followed Prince's career way beyond the normal public for more about 25 years, know almost every detail of his career, love all his classic songs and albums, classic meaning the work he did from his debut through his early to mid 90's period. Now, I also happen to love Michael Jackson.

    This is not about who's better than whomever. Each was different but somehow connected. I know every Prince song by heart, even the unreleased gems, I can drum every part, program a Linn LM-1 to sound exactly like Dorothy Parker and Rebirth Of The Flesh (just giving you an idea how deep a fan I am) and when I listened to Michael Jackson's Man In The Mirror or The Way You Make Me Feel I felt it was honest, heartfelt, soul-touching as much as Prince's The Cross or Adore.

    Michael's song Ben is really about friendship, listen closely, read the lyrics. Nowhere does he say or sing "rat" or "mouse" the song unfortunately was used in a horror movie about rats, oops, but the song is really about deep dedicated friendship and its beautiful. Get your mind off of rats and you'll enjoy it, trust me.

    Prince also sang about groupies, Peach, Work That Fat...shall I go on? Prince wrote a song about ghosts – Others Here With Us. Prince has had moments of unbelievablility if you could call it that too. Some songs are purely made up stories, whats wrong with that? You named all the songs of The Very Best Of Prince, do you know what I Would Die 4 U really is about? Its not about Prince singing to a female, think about it, you should know as you're speaking a lot about God.

    Under the Cherry Moon has a lot of character, its a fun movie but shows Prince's flawed takeover based on ego most likely, but he was young, hungry then, still a real fun movie.

    Anyway, the unfortunate thing is that many still say Prince is better than Michael and MJ is better than Prince, but they are both the same in many ways. Im not a music-snob to say that Im interested in Prince's music because I value musicianship more, Im interested in Prince and Michael's music because both are compelling and absolutely fantastic, back in the day.

    Both The Bad Tour and Lovesexy Tours are the pinnacle of both these artists who've set a bar so high that I dont think will ever be reached by any newcomers current or future. The other side to it is that in my view, its an utter shame that the generations after Prince and Michael cannot muster up anything close to their worst.

    July 27, 2009 at 7:41 am |
  80. Gazam

    Actually, let me correct that last line^

    ... anything close to their quality and vision in performance and musicianship, songwriting.

    July 27, 2009 at 7:43 am |
  81. marianne

    to all prince's fans: keep telling that to yourself that prince is better than MJ....i dont even remember prince breaking any record..he is alive right...but not kicking butt....na-ah! and if he dies well i bet he wouldnt receive any kind of attention michael is getting now...so Plueeze....GET REAL...and keep telling that to yourself....LOL..

    July 27, 2009 at 7:58 am |
  82. VINCENT OSAWE

    Michael Jackson is the king

    April 7, 2010 at 5:54 pm |
  83. Archie Hill

    sadly, the King of Pop will never be coming back again, oh i missed Michale Jackson`:"

    October 4, 2010 at 5:30 pm |
  84. Condenser Dryer 

    oh im just so sad that the King of Pop is already dead,'-

    October 19, 2010 at 11:34 am |
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