It seemed like almost everybody were humming the tunes of "Billie Jean" and "Beat It" in London in the last few days, as the recently announced Michael Jackson concerts became the "hottest selling on the planet", according to organizers, with 750,000 fans snapping up tickets to see the King of Pop.
Jackson's most recent success comes about 20 years after the management of Wembley Stadium gave him an award which was put into the Guinness Book of World Records for setting a new attendance record, as Jackson performed seven sold out concerts (five in a row, two together at later dates) that were attended by a total of 504,000... of course those were the "good" old days of
"This Time Around" though, Jackson isn't performing 7 times at Wembley... but is expected to put on 50 shows at London's newest venue, The O2, which has previously hosted the come back performances of many big names, includes shows by his long term rivals: Prince and Madonna. (Amazingly: Prince, Michael and Madonna all celebrated their 50th birthdays last year -- they were all born in the summer of 1958).
The recent hype all started when Michael made a surprising announcement at The O2 (which is owned and operated by AEG) on March 6th, stressing that the series of shows due to start in July will be the last chance for fans to ever see him perform in London. Within days, posters and billboard were put up across the British capital to promote "This is it" (the cleverly selected name of the series of shows Jacko will be performing).
Concert organizers said they were the fastest selling tickets in London ever. Thousands of fans pitched up outside London's 02 Arena, with many more jamming the phone lines.
Tickets sold at a rate of 11 per second, 657 per minute and nearly 40,000 an hour, according to Britain's Press Association.
Yet, the unstable recent history of the King of Pop has left many wondering whether 'Jacko is Backo' for real or not... The UK's Daily Telegraph wrote a few days ago about issues regarding cancellation policies with insurers.
However, apart from the 750,000 fans who bought tickets to the shows, there is one man in London that says from his own knowledge that the legendry entertainer is "100% ready". Anthony King, founder and teacher of the MJ Style class at the famous Pineapple dance studios in Covent Garden - London, argues that despite the fact that 'Michael has to start training for his shows like any other entertainer ', he stresses the fact that the pop star's age will not be an obstacle. "Fred Astaire did his best dancing way over the age of 50, the same applies to James Brown" says King, whose classes were endoursed by the King of Pop's website.
In all cases, many music critics have already started labeling "This is it" as the greatest artistic come back in recent history.
Anthony, whose brother worked closely with Michael for a long time, believes strongly that Jackson is still the undisputed King of Pop while as he comments on the forthcoming shows, "The curiosity factor is through the roof and this is what show-business is all about."
However, as many will remain crossing their fingers until the shows start in July... there are those who were not surprised that AEG managed to sign the person who is still seems to be the biggest star in the entertainment world today.
After all, when you manage to turn around a failed government project which was once known as The Millennium Dome into its current 'home of the stars' status, signing the King of Pop doesn't seem to far-fetched. (It should be noted that the name 'O2' comes from a naming rights deal which was struck between AEG and the mobile service provider O2, whereby the later pays the first 6 million GBP a year).
Having said that, the people at AEG were probably as equally eager to "Wanna Be Startin' Something" with Jacko, after all, and as Randy Phillips, head of promoters AEG Live, has told the press, "Michael's 'This Is It' shows will protect the O2 from the recession for the next 2 years."
So to sum up, if all goes well and this is indeed "The Return of The King", then the O2 Arena has proved to be the undisputed Lord of The Rings ... and with tickets sold out so quickly, both parties should probably "not stop... till they get enough!"