Editors’ Notes There are rare talents, and then there is Michael Jackson. Yes, the Indiana-born musical prodigy's albums sold like kitchen appliances in the ‘80s, but more importantly, the lifelong showman sang as if every breath were his last. He out-discoed disco. He used elements of R&B, soul, funk, blues, rock, and gospel to turn sonic emotion into genre set pieces, like how “Thriller” morphed fear into horr-opera. MJ even invented his own onomatopoeic language—“Hee hee”; “Chi-ooh!”; “Ow!”—all of which instantly conjure a snapped fedora. Even among the Greatest of All Time, the King of Pop stands apart.

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