he could play

Michael Jackson was a real musician. He had talent out the ass. Amazing time, tone, phrasing, energy, and style, not to mention pitch, range, projection, and every other musical gift that a pop singer needs or wants.

He personified big budget mega stars. The musical world that he dominated so utterly was disappearing before his eyes. The new one demands warmer and more intimate personas, the opposite of his grandiose narcissism:

Michael Jackson -- HIStory

He was a joke.

He was a sentimental fraud. Songs like “We Are the World” are terrible rock bottom drech. You cannot suck worse.

At the end he was not as rich as he used to be.

He personified self-loathing.

But he was an untouchable musician. The guy could play.