In addition to his flawless vocals and mind-bending footwork, one of the things [artist id="1102"]Michael Jackson[/artist] was best known for was his drive to create the most elaborate and cinematic music videos the world had ever seen.
“Billie Jean,” “Thriller,” “Black or White,” “Remember the Time” and “Bad” are just a few of the landmark clips the late King of Pop gave the world during his 1980s and early-’90s hit-making peak. Which is why fans and critics alike were eager to get a glimpse Thursday morning (December 9) at the first music video in the singer’s career that was created without his firm guiding hand and vision.
After teasing the clip earlier in the week, the official MJ site debuted on Thursday the full video for the stirring ballad “Hold My Hand,” the first single from the upcoming album, Michael. The clip for MJ’s duet with [artist id="1240040"]Akon[/artist] is not unlike the first posthumous vids from the likes of other contemporary fallen stars such as Tupac Shakur or the Notorious B.I.G., in that it mixes classic footage of the artist performing with newly shot images of fans young and old paying homage to their hero.
It opens with a crowd of people standing in front of a large airplane hangar and unleashing a flood of white balloons as they say “Thank you, Michael” and “We love you, Michael,” while a gigantic image of the singer in silhouette appears on the side of the structure.
If nothing else, the “Hold My Hand” video is a kind of MJ greatest-hits montage, intercutting images of the singer in his prime in some of his most beloved stage outfits with glimpses of children wearing the same garb, a young boy holding a red plastic heart in his hands and Akon dancing on a pure white background as MJ hoofs beside him.
As Michael begins to sing the first verse, we see a variety of different hands — old, young, holding babies, reaching up to the sky, down into a bathtub, etc. — as well as a series of women crying, the infamous glittering glove and a woman in a hospital bed seemingly dying of cancer, all intended to pull heartstrings and stir emotion.
It continues on like that, with most of the video consisting of shots of hands (some trailing a kind of glittery pixie-dust vapor) doing various things, children breakdancing and popping, and various images of angels, as the edits of stock-like footage of sunny skies, forests and adorable babies pile on so quickly it’s almost hard to keep up.
Jackson, frankly, is hardly in the video, making sporadic appearances courtesy of some iconic footage of him in concert, a curious choice given the reported dozens of hours of HD footage shot of the singer while he was preparing for what was slated to be his big comeback tour in England last year.
The duet with Akon was recorded in 2007 and, as a message on MJ’s site points out, “a handwritten note from Michael belonging to his estate indicated his desire that ‘Hold My Hand’ be the first single on his next project.” After an unfinished version leaked in 2008, Akon recently went back into the studio to complete production on the track.
Instead of the eye-popping special effects and intricate choreography of the past, the “Hold My Hand” video goes for a simpler, more predictable sentimentality. Without Jackson around anymore to call the shots and push the video envelope, it also signals a quiet, uneventful end to a career of constant reinvention and visual ambition via music video.
In a statement to MTV News, director Mark Pellington explained what he was aiming for with the posthumous clip. “We shot the video in a variety of locations in Los Angeles, including a blimp hangar in Tustin. The attempt was to create a celebratory, positive, healing music video honoring Michael’s legacy,” he said. “And for me personally, if his fans like it, that’s all I really care about.”
What do you think of the “Hold My Hand” video?