The Michael Jackson memorial took place at the Staples Center in Los Angeles today. It was a fittingly star-studded affair (though some of the cameos seemed a little random… John Mayer!) with some outstanding performances and every stripe of elegiac speech. We laughed, we cried (although our live-blogging technology is pretty primitive, so you probably didn’t notice), but mostly it felt like exactly the right kind of loving tribute. It wasn’t a gross spectacle, but it also lived up to the incalculable impact and influence that the man’s life and music had on the entire world. Here are some highlights, for whatever they’re worth, of our live-blogging of the event:
15:53pm EST: That concludes the main event. Now, sadly, it sounds like we have years of legal disputes and merchandising to look forward to.
15:52pm EST: The closing highlight reel is a strange contrast to all the early-career references of the event. Also, Bubbles gets some way overdue screen time.
15:42pm EST: Oh man, this is unbearable (Paris Jackson is my new favorite Paris).
15:39pm EST: I like how it took the Fox News folks like 30 seconds to figure out that Marlon Jackson was speaking.
15:37pm EST: Man, those poor fucking kids.
15:29pm EST: Oops, Lionel Richie caught looking for a clock.
15:27pm EST: Somebody from the family’s gonna speak, right? This can’t end with a slightly-slimy speech by a concert promoter.
15:24pm EST: Where’s the ticket-holders’ refunds, This Is It organizer guy?!
15:22pm EST: Ugh, is this the kid from the British talent show thing? So lame… Where’s Macaulay Culkin that one time you really need him?
15:08pm EST: I wonder if they had to forbid Usher from moonwalking because he was so much better at it than Michael was?
15:08pm EST: House of Representatives to vote on making Jackson some kind of “special person.” Is that like when the UN made Angelina Jolie an honorary ambassador?
14:56pm EST: Oh man, Martin Luther King III says “sweep streets” like a thousand times fast without tripping up. Nicely done!
14:51pm EST: Jermaine, apparently rumored to not be performing, does “Smile.” Jon notes: “Something tells me Charlie Chaplin is about to get a surge in iTunes downloads.” Indeed, not to mention Michael Jackson’s cover of the track on HIStory.
14:34pm EST: And here it is, the moment I was most dreading, John Mayer shoehorning himself into another event people actually care about.
14:28pm EST: Wow, Rev. Al Sharpton is cold killin’ it.
14:22pm EST: Astute L Mag intern Jon Blistein points out: “I’m starting to get the feeling that the Jackson’s could’ve made a pretty decent softball team.”
14:20pm EST: Brilliant! Magic Johnson (who had a cameo in the video for “Remember the Time”) draws an analogy between being a point guard and performing with a band.
14:16pm EST: The Jackson brothers’ matching outfits are awesome (the suits, the glasses, the gloves). I’m guessing they won’t perform, too bad.
14:05pm EST: The nifty musical montage features copious sections of “Bad,” which begs the question: why isn’t Wesley Snipes there?
14:02pm EST: The picture on the giant screen behind Gordy looks like Trinity’s flying kick in The Matrix, which seems oddly fitting.
13:57pm EST: Berry Gordy confirms my long-time suspicion that Jackson was a terrible athlete.
13:46pm EST: Mariah Carey thanks Jesus; Queen Latifah recites Maya Angelou. Latifah: 1, Carey: 0.
13:32pm EST: The comment about Neverland Ranch’s ice cream machine always being on in case kids drop by makes Jackson sound like the witch from Hansel and Gretel.
13:24pm EST: Wait, what? New York, Rhode Island and Florida barred residents from participating in the ticket lottery? They can do that?
13:10pm EST:How far into this shindig will we get before MJ breaks the Internet? From what I can tell, Tumblr is already down.
13:04pm EST: Katie Couric: “Also absent today: Beyonce and Justin Timberlake.” Um, why would you expect them to be there?
12:59pm EST: After this morning’s relatively brief private ceremony, all the important folks (MJ included) have arrived at the Staples Center, and here we go with the special coverage.
12:51pm EST: Some figures: the memorial is costing the city of L.A. between $3.5 and $4 million dollars, and Jackson’s bronze casket cost about $25,000.
12:34pm EST: That unfounded estimate that 1 billion people will be watching today has really caught on, huh?
12:24pm EST: Note that the CBS chopper pilot’s name is Amelia Earhart.
What’s 3.5-4 million dollars when the city’s already facing a billion-dollar budget shortfall? Drops in the bucket, drip drip drip.
Maybe they can get some emergency aid from the state!
What? No, John Mayer, somehow you were doing just find on your own before the stupid band kicked in. This is dumb.
“I was like, ‘What’s up with the glove?'” Well done, Brooke Shields.
MLKIII: Sort of a wimpy voice compared to his old man, eh?
Aw, lady, why you gotta bring up the moment of silence again? Using this opportunity to defend yourself against other politicians is in poor taste.
Isn’t it supposed to be disrespectful when civilians salute stuff? Like deceased pop stars? This woman hates America.
Usher has the pointiest head in show business. Now he’s crying and I feel bad.
You know who’s likable? Smokey Robinson is likable.
And funny! Not like that awful Brooke Shields…
Britain may have talent, but America knows not to wear a fucking t-shirt on stage at a memorial service.
Oh god, fuck, I did it again. Now he’s being all sweet and I feel terrible.
Does this mean Susan Boyle’s going to perform???
I keep wanting the Boss to come out and sing his part, and he keeps not coming out to sing his part.
Did Mariah refuse to come back out for We Are the World? I think she may have, which is probably why she still has a career.
Can someone please tell me who blondie and curly are?
Marlon is my new favorite Jackson.
is it over? is it really over?
who is this dick on fox? “if their goal was the surprise, well, then they achieved their goal.” Maybe their goal was to come together to mourn the loss of their friend or family member?
Oooh, I like that this dude said to bow your head, IF YOU ARE SO INCLINED. It’s the worst when you get dragged into a place of worship and someone demands that you bow your head, even though you don’t want to because you feel stupid and are perfectly capable of having thoughts with your head at almost any angle.
Well, you know, Fox News, dude. That guy really liked John Mayer too!
He also thought Mayer’s performance was acoustic, and it was not.