And Finally Artist News Media

Michael Jackson’s nephew says Harry Styles cannot be the ‘new king of pop’

By | Published on Thursday 25 August 2022

Harry Styles

Michael Jackson’s nephew Taj is angry. Why? Because Harry Styles is on the cover of the new issue of Rolling Stone. Well, not that specifically. I don’t think he minds that. What’s upset him though is that, on the UK version of said cover, Styles is referred to as “the new king of pop”.

Taj is keen for everyone to know that the title ‘King Of Pop’ died with his uncle. No one else can claim the crown for themselves, despite the traditional conventions of monarchy.

“There is no new King Of Pop”, he tweeted. “You don’t own the title, Rolling Stone, and you didn’t earn it, my uncle did. Decades of dedication and sacrifice. The title has been retired”.

You got that? Just because someone is the biggest pop star in the world right now doesn’t mean they can go around calling themselves the king of pop. Not that Harry Styles is, mind.

Either way, Jackson used that as a marketing slogan for years, so it’s his. In fact, despite Taj’s claim that the title has been retired, the Jackson estate still holds two trademarks in the name, for both sound recordings and entertainment services.

I don’t think there’s any argument that there has been actual trademark infringement by anyone here, but – still – when you think ‘king of pop’, you probably do think of Michael Jackson. What to do, then? Well, Taj isn’t just coming out shouting, he’s also got a solution.

“No disrespect to Harry Styles”, he insists in his tweet. “He’s mega talented. Give him his own unique title”. So there you go. We need a new title. Don’t just stick ‘new’ on the front of an old one.

Actually, the US version of the Harry Styles cover has gone with “the world’s most wanted man”. But we’re not sure portraying Styles as a sinister criminal master mind is the way forward either. Surely he can still be the something of something, just not the king of pop.

Now, according to Wikipedia, Styles doesn’t just trade in pop, he’s also a purveyor of soft rock. So maybe he could be the King Of Soft Rock. That doesn’t sound very exciting though, does it? And it still uses two thirds of Michael Jackson’s official title.

We need to think more outside the box. So, here are a few suggestions of alternatives that definitely do the job without pissing off any fans or relatives of, you know, the late King Of Pop…

The Duke Of The Hit Parade

The Crown Prince Of The Charts

The Lord Of Contemporary Popular Music

The Marquess Of Great Tunes

The Earl Of Entertainment

The Mayor Of Music

The Baron Of Big Songs

The Life Peer Of Hits

The Admiral Of Sound Recordings

The Archbishop Of Singalongs

The High Priest Of Successful Music Making

The President Of Tracks

The Prime Minister Of Early 21st Century Music Often Played On The Radio

The Lord Chancellor Of Royalty Cheques

The Head Of State Of Singing And Playing A Bit Of Guitar

The Captain Of Actually Pretty Good Songwriting, You Have To Admit

The CEO Of 70s Trousers

The Best One Out Of One Direction

The Viscount Of Really Turning Things Around After Starting Your Career On ‘X Factor’

The Grand Master Of Bearing A Passing Resemblance To A Young Mick Jagger

Not Michael Jackson

I think any one of those would do. So, if you work for Rolling Stone, or any other magazine considering slapping Harry Styles on your cover, feel free to print out that list and refer to it as necessary. Or just follow the lead of Rolling Stone Australia and put the actual kings and queens of pop on your cover, the always magnificent Wiggles.

This story is discussed on this edition of our Setlist podcast.