Frantic, screaming fans filled the streets and stopped traffic in the middle of Times Square when Jackson made what his record company called his first-ever in-store appearance, proving he still has luster on his crown.
Emerging in front of the Virgin Megastore on a small stage covered with red carpet, Jackson, clad in a blue silk shirt and matching pants, bopped to the sounds of his single “You Rock My World” and threw kisses to the crowd for about a minute before he went back inside the store to sign autographs and promote his new album, Invincible.
“Michael! Michael! Michael!” throngs of fans chanted in the hopes he would come back outside. Instead the police told the crowd to keep it moving.
“I lost my mind,” said 17-year-old Sydney Torrence of Harlem, who was still basking in making eye contact with the reclusive superstar. “Michael Jackson communicated with us!”
“He’s the greatest of all time, you don’t even have to ask the question,” said her friend Shari Griffith, 17, of the Bronx. “He’s just an innovator. Who could make up words like ‘cha’mon’?”
Jackson’s Invincible, which was released on October 30, will debut at #1 on next week’s Billboard 200 according to SoundScan data released on Wednesday (November 7). Both young women agreed the album deserves to top the chart.
“He’s got Biggie on the album, he’s got Jay-Z on the [‘You Rock My World’] remix,” Torrence said. “He doesn’t just sing about love. He sings about war, he sings about everything. He’s hot.”
“It’s real weird to see a new generation accepting Mike,” said Rodney Jerkins, one of Invincible’s producers. Jerkins, who was in a nearby studio working on the next Brandy album, showed up unannounced at the event after seeing a live on-site interview with Jackson on “TRL.”
“That was the mission for all of us [while making the album]: ‘How do we get younger kids?’ ” Jerkins said. “Standing out here, I can tell the kids love him. It’s all in the music. Mike’s an entertainer. He’s gonna show you what he can do, but the music has to catch the kids’ ears. It’s a blessing to be part of this. It’s history.”