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Michael Jackson memorial: John Mayer performs 'Human Nature'


Pop & Hiss brings you quick thoughts on some of the main performances at today's Michael Jackson memorial.

What: John Mayer's 'Human Nature.'

Ann Powers is inside the Staples Center, and her first thought at Mayer's performance: "I don't know why John Mayer is here. Was Slash not available?"

Mayer went for a stylish guitar interpretation. It was vocal-less until about halfway through, when a choir sang the lyrics above a whisper. It's easy to take a jab at Mayer here, with his exaggerated, pained expressions and Sunday brunch-safe interpretation, but in this setting it was soft and respectable. Although there's no need to hear it beyond Tuesday afternoon.

Powers is a bit more kind, noting that the take is "reasonably tasteful," although she adds that the crowd singalong that organizers may have hoped for didn't develop.

— Ann Powers and Todd Martens

Photo credit: EPA

Comments () | Archives (96)

I agree with the other poster-- what has Ann Powers given the world that she is the be-all and end-all judge of everything? I follow John Mayer on Twitter, and he had the most thoughtful comments of any I have read written by a celebrity that either knew Jackson or didn't-- he obviously admired the man's music and was affected by his death. He had just as much right to be there as, say, Jennifer Hudson.

What's wrong with having "pained expressions" at a funeral? So far, I have read criticism of Jackson's daughter, his family, and now the performers. This says more about the speakers of such nasty comments than it does the people present at the funeral today.

John Mayer is the ultimate douchebag. What a joke to have him there. This wasn't a sincere tribute as more of a chance to promote himself to an insanely large audience. Anyone who thinks John Mayer is so talented needs to really explore other music.

John Mayer did a great job, and is becoming a fantastic musician as of late. His performance was better than anything Slash could ever come up with. Seriously though, Slash??? Kinda white trash for the funeral for the King of Pop, don't you think?

Who the hell made you all-knowing anyway, Ann Powers and Todd Marten? Not a very professional article from two cynical commentators no one has ever heard of (or cares to, for that matter).

Are you kidding me.... John Mayer was one of the best performances. Obviously, you have no idea about music.

John Mayer is precisely the type of musician that Michael enjoyed and if you don't understand why he would be there to honor him, then just count that on your ignorant thoughts tally.

If you noticed, John Mayer performed after Al Sharpton made the comments about Michael Jackson dissolving the "racial curtain" and how kids around the world came to better understand and embrace one another. It was a perfect time for a different interpretation of a Michael Jackson song. I saw a story the other day about how in his heyday Michael requested to hear Barry Mannilow perform when they honored him at the American Music Awards. So, there was Mr. Copa Cabana doing Ben and I'll Be There. It's exactly the kind of thing Michael would have asked for and appreciated. It was completely fitting. What's all the fuss? Were people listening to the messages being delivered today and over this past week?

I think it was symbolic that there were no lyrics....the singer is gone....

John Mayer performance was absolutely beautiful. for the people that was wondering why he was there, John Mayer is a talented Muscian, and i was shocked but also happy that he played Human nature. Michael Jackson loved John Mayer music. ANN POWERS AND TED MARTENS, HOW DARE YOU TRY TO DOWN PLAY HIS PERFORMANCE, IT WAS BREATH TAKING AND IM GLAD THAT HE PERFORMED

This Ann lady is ridiculous. I don't even like John Mayer but this performance was amazing. Especially the intro where it was just the guitar. I thought it to be very moving, respectful, and a great, great, performance. Get a grip Ann, you obviously know nothing about music, composition, or tact!

Just so everyone is aware John Mayer was asked to perform by Michael's family, that's reason enough for him to be there to me. Anyone who can or who was asked has the right to pay their respects in their own way. It's not for us to judge any performance on the program today, it was all so beautiful. Maybe if MJ had been subject to less judging while he was alive the world could have enjoyed him longer.

Why was John Mayer there?

It was a request by the family of Michael Jackson.

Mayer kindly obliged....and performed a heartfelt and soulful tribute to Michael.

End of story.

Regardless of whether John Mayer has talent or not, his performance was arguably the weakest of the ceremony. In all honesty his piece seemed more appropriate for an elevator or office lobby. It lacked genuine emotion and heart. his facial expressions and playing style seemed too fake. And let's face it, when compared alongside Stevie Wonder, Jennifer Hudson, and Lionel Ritchie and other far more talented performers, he just fizzled.

I'm not a fan of John Mayer, but I thought his tribute was Great! It was very appropriate for the memorial and I think he's very talented. To say he didn't belong at the tribute is ignorant and shallow. How the hell do any of you people know if he was aquainted w/ Michael Jackson. I suppose you all think you know him from what you read in the papers?

I don't know how they selected the performers for the ceremony, but I'm glad John Mayer was there. His performance was very unique and moving and I agree, If it was released tomorrow I would buy it. I don't understand the criticism of the way John performed but artists usually make gestures and expressions with their bodies. I think Mayer's performance was pure and awesome. It kind of makes me wonder how Santana would have sounded doing a Jackson song. All things said, I think Michael would be proud and honored for the Memorial service today.

John mayer was great as ever he s better than slash he is very talented i m really disagree with ur article

i like Slash much more! never hear of John Mayer???

Actually, I feel that John Mayer's performance was amongst the classiest as he played the guitar he communicated in the truest form a musician may communicate to pay tribute to another who has passed away.
Being a musician means having the ability to communicate through your art and not unnecessarily contributing with words (" I remember when i first heard MJ ..bla bla) which can be construed as personal pitches and what not..I felt a lot of the people there were just hyping themselves up. Also as far as the face contorts are concerned I wonder if any of you are musicians yourself. I play the piano and sometimes when I'm playing by ear or hitting certain notes I get an uncontrollable face contort too ..it's not controllable.

Anyway.. I think it was a classy way to say goodbye to MJ.
Case closed.

What was brilliant about Mr. Mayer's "Human Nature" was he simply got it and channeled what he got through his humble and worn instrument of choice. It was at this point that I was finally able to cry where I didn't think I deserved to cry. That's what I will miss about him, also. A simple, moving and brilliant performance.

Wow Mr Mayer your soulful rendition of Human Nature brought tears to my eyes. Thank You for you contribution to such a soulful, wonderful, Memorial for the Greatest Entertainer that ever lived!!

Negativity should only make you stronger!!

So, John, if you read the comments below, please skip the two below this one (and the people who wrote the above article, as they have no class obiously!!! All of the other comments below speak the truth, which is that the performance given by you today was heartfelt and very respectful, after all you were invited by the Jackson family themselves and had EVERY right to be there! You stood there as a whole for all the kids of your generation who grew up listening to MJ's music, and you showed true emotion through your guitar! Shame on anyone who wondered "why were you there!!!"

John Mayer, if there's a chance for him to get attn, he takes it! I bet that's not the only thing he takeas!

Hey ann,

You would do better to just REPORT and keep your personal opinions to yourself.
Thanks, much obliged.

Carey in a black glittery dress has succesfully conveyed with near Jackson 5 song version who symbolizes innocence.

I personally found very heartfelt and supremely touching John's homage to one of MJ's most beautiful songs, that Human Nature that is so artistically poignant.
John Mayer might be (surely he is) a sort of famewhore, a player, a wordly narcise, but the man has a wonderful command of the guitar, and that was about it. His presence was dignifying Michael's amazing range of creativity, the way he could encompass in his music so many beats and genres and make them all so poetically cohesive.
Mayer was respecteful in not attempting any vocal. He knows he can't touch Michael (Usher should learn it too...), nor he even dare to try. But man, that guitar spoke passion and grief and feelings like a fountain, yesterday! Michael himself would have certainly cheered it. So, Mayer is white. Then what? Did MJ ever considered colours as a matter?
Mayer's performance to me was second JUST to the impressive power and soulful speech and play and singing of amazing Stevie Wonder. I cried all along. Music can so well open souls up, that I find so mean (to MJ first) to come here and diss Mayer for delivering a masterful performance.
he's a douche, sure. But when he plays guitar (I'm not completely fond of his singing, though often I find it very well done and it catches me nonetheless) he's an artist, and that is undeniable.
MJ fans should be so proud the immense legacy of the greatest enetrtainer of all time could and can still bring together every type of musician and artists. Maybe you should listen more carefully to what he stated in his songs, to get his greatness from a complete point of view.
Sorry for the long rant... I had to write this down.

Hey LA Times --

Are you tired of getting feedback that totally contradicts your assessment of the situation? Get used to it, since you totally got this one wrong.

Although I'm not a huge JM fan, he did a great job and wisely chose to let his guitar do his singing.

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