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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)

It was the worst part of the show. Those strained looks. The aversion to his own singing was respectful only because Mayer's singing is lousy. Unlike Mayer, Jackson could sing. Like everything Mayer it was cringeworthy. Reminiscent of the boring sermon from the preacher you had to endure;- you squirm till it's over. And one day Mayer's star will be.

RE: carcass2000

I thought Mayer was a perfect fit for the Memorial - especially considering how many times he has personally cited Jackson as an influence, and the fact that he played the guitar part to the "Beat It" cover by Fall Out Boy. Look, Mayer is my age. He grew up with Michael Jackson as an iconic figure in his life, at an age when a kid can be consumed by music.

Nobody talking on the LA Times comments has the right to disparage the decision by the family to ask Mayer to contribute to the memorial service. It was a subtle and delightful rendition of the song. Remember, Michael Jackson and Barry Gordy both thought that "Human Nature" had the most beautiful melody ever recorded. (Look it up, they've been quoted as saying that)

That being said, I think Mayer's decision to let his guitar do the singing, was rather inspired.

My Question to Ann Powers ... Why were YOU there?
Leave John Mayer alone, his performance was from the heart, and weather or not folks like it or not, the family requested that he be there.

I wish there were were a "comments disabled" button for certain things in life

John Mayer was asked to preform by the Jackson Family. He did not sing because he knew his vocal range would not do the song justice. He is a class act, and this was the best performance of the day. Ann Powers and Todd Martens, you two got this one wrong.

You are a Hack. John Mayer's performance was amazing and heartfelt. If you knew more about the mans music then just the singles, you would understand just how much he has been influenced by soulful artists.

Those who can't do, criticize.

Erm, John Mayer was there because he was asked to be there by the family! I thought it was a lovely, understated performance that has stuck with me. He is an extremely talented artist, and I don't know how anyone could think otherwise. I have huge respect for him.

I don't care what anyone says john mayer is the most talented artist out there currently; whoever says mayer has no talent obviosly does'nt understant nor appreciate >music, michael jacksons family and friends are honored to have john perform. and for those of your thinking mayer is using the oportunity to make fame for himself...you're horribly mistaken, you all forget to realise mayer was asked to perform and it was his honor to accept, he needs no more fame or money he's already got all he could want.

Sunday brunch safe interpretation? Writers really need to stop commenting on Michael Jackson related stuff it's really showing how ignorant and just plain stupid they are.

It was a funeral what the hell did you expect? Where you waiting for Metallica or something to shake the place up! Sorry the funeral wasn't risque enough for you.

And as for his facial expressions there not "exaggerated, pained expressions," if you had any musical talent (or talent at all, since writing obviously isn't your forte either) you'd know that when you really play an instrumental your not going "oh am I making a sexy face, no no no better make a cool face now" your focusing on the instrument. Jimi Hendrix has 10x the "orgasm face" while playing guitar than John Mayer.

That's the end of my rant.

THAT was an AWESOME PERFORMANCE. Mayer is brilliant and nobody sang along because they were struck by that guy's talent and wanted just to enjoy the privilege of being there to see and hear great music played with depth and power.

Really, if you can be bothered nit-picking over this-or-that about why he was there or not - Who cares, just listen and enjoy.

I thought Mayer was splendid.

I thought John Mayer's "guitar-only" version of Human Nature was spot on for the occasion and extremely moving. I thought the absence of a lead vocal during the rendition made it extremely poignant. It was like the musician's equivalent of the "missing-man" formation. During the rendition, I could imagine in my mind, the King-of-Pop singing one of my favorite MJ songs. It was a very appropriate personal tribute by a fine musician to an artistic genius.

Frankly I don't know what Ann Powers is talkingd about. Her take seems to prove the old adage that often applies to critics - "Any Jack-Ass can kick down a barn, it takes a carpenter to build one".

I thought his performance was beautiful. First of all, as much as I enjoy his music, he doesn't sing as well as Michael did. Secondly, I've seen John in concert and he always makes those faces when he plays so it wasn't contrived just for the show. Lastly, Michael Jackson was a HUGE influence on ANYONE who grew up listening to his music. As a matter of fact, when Fall Out Boy did a cover version of "Beat It," John Mayer played the guitar part that Eddie Van Halen played in the original version. Obviously the family wanted him to play. If you didn't like it, then don't listen to it again. However, I felt that he had done a very respectful job.

Carcass2000-- Firts of all, John Mayer said he never met Michael Jackson (on CNN National TV) and wondered why as well, but the family asked them to be there, I don't know, maybe because he expressed him complete admiration for him when the news first broke.... I had the same admiration, but I'm not a musician or well known, so they wouldn't ask me. John Mayer felt humbled because he has always said that there are few people in the world you do not try to duplicate, and Michael was one of those people, so he chose to just play the instrumental version of Human Nature. He admitted he does not have Michael's vocal range, and I think he did a very respectable job. You, who live with hate, must live a very unfulfilled life. Why not take a page from Michael Jackson's book and laugh, as Brooke Shields said he loved to do. Michael, I love you still today, and John Mayer, you did a good job. Thank you for your tribute.

THE BEST performance there, other than Stevie. Love you John, you played beautifully and soulfully... I cried.

I'd never heard any of Mayer's music before although I had heard 'of' him. He performed, for me, the most memorable tribute to Michael Jackson of the service, purely because of the stillness and understatement. I thought it refreshing, simple and clean...a welcome element in the sadness and emotion of such an event. I have a huge respect for him now and will seek out his music and listen a little harder in future.

Ann Powers and Todd Martens... you're both either deaf, or just a pair of seriously arrogant, pompous jerks.

John Mayer's performance was heartfelt, subtle, respectful and lovely. What's up with the jab at his facial expression? It was a beautiful tribute and basing on the comments here and all over the web, was one of, if not the favorite for the day.

And to all the haters, Michael Jackson's music transcends barriers - race, age, time. He defined the sound of a generation. John Mayer is a legitimate musician who has obviously been listening to music all his life and it should come as no surprise that he too was influenced by MJ.

He had every right to be there, as he was invited and asked to perform. He contributed a beautiful performance and it was a tribute fit for a King.

News reporters are here just to do their job. They freakin' get paid for making people look bad. First they did it to MJ and now they do it to people paying tribute to a legend. Does it ever occur to the mentioned "writers" who write off celebs easily that they too are ultimately Human? Mr. Mayer gave a very soulful performance. He sang Human Nature without words. He sang it from his heart and soul. He was probably the only one who gave an apt tribute through Music and Music alone. It was a tribute of Music to a part of Music that will never live again.

was disaapointed to see John Mayer preform at MJ's memorial as I had just read the negative things he wrote about MJ a few days before hand. I have to think that the Jackson family would not have been too interested in having John there if they'd known the disrespectful comments he gave about their son, brother, and grandchildren's father.
I lost total respect for him after reading what he said...he absolutely has NO CLASS in my opinion....


michael we will will always love you meen so much to use and non of us realized it until june 25 and i hope that your family will be alright and theres one more thing michael that iu have to tell you i will ALWAYS LOVE YOU AND RIP

This seemed really strange to me, almost like his label was like, "John, we have this really great gig coming up and you'll get tons of exposure."

I have to say...John Mayers personality leaves me cold..always comes across as pretentious and too self effacing...but...I always change my mind as soon as I hear him play and sing....then he talks again ...LOL :)

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