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It’s no secret that Michael Jackson was an inspiration to many.
From his wardrobe and his music to his crotch-grabbing and moonwalking, a number of pop stars have taken cues from the late King of Pop, who died suddenly four years ago.
Check out nine artists who are keeping M.J.’s memory alive onstage and beyond…
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1. Chris Brown: Breezy fans have always been in awe of the young star’s dancing ability, especially when watching him glide across an entire stage so seamlessly. His moves and vocals make Brown one of the artists most compared to Jackson. “Michael Jackson is the reason why I do music and why I am an entertainer,” Brown said after his idol’s death.
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2. Rihanna: Um, need we say more? Besides Ri-Ri’s perfected crotch grab, her fierce and animated style can sometimes remind fans of Jackson’s iconic and memorable outfits. Additionally, Rihanna fans can hear bits of MJ’s influence in her music, like the tracks “Don’t Stop the Music” and “Nobody’s Business,” but she’ll admit that nobody can do what Jackson did.
“MJ We miss you, We love you…often imitated, NEVER duplicated!!! You will live on forever!” Rihanna tweeted following his death.
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3. Justin Bieber: The young pop singer was quickly reminiscent of Jackson once he began moonwalking and grabbing a handful of his junk on stage like it was his business. But Bieber drew parallels to the late great even when he wasn’t on stage by wearing some peculiar masks when out in public and acquiring a pet monkey.
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4. Usher: And we wonder who Bieber learned those dance moves from? The R&B singer came on to the music scene and he was quickly known for three things: his voice that could hit any high note that you could think of, his his sexy moves and his rock-hard abs. At least two of those things were inspired by Jackson.
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5. Justin Timberlake: As we all know, J.T. knows how to sway those hips and bust a move, too, but his influence from Jackson seems more apparent in his music. With numerous tracks that hit the famous falsetto note, Timberlake’s work has taken much inspiration from the King of Pop. In fact, the hit track “Rock Your Body” was originally intended for Jackson’s 2001 album Invincible.
Timberlake got the opportunity to share the stage with M.J. at Jackson’s 30th anniversary show at New York’s Madison Square Garden in 2001.
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6. Britney Spears: From her fedoras to her choreography, Brit-Brit also evinced some Jackson inspiration through her work. The pop princess had always praised Michael Jackson and even got to share the stage with him before his passing. The duo performed “The Way You Make Me Feel” together for Jackson’s 30th Anniversary Celebration, which aired on CBS in 2001.
After his death, Spears said, “He has been an inspiration throughout my entire life and I’m devastated he’s gone!”
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7. Ne-Yo: The soulful singer embodied Jackson through his style and his energy on stage, but the R&B star got an extra perk when he actually had the chance to work with M.J. In spring 2009, shortly before Jackson’s death, Ne-Yo received a call from the star about collaborating on the song “Incredible.”
“He told me, ‘I’m about to do another album, I wanna work with you…,’” Ne-Yo said. “Met up in New York and then he smiles and gives me a hug and he goes, ‘You know what my favorite song of yours is? Please don’t worry ’bout me I’m fine,’ and he started singing my damn song. I almost lost it at that point.”
8. Bruno Mars: This performer reminded fans of a younger Jackson, the Michael we know from “Beat It” and “Thriller,” who wore leather zip-ups and had snappy moves. Yes, Mars has the voice and the dancing that clearly shows M.J. influence, but he kinda resembles the star (in his Thriller days, of course), too.
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9. Madonna: There’s no doubt that this woman is very much her own artist who doesn’t need to imitate anyone. But we’d be lying if there weren’t noticable similarities between the two. From her risqué outfits and viscerally physical onstage presence to her tendency toward reinvention, qualities that made Michael uniqure also served to make Madonna the force to be reckoned with that she still is today.
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