Jackson's Funeral: Touching or Over the Top?

I watched the Michael Jackson memorial service, and feel comfortable assuming that not only was it the kind of funeral Jackson would have wanted, it was also the kind of funeral anyone would want. Given the hoopla that surrounded the service, I was pleasantly surprised by how genuinely poignant and dignified it was. The speakers and performers were heartfelt, particularly longtime friend Brooke Shields, whose speech rambled in a way that underscored her emotion, and Magic Johnson, whose anecdote about a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken was one of the sweetest and most unlikely memories I've heard yet. No one paid greater tribute, of course, than Jackson's daughter, Paris, who eulogized her father--not an international pop star--with devastating simplicity.

That a production of such scale could contain so many tiny moments of fragility is a remarkable feat. Sure, there were times when it was overpowering--I, for one, found the culminating medley of "We Are the World" and "Heal the World" a little over the top. More than that, it highlighted songs that lend themselves well to ginormous production numbers, but aren't among Jackson's best musical moments. "We Are the World" was always more functional than it was transcendent, and has not aged well. But given the largeness of Jackson's celebrity and legacy, that there weren't more choir-flanked, dove-releasing showstoppers is evidence of restraint. Jackson was surrounded by friends, fans, and well-wishers who celebrated his life and music in a touching, respectful way. Who could ask for more?