In this spirited Michael Jackson vs Prince debate, we will embark on a journey to compare and contrast each artist’s discography, album sales, awards, and cultural impact to determine which talented entertainer was the best of all time.
Michael Jackson vs Prince (TLDR)
Michael Jackson’s record-breaking sales, chart dominance, extensive awards, and global impact highlight his incredible success. Prince’s unique approach to music, experimental style, and influence on gender identity makes him a notable artist.
While both artists excel in singing, dancing, and instrumental skills, Michael Jackson’s unparalleled success, cultural impact, and overall musicality establish him as the ultimate winner in this battle of musical icons.
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Michael Jackson vs Prince – Album Sales
Album sales serve as a testament to an artist’s popularity and commercial success. Michael Jackson’s discography boasts record-breaking sales, with his 1982 album Thriller standing as the best-selling album of all time (at least until fairly recently). It spawned numerous chart-topping hits, including “Billie Jean,” “Beat It,” and the iconic title track.
Prince, on the other hand, demonstrated his artistry through albums like Purple Rain, 1999, and Sign o’ the Times, which showcased his musical versatility and innovation. While Michael Jackson’s sales numbers are unparalleled, Prince’s albums have also enjoyed immense commercial success and critical acclaim.
Let’s now dig a little into the numbers. Prince has sold over 100 million albums worldwide to Michael’s 278 million. MJ was the first American artist to sell over 100 million albums as both an individual and a part of a group (Jackson 5).
Winner: Michael Jackson
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Michael Jackson vs Prince – #1 Singles
Securing a #1 single on the charts is a significant achievement for any artist. Michael Jackson had an impressive string of chart-toppers throughout his career, including “Bad,” “Black or White,” and “Rock with You.”
Prince, known for his eclectic sound, also achieved chart success with hits like “When Doves Cry,” “Kiss,” and “Let’s Go Crazy.” Both artists demonstrated their ability to create infectious, memorable songs that resonated with audiences across the globe.
Michael Jackson triumphs over Prince with thirteen #1 singles the the Artist’s five. Now to be fair, for those familiar with both artist’s music, there was a clear difference in the “radio friendliness” of each artists catalog.
Prince has some pretty amazing songs that unfortunately weren’t able to be played on airwaves during the height of his popularity. At the same time, one could argue that there’s countless hip hop songs that are filthy, yet get cleaned up enough to be radio friendly.
However you may come down on this particular argument, if you just go by the numbers, Michael Jackson emerges the winner here.
Winner: Michael Jackson
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Michael Jackson vs Prince – Awards
Awards provide recognition and validation for an artist’s talent and impact. Michael Jackson’s trophy cabinet is filled with accolades, including 13 Grammy Awards, 26 American Music Awards, and induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Prince, equally deserving of acclaim, earned seven Grammy Awards, a Golden Globe, and an Academy Award for his iconic song “Purple Rain.” Prince was also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004.
The recognition each received from their peers and the industry further solidifies their status as musical powerhouses. According to IMDB, Michael Jackson has 85 awards & 81 nominations while Prince has 30 wins & 76 nominations.
Winner: Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson vs Prince – Impact on Music
The impact of Michael Jackson and Prince on the music landscape is immeasurable. Michael Jackson’s fusion of pop, R&B, and dance revolutionized the industry, influencing countless artists who followed in his footsteps. His innovative music videos, such as “Thriller” and “Billie Jean,” set new standards for the visual representation of music.
Prince, on the other hand, challenged conventions with his genre-blending sound, incorporating elements of funk, rock, and soul into his music. He pushed boundaries and defied expectations, inspiring a new wave of musicians and redefining what it meant to be an artist.
Outside of their influences on musicality, both artists were pioneers of the artist ownership movement. These leaders were both adamant about owning their master’s or original rights to their music rather than being at the mercy of their label.
He famously once said, “If you don’t own your masters, your masters own you” in an interview with Rolling Stone. And until his passing, Prince continued to double down on ownership as the internet age and streaming services drastically changed how artists make money.
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Michael Jackson vs Prince – Impact on Culture
Beyond their musical contributions, Michael Jackson and Prince had a profound impact on culture. Michael Jackson’s philanthropic efforts, including his support for various charitable causes, demonstrated his commitment to making a positive change in the world. His influence transcended music, inspiring fashion trends, dance styles, and even the way artists approach live performances.
Prince, with his androgynous style and unapologetic individuality, challenged societal norms and championed artistic freedom. Both artists became cultural icons, representing artistic expression, empowerment, and the breaking of barriers.
It should be noted, too, that both artists appeared in motion pictures. While it’s of course known that Prince starred in “Purple Rain” and did an entire soundtrack for “Batman,” Michael Jackson also portrayed the scarecrow in “The Wiz,” which starred Diana Ross.
And, of course, how can you forget “We Are the World?”
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Michael Jackson vs Prince – Singing Ability
In terms of singing ability, Michael Jackson possessed a remarkable vocal range and a distinct falsetto that became his trademark. His ability to convey emotion through his voice was unparalleled, allowing him listeners to connect deeply with his music. Songs like “Man in the Mirror” and “Earth Song” showcased the power and versatility of his voice.
Prince, on the other hand, possessed a unique vocal style characterized by his falsetto, smooth delivery, and dynamic range. Tracks such as “Purple Rain” and “When Doves Cry” demonstrated his ability to convey raw emotion and captivate audiences with his vocal prowess. While their styles differed, both artists had the ability to deliver captivating and emotionally charged performances, leaving an indelible mark on the hearts of their fans.
Michael Jackson vs Prince – Dancing Ability
When it comes to dancing, Michael Jackson and Prince were both exceptional performers who commanded the stage with their electrifying moves. Michael Jackson’s iconic dance routines, including the moonwalk, the robot, and the lean, showcased his unparalleled precision, athleticism, and showmanship. His performances were a visual feast that captivated audiences worldwide.
Prince, known for his energetic and theatrical performances, incorporated elements of funk, soul, and rock into his dance routines. His dynamic footwork, spins, and stage presence added an extra layer of excitement to his live shows. Both artists revolutionized the art of performance through their innovative dance styles, leaving audiences in awe.
Winner: Michael Jackson
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Michael Jackson vs Prince – Overall Musicality
When evaluating the overall musicality of Michael Jackson and Prince, it becomes clear that both artists were multi-talented artists who excelled in various aspects of their craft. Michael Jackson was not only a gifted singer and dancer but also a skilled songwriter, producer, and arranger. He played a significant role in crafting the sound and production of his music, ensuring every element came together harmoniously.
Prince, known for his virtuosity, showcased his mastery of multiple instruments, including the guitar, piano, and drums. His ability to effortlessly switch between instruments and genres highlighted his musical versatility and artistic genius. Both artists pushed the boundaries of creativity and showcased their exceptional skills across multiple musical dimensions.
We all perceive music differently, which is why the margin MJ has over Prince when it comes to dancing and singing is so small. However, Prince is as great a musician as any to ever walk the planet, and his ability to be an elite instrumentalist gives him an advantage over MJ in this category.
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Michael Jackson or Prince – Who Wins?
In the ultimate clash of musical legends, it’s a challenging task to declare a clear winner when it comes to a Michael Jackson vs Prince battle. These two artists can be compared to the classic anime trope of dueling rivals. Think Goku and Vegeta or Naruto and Sasuke. Legends equal in so many ways, yet one always finds a way to get the edge.
Both Michael Jackson and Prince were extraordinary artists who made an indelible impact on the music industry and popular culture. Their talents, achievements, and influence continue to resonate with audiences worldwide. Michael Jackson’s unparalleled album sales, chart-topping singles, and global recognition solidify his status as one of the greatest entertainers of all time.
Meanwhile, Prince’s musical innovation, boundary-pushing artistry, and iconic performances cement his position as a true musical icon. At the end of the day Michael Jackson always somehow found an edge on his long time rival. Maybe that edge was in the form of producer Quincy Jones.
Ultimately, the choice of the “best” artist comes down to your personal preference and appreciation for their unique contributions. Whether you find yourself captivated by Michael Jackson’s infectious pop anthems or seduced by Prince’s genre-blending artistry, one thing is undeniable: the legacies of both Michael Jackson and Prince will continue to shape and inspire the world of music for generations to come.
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This article was written by Justinian and edited by Michael.