What Americans think of Michael Jackson ten years after his death

Jamie BallardData Journalist
June 24, 2019, 1:00 PM GMT+0

June 25, 2019 marks the 10-year anniversary of Michael Jackson’s death. Jackson has been particularly prominent in the media recently thanks to the release of “Leaving Neverland,” a documentary that examines the accusations of two men who say Jackson molested them in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Michael Jackson’s family continues to deny these allegations.

Ahead of the 10-year anniversary of his death, YouGov asked Americans what they think of Michael Jackson’s legacy, his personal life, and his music.

Almost three in 10 (28%) Americans believe Jackson’s legacy has worsened in the last 10 years. Just 12% say it has improved since his death, while a plurality (44%) believe his legacy remains unchanged.

Black and white Americans differ in their opinions around Michael Jackson. Nearly one-third (32%) of white people say his legacy has worsened, while just 17% of black people say the same. Another 21% of black Americans say Jackson’s legacy has improved since his death, which is a sentiment just 10% of white people agree with.

These groups also feel differently about the allegations that Michael Jackson abused children: while 45% of white Americans say they believe the allegations, just 17% of black people do. A plurality (43%) of black Americans do not believe the allegations.

Despite these allegations, Americans believe that Michael Jackson’s music will continue to be the defining aspect of his life. While 18% think he’ll be remembered more for his personal troubles, 43% say Jackson will be remembered more for his music and his legacy as the King of Pop.

During his career, Michael Jackson had over a dozen #1 singles, won 13 Grammy Awards, and of course, released the second-best-selling album of all time in the US: Thriller. It’s no surprise that when asked which of Michael Jackson’s top hit songs is their favorite, the most popular answer by far is “Thriller,” with 19% of the vote. “Billie Jean” (13%) is another popular pick, trailed by “Beat It” (10%) and “Man in the Mirror” (9%).

Related: More Americans believe Michael Jackson guilty of child sex abuse after Leaving Neverland

Do you believe Michael Jackson’s legacy has gotten better or worse since his death? Tell us what you think about this and other issues by signing up to be a panelist. See full survey results here.

YouGov Methodology: Total unweighted sample size was 1,225 US adults ages 18+. The responding sample is weighted to the profile of the sample definition to provide a representative reporting sample. Interviews were conducted online between June 18-19, 2019.

Image: Getty

Editor's Note: This article was updated to reflect the fact that Thriller is currently the second-best-selling album of all time within the US.

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