ESPN Music: Michael Jackson

A halftime Thriller, courtesy of Ohio State

October, 23, 2013

They call The Ohio State University Marching Band "The Best Damned Band in the Land." And now we know why.

Sure, they've won honors and performed in seven presidential inaugural parades. Sure, the dotting of the i in the "script Ohio" formation is an iconic moment every time.

But this Michael Jackson tribute from halftime of the Buckeyes' Oct. 19 game against Iowa, including a marching moonwalking formation in the shape of Jackson's iconic "Billie Jean" video character, speaks for itself. The band staged the tribute to honor the 25th anniversary of the release of Jackson's album "Bad."

The 5 worst athlete cameos in music videos

February, 8, 2013
MC HammerAllen Dean Steele/Getty ImagesMC Hammer scouts the Atlanta Falcons sideline for video talent in 1991.
Many athletes dream of being rappers and singers. Thankfully, some of them spare us from listening to their voices on a track and limit their contributions to the music videos of real recording artists. And yet, even these appearances can leave us shaking our heads.

Believe it or not, it is actually possible to fail a music-video cameo. Still skeptical? Check out the five videos below.

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Josh Freeman talks MJ 'Thriller' shoot

February, 6, 2013
videoFor ESPN The Magazine's Feb. 18 Music Issue, we persuaded 14 athletes to re-create some of the most memorable album covers. As part of our supplemental coverage on Playbook Sounds, we will be running behind-the-scenes interviews with each athlete, as well as their own personal playlists.

• Athlete: Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB
• As: Michael Jackson on "Thriller" (1982)

How did this come about?

I have always been a huge fan of Michael Jackson. Loved him since I was little. Our fullback, Erik Lorig, his older sister Analeis and I were hanging out in California, and she said that I need to be doing more things. She always says to me: "Why don't you ever do anything fun?" I'm telling her, "I don't really get out that much." Lo and behold, she knows somebody who was connected to this project and said, "Why not Josh for this?" At the time I had a big ’fro, which looked like the MJ ’fro. It's a little different today, but it just kinda fit and here I am.

Do you realize how much you looked like him?

I hadn't realized. How people view and perceive you is always different than how you view yourself. You're like, I don't look like him, because you look at yourself every day -- but after seeing some of those pictures, it's pretty crazy. I've gotten "Little Michael" and I've gotten "Tito" quite a bit.

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Super Bowl halftime's awkward superstars

January, 31, 2013
Bruce SpringsteenKevin Mazur/Getty ImagesBruce Springsteen's 2009 Super Bowl halftime performance was remarkably corny.
Halftime at the Super Bowl requires a spectacle, and music’s heavy hitters have joined in over the years. Some shows are breathtaking (U2’s post 9/11 performance) and some we’d like to forget (that which created the phrase “wardrobe malfunction”).

No matter how talented the artist, these shows are often littered with awkward moments. Even the weather can contribute. Prince’s 2007 show -- which ranks with U2’s as the gold standard -- endured a steady Miami rain. But he played right through it, making his rendition of “Purple Rain” even more powerful.

Other exceptions to the cringeworthy element: Tom Petty (2008), The Rolling Stones (2006) and Paul McCartney (2005). Quibble with their music all you want, but those were strong performances.

Before Beyonce takes the Super Bowl stage in New Orleans, here’s a look at five shows loaded with awkward moments in the past 30 years.

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