This week would have seen Michael Jackson’s 60th birthday, so to celebrate, here at ThePOGG, we would like to look at some of the games that our most loved cultural icons have inspired. We will take the time to explore a range of different games from very different pop stars, rock stars and movie stars who are no longer with us today, along with briefly scraping the surface of the seismic impact that Michael Jackson has had on popular culture.
In recognition of these huge stars, we’re going to look at some of the slots games that have been based on now passed superstars.
For four decades Michael Jackson’s music dominated the charts, either as part of the Jackson 5 or as a solo artist. Those lucky enough to have tracked his career will have witnessed the transformation from candy-pop child star to the most famous name, face and brand, arguably to ever grace popular culture in the 20th century.
9 years on from his death and you will still struggle to find a corner of this planet where his name is not recognised, where his music is not known or where his moonwalk has not been secretly attempted.
Yet, despite the love that has followed, and continues to follow Jackson, his personal story does not reflect the heady heights that he reached in his career. Along with the platinum records and millions of adoring fans came a life of loneliness and confusion, the consequences of a profound talent exploited by those who used him for their own gains.
Most would argue that the highlight of Jackson’s career came in 1982, when at just 24 years of age he released “Thriller”, an album that would go on to become the highest grossing record of all time. The album is littered with hits and signalled the birth of the MTV era, where video took centre stage and Jackson was its superstar. Choreography became just as important as the music itself and no album before or since has managed to combine the two with such overwhelming perfection.
Every pop video that followed has had to cough up the dust thrown out by “Thriller” and “Billie Jean”. No amount of CGI, Hollywood A listers or money will ever be able to compete with the impact that those early Michael Jackson videos had.
“Thriller” was in the right place at the right time. People still paid for music and there was a limited number of TV channels to watch, so Jackson’s audience was nailed. Most importantly, no one had ever seen anything like this before. From the moment that Jackson’s hoard of zombies rose up from their graves in perfect unison, music video directors would be constantly chasing the dragon, trying to match what John Landis (“Thriller” and “America Werewolf in London” director) achieved in those halcyon days. It was MTV’s first ever world premier and it would never be topped, with “Thriller” listed in the 2006 Guinness World Records as the most successful music video of all time.
Michael Jackson would go on to produce dizzying record sales and continued to make the most outlandish and opulent of music videos. Despite a downturn in record sales during the 90s, The King of Pop was still packing out venues, entertaining audiences of over 100 thousand at any one time.
Today, all we need is a silhouette and we can tell just by looking at the angle of the hat, or the position of the ankles, perhaps even just the general posturing and we’ll know if it’s Michael Jackson. His image is unmistakeable and will be used for decades and beyond to sell just about anything you can think of.
Michael Jackson King of Pop
Michael Jackson King of Pop” looks good and offers decent bonus features with a moderate house edge. The symbols are all relevant to the theme and the bonuses are well-designed and good fun to play. The game is accompanied by various hits from Jackson’s back-catalogue along with plenty of “Aww”s and “Hee Hee”s to punctuate the spins and win. There are impressive cut scenes from some of his most famous music videos and the man himself appears in his various guises, from the “Smooth Criminal” to “Thriller” and “Bad”.
Play the Michael Jackson King of Pop slots game for free here.
Elvis – The King Lives
If we’re talking about a cultural icon to rival the size and scale of Michael Jackson, then surely we need look no further than his predecessor and almost name sake, “The King of Rock ‘n Roll”?
Elvis Presley , known simply as Elvis because he’s so darn famous he doesn’t need a surname, was and remains as American as George Washington.
Second only to the Beatles in terms of album sales, Elvis is the highest selling solo artist in history, continuing to shift records and songs in vast quantities more than 40 years after his death.
Famous, not only for his music but also for his film appearances and, for just being Elvis; the hair, the lip curl, the hip swivel and the jumpsuits.
There have been a number of slot games based on Graceland’s number one resident, but the one I want to look at is “Elvis – The King Lives”.
The game transports the player all the way back the 1950s when Elvis was experiencing his first great wave of popularity. All the symbols are there; from Hound Dogs to Blue Suede Shoes, all wrapped up inside the belly of a jukebox. Records spin in time to some of “The King’s” greatest hits. There’s a cut scene within a bonus containing old footage of a young Elvis, singing and playing guitar, but of course, only from the waist up.
Play “The King Lives” slots game for free here.
In 1966 Jimi Hendrix appeared on the music scene and in the four years that followed he changed people’s understanding of what could done with an electric guitar. Described in the Rock’n Roll Hall of Fame as “arguably the greatest instrumentalist in the history of rock music”, Hendrix is an icon of the 20th century but differs from Michael Jackson and Elvis because he was always the one in charge of his own destiny.
Hendrix wrote the songs (excluding the few covers he is known for) and played the music and did so in a way that had never been seen or heard before. Rock ‘n Roll existed before Elvis and Pop music had been around for years prior to the Jackson 5, but when Hendrix came along, he changed everything.
Hendrix tore up the existing rule book and paved the way for virtuosity and experimentalism in music. He braved to be different, playing solos with his teeth, setting his guitar on fire, taming and then unleashing distortion as an integral part of his iconic sound.
The game “Jimi Hendrix” looks great, the symbols are detailed and the features are fun and entertaining. Flower Power is blooming, and the riffs are howling. The only reason you wouldn’t love to play this game would a dislike of the great man’s music and whilst we’re all entitled to an opinion, remember that, “Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens.”
Play the “Jimi Hendrix” slots game for free here.
It’s difficult to think of an icon who embodies being cool quite as much as Frank Sinatra. The expensive suits, the cigarette and the effortless croon all came together to make “Ol’ Blue Eyes” the guy that everyone wanted to be.
Mainstream audiences in the 1940s and early 50s had yet to be seduced by the viscerally kinetic thrust and drive of Rock ‘n Roll that Bill Haley and Chuck Berry would later on introduce to the world. Back then, what the paying public expected to see was a performer who was calm, measured and controlled and no one pulled that off on stage quite like our Frankie. Sure, there were better singers, better dancers, but none of them had the twinkle in the eye that Sinatra used to light up a concert.
Like Elvis, he appeared in films, unlike Elvis he was a well-respected actor, winning an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in 1953 for his role in the film “From Here to Eternity”. He was also nominated for a Best Actor award in 1955 for “The Man with the Golden Arm”, losing out to Marlon Brando in Brando’s first career defining role in “On the Waterfront”.
Unlike the other names on this list Frank Sinatra was an old man when he died. For someone who liked to live the good life, who cavorted with mob bosses and politicians, it’s almost surprising that Sinatra made it to the ripe old age of 82. In 1980, at 65 years of age Sinatra broke records by performing in front of over 175 thousand people at the Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro. Not bad for a pensioner.
For much of his career Sinatra made a home for himself in Las Vegas and has become synonymous with the world of gambling, which means that “Sinatra” was not the first game to be named after him and it certainly won’t be the last.
The game has the usual mix of features, all of them offset with records and album sleeves from Sinatra’s illustrious career. The symbols fit well with the theme and the icing on the cake is, of course, the music playing in the background. The main hit used in the game is “New York, New York”, the opening bars of which accompany the spin of each reel.
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