Who’s Bad, a Michael Jackson tribute band, performs at the Belly Up tonight. Joseph Bell is one of two members of the group that sings as the man himself. He goes by Jobel, so he'll be referred to as such from now on.
Jobel has what you could call an uncanny resemblance to the King of Pop. Just talking, he sounds a bit like him, and his parents have the same names as Michael’s do. Joe and Katherine. With a “K”.
Before he joined the, Jobel saw them perform. He was impressed by how much they sounded like the real thing.
“I wasn’t one of those tribute artists that immediately tried to totally, exactly impersonate him or duplicate him," he says. "I just loved to sing him because our voices were similar.”
The dancing is similar, the music is similar, and the looks are similar too. But one thing Jobel stresses is that he is not an impersonator. He performs Michael Jackson’s music. He doesn’t try to be him.
“This is all about Michael, not about me," says Jobel. "It’s about the music and having fun. I really believe that.”
Perhaps one of the most iconic aspects of Jackson’s musical career was his skill as a dancer. He was known to sleep in his dance studio because he was so determined to perfect his moves. Jobel has had to do the same thing, working with choreographers who have worked with performers like Beyonce and the King of Pop himself. And what about Jackson’s most iconic move, the moonwalk?
“Now that I know that you’re not supposed to slide it on the floor, you slide it right above the floor, on the way back. So it looks like you’re gliding.”
Now you know. Sliding above the floor, rather than on it. Jobel says it’s a move that either looks really good, or really bad. He gives his other Michael Jackson, Taalib York, credit for being able to do it a bit better though.