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Thread started 11/25/21 12:52pm

HAPPYPERSON

MJ's greatness lies in his ability to communicate the vulnerability, joy, and vitality of humanity

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Happy 30th Anniversary to Michael Jackson’s eighth studio album Dangerous, originally released November 26, 1991.

October 1st, 1992. Bucharest National Stadium. A jubilant crowd of 90,000 people was in trepidation waiting for what would promise to be one of the most spectacular, exhilarating, and electrifying lifetime experiences: Michael Jackson’s Dangerous World Tour live concert. 90,000 people screaming and chanting the artist’s name, smiling, laughing, some of them already crying. With a big rumble and fireworks launched from the sides of the stage, Jackson was ejected onto the stage from underneath and stood frozen for more than 90 seconds, while his audience’s joyous screams intensified, as they chanted the artist’s name even louder. Then after dramatically removing his characteristic Ray-Ban shades with a slow-motion movement, followed by one of his signature spins and air-kicks, the artist launched into a fiercely impeccable performance of “Jam.”

Dating back to the beginning of his artistic career at the age of nine, Michael Jackson had solidified his well-earned reputation as one of the greatest artists and creators of all time, as he set new records, while challenging and revolutionizing racial boundaries within the record industry. However, like numerous Black artists that came before and after him, he still gets dismissed and neglected, not getting the respect he rightfully deserves.

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A few so-called or perhaps self-proclaimed music critics, basing their research on numerous biases, inexcusably dismiss Jackson as one of the first pop music phenomena, whose impact was erroneously considered more commercial than cultural. These same pundits claim that other iconic artists like Elvis Presley, The Beatles, and Springsteen re-shaped society and the music industry, whereas Jackson only sold records and entertainment. Such myopic and uneducated statements fail to capture the magnitude of Jackson’s art and creativity.

Numerous critics, in fact, often wholly disregard Jackson’s astounding talents. His impeccable songwriting, for instance. On his Bad (1987), Dangerous (1991), and HIStory (1995) albums alone, he eloquently tackles racism, corruption, materialism, ecological destruction, abuse, and alienation. Particular attention should be paid to the array of subjects, the spectrum of textures, moods, and mesmerizing synthesis of styles Jackson consistently infused within his art.

Jackson’s greatness lies in his ability to communicate the vulnerability, joy, and vitality of humanity, enhancing his words vocally, physically, and sonically. The non-verbal vocalizations and ad-lib vernacular are delivered beyond the structures of language, in such a precise and heartfelt way. Note Jackson’s virtuosic sense of rhythm, the rich harmonies, the layers of details and sounds, the nuanced, syncopated signature bass lines, the effortless beatboxing and scatting, how he stretched or accentuated words swinging from smooth to passionate call-and-response chants soaring as a gospel choir does.

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Jackson’s music never fit precisely into categories and is usually limited to white Euro-American musical standards. Au contraire, his art is deeply rooted in the African American tradition, which he stitched together with disparate styles, genres, and mediums, ultimately creating something refreshing and brand new.

Among his extraordinary talents as a songwriter, singer, musician, producer, and performer with thousands of fans attending his shows, Jackson also trailblazed and created some of the most iconic music videos in music history, which still claim relevance today. The artist embraced and understood the importance of the visual medium, taking it to a whole new level, turning music videos into groundbreaking short films. Both the “Thriller” and “Billie Jean” short films are still celebrated as two of the videos that changed the face of music history forever.

Furthermore, it’s no mystery that perfectionism was always intrinsic within the artist’s being, which is ultimately reflected in his audio-visual projects, always meticulously executed, and well-curated in every minute detail.

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Jackson’s fifth solo album, the innovative Off the Wall (1979), was his commercial breakthrough, the first record by a solo artist to have four top hits chart within the top ten of the Billboard Hot 100, including “Off the Wall,” “She’s Out of My Life,” “Don’t Stop ‘til You Get Enough” and “Rock with You.” Possessed of more mature songwriting, production and arrangements, Off the Wall was the result of Jackson’s commitment to advancing his artistic development. However, when the album got scoffed at during the 1981 GRAMMY Awards, not receiving the praise and recognition it deserved, the slight only fueled Jackson to create something arguably even better, an album destined to catch and captivate everyone’s attention.

His next album, the acclaimed, 8x GRAMMY Award-winning 1982 magnum opus Thriller, became the best-selling album in music history. The record also broke down color barriers on radio and TV, redefining the possibilities of popular music on a global scale.

With Bad, released in 1987, the artist further settled into his persona and sound. Full of punchy bass lines, sharp synthesizers, funky rhythms, the album showcases Jackson’s evolution, especially as a songwriter. On Bad, he wrote most of his songs, dipping into more mature themes, ranging from social justice to the struggles of marginalized groups, and his desire for equity, particularly in songs like “Man in the Mirror” (co-written with artist Siedah Garrett), “Another Part of Me” (also featured in Jackson’s movie Captain EO), “Bad,” “Leave Me Alone” and “Dirty Diana.”

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After the success of Bad, Jackson was seeking more artistic control and independence over his creative process, which led him to part ways from producer Quincy Jones. The singer wanted to prove himself as an artist and as a producer, showing that the success of his artistic efforts did not depend on Jones.

In June 1989, Jackson commenced working on new songs for the album Dangerous. The project was originally conceived as a greatest hits collection with the inclusion of a few new tracks, and the proposed title was Decade. However, due to numerous issues, the production of Decade was dropped, and Jackson decided that his new material, more than 200 unreleased songs, would constitute a full new album: Dangerous.

After signing one of the biggest record deals in music history, worth $60 million, Jackson teamed up with producers Teddy Riley and Bill Bottrell and engineer Bruce Swedien to create his eighth studio album.

Released on November 26th, 1991, Dangerous is arguably Jackson’s most creative project. The blend of New Jack Swing, classical music, hip-hop, funk, rock, gospel, R&B, and industrial music, coupled with Jackson’s examination of various social themes coupled with an unapologetic blackness, reshaped pop music, giving it new life and breadth. With the evolutions of R&B and hip-hop and the development of New Jack Swing, Jackson took elements from the latest innovations and sounds, melding them with his visionary creativity. The result of this experimentation is an ingeniously rhythmic album, full of dynamic and syncopated beats, visceral sounds, implemented beatboxing, scatting, and finger-snapping, which made every song edgier and more incisive.

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Besides the massive sonic shift defined by its richer musical palette and soundscapes, Dangerous showcases Jackson’s stunning versatility as a songwriter. The album stretches over a wide array of themes, spanning police brutality, racism, fake news, poverty, corruption, disease, children's welfare, the human need for freedom, and the affairs of the heart.

The album opener is strong, beginning with the shattering glass of “Jam.” The explosive track sounds like a chant, propelled by fiercely blurted-out vocals and acute lyrics over syncopated rhythms and horn samples. The appearance of Heavy D, Kriss Kross, and Naughty by Nature was Jackson’s attempt at creating a crossover genre that blended pop and hip-hop music, which was playing a major and increasingly vital role in the early ‘90s. The iconic short movie features another great MJ, the NBA legend Michael Jordan. The inclusion of B-boys and B-girls is an obvious homage to the African American youth that invented the street-dance style.

The tinkling, agile guitar riffs, the fluid keyboard short section, and accentuated beats perfectly enhance Jackson’s vocals, swiveling from angry whispers to loud outcries in “Why You Wanna Trip on Me?” The song is a poignant depiction of tabloids’ dishonest capacity for reporting mundane, non-essential news, bypassing and neglecting the real issues happening around the world, ranging from world hunger to gang violence and diseases. “You got world hunger / not enough to eat,” Jackson sings. “So there's really no time / to be trippin' on me / You got school teachers / who don't wanna teach / You got grown people / who can't write or read / You got strange diseases / Ah but there's no cure / You got many doctors / that aren't so sure.”

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The next track, the sensual “In the Closet” starts with a sinuous piano introduction, along with a few spoken lines, courtesy of Princess Stephanie of Monaco, followed by a winding beat that builds up the tension; the hushed vocals and tight falsetto harmonies then explode at the 4:30 mark. On the same note as “In the Closet,” “She Drives Me Wild,” a collaboration with the Teddy Riley affiliated hip-hop trio Wreckx-n-Effect, complete with full car horns, punchy beats, and layered vocals, deals with Jackson’s love interest.

The heavy synthesizer, funk beat, and ad-libs of “Remember the Time” perfectly put into sound the nostalgia over happy memories with a past lover. However, the most exciting aspect of “Remember the Time” is the iconic short movie. Jackson teamed up with Boyz n the Hood director John Singleton, bringing together an all-Black cast and dance crew, including the legendary comedian Eddie Murphy playing the part of pharaoh Ramses II, one of the world’s greatest supermodels, Iman, as queen Nefertiti, NBA superstar Magic Johnson, the then up-and-coming hip-hop group The Pharcyde, and actor Tommy “Tiny” Lister. The short movie exudes stunning unapologetic Blackness, offering a backdrop of ancient Egypt, which for decades historians have whitewashed, dismissing the Blackness of its earlier inhabitants. In the short movie, however, Jackson and Singleton reclaimed part of the history that for too many years had been erased.

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“Can’t Let Her Get Away,” with its zestful percussions, is a nod to Jackson’s all-time idol, James Brown’s “Get Up I Feel Like Being a Sex Machine.” In the song, the singer again showcases his fondness for hip-hop music, using a sample lifted from Boogie Down Productions’ classic “South Bronx.”

With the broader socio-cultural context of ongoing racial tensions, most notably the outrageous LAPD-inflicted beating of Rodney King and the brutal murder of 15-year-old Latasha Harlins in March 1991—which happened eight months prior to the release of Dangerous—Jackson used his art to issue a clarion call for unity and peace in the form of “Heal the World.” The song, resonating perfectly in such context, is a plea to world citizens to be kind and take care of one another as a testament to their humanity.

Propelled by a staccato guitar riff and upbeat percussions, “Black or White” is arguably the most poignant, eye-opening song on Dangerous, as Jackson explores his experiences with racism and what it feels like to be a Black man in America. Its accompanying, iconic short film was directed by John Landis, and aired on MTV, BET, VH1, and Fox, premiering in 27 countries, with an audience of more than 500 million people.

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The first part of the film aims at educating the white audience by positioning a more inclusive vision of the world, appearing to be a call for interracial harmony. However, it is with the second part of the video, the “Black Panther Coda"—a reference to the Black Panther Party and more broadly, Black resistance to white supremacy—that Jackson breaks free, dancing away his anger and frustrations about injustice, racism, prejudice, and bigotry. Three decades later, “Black or White” still feels extremely relevant, considering the ongoing perpetuation of institutionalized racism and the recent intensification of racially motivated unrest.

“Who Is It” examines the story of a deceitful relationship. The introspective narration is juxtaposed with a driving bassline, stacking harmonies, and an incredible chord progression building within the chorus, ending with a flute in the bridge, and Jackson’s final ad-libs playing like an instrument on their own. Continuing on the same dark vein, “Give into Me” finds the singer unleashing his suppressed angst and frustration atop Slash’s sizzling guitar solos. Both “Who Is It” and “Give into Me” ooze raw emotions, reflecting the artist’s deepest vulnerabilities.

“Will You Be There” is one of the deepest, most stunning, and most emotionally honest pieces in Jackson’s entire vault. Jackson was an eager aficionado of classical music—not only did he appreciate it, but he also was a keen connoisseur of the genre and all of its celebrated composers and musicians. Taken by a stroke of genius, he crafted the introduction to “Will You Be There” including the last part of Beethoven’s Symphony 9 in D Minor (op. 125), most known as Ode to Joy. Apparently, Jackson was aware of the meaning intrinsic in the Symphony—peace, freedom, brotherhood—and because he always strived to express the same messages through his art, he specifically picked Beethoven’s piece for the introduction to “Will You Be There,” its themes aligning perfectly with the composer’s Ode to Joy

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Rooted in gospel music, “Keep the Faith” is a melodious hymn and soul-lifting song, sounding like a sermon, with Jackson preaching the powerful lyrics with so much gentleness and sensitivity, backed by the gorgeous vocals of the Andraè Crouch Choir.

With the penultimate track “Gone Too Soon,” Jackson pays his respects to Ryan White, his friend who passed away from AIDS related complications in April 1990. Besides the tender vocal delivery, the song presents impeccable arrangements including a full string set, keyboard, and flute.

The album-closing title track “Dangerous” goes back to the New Jack Swing sound, with punchy beats and Jackson lamenting the agony a woman has caused him, then including an excerpt from Proverbs 5:3-4: “For the lips of a strange woman drop as a honeycomb / And her mouth was smoother than oil, but her inner spirit and words were as sharp as a two-edged sword.”

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Thirty years on from its unveiling, Dangerous still stands strong in its relevance. The album’s coalescence of socially conscious themes, sonic experimentation, and its broader stylistic and aural spectrums all combined to mark a creative tipping point for Michael Jackson, encompassing every aspect of his artistry and ambition.

As Jackson once said, “Great music is immortal, we still listen to Mozart today, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, any of them, any of the greats. Great music is like a great piece of sculpture or a great painting. It’s forever.” Owing to his undeniable creative spirit, Michael Jackson’s place among all of the great artists he appreciated and looked up to is safe and secure.

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Reply #1 posted 11/25/21 2:11pm

Shawy89

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Great read!

MJ was and forever will be an unparalleled talent in arts in general.

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Reply #2 posted 11/25/21 4:00pm

TrivialPursuit

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That a lot to read. Especially after many of us have had large plates of food on a holiday.

But Dangerous is probaby my favorite MJ album. There's such a huge array of music on there. Rock, soul, pop, gospel, ballads, etc. I actually think they could've ditched "Heal The World" (one of his constant attempts to replicate "Man in the Mirror") and put "Come Together" on there. Or, rather replace HTW with his version of "Smile."

In general, I believe "Keep the Faith" is 100x stronger than "Heal the World."

Dangerous felt like a huge growth spurt for MJ. Bad tried to be bad-ass, but wasn't. Great album, but the leather and tough guy aesthetic (a bleed-over from "Beat It) didn't mesh with stuff like "I Just Can't Stop Loving You" or "Just Good Friends." Dangerous felt grown up. If Thriller was a early teens record, Bad was the twenties, and Dangerous mid-to-late 30s.

The whole second side, from "Black or White" through the title track is just stellar material. It's an album unto itself. I've had a hard time warming up to "Can't Let Her Get Away" and "She Drives Me Wild." Sometimes I skip them, but in more recent years, I've let them play through.

"Why You Wanna Trip On Me" is a funk workout. It's pop-bang percussion, the syncopated bass and keys, the slightly chicken-scratch guitar... it's all such a great mesh. The guitar sounds like a major chord, but the keyboards sound like a minor chord. It reminds me of "Need You Tonight" by INXS, with the weird mix and tones of keyboard versus guitar. The whole song borrowed a lot from "Need You Tonight." It's still a standout track.

"Keep The Faith" is the gospel song that is only, and slightly, rivaled by "Man in the Mirror." It's uplifting, anthemic, and you're helpless to resist it. "Who Is It"'s moody undertone juxtaposed with the rock edge of "Give In To Me" keeps the rollercoaster of "what's next?!" on a high note.

"Jam" is a powerful and fun track, especially with Heavy D's appearance. I love his line about "I execute the plan, then I cooled it like a fan. Got with Janet, then with Guy, now with Michael, cuz it ain't too hard to jam." Like, "look mutha fukkas, I'm makin' my way through all of 'em. Whatchu doin'?!"

In general, I do think Dangerous sometimes gets overlooked for things like Thriller or Bad. But it's a top album from MJ.

[Edited 11/25/21 16:01pm]

"eye don’t really care so much what people say about me because it is a reflection of who they r."
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Reply #3 posted 11/26/21 6:22am

Free2BMe

GREAT READ!! Thank You for posting this article.👏👍🏽🔥🔥🙏🔥😎
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Reply #4 posted 11/26/21 6:46am

JorisE73

Thanks!
This album was so awesome and fresh in 1991, what a time that was.

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Reply #5 posted 11/26/21 9:53am

alphastreet

Didn’t read all of it but it’s one of his best albums ever and so. Restive! Feels like yesterday I saw the debut of black or white. Also, who is it, give in to me and will you be there is the best trilogy on an mj album
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Reply #6 posted 11/26/21 12:44pm

PatrickS77

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TrivialPursuit said:

I actually think they could've ditched "Heal The World" (one of his constant attempts to replicate "Man in the Mirror") and put "Come Together" on there. Or, rather replace HTW with his version of "Smile."

Nah, they did exactly right by keeping Heal the world where it is. Upon my first listen of the album Heal the world was the first song I really liked. I was of mixed opinion of the first half of the album. I preferred the second half. Of course that changed pretty quick, but the first half was not what I was expecting.

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Reply #7 posted 11/26/21 2:19pm

Wolfie87

Why does Can't Let Her Get Away have mixed reviews when it's clearly the banger and a obvious single choice together with a video on that entire record?
[Edited 11/26/21 14:20pm]
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Reply #8 posted 11/26/21 3:24pm

TrivialPursuit

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Wolfie87 said:

Why does "Can't Let Her Get Away" have mixed reviews when it's clearly the banger and a obvious single choice together with a video on that entire record?


It's definitely not an obvious single choice. 2/3 of the album has stronger songs than that one. It is slightly better than "She Drives me Wild." These songs have weaker verses but stronger choruses. I think, for me, it's partly the production. There are sounds in it that are either distracting, dated, or generally irritating. Something about them feels... cheap; second rate. Especially compared to stellar productions like "Give In To Me," "Who Is It," "Keep The Faith," "Dangerous," "Why You Wanna Trip On Me," or "Jam."

"She Drives Me Wild" has this reversed percussive sound that is horrible, and has been used 1000x times in music. However, the melody of the verse is nice. He switches it up the melody a bit with the second half of the verse which feels natural. (I think good songs should sound natural, as if "Yes, that belongs there, why wouldn't it?")

"Can't Let Her Get Away" has this steam-pipe-leaking sound that feels distracting. The rhythm track is overly percussive and over produced. It needs to be dialed back just a couple of notches.

I wouldn't necessarily label it filler, but it's filler-adjacent. Maybe some 20% retooling would sell it more.

And Dangerous really did need a video album. (Which is another thing Beyonce could've stolen from him and labeled as her own.)

"eye don’t really care so much what people say about me because it is a reflection of who they r."
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Reply #9 posted 11/26/21 6:12pm

alphastreet

Ok I read the whole thing and glad dangerous is being acknowledged and celebrated!
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Reply #10 posted 11/26/21 7:00pm

PatrickS77

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Wolfie87 said:

Why does Can't Let Her Get Away have mixed reviews when it's clearly the banger and a obvious single choice together with a video on that entire record?
[Edited 11/26/21 14:20pm]


Because it's boring and repetitive. Next to Gone to soon it's the most boring song on the album. The only 2 I regularly skip/have deleted from my playlist.
[Edited 11/26/21 19:02pm]
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Reply #11 posted 11/26/21 10:05pm

alphastreet

I think can’t let her get away is more like a freestyle hip hop funk track that’s about the grooves and not to be taken too seriously, prior to the album changing in mood after that
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Reply #12 posted 11/27/21 4:22am

Free2BMe

Wolfie87 said:

Why does Can't Let Her Get Away have mixed reviews when it's clearly the banger and a obvious single choice together with a video on that entire record?
[Edited 11/26/21 14:20pm]


I’ve always liked that song-everything about it.
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Reply #13 posted 11/27/21 7:38am

2freaky4church
1

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Being that he was a messed up freak.

All you others say Hell Yea!! woot!
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Reply #14 posted 11/27/21 8:34am

PJMcGee

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Free2BMe said:

Wolfie87 said:

Why does Can't Let Her Get Away have mixed reviews when it's clearly the banger and a obvious single choice together with a video on that entire record?
[Edited 11/26/21 14:20pm]


I’ve always liked that song-everything about it.


Me too. Not as great as Wanna Be Startin', but in the same vein. It's called a groove, people!
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Reply #15 posted 11/27/21 12:35pm

alphastreet

2freaky4church1 said:

Being that he was a messed up freak.



So unnecessary. I don’t care if you don’t like him, but why bother posting anyways?
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Reply #16 posted 11/27/21 4:21pm

Free2BMe

alphastreet said:

2freaky4church1 said:

Being that he was a messed up freak.



So unnecessary. I don’t care if you don’t like him, but why bother posting anyways?


I agree. It’s usually the ones with problems themselves who always judge others. Just saying.🤭
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Reply #17 posted 11/29/21 1:38am

JorisE73

Free2BMe said:

alphastreet said:
So unnecessary. I don’t care if you don’t like him, but why bother posting anyways?
I agree. It’s usually the ones with problems themselves who always judge others. Just saying.🤭


Just ignore him, he's just a troll. Just look at the way he posts without quoting and the nonsense spam topics he posts.
Apparently the mods don't care anymore if there are trolls on here.

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Reply #18 posted 11/29/21 2:52am

DaveT

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PatrickS77 said:

TrivialPursuit said:

I actually think they could've ditched "Heal The World" (one of his constant attempts to replicate "Man in the Mirror") and put "Come Together" on there. Or, rather replace HTW with his version of "Smile."

Nah, they did exactly right by keeping Heal the world where it is. Upon my first listen of the album Heal the world was the first song I really liked. I was of mixed opinion of the first half of the album. I preferred the second half. Of course that changed pretty quick, but the first half was not what I was expecting.


I was 11 when Dangerous came out and MJ was still a huge deal to kids my age in the UK, those of us in to music at least. But even at that age we all thought Heal The World was naff, so saccharine and on the nose it was almost a parody of a charity record. I still skip it now biggrin

www.filmsfilmsfilms.co.uk - The internet's best movie site!
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Reply #19 posted 11/29/21 8:31am

PatrickS77

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DaveT said:

PatrickS77 said:

Nah, they did exactly right by keeping Heal the world where it is. Upon my first listen of the album Heal the world was the first song I really liked. I was of mixed opinion of the first half of the album. I preferred the second half. Of course that changed pretty quick, but the first half was not what I was expecting.


I was 11 when Dangerous came out and MJ was still a huge deal to kids my age in the UK, those of us in to music at least. But even at that age we all thought Heal The World was naff, so saccharine and on the nose it was almost a parody of a charity record. I still skip it now biggrin

Yeah. Whatever. I was 14 and I liked it. Still do.

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Reply #20 posted 11/29/21 2:25pm

TrivialPursuit

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DaveT said:

I was 11 when Dangerous came out and MJ was still a huge deal to kids my age in the UK, those of us in to music at least. But even at that age we all thought "Heal The World" was naff, so saccharine and on the nose it was almost a parody of a charity record. I still skip it now biggrin


That is the best description I've heard about that song. You nailed it. If he wanted an anthem, he should've pushed "Keep The Faith." It's 100% stronger than the "Man in the Mirror" wannabe.

"eye don’t really care so much what people say about me because it is a reflection of who they r."
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Reply #21 posted 11/29/21 4:40pm

Superstition

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I think it speaks to MJ’s talent and ear for good production and making a sound fit him that I still listen to his most sappy songs. The vocals and music are still there, for me at least.

Dangerous is probably my favorite album as well, and that’s saying something with albums like OTW, Thriller and Bad in his repertoire.

It felt like he had really taken over his own sound, and had enough experience under his belt to own his music. The growth really plays out over his previous three albums and hits a peak on Dangerous. It’s the most “MJ” of his albums, while still having enough joy in it that was lacking on HIStory and Invincible (both of which I think are underrated, btw).

My only critique is that it’s missing a slow jam. If Heal The World had been replaced with a Babyface-produced love song or something of the like, I would have really enjoyed that.

But everything on it flows so well, many of the songs still sound fresh.
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Reply #22 posted 11/29/21 5:33pm

alphastreet

DaveT said:



PatrickS77 said:




TrivialPursuit said:


I actually think they could've ditched "Heal The World" (one of his constant attempts to replicate "Man in the Mirror") and put "Come Together" on there. Or, rather replace HTW with his version of "Smile."




Nah, they did exactly right by keeping Heal the world where it is. Upon my first listen of the album Heal the world was the first song I really liked. I was of mixed opinion of the first half of the album. I preferred the second half. Of course that changed pretty quick, but the first half was not what I was expecting.




I was 11 when Dangerous came out and MJ was still a huge deal to kids my age in the UK, those of us in to music at least. But even at that age we all thought Heal The World was naff, so saccharine and on the nose it was almost a parody of a charity record. I still skip it now biggrin



Yes I was 8 when it came out and he was popular among kids then, was not uncommon to hear black or white at birthday parties and talent shows in the first half of 90s at least
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