Artistic Decisions in Michael Jackson's Career That Are Questionable

mj_frenzy

Proud Member
Joined
Aug 26, 2014
Messages
1,871
Points
48
Certain artistic decisions in Michael Jackson’s career can be considered wrong or bad.

For example:

Not releasing an accompanying music video for his ‘Human Nature’ single.

The fade out of the ‘Speed Demon’ song into the intro of the ‘Liberian Girl’ song.

The incessant and annoying chatter from all these famous people in the ‘Liberian Girl’ music video.

The inclusion of his cover version of the ‘Gone Too Soon’ song on the ‘Dangerous’ album (given that the Dangerous era was probably his most creative era, cover songs should have had no place in that album).

The Ancient Egypt concept of the ‘Remember The Time’ music video that does not fit some of the song’s lyrics: for instance, he sings at one point “you and me, in Spain” but Spain did not exist yet in the Ancient Egypt period, or at another point he sings “on the phone, you and me” but phones were not invented yet in the Ancient Egypt period.

The ‘Working Day And Night’ performance that drags on unnecessarily and thus becoming after a certain point very repetitive and monotonous (in the BAD Tour and in the Dangerous Tour).

During his solo tours, performing the ‘Jackson 5 Medley’ (‘I Want You Back’, ‘The Love You Save’, and ‘I'll Be There’) with members of his back up band that were not his brothers.

The inclusion of overly long symphonic musical segments in the beginning of certain of his songs (such as, ‘Will You Be There’, ‘Little Susie’).

The removal of ‘The Way You Make Me Feel’ performance from many of the Dangerous Tour and History Tour concerts (a performance that had a strong, visual on stage concept and decent choreography that the audience seemed to like).

At the end of each HIStory Tour concert, leaving the stage in a very simple and ordinary way (by just walking off the stage).

Discuss.
 

AlwaysThere

Proud Member
Joined
Jan 31, 2012
Messages
3,747
Points
63
I dunno if I’d call it “wrong” or “bad,” but I wish Michael did an MTV Unplugged performance. Imagine a 30-minute acoustic set, in an intimate venue with a smaller crowd. I would’ve loved that.

Also, why did he never host (or perform on) SNL? Seems like that would be a great opportunity to show his comedy chops.
 

Snek

Proud Member
Joined
Feb 1, 2018
Messages
196
Points
18
Invincible is great, but it could’ve seriously benefitted if he had finished Hollywood Tonight and Xscape and they were on the album in place of tracks like Invincible and Cry. Also, the cover art was poor compared to his previous albums. Call the album Unbreakable, replace a few songs and improve the cover art and it would have been received much better imo. It may not have affected the fallout between him and Tommy Mottola that would later happen, but still.
 
Last edited:

Smooth72

Proud Member
Joined
Sep 12, 2012
Messages
870
Points
28
Artistic decisions? Hmm, I think he should have taken more risks. I mean, he always did the same thing basically. Tour set lists and such for example. He pretty much stuck to the same theme with his albums. He had a few dance tracks, a couple kinda edgy rock type songs, something to do with the world or saving the planet and always had to have a rapper in the later songs. He would also have the same type of ballads. I wish he would have stepped outside the box when he got older. This is not a knock at all. So think his confidence suffered in his later years, tended to play it safe.
 

rolerprod

Proud Member
Joined
Aug 13, 2011
Messages
164
Points
16
tour setlists...though that did help solidify his hits and make them more iconic drillin them with their choreography into the publics mind but songs that didnt have extensive choregraphy like WBSS and jam should have been swaped for other songs every once in a while
 

Galactus123

Proud Member
Joined
Jan 15, 2011
Messages
5,028
Points
48
mj_frenzy;4322463 said:
The fade out of the ‘Speed Demon’ song into the intro of the ‘Liberian Girl’ song.
I liked that. It works well when listening the whole album.
 

AdamBa17

Proud Member
Joined
Jul 25, 2011
Messages
882
Points
28
Wow, I've been a Michael Jackson fan my whole life and today I find out that Gone Too Soon was a cover!!

Sent from my ONEPLUS A6013 using Tapatalk
 

dam2040

Proud Member
Joined
Jan 9, 2005
Messages
5,519
Points
63
Listening to Michael Prince on the MJCast was so interesting and a great insight.

Think it basically told us why there was never an MJ Unplugged or similar - he wanted it as close to the CD version as humanly possible or (apparently in his words) the audience was 'sonically cheated'. Interesting take, for sure.
 

Galactus123

Proud Member
Joined
Jan 15, 2011
Messages
5,028
Points
48
dam2040;4322484 said:
Listening to Michael Prince on the MJCast was so interesting and a great insight.

Think it basically told us why there was never an MJ Unplugged or similar - he wanted it as close to the CD version as humanly possible or (apparently in his words) the audience was 'sonically cheated'. Interesting take, for sure.

That was probably one of the reasons he lip-synced on HIStory Tour. I think he wasn't satisfied with his live singing at the time
 

king_of_style

Proud Member
Joined
Feb 25, 2021
Messages
200
Points
18
In general I think an amazing choice for Michael would've been to include "We've Had Enough" instead of "Cry" on the Invincible album. "We've Had Enough" has a much stronger message and in my mind has way more punch to its instrumentals. Especially in the wake of the September 11th attacks in the U.S., "We've Had Enough" would've been a much more timely and well-heard message than "Cry". "Cry" has the feel of "You Are Not Alone" when the moment really called for another "Earth Song". I think that had MJ released "We've Had Enough" on Invincible it would've become a #1 hit in many countries. Obviously if he had included "We've Had Enough" he would have to either change the ending of or swap out "Privacy" (since that song takes its outro directly from "We've Had Enough").

Smooth72;4322477 said:
Artistic decisions? Hmm, I think he should have taken more risks. I mean, he always did the same thing basically. Tour set lists and such for example. He pretty much stuck to the same theme with his albums. He had a few dance tracks, a couple kinda edgy rock type songs, something to do with the world or saving the planet and always had to have a rapper in the later songs. He would also have the same type of ballads. I wish he would have stepped outside the box when he got older. This is not a knock at all. So think his confidence suffered in his later years, tended to play it safe.

This. He experimented with rap on his own obviously, and while his skills in it might not have been strong enough to take up a whole track, I think rap interludes on his edgier rock tracks would've been more than passable. Hell, a "Black or White" or "Shout"-style rap verse on "We've Had Enough" would've been perfect
 

Hudson112

Proud Member
Joined
Jul 3, 2019
Messages
97
Points
8
AlwaysThere;4322467 said:
I dunno if I’d call it “wrong” or “bad,” but I wish Michael did an MTV Unplugged performance. Imagine a 30-minute acoustic set, in an intimate venue with a smaller crowd. I would’ve loved that.

Also, why did he never host (or perform on) SNL? Seems like that would be a great opportunity to show his comedy chops.
There’s actually an answer for why he didn’t host SNL or some show like that. This is lifted from Moonwalk:
“I’m not a comedian. I'm not a show host.
I'm a musician. That's why I've turned down offers to host the Grammy Awards and the American Music Awards. Is it really entertaining for me to get up there and crack a few weak jokes and force people to laugh because I'm Michael Jackson, when I know in my heart that I'm not funny?”

Personally, I feel like he was too hard on himself but that’s what he thought.
 

king_of_style

Proud Member
Joined
Feb 25, 2021
Messages
200
Points
18
Hudson112;4322504 said:
There’s actually an answer for why he didn’t host SNL or some show like that. This is lifted from Moonwalk:
“I’m not a comedian. I'm not a show host.
I'm a musician. That's why I've turned down offers to host the Grammy Awards and the American Music Awards. Is it really entertaining for me to get up there and crack a few weak jokes and force people to laugh because I'm Michael Jackson, when I know in my heart that I'm not funny?”

Personally, I feel like he was too hard on himself but that’s what he thought.

He was friends with Eddie Murphy and Chris Tucker, like did he think that he couldn't have asked them to write a few bits for him?
 

R1chard

Proud Member
Joined
Nov 5, 2020
Messages
103
Points
0
Big ones for me are not fully embracing surround sound. Considering B/W was one of the first videos in Dolby Surround, and that Thriller came out on SACD, it's a shame there was never a full album in 5.1

mj_frenzy;4322463 said:
Not releasing an accompanying music video for his ‘Human Nature’ single.chops.
I'm not sure this is much of a big deal. Videos weren't that important back then. Plus you normally didn't have so many singles.

Michael did make a lot of mistakes, but I don't want to judge him based on hindsight or modern values.

mj_frenzy;4322463 said:
The fade out of the ‘Speed Demon’ song into the intro of the ‘Liberian Girl’ song.
I've heard some versions of the album that don't have this.

mj_frenzy;4322463 said:
The inclusion of his cover version of the ‘Gone Too Soon’ song on the ‘Dangerous’ album
I love this song! I actually think it should have replaced the overacted Out Of My Life on the setlist.

mj_frenzy;4322463 said:
The Ancient Egypt concept of the ‘Remember The Time’ music video that does not fit some of the song’s lyrics:
Well, I agree about phone etc, but you can't always be too literal. It's one of the better Dangerous videos.

Hulkamaniac;4322465 said:
Not releasing a 1988 HQ Bad tour show back in the day.
Yes, this. Should have had a video from each tour. Have you seen how many live albums Pearl Jam have? Or Queen? They have about 3 old live albums in the UK video chart as I type this.

Let's be clear, the reason Wembley looks so bad is squarely because MJ didn't want to release it for so long, so the analog master rotted away. Should have put it out before moving on to Dangerous.

Imagine if there was a Blu-ray for every tour, and one of the extras is a documentary just like TII.

AlwaysThere;4322467 said:
I dunno if I’d call it “wrong” or “bad,” but I wish Michael did an MTV Unplugged performance. Imagine a 30-minute acoustic set, in an intimate venue with a smaller crowd. I would’ve loved that.
Definitely. I would have loved that. I've been saying for ages that sometimes I would have preferred that to a dance show. Firstly you'd be close enough actually to see him!

Imagine Michael sitting on a stool, perhaps playing an instrument, with 3 or 4 other musicians sitting around. No gimmicks. No light show. No planes. No costumes. No getting out of breath.

Considering Nirvana are known for high-energy music, their honest and calm Unplugged is cited by many as the greatest live performance of all time.
 

SoCav

Proud Member
Joined
Jul 25, 2005
Messages
1,903
Points
48
Hudson112;4322504 said:
There’s actually an answer for why he didn’t host SNL or some show like that. This is lifted from Moonwalk:
“I’m not a comedian. I'm not a show host.
I'm a musician. That's why I've turned down offers to host the Grammy Awards and the American Music Awards. Is it really entertaining for me to get up there and crack a few weak jokes and force people to laugh because I'm Michael Jackson, when I know in my heart that I'm not funny?”

Personally, I feel like he was too hard on himself but that’s what he thought.
Personally I do agree with Michael's take here. I mean, I think he was a funny guy in his own way, but not the type of person to be a show host. In fact, 90% of the times when celebrities do this it's painfully cringeworthy to watch.

Moreover, MJ was an old school entertainer. In the Schmuley book he talked extensively about the importance of mystery. While I think he did take that concept too far - to his own detriment - I appreciate that he did not turn up for just anything, and that he did not give interviews non-stop. It made the few appearances he did make feel far more special.
 

AlwaysThere

Proud Member
Joined
Jan 31, 2012
Messages
3,747
Points
63
I completely forgot about the Moonwalk excerpt! That’s fair enough, but I still think he could’ve at least performed on SNL once or twice. Not that he needed to, but it would’ve been a nice add-on to his career.

Also, I don’t quite understand OP’s negativity towards the “Remember the Time” video concept. That’s sorta like saying that the “Jam” video shouldn’t have featured Michael Jordan since the lyrics never reference basketball. (I also can’t help but laugh that the lyrical mismatch is considered implausible, and not the part where Michael turns into sand lol.)
 

SmoothCriminal1995

Proud Member
Joined
Apr 28, 2012
Messages
1,656
Points
48
AlwaysThere;4322521 said:
I completely forgot about the Moonwalk excerpt! That’s fair enough, but I still think he could’ve at least performed on SNL once or twice. Not that he needed to, but it would’ve been a nice add-on to his career.

Also, I don’t quite understand OP’s negativity towards the “Remember the Time” video concept. That’s sorta like saying that the “Jam” video shouldn’t have featured Michael Jordan since the lyrics never reference basketball. (I also can’t help but laugh that the lyrical mismatch is considered implausible, and not the part where Michael turns into sand lol.)

Hahaha I couldn't stop laughing at the sand comment mate

A lot of the points are subjective, for instance I love the RTT videos it's one of my favourite short films, the fact that it's ancient Egypt and it has an all black cast is beautifully subtle as well

I do agree Liberian Girl should have had a better music video, I get a kick out of it but the fact they spend most of the song talking over it annoys me.
Mike should have done a video on a beach somewhere, with him and a beautiful black actress and have him performing it to her as his love interest (although I imagine MJ would have been too shy for that) I believe a stronger video may have made this incredible song even more recognised by the general public

I agree TWYMMF should have been a permanent fixture on all the tour's, especially the Dangerous Tour, the show felt incomplete without it and Bad

WDAN goes on way to long for me to be honest. I like the song live and how it flows into Beat It but if you shaved time off that, the unnecessary long ending of Beat It and the huge ending off BOW, he could have included another song from Dangerous, like Who Is It or Give In To Me

I'm always on the fence with Gone Too Soon, I love his delivery and the production of it but it feels out of place on Dangerous. Although I do think if you take the song off, a ballad need to replace it

If there's one thing I wish somebody would have done was an interview with Mike about his craft. Imagine an hour interview of him just talking about his albums, his videos and the live performances.
I know this goes against with his wish of being mysterious and of wanting not to peel back the curtain and not seeing how the magician does his trick, but whenever he spoke about his craft and work process it was fascinating. Thankfully we have a couple of depositions for that
 
Last edited:

Galactus123

Proud Member
Joined
Jan 15, 2011
Messages
5,028
Points
48
He should have performed Man in the Mirror on HIStory Tour. The band rehearsed it:
[video=youtube;-nN_fpFG0yE]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-nN_fpFG0yE[/video]
 

Invictum3001

Proud Member
Joined
Feb 4, 2021
Messages
16
Points
1
Something I'll never understand was Michael's decision to include 'Come Together' instead of 'On the Line' on the HIStory album. 'Come Together' was already featured in 'Moonwalker' and released as the B-Side of 'Remember The Time' so the inclusion on HIStory doesn't make sense to me. Of cource, 'Come Together' deserved an 'offical' release but that should've been on The Ultimate Collection and not on the HIStory album.
 

king_of_style

Proud Member
Joined
Feb 25, 2021
Messages
200
Points
18
Invictum3001;4322544 said:
Something I'll never understand was Michael's decision to include 'Come Together' instead of 'On the Line' on the HIStory album. 'Come Together' was already featured in 'Moonwalker' and released as the B-Side of 'Remember The Time' so the inclusion on HIStory doesn't make sense to me. Of cource, 'Come Together' deserved an 'offical' release but that should've been on The Ultimate Collection and not on the HIStory album.

I mean I for one really liked it being there. It was a nice little surprise, a throwback. But I understand why people would say it's out of place -- especially on an album that claims to have all new songs.
 

DuranDuran

Proud Member
Joined
Aug 27, 2011
Messages
11,136
Points
63
mj_frenzy;4322463 said:
The incessant and annoying chatter from all these famous people in the ‘Liberian Girl’ music video.

The Ancient Egypt concept of the ‘Remember The Time’ music video that does not fit some of the song’s lyrics: for instance, he sings at one point “you and me, in Spain” but Spain did not exist yet in the Ancient Egypt period, or at another point he sings “on the phone, you and me” but phones were not invented yet in the Ancient Egypt period.
Many music videos by all kinds of singers/bands have nothing to do with the song lyrics. Talking throughout videos is nothing unusual either. I remember first only seeing the video to Don't Lose My Number by Phil Collins. I got so used to the video that when I later heard the song by itself on the radio it sounded strange to me, like something was missing. :tonguev3: I still know the dialogue to this day.
 

mj_frenzy

Proud Member
Joined
Aug 26, 2014
Messages
1,871
Points
48
Here are some more:

The ‘Ben’ album cover that depicts a lot of rats (the early pressings of it).

Releasing ‘The Girl Is Mine’ as the lead single from the ‘Thriller’ album (which is one of the weakest songs from that album, melodically and lyrically).

The inclusion of the knocking sound right before the Eddie Van Halen’s guitar solo (in the ‘Beat It’ song).

The nearly one minute long and pointless ‘Black Or White’ spoken intro that has no connection at all with the song, and thus it sounds totally out of place.

His HIStory Statue floating down the Thames River (London), a move that was understandably viewed by people/media as haughty and egotistical.

His old hits from the ‘HIStory’ album (disc one) that are not placed in chronological order.

The exclusion of the ‘Smooth Criminal’ song from the disc one of the ‘HIStory’ album (a song that defined his story as an artist).

Michael Jackson uttering ‘Slash’ right before the guitar solo in the ‘Privacy’ song (Slash himself confirmed that he did not play guitar on that song).

Imagine Michael sitting on a stool, perhaps playing an instrument, with 3 or 4 other musicians sitting around. No gimmicks. No light show. No planes. No costumes. No getting out of breath.

Apparently, he thought that such a stripped down performance would confuse people about his already established, on stage dynamic image and persona.

But you could say that he did that to some extent: ‘Elizabeth, I Love You’ (1997), ‘You Were There’ (1989), ‘Gone Too Soon’ (1993) are for example three such performances.

Something I'll never understand was Michael's decision to include 'Come Together' instead of 'On the Line' on the HIStory album.

Michael Jackson had purchased ATV Music in 1985, and in 1995 Sony acquired a 50% stake in a combined ATV and Sony Music Publishing joint venture.

So, for symbolic reasons, he decided to include his cover version of the ‘Come Together’ song in the album’s second disc and specifically in the middle of that track list in order to denote that joint venture.

Besides, the mellifluous ‘On The Line’ song could not have fitted the aggressive and angry overall tone of the ‘HIStory’ album (hence its exclusion from the second disc).
 

rolerprod

Proud Member
Joined
Aug 13, 2011
Messages
164
Points
16
Here are some more:

Releasing ‘The Girl Is Mine’ as the lead single from the ‘Thriller’ album (which is one of the weakest songs from that album, melodically and lyrically).
actually this was a very smart commercial decision to release the weakest song as a first single where theres a lot of hype built up already so the song is sure to be a commercial hit plus the fact it had a huge feature(at the time) on it and wait with the big singles for later.
im not sure how the singles from thriller performed at the charts but ill take a guess and say they all went number 1
 

8701girl

Proud Member
Joined
Nov 21, 2007
Messages
21,437
Points
83
I dunno if I’d call it “wrong” or “bad,” but I wish Michael did an MTV Unplugged performance. Imagine a 30-minute acoustic set, in an intimate venue with a smaller crowd. I would’ve loved that.

Also, why did he never host (or perform on) SNL? Seems like that would be a great opportunity to show his comedy chops.


how i wish he was on snl that wouldve been a killer
 

Piek

Proud Member
Joined
Jul 30, 2017
Messages
145
Points
18
– The cameo in Men In Black II;
– The cameo in Miss Cast Away.
 
Top