Artistic Decisions in Michael Jackson's Career That Are Questionable

Ekans

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The live performances of the song "Dangerous" are boring and overrated to me.
I don't understand why he decided to put the "Smooth Criminal" part.
But the 1993 live performances are not that bad (especially the "I can not sleep alone tonight..." part)

The 1993 version was indeed waay better than the 1995 version.
 

Jackson Rules

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Another one...
He took off Beat It for some concerts in 1993... It is one of his most iconic songs!!
 

mj_frenzy

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By who? I never heard this before. I have rarely seen The Girl Is Mine mentioned anywhere. I've seen magazines saying Ebony And Ivory by Paul McCartney & Stevie Wonder was a bad song and comedians making fun of it. Anyway like I said it would have been played on the radio anyway since Paul McCartney was on it, single or not. At least in the USA. Back then R&B, AOR, and Top 40 radio would play album tracks. Years later, after conglomerates like Clear Channel bought up a lot of commercial radio stations, this was largely stopped. Also does I Just Can't Stop Loving You represent what was on Bad? It was the first single. Black Or White does not really represent Dangerous either which is half New Jack Swing including the title song. So again you're talking nonsense.

Only 2 out of his 7 adult albums have lead singles that are not representative of their respective albums, i.e., ‘The Girl Is Mine’ (from the ‘Thriller’ album) and ‘I Just Can't Stop Loving You’ (from the ‘BAD’ album), the rest 5 lead singles are representative:

‘Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough’ is an up-tempo, dance song with disco elements, so it represents the ‘Off The Wall’ album.

‘Black Or White’ is an up-tempo, dance song that touches upon racial/social themes, so it represents the ‘Dangerous’ album (given the album’s structure, even if a new jack swing song was released as a lead single it would not really have been representative because half of the album’s songs are not new jack swing songs).

‘Scream’ is an up-tempo, dance, aggressive and angry song, so it represents the ‘HIStory’ album.

‘Blood On The Dance Floor’ is an up-tempo, dance song with a dark theme, so it represents the ‘Blood On The Dance Floor’ album.

‘You Rock My World’ is an up-tempo, R&B song with dance elements, so it represents the ‘Invincible’ album (even if they released ‘Unbreakable’ as the lead single, as the original plan demanded, this song would also have been representative of the album).
 

Nite Line

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Albums:
- Working Day and Night and Get On The Floor should have been released as singles. They were both potential top 10 hits, at least.
- The Girl Is Mine doesnÂ’t work as duet between McCartney and Michael. Either it should have been a solo song or a duet with an artist that was closer to Michael in age.
- Thriller should have had another song. Behind the Mask, Got The Hots maybe.
- Moonwalker Smooth Criminal version should have been released on the Bad album. It makes the song less repetitive.
- Someone Put Your Hand Out and She Got It have been released on Dangerous in place of CanÂ’t Let Her Get Away & She Drives Me Wild.
- Gone Too Soon is a wonderful song but it should have been a one off single, in stead of being released on the Dangerous album.
- Come Together is a boring song that sounds way out of place on History album. Also, Smile felt out of place on the album. Morphine and In The Back should have been on the album in their place.
- Even though I like most songs on Invincible, it feels over the place. ItÂ’s obvious that MichaelÂ’s heart wasnÂ’t in it.
- Some of MichaelÂ’s songs, especially on the later albums were way too long. Not ever song had to be 5-6 minutes long.
- MichaelÂ’s latter albums repeated the same formula. Opening the album with an uptempo song, one rock song and one social anthem song on the album.

Live Performances:
- Michael was a genius when it came to his dance moves and outfits. But he was no genius when it came to his set lists for his tours. He performed the same bloody songs each time. No surprise one off performance of a rare song or a non single. Just the same hits again and again.
- And his performances of a lot of his songs were the same each damn tour. Like for Beat It, he used the same boring cherry picker entrance for three consecutive tours and was planning on doing it again for This Is It. For She’s Out Of My Life, he did the same “can I come down there” thing in the second verse before hugging a female fan for four consecutive tours.
- MichaelÂ’s singing style became too aggressive in later years and that didnÂ’t always translate well to his live performances. I struggle to understand sometimes what he is saying when he is singing Working Day and Night and Dirty Diana. Maybe thatÂ’s because English isnÂ’t my first language.
- Speaking of WDAN live, what a boring performance. Instead of wasting over 10 minutes, Michael should have cut the time to like 4-5 minutes and performed another song or two.
- Michael had no excuse for lip syncing as much as he did during the 90s. I understand that his voice was damaged during the History Tour, but what excuse did he have for lip syncing the entire Super Bowl 93 performance?
- The performance of Earth Song during the History tour was embarrassing and cringeworthy. A kid giving the flower to a soldier who comes out of the tank with a gun and the whole fake crying. Lol Embarrassing!
- And letÂ’s not even talk about the Brit Awards 96 performance of Earth Song. It was extremely arrogant. People will say that Michael wasnÂ’t arrogant at all, but there is no way that a person who was as successful as him wasnÂ’t arrogant even in the slightest. ItÂ’s natural for successful people to be arrogant. And Michael was arrogant as well, if not consciously than subconsciously.
 
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AdamBa17

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- The performance of Earth Song during the History was embarrassing and cringeworthy. A kid giving the flower to a soldier who comes out of the tank with a gun and the whole fake crying. Lol Embarrassing!

I agree with your whole post, but especially this bit. I've never been able to sit through this song live lol, except the WMA performance, but even then it's only for the short bit of dancing
 

AlwaysThere

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Not so much a “decision” as a common talking point among fans:

ThereÂ’s a zero percent chance Michael was suffering from laryngitis during the HIStory Tour. Not only are there no credible sources (that IÂ’m aware of) who have backed up that claim, but singing with laryngitis is dangerous and risks permanent damage to your vocal cords. Michael canceled a couple Bad Tour dates because of laryngitis in 1988, but weÂ’re supposed to believe that he endured it for the majority of the HIStory Tour? No chance.
 

Snek

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Not so much a “decision” as a common talking point among fans:

ThereÂ’s a zero percent chance Michael was suffering from laryngitis during the HIStory Tour. Not only are there no credible sources (that IÂ’m aware of) who have backed up that claim, but singing with laryngitis is dangerous and risks permanent damage to your vocal cords. Michael canceled a couple Bad Tour dates because of laryngitis in 1988, but weÂ’re supposed to believe that he endured it for the majority of the HIStory Tour? No chance.

He does complain of laryngitis at around 6:10 in this video:


This was early on in the HIStory tour in Thailand. So he likely did have the condition and was finding the recovery tough. But I do agree with you, thereÂ’s no way that he had it for the duration of the tour.
 

AlwaysThere

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He does complain of laryngitis at around 6:10 in this video:


This was early on in the HIStory tour in Thailand. So he likely did have the condition and was finding the recovery tough. But I do agree with you, thereÂ’s no way that he had it for the duration of the tour.

I had no idea this existed — thank you so much!

This is interesting, because the Thailand press conference clip wouldÂ’ve taken place circa November 1996, at a time when (in my opinion) MichaelÂ’s vocals were fine. Nothing spectacular, but all of the footage we have of the 1996 leg (e.g., Bucharest, Seoul, Tunis, Auckland) sounds good enough. The vocal decline didnÂ’t kick in until the 1997 leg (e.g., Munich, Copenhagen, Gothenburg). Seems like people saw this clip and ran with it.
 

Themidwestcowboy

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I had no idea this existed — thank you so much!

This is interesting, because the Thailand press conference clip would’ve taken place circa November 1996, at a time when (in my opinion) Michael’s vocals were fine. Nothing spectacular, but all of the footage we have of the 1996 leg (e.g., Bucharest, Seoul, Tunis, Auckland) sounds good enough. The vocal decline didn’t kick in until the 1997 leg (e.g., Munich, Copenhagen, Gothenburg). Seems like people saw this clip and ran with it.

What? you think so? Michael's voice during many of the 96 concerts sounded very damaged, screechy and bad like in Seoul, Malaysia, Brunei etc. Gothenburg and Copenhagen probably contains his best live vocals on the HIStory Tour especially on J5 medley, Billie Jean and YANA. Munich is an outlier tho..
 

Anna

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- The performance of Earth Song during the History tour was embarrassing and cringeworthy. A kid giving the flower to a soldier who comes out of the tank with a gun and the whole fake crying. Lol Embarrassing!
Yes! I legit can't even watch that whole bit.
 

Nite Line

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I agree with your whole post, but especially this bit. I've never been able to sit through this song live lol, except the WMA performance, but even then it's only for the short bit of dancing

The Royal Brunei performance of Earth Song is quite good, with the "What About It" ad-libs. That is exactly what Michael should have done during the History Tour.
 

Smooth72

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Lip sinking during live performances absolutely drives me bonkers. Change the performances so you can sing it live or at least most of it live. Trying to preform the music videoÂ’s basically on stage was asking too much. I would have preferred he sing live an minimize the dancing.
 

Piek

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I agree with your whole post, but especially this bit. I've never been able to sit through this song live lol, except the WMA performance, but even then it's only for the short bit of dancing

It's not designed for tv, it's designed to be performed on stage, with a live audience. I saw it live twice, and I can't tell you what happens in the crowd during this Earth Song bit. I went there with a good friend. She just joined me, she wasn't a fan of MJ at all. But during this performance, she had tears in her eyes and was really emotional. I know you don't get that feeling from watching it on YouTube. But the performance was really perfected for a live audience. It was amazing.
 

Hess

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I must agree with Piek - live performances (especially back then before DVD/Blu-Ray/Youtube/streaming) was meant to be seen live just once.

MJ was a perfectionist and he was perfect at knowing how the audience responded, what works on stage and what does not work.

Earth Song was great live. (I was only 10 when I saw MJ live, at the Birthday concert in Copenhagen 1997)

Also, the "get's emotionel during I'll Be There and crying - live it is great, but when you see it on Youtube 20 years later it looks pathetic. Live it works though.

And I think it's hard to make a live concert that will get the same emotions in the viewer when watching it many years later on TV.
 

Michaels Lover

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- The performance of Earth Song during the History tour was embarrassing and cringeworthy. A kid giving the flower to a soldier who comes out of the tank with a gun and the whole fake crying. Lol Embarrassing!
It was probably my most favorite part of the whole concert! Still, to this day it brings tears to my eyes. It has such an important and powerful message, I just love it
 

mj_frenzy

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Albums:
- Working Day and Night and Get On The Floor should have been released as singles. They were both potential top 10 hits, at least.
- The Girl Is Mine doesn’t work as duet between McCartney and Michael. Either it should have been a solo song or a duet with an artist that was closer to Michael in age.
- Thriller should have had another song. Behind the Mask, Got The Hots maybe.
- Moonwalker Smooth Criminal version should have been released on the Bad album. It makes the song less repetitive.
- Someone Put Your Hand Out and She Got It have been released on Dangerous in place of Can’t Let Her Get Away & She Drives Me Wild.
- Gone Too Soon is a wonderful song but it should have been a one off single, in stead of being released on the Dangerous album.
- Come Together is a boring song that sounds way out of place on History album. Also, Smile felt out of place on the album. Morphine and In The Back should have been on the album in their place.
- Even though I like most songs on Invincible, it feels over the place. It’s obvious that Michael’s heart wasn’t in it.
- Some of Michael’s songs, especially on the later albums were way too long. Not ever song had to be 5-6 minutes long.
- Michael’s latter albums repeated the same formula. Opening the album with an uptempo song, one rock song and one social anthem song on the album.

Live Performances:
- Michael was a genius when it came to his dance moves and outfits. But he was no genius when it came to his set lists for his tours. He performed the same bloody songs each time. No surprise one off performance of a rare song or a non single. Just the same hits again and again.
- And his performances of a lot of his songs were the same each damn tour. Like for Beat It, he used the same boring cherry picker entrance for three consecutive tours and was planning on doing it again for This Is It. For She’s Out Of My Life, he did the same “can I come down there” thing in the second verse before hugging a female fan for four consecutive tours.
- Michael’s singing style became too aggressive in later years and that didn’t always translate well to his live performances. I struggle to understand sometimes what he is saying when he is singing Working Day and Night and Dirty Diana. Maybe that’s because English isn’t my first language.
- Speaking of WDAN live, what a boring performance. Instead of wasting over 10 minutes, Michael should have cut the time to like 4-5 minutes and performed another song or two.
- Michael had no excuse for lip syncing as much as he did during the 90s. I understand that his voice was damaged during the History Tour, but what excuse did he have for lip syncing the entire Super Bowl 93 performance?
- The performance of Earth Song during the History tour was embarrassing and cringeworthy. A kid giving the flower to a soldier who comes out of the tank with a gun and the whole fake crying. Lol Embarrassing!
- And let’s not even talk about the Brit Awards 96 performance of Earth Song. It was extremely arrogant. People will say that Michael wasn’t arrogant at all, but there is no way that a person who was as successful as him wasn’t arrogant even in the slightest. It’s natural for successful people to be arrogant. And Michael was arrogant as well, if not consciously than subconsciously.

Not so much a “decision” as a common talking point among fans:

There’s a zero percent chance Michael was suffering from laryngitis during the HIStory Tour. Not only are there no credible sources (that I’m aware of) who have backed up that claim, but singing with laryngitis is dangerous and risks permanent damage to your vocal cords. Michael canceled a couple Bad Tour dates because of laryngitis in 1988, but we’re supposed to believe that he endured it for the majority of the HIStory Tour? No chance.

He does complain of laryngitis at around 6:10 in this video:


This was early on in the HIStory tour in Thailand. So he likely did have the condition and was finding the recovery tough. But I do agree with you, there’s no way that he had it for the duration of the tour.

He did suffer from throat problems since the first dates of the HIStory Tour.

In early October (1996) and before beginning the Asian leg of the tour, Michael Jackson briefly visited England in order to have his vocal cords examined by a specialized throat therapist.

Some people have also suggested that part of the reason for his extensive lip-syncing in that tour was due to his tendency to forget certain lines of his songs (while performing them).

This suggestion may hold true considering that the singer (in that tour) on many instances was seen unable to even synchronize his lips with the playback lines of the songs when he lip-synced them.

Although not a part of the HIStory Tour, the singer was also seen mixing up verses of ‘Beat It’ in the Royal Brunei concert in 1996, which also indicates his tendency to forget lines.

There is also another occasion that took place at Paradise Island (Bahamas) in 1998: when he started singing live ‘Heal The World’, he found it difficult to remember certain lines of this song.

Lip sinking during live performances absolutely drives me bonkers. Change the performances so you can sing it live or at least most of it live. Trying to preform the music video’s basically on stage was asking too much. I would have preferred he sing live an minimize the dancing.

Even if he minimized the dancing, he would not have sung more songs live in the HIStory Tour.

For instance, ‘You Are Not Alone’, ‘Heal The World’, ‘Earth Song’ are songs with zero dancing and physical exertion, yet he lip-synced them.
 

analogue

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Whether if he had laryngitis or not there's no denying that something was wrong with his voice during the HIStory Tour. Some nights were better than others but a lot of times it sounded painful when he did sing live.
 

AlwaysThere

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Perhaps he suffered from vocal fatigue during the early HIStory Tour dates, but thereÂ’s no way he had it for the duration of the tour. ItÂ’s literally impossible.
 

dam2040

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We know from Michael Prince why Michael relied so heavy on lip sync. We also saw a glimpse of this in This is It - wanting the live performance to be a direct mirror of what you hear on the CD.

Not sure I agree with this as MJs best stage moments deviate from the CD versions, but yeah.
 

Nite Line

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We know from Michael Prince why Michael relied so heavy on lip sync. We also saw a glimpse of this in This is It - wanting the live performance to be a direct mirror of what you hear on the CD.

Not sure I agree with this as MJs best stage moments deviate from the CD versions, but yeah.

This is where Michael was wrong. The live version has to sound different from the CD version. There is no point in going to live shows if you are going to get an exact mirror image of the CD versions. ThatÂ’s a waste of money, in my opinion.
 

AlwaysThere

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Overall, I consider Michael’s approach to live performing to be the weakest element of his career. Make no mistake, he was the greatest entertainer to ever live, but he consistently recycled the same tricks and set list configurations and choreography. There was never a sense of “how is Michael gonna switch it up for this tour,” because he rarely did anything different or unexpected. It’s like once he cracked the code, he stuck to it as close as he could.

I could watch the man perform for hours, but sometimes I canÂ’t help but wonder how crazy his shows wouldÂ’ve been if he took some sudden left turns.
 

analogue

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I wish he would have changed up the J5 Medley a bit. Maybe have One Day In Your Life replace I'll Be There, or have a Jackson's medley (Can You Feel It/Blame It On The Boogie/Shake Your Body) instead.
 

Smooth72

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Overall, I consider Michael’s approach to live performing to be the weakest element of his career. Make no mistake, he was the greatest entertainer to ever live, but he consistently recycled the same tricks and set list configurations and choreography. There was never a sense of “how is Michael gonna switch it up for this tour,” because he rarely did anything different or unexpected. It’s like once he cracked the code, he stuck to it as close as he could.

I could watch the man perform for hours, but sometimes I canÂ’t help but wonder how crazy his shows wouldÂ’ve been if he took some sudden left turns.

I agree 💯.
 

dam2040

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Overall, I consider Michael’s approach to live performing to be the weakest element of his career. Make no mistake, he was the greatest entertainer to ever live, but he consistently recycled the same tricks and set list configurations and choreography. There was never a sense of “how is Michael gonna switch it up for this tour,” because he rarely did anything different or unexpected. It’s like once he cracked the code, he stuck to it as close as he could.

I could watch the man perform for hours, but sometimes I can’t help but wonder how crazy his shows would’ve been if he took some sudden left turns.

I can't find it for the life of me, but Michael did an interview once saying he always wanted to do a different Billie Jean (I think) but felt the fans wouldn't want/let him.
 

Rockin R

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I can't find it for the life of me, but Michael did an interview once saying he always wanted to do a different Billie Jean (I think) but felt the fans wouldn't want/let him.

It was in the TV GUIDE 99 interview.
He always expressed his desire of changing things, however, when he had the opportunity, he didn't do it.

We had the opportunity to select the songs for THIS IS IT, however now we know, that the setlist was already being worked. And I doubt us fans wanted to hear the J5 medley. I love I'LL BE THERE, and I wish he could have played JUST that song from this J5 era and let room for his solo material, before OFF THE WALL.
 
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AdamBa17

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It's not designed for tv, it's designed to be performed on stage, with a live audience. I saw it live twice, and I can't tell you what happens in the crowd during this Earth Song bit. I went there with a good friend. She just joined me, she wasn't a fan of MJ at all. But during this performance, she had tears in her eyes and was really emotional. I know you don't get that feeling from watching it on YouTube. But the performance was really perfected for a live audience. It was amazing.
That's totally fair. I had 2 chances to see Michael live. History tour, which I didn't end up going to and then TII. Will regret my decision forever but I'm sure the real life experience was 100% different
 

AdamBa17

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ItÂ’s like once he cracked the code, he stuck to it as close as he could.

You could say the same for his music too. The "code" for his albums was to stick to the Thriller formula once he realized it worked; a mix of upbeat dance tracks, one rock number to help crossover with that crowd, a duet, a "social statement" song etc
 

Jackson Rules

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The Off The Wall medley in the HIStory Tour...
Playback is already a let down, but doing it using the same vocals from when he was 20 years younger is too much.
He could have at least re-record them with his adult voice.
 

analogue

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I do enjoy the small dance routine at the end of DSTYGE at the end of the OTW medley.
 

Michaels Lover

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You could say the same for his music too. The "code" for his albums was to stick to the Thriller formula once he realized it worked; a mix of upbeat dance tracks, one rock number to help crossover with that crowd, a duet, a "social statement" song etc

The only album after thriller that has a duet is bad...
 
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