Interesting findings from a 1998 interview

BadTour87

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In early/mid 1998 MJ gave an interview to Black & White Magazine. The interview has some very early signs of issues with Sony, such as his disappointment over singles going unreleased and him knowing fans were unsatisfied with the remixes on BOTDF.

As the interview was originally in French the translation may be a tad awkward.

http://web.archive.org/web/20180312224917/http://en.michaeljackson.ru/black-white-magazine/

A part that very much stood out to me:

"BW: Will you ever do this show for HBO one day?
M: No, I don’t think so, I worked so much to prepare that show, there was such a pressure, people pushing me to do this show no matter what! Then finally, the nature took its course and said, “stop”, she decided I shouldn’t do that show…"
 
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Galactus123

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"Then Michael turns the pages and stops of the Collectibles page and sees a picture of the Smile single and asks whether it came out in Europe:
BW: no, the single has been cancelled, it never came out…
M: mmh! – Sighing
BW: Did you want it to come out?
M: Sure! Sony should have had that single come out! – Saying this Michael has an upset expression on his face."

I wish they would have released Smile. Sad that it was cancelled.
 

dam2040

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MJ fans should remember the fan clubs magazines like King magazine from MJNI were telling people in 1995/1996 Sony weren't doing their job. TDCAU was a top 30 record without any radio airplay as Sony refused to release it! Earth Song wasn't released either!

Delusional to suggest MJ was annoyed at Sony simply because they refused to promote Invincible.. it was happening for years before that!
 

BadTour87

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MJ fans should remember the fan clubs magazines like King magazine from MJNI were telling people in 1995/1996 Sony weren't doing their job. TDCAU was a top 30 record without any radio airplay as Sony refused to release it! Earth Song wasn't released either!

Delusional to suggest MJ was annoyed at Sony simply because they refused to promote Invincible.. it was happening for years before that!

Indeed, I looked at archives of the MJ Usenet newsgroup and from as far back as 1997 fans were discussing whether or not MJ should switch labels.
 

SmoothGangsta

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MJ fans should remember the fan clubs magazines like King magazine from MJNI were telling people in 1995/1996 Sony weren't doing their job. TDCAU was a top 30 record without any radio airplay as Sony refused to release it! Earth Song wasn't released either!

Delusional to suggest MJ was annoyed at Sony simply because they refused to promote Invincible.. it was happening for years before that!

Doesn't make the whole Invincible thing any less MJ's fault, though.
 

dam2040

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Doesn't make the whole Invincible thing any less MJ's fault, though.

What was MJs fault? He turned up to that stupid record signing like some third rate R&B artist on a debut album, didn't he? He persisted through and shot YRMW with the director insulting MJ and yet he still turned up and shot the short film, even though he had no interest in making a short film for it.

Not saying he was a saint, but their treatment of him during the time was less than stellar.
 

SmoothGangsta

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What was MJs fault? He turned up to that stupid record signing like some third rate R&B artist on a debut album, didn't he? He persisted through and shot YRMW with the director insulting MJ and yet he still turned up and shot the short film, even though he had no interest in making a short film for it.

Not saying he was a saint, but their treatment of him during the time was less than stellar.

Dude, you consistently ignore all the stuff I've said before because it fits your $ONY narrative and keep going on about the same stuff over and over again.
 

Robbsaber01

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Sony did treat MJ unfairly, regardless of opinion that is a fact. MJ wouldn't call out somebody unless he had a really good reason to. This interview proves Sonys lack of interest in promotion for Mjs work years before the invincible situation...
 

mj_frenzy

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It has been a known fact that MJ ceased to be an international priority for Sony right after the release of the ‘Blood On The Dance Floor’ album in 1997.

Yet, Sony invested an insane amount of money in his following album (‘Invincible’), which I think his fans have to appreciate that.

As for MJ saying in that interview that he is against the idea of his songs being officially remixed, he does not really tell us the whole truth here.

As a matter of fact, MJ himself (during his career) was always in favour of the idea his songs being remixed, mainly because of the commercial & chart benefits of that strategy.

The inclusion of the remixes on the ‘Thriller 25’ album which was totally his idea, or the inclusion of the ‘Who Is It’ IHS remix on ‘The Ultimate Collection’ which was totally his idea again, are just two examples.

Not to mention, of course, all those remixes that he himself decided to include over the years on the singles releases of his songs (before & after the release of the ‘Blood On The Dance Floor’ album in 1997).

In the case of the remixes on the singles releases of his songs, he even appeared enamored with many of those remixes.
 

Electro

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TDCAU was a top 30 record without any radio airplay as Sony refused to release it! Earth Song wasn't released either!

TDCAU was released as single globally. Earth Song just wasn't released in the USA.


About Smile:
After the huge success of the Wetten Dass performance of Earth Song (it resulted in MJs first number one single in Germany ever), there was a second performance at Wetten Dass planned for 8. November 1997, were Smile was to be performed.

Not sure why this was cancelled (probably MJ being too exhausted from the HIStory tour and being busy with his kids). In the city of Leipzig (where the show took place) there were already posters in the streets with Michaels name on them. And some stores had HIStory CDs with a "incl. Smile from Wetten Dass" sticker. I guess Sony would have had no interest in cancelling such a performance last minute.

Smile isn't exactly a chart-friendly song, so without the boost of another Wetten Dass performance, Sony (probably annoyed by Michael cancelling once again after they already lost millions in the HBO disaster) pulled the plug (to prevent a flop / avoid spending more money on promotion for the song).

I think there was also another TV performance planned in France, but I'm not sure anymore.
 
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8701girl

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WOW this is new news to me those evil sony grrrrrrrrr they make me angry
 

SmoothGangsta

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MJ and Sony decided that it would better to focus on other markets as he wasn't as popular in the US. I don't really get where this idea that Sony didn't want any of singles to succeed comes from. Fans really like to have a particular narrative when it comes to this stuff, same with MJ hating remixes even though a lot of them were his idea. Just because MJ said something doesn't always mean it was true.
 

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mj_frenzy;4234270 said:
Not to mention, of course, all those remixes that he himself decided to include over the years on the singles releases of his songs (before & after the release of the ‘Blood On The Dance Floor’ album in 1997).

I don't think he had much to do with that. That's more the job of the label.

I guess he had a hate/love with the whole remix topic. He hated them musically, but saw the benefit. At least with that type of remixes that turned every song into a cheesy standard 90s "House" version to fit the back then market of mainstream club dance music. (In the 90s that was an industry standard / one way for giving pop singles more exposure, same with Madonna, Janet etc.)

For example, if he was so happy with that cheesy remix of the song HIStory (released as the main track on the single), why didn't he perform it on tour, but instead played his original version.

The Thriller25 remixes are a whole different thing.
 
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BadTour87

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Not sure why this was cancelled (probably MJ being too exhausted from the HIStory tour and being busy with his kids). In the city of Leipzig (where the show took place) there were already posters in the streets. And some stores had HIStory CDs with a "incl. Smile from Wetten Dass" sticker. I guess Sony would have had no interest in cancelling such a performance last minute.

Smile isn't exactly a chart-friendly song, so without the boost of another Wetten Dass performance, Sony (probably annoyed by Michael cancelling once again after they already lost millions in the HBO disaster) pulled the plug (to prevent a flop / avoid spending more money on promotion for the song).

I think there was also another TV performance planned in France, but I'm not sure anymore.

I'm just gonna guess and say Sony thought HIStory had done all it could do and didn't see the need in any extra promotion for the project, or themselves didn't see Smile as a commercially successful song.

There's also the Is It Scary single that was planned for release on September 8, 1997 in Germany and other parts of Europe and September 29th in the UK. The accompanying video was apparently supposed to have expensive special effects but eventually got cancelled a month before release, with the single only going released in Japan.

I suppose this was Sony's way of saying "I think it's time to pull the plug" or maybe they even just favoured Smile over it (not likely considering that got cancelled anyways lol...)
 

dam2040

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SmoothGangsta;4234252 said:
Dude, you consistently ignore all the stuff I've said before because it fits your $ONY narrative and keep going on about the same stuff over and over again.

What I’ve said is a fact. You can choose to ignore it, or label it as a conspiracy narrative, but that doesn’t take away the fact it’s a fact.
 

Electro

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I'm just gonna guess and say Sony thought HIStory had done all it could do and didn't see the need in any extra promotion for the project, or themselves didn't see Smile as a commercially successful song.

There's also the Is It Scary single that was planned for release on September 8, 1997 in Germany and other parts of Europe and September 29th in the UK. The accompanying video was apparently supposed to have expensive special effects but eventually got cancelled a month before release, with the single only going released in Japan.

I suppose this was Sony's way of saying "I think it's time to pull the plug" or maybe they even just favoured Smile over it (not likely considering that got cancelled anyways lol...)


The Smile single would have happened. CD and Vinyl singles for commercial sale had already been manufactured. Everything was ready. But the TV performances were a key element to sell this(!) song. When these performances didn't happen, the single didn't happen. I don't see any fault in Sony for this one.

As far as I know / observed back then, Is It Scary was always only intended to be a promo/club-only (not commercially available) single. They did release several 12" vinyl promos of it (to DJs, radios, clubs) in Europe.

Just like the way it was intended with This Time Around for the urban music market in the USA. Just non-commercial promo CDs and vinyl to get the song (with the Biggie rap!) into the urban radio charts.

The info about the Is It Scary video sounds more like a fan rumour. It was part in Ghosts, so why another video.

And what's the source for the Is It Scary Japan single? I can't see it on discogs.com.
 
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MJTruth

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The Smile single would have happened. CD and Vinyl singles for commercial sale had already been manufactured. Everything was ready. But the TV performances were a key element to sell this(!) song. When these performances didn't happen, the single didn't happen. I don't see any fault in Sony for this one.

As far as I know / observed back then, Is It Scary was always only intended to be a promo/club-only (not commercially available) single. They did release several 12" vinyl promos of it (to DJs, radios, clubs) in Europe.

Just like the way it was intended with This Time Around for the urban music market in the USA. Just non-commercial promo CDs and vinyl to get the song (with the Biggie rap!) into the urban radio charts.

The info about the Is It Scary video sounds more like a fan rumour. It was part in Ghosts, so why another video.

And what's the source for the Is It Scary Japan single? I can't see it on discogs.com.


If the CD singles had already been produced then why the hell not release it? The money's already been spent. Might as well put them on sale, even if it is without a video or tv performance.
 

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If the CD singles had already been produced then why the hell not release it? The money's already been spent. Might as well put them on sale, even if it is without a video or tv performance.


I don't know.
But expectations for this song to do well in the charts (without the expected TV performance boost) were probably so low that it was cheaper to destroy them before they were shipped out. Or they were simply angry at Michael. Probably both.

Also don't forget this was before streaming and downloads played a role for chart positions. Back then these were all only made from physical Single-CD sales. And towards the end of a very long and massive promotion campaign for an album like HIStory, the last singles releases usually did worse anyway, because at that point many of the potential buyers already were in possession of the album CD that includes the song.

And putting things into thousands / millions of stores nationwide / worldwide isn't free. It takes lot's of paid personal for logistics and management. Shipping costs for tons of products etc. Also for every CD that leaves the factory, "mechanical rights" have to be paid by the label to music right societies (like ASCAP, GEMA etc). And ultimately if things don't sell, it means "retours" from shops to distributors/labels, refunds of mechanical rights, products that officially HAVE to be destroyed at that point (which costs extra) and lots more fun that has to be managed and paid.

That alone probably wasn't a problem for an industry giant like Sony. But in the given situation, with this specfic song, and that Michael cancelled a planned and promoted performance last minute once again, they probably didn't want to lose a single $ more.



Here is a page from Sony's german "Neuheiten" (new releases) magazin that went out to record shops monthly, with previews of what new releases would be available to order. It also includes infos what promotion acticivities there would be, so shops could estimate about how much demand there would be.

It lists the Wetten Dass Performance ("expect something big!"), POS (Point of Sale / Instore) campaign for event and single, Stickers on the HIStory album for event and single, Radio promotion. It was all centered around that performance.


smile.gif

https://img.picload.org/image/dcoiooao/smile.gif
 
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BadTour87

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The Smile single would have happened. CD and Vinyl singles for commercial sale had already been manufactured. Everything was ready. But the TV performances were a key element to sell this(!) song. When these performances didn't happen, the single didn't happen. I don't see any fault in Sony for this one.

As far as I know / observed back then, Is It Scary was always only intended to be a promo/club-only (not commercially available) single. They did release several 12" vinyl promos of it (to DJs, radios, clubs) in Europe.

Just like the way it was intended with This Time Around for the urban music market in the USA. Just non-commercial promo CDs and vinyl to get the song (with the Biggie rap!) into the urban radio charts.

The info about the Is It Scary video sounds more like a fan rumour. It was part in Ghosts, so why another video.

And what's the source for the Is It Scary Japan single? I can't see it on discogs.com.

All of the Is It Scary info comes from MJ fan sites such as MJIFC and HISteria at the time reporting information released from either Sony or MJ's people. I can't confirm whether or not the information itself is from where the sites say they are, but I see no reason for them to lie.

Here's the specific pages I got the info from:
http://web.archive.org/web/19970802192739/http://www.fred.net:80/mjj/news.html
http://web.archive.org/web/19980703125454/http://www.histeria.com:80/news/31jul30sep97.html
 

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All of the Is It Scary info comes from MJ fan sites such as MJIFC and HISteria at the time reporting information released from either Sony or MJ's people. I can't confirm whether or not the information itself is from where the sites say they are, but I see no reason for them to lie.

Here's the specific pages I got the info from:
http://web.archive.org/web/19970802192739/http://www.fred.net:80/mjj/news.html
http://web.archive.org/web/19980703125454/http://www.histeria.com:80/news/31jul30sep97.html


Thanks. News source for this seems to have been Captain EO Productions which were the french people behind the Black & White and HIStory magazines (who did the interview that this thread is about).


7/28 : The next European single, Is It Scary, will have an accompanying video with a big budget and special effects. Other video details are not available as of yet.

I first thought they mixed it up with Ghosts. But the updated Ghosts shortfilm (that had the song Is It Scary edited in) was premiered on German TV on May 31st, 1997. So at the time of that news post (July 28th, 1997), they must have known about it.

Another possibility to explain this is that they heard this from someone at Sony, and (since no more details were given) didn't realize that this was indeed about Ghosts.

OR the Is It Scary video info was something they heard directly from Michael, who of course always had big plans and wishes for videos for all songs.

09Aug 97
"Is It Scary" the next single to be released from "Blood on the Dance Floor" is scheduled to be released September 8th in Germany and other parts of Europe, and on September 29th in the UK. Asian, American and African dates for the single have not been released as of yet.
The accompanying music video is scheduled for late September.

Is It Scary never showed up in that "Neuheiten" Sony mag which usually was released a month early.

23 Aug 97
News from Captain Eo: ... The single, Is It Scary, will now have a limited release in just a few countries (Holland, Spain, possibly the UK), and will have no accompanying video. The next worldwide single will be Smile, which is to be released in mid-November. The video for Smile will be his upcoming Wetten Das performance of the song on November 8th.

(One more reason to cancel Smile, no performance = no video.)

04 Sep 97
[Captain Eo] Is It Scary will now only be released as a single in Japan, and nowhere else. The next worldwide single will still be Smile, with a likelymid-November release.

This is the last Is It Scary news bit and at that point it was still only planned.
I'm pretty sure this never happened in the end. If promo-only or commercially released Japanese CDs would exist they would be on discogs.com.


But interesting infos anyway.

It's definitly a shame that Is It Scary didn't get more exposure. It's the best song on the whole BOTDF album i think.
 
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BadTour87

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On the subject of planned-but-unreleased HIStory singles, according to the official HIStory magazine Money was supposed to be released in early 1996. This would've been followed by Stranger In Moscow and "either They Don't Care About Us or Tabloid Junkie".

Sony also stated in 1995 they were planning to release nine singles from HIStory. Just imagine how long the HIStory era would've been dragged out to if they released all of this and then BOTDF. :laughing:
 

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^ since he didnt release a full album from 1995 to 2001 I wouldn't have minded if they promoted history until let's say 1999.. a couple more singles and videos.. I would not have objected. :)
 

MoeJack

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What I don't get is..why was Sony so reluctant to promote/release MJ's singles? Seems odd. Even if they weren't on great terms, wouldn't Sony stand to benefit by promoting their artist's work?
 

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I wished released tabloid junkie that was my fave song on the album
 

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Electro;4234283 said:
For example, if he was so happy with that cheesy remix of the song HIStory (released as the main track on the single), why didn't he perform it on tour, but instead played his original version.

Choosing to perform on those concerts the remix version of a song instead of the original one, is something that sounds quite illogical.

Electro;4234271 said:
About Smile:
After the huge success of the Wetten Dass performance of Earth Song (it resulted in MJs first number one single in Germany ever), there was a second performance at Wetten Dass planned for 8. November 1997, were Smile was to be performed.

Not sure why this was cancelled (probably MJ being too exhausted from the HIStory tour and being busy with his kids). In the city of Leipzig (where the show took place) there were already posters in the streets with Michaels name on them. And some stores had HIStory CDs with a "incl. Smile from Wetten Dass" sticker. I guess Sony would have had no interest in cancelling such a performance last minute.

Smile isn't exactly a chart-friendly song, so without the boost of another Wetten Dass performance, Sony (probably annoyed by Michael cancelling once again after they already lost millions in the HBO disaster) pulled the plug (to prevent a flop / avoid spending more money on promotion for the song).

I think there was also another TV performance planned in France, but I'm not sure anymore.

BadTour87;4234288 said:
I'm just gonna guess and say Sony thought HIStory had done all it could do and didn't see the need in any extra promotion for the project, or themselves didn't see Smile as a commercially successful song.

Electro;4234291 said:
The Smile single would have happened. CD and Vinyl singles for commercial sale had already been manufactured. Everything was ready. But the TV performances were a key element to sell this(!) song. When these performances didn't happen, the single didn't happen. I don't see any fault in Sony for this one.

MJTruth;4234299 said:
If the CD singles had already been produced then why the hell not release it? The money's already been spent. Might as well put them on sale, even if it is without a video or tv performance.

Electro;4234305 said:
I don't know.
But expectations for this song to do well in the charts (without the expected TV performance boost) were probably so low that it was cheaper to destroy them before they were shipped out. Or they were simply angry at Michael. Probably both.

The cancellation of the ‘Smile’ TV live performances in 1997 (such as, at Wetten Dass in November) had nothing to do with MJ’s exhaustion from the HIStory Tour, or because he was busy with his kids, or even because Sony did not see the song as a commercially successful song.

In actuality, the cancellation of the shooting of the ‘Smile’ music video (which was a result of conflicts between MJ & Charlie Chaplin’s Estate) is solely to blame for the cancellation of those later TV live performances of that song.

MJ was about to play Tramp’s character in that video, but the Charlie Chaplin’s Estate did not want that character to get a new, different interpretation.

So, Charlie Chaplin’s Estate did not allow the making of that video.

With no music video at all for ‘Smile’, all the promotion for that song (like single release, TV live performances, etc) would be absolutely meaningless, hence the cancellation of the song’s promotion.
 

SmoothCriminal1995

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Thanks MJFrenzy that's all new info that's news to me.
It's interesting to see that the Charlie Chaplin estate was against, that's fair enough I'm sure they have their reasons
 

8701girl

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mj_frenzy;4234331 said:
Choosing to perform on those concerts the remix version of a song instead of the original one, is something that sounds quite illogical.











The cancellation of the ‘Smile’ TV live performances in 1997 (such as, at Wetten Dass in November) had nothing to do with MJ’s exhaustion from the HIStory Tour, or because he was busy with his kids, or even because Sony did not see the song as a commercially successful song.

In actuality, the cancellation of the shooting of the ‘Smile’ music video (which was a result of conflicts between MJ & Charlie Chaplin’s Estate) is solely to blame for the cancellation of those later TV live performances of that song.

MJ was about to play Tramp’s character in that video, but the Charlie Chaplin’s Estate did not want that character to get a new, different interpretation.

So, Charlie Chaplin’s Estate did not allow the making of that video.

With no music video at all for ‘Smile’, all the promotion for that song (like single release, TV live performances, etc) would be absolutely meaningless, hence the cancellation of the song’s promotion.




wow didnt even think bout charlie chaplins estate being involved like that it never crossed my mind thanks for that info
 

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mj_frenzy;4234331 said:
Choosing to perform on those concerts the remix version of a song instead of the original one, is something that sounds quite illogical.

The cancellation of the ‘Smile’ TV live performances in 1997 (such as, at Wetten Dass in November) had nothing to do with MJ’s exhaustion from the HIStory Tour, or because he was busy with his kids, or even because Sony did not see the song as a commercially successful song.

In actuality, the cancellation of the shooting of the ‘Smile’ music video (which was a result of conflicts between MJ & Charlie Chaplin’s Estate) is solely to blame for the cancellation of those later TV live performances of that song.

MJ was about to play Tramp’s character in that video, but the Charlie Chaplin’s Estate did not want that character to get a new, different interpretation.

So, Charlie Chaplin’s Estate did not allow the making of that video.

With no music video at all for ‘Smile’, all the promotion for that song (like single release, TV live performances, etc) would be absolutely meaningless, hence the cancellation of the song’s promotion.



Interesting, thanks. What's the source for this?

It's strange though that the Wetten Dass performance was cancelled only a day or two before the TV show took place. (I saw the posters in the streets of Leipzig myself. I think they were black and just had in big white letters written MICHAEL JACKSON and AEROSMITH below + infos.

If the single release was planned for the following Monday, one would think that things concerning the video were already sorted (at least on a basic level of having such rights cleared).
 
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