Reason for poor USA single chart performance of Dangerous & HIStory singles?

JichaelMackson

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Apart from the first 2 tracks of each album the follow up singles performed mostly very average. For example "heal the world" or "TDCAU". I find this surprising as with songs were smash hits all over Europe. What could be a possible explanation for it? Were the sales too low, didn't they receive airplay?

Another thing that baffles me is the poor performances for "Who is it" all over the world. Especially "who is it" I read there was demand for it after the Oprah singing snippet yet it didn't show in the charts.
If you compare his 80s single releases they almost all hit top 10 or even top 5.

Black or White, Remember the Time and You Are Not Alone are basically his only smash hits in the USA during the 90s. Will you be there and in the closet also performed well but they seem to be forgotten, they are never ever on the radio these days. As for scream despite top 5s all over the world it disappeared in no time, if this was a 3rd or 4th single it perhaps wouldn't even have charted at all.

So anyone with knowledge about this?
 

Eric

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I think for certain singles, the chart position was lower in the USA because some singles didn't get a physical release. For example, Earth Song wasn't released as a CD single but the video was number 1 on the MTV countdown. Apparently they didn't release a CD single in order to boost the sales of the HIStory album.
 

AlwaysThere

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For one thing, commercial decline is an inevitability for any successful recording artist. Prince, Madonna, Bruce Springsteen, and many others went from dominating the charts to barely making a splash. This seemed to hit Michael harder than most simply because of how astronomically successful he was at his peak; he ruled the 1980s and was breaking records left and right; it was practically impossible for him to get any bigger. Dangerous was the beginning of a gradual decline.

For another thing, Michael's overseas popularity was always remarkably consistent. Take Europe for example -- of the 20 singles MJ released between 1991 and 2001, twelve were top five hits, and only four failed to reach the top ten. (Ever wonder why This Is It was set in London?) After Bad became Michael's first album to sell 2/3rds of its copies overseas, Epic/Sony emphasized overseas marketing, which is why you'd see the elaborate HIStory statues, physical CD singles, and stadium shows everywhere but the United States.

There are many other factors at play -- the child molestation allegations, the sharp shift in tone/lyrical content on HIStory, the increasing fascination towards Michael's personal life -- but these two are the predominant ones in my eyes.
 

DuranDuran

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I live in the USA. I don't think some of the songs got much radio airplay and others were not released as singles. To this day I've never heard Earth Song or They Don't Care About Us on any radio station. Jam was a big R&B hit and still occasionally gets airplay on the local Adult R&B station.

During that time, Billboard was still under their old system in which if there wasn't a physical single it didn't chart. The B-side to a single could chart, but not an album track. Even if the album track got radio airplay. Isn't She Lovely by Stevie Wonder was never a single in the US and it didn't chart. Stevie did not want the song to be edited for a 45 and it was too long for to fit on a single. Technically it could fit, but the sound quality would not be that good. But it did get a lot of radio airplay and is one of Stevie's most known songs.
 

NatureCriminal7896

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There are many other factors at play -- the child molestation allegations, the sharp shift in tone/lyrical content on HIStory, the increasing fascination towards Michael's personal life -- but these two are the predominant ones in my eyes.

I agree with this.
 

mj_frenzy

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From his ‘Dangerous’ album onwards, Michael Jackson wanted to focus on international markets, rather than on his home country.

So, he decided not to tour in USA at the time (for the ‘Dangerous’ and the ‘HIStory’ album) but outside USA, despite knowing that this could also negatively affect the USA chart success of his singles.

Also, there is another thing: after the allegations (August 1993), SONY Music stronly believed that Michael Jackson’s image was harming the overall image of the SONY company in USA.

For that reason, SONY Music’s top executives did not want to invest a lot of money (in USA) in Michael Jackson, contrary to what they were doing for him there before the allegations.

So, his lower USA chart success of many of his singles at that time there was a result of these factors.

One very characteristic exception to this is the phenomenal chart success of the ‘You Are Not Alone’ single in USA.

That particular song had exactly the sound that USA listeners are so familiar with and also they like to listen on the radios, which to a large extent explains the song’s chart success there.

But the interesting thing about ‘You Are Not Alone’ is that Michael Jackson did not originally want to record it, let alone release it as a single.

R. Kelly had a strong feeling that he should record it, and he eventually persuaded him to do that.
 

Doggone

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They Don’t Care About Us got boycotted because the jews, once again, got offended by the words “kick me, **** me” and “jew me, sue me”. Michael was accused of anti semitism. Are you for real? When the jews started to complain, radio stations gave in and started to boycott the song.

I don’t understand why Sony didn’t release some songs as a CD single. Earth Song was going to be #1 in the USA 100000%

It’s a shame that especially the Dangerous album only had 1 #1 song. Remember the Time, Who Is It, Will You Be There and In The Closet should have been #1. They should have released Give In To Me in the States as well.

Sony made a lot of bad choices. Michael could have topped the charts once again...

I wonder if Michae had more freedom at Epic than at Sony?
 

elusive moonwalker

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American chart system was more complicted than the basic standard of many euro markets back then. Ie been based on single sales and nothing else. Usa was based on airplay aswell. Mj struggled to get alot of airplay sometimes because the radio stations are so seperate interms of genre and which did mj fit. You also had the bias against him and also the corruption that went on back then with stations been paid to play certain artists by their labels

Also as said above no physically releases made it hard. History was a prime example of that and sonys games
 

Piek

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Michael did something incredible with the BAD album... so many hit singles... the album is a greatest hits album on its own. But don't forget that's really unique. You can't find a Beatles album with that many hits. As fans, we are a bit spoiled by that experience... we expected him to do that time and again. And may be Michael himself expected that too. But BAD was a unique moment in time. It wouldn't be fair to expect that to happen with every album...

Some songs age well, by the way. They Don't Care About Us wasn't a massive hit when it was released – but it's a universally known protest song now!
 

DuranDuran

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You can't find a Beatles album with that many hits.
The Beatles didn't usually release songs from their albums as singles. They recorded songs exclusively for singles. Although in the USA, songs from albums were singles because the US albums were different than the ones released in other countries, which used the original British versions of the albums.

During the 1960s and before, it was impossible to have a lot of singles from an album. It was common for acts to release 2 albums a year. In some cases, even 3 or 4 albums a year. Most albums only had 1 or 2 singles released, and then another album came out 5 or 6 months later. It was also common to release non-album singles (like The Beatles did). Some smaller labels only released singles and didn't release albums at all. The record labels didn't milk albums like they did later, starting in the mid-1970s. The 1970s is really when the concept of blockbuster albums came about, which is the same time period the blockbuster movie really began with Jaws & Star Wars.
 

ChrisC

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American chart system was more complicted than the basic standard of many euro markets back then. Ie been based on single sales and nothing else. Usa was based on airplay aswell. Mj struggled to get alot of airplay sometimes because the radio stations are so seperate interms of genre and which did mj fit.

Exactly. Michael's music wasn't radio-friendly pop in the 90s. He was branching out, broadening as an artist. The USA also developed quite differently from the European markets in terms of the sounds that were popular. Grunge came in, then the likes of Matchbox Twenty and Hootie and the Blowfish, hip-hop/rap then all the boyband Max Martin stuff (ironically a European songwriter haha). The USA was so separate from the rest of the world as the 90s progressed to the point that I think Billboard ran an article noting that not one British artist had managed to crack the Hot 100 in around 10 years (or at least not the upper echelons, my memory struggles). The drought was that strong. American music continued to export well, but imports were struggling and anything that didn't match those dominant sounds couldn't be programmed on those clearly defined radio stations, and without airplay in the days when physical singles became rare in US record stores resulted in MJ having a massive uphill battle.

You had to make music designed to fit the criteria set by the stations or just coincidentally be making that style of music anyway. HAD he wanted to focus on the American market, he would have had far more hits, but his own artistry was far more important to him. Of course Michael's critics paint it as constantly chasing commercial success and becoming increasingly alienated, repeating ideas and being rejected by the market - but of course that's a different discussion.

Edit: some of the music on HIStory would have struggled to find a place on UK radio too, were it not for the wealth of headliner DJs remixing the singles. I don't think I ever heard the LP versions of TDCAU or SIM on UK radio while SIM became a massive hit on the dance charts here thanks to Todd Terry and Basement Boys. Even Earth Song, while it became Michael's biggest selling single ever in the UK was frequently played on UK radio with the Hani remix instead. The dance music scene in Europe definitely kept HIStory afloat for the Sony marketing team over here. A scene that wasn't enjoying the same exposure in America.
 
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PoP

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I still strongly believe it’s a conspiracy that Michael didn’t get #1 on U.S. charts for both “Dangerous” and “HIStory”, because these idiots were eating up lies and controversies around Michael. Major conspiracy!
 

DuranDuran

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grunge

^^Dangerous (the album) did make it to #1 in the USA. That's probably why a big deal was made about Nirvana's Nevermind taking over its spot. What they don't mention is that Garth Brooks knocked Nirvana off #1 the next week. :rofl: Garth eventually wound up having 7 albums go diamond, the only act to do so. Grunge wasn't as popular at the time as it was made to be in the rock press later on. Grunge was mainly popular for around 2 years. The popularity of New Jack Swing and glam metal lasted longer than that. The way grunge was written about in the rock press, it was like it killed the popularity of everything else in the mainstream Top 40. That was not true.
 

Electro

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Re: grunge

^^Dangerous (the album) did make it to #1 in the USA. That's probably why a big deal was made about Nirvana's Nevermind taking over its spot. What they don't mention is that Garth Brooks knocked Nirvana off #1 the next week. :rofl: Garth eventually wound up having 7 albums go diamond, the only act to do so. Grunge wasn't as popular at the time as it was made to be in the rock press later on. Grunge was mainly popular for around 2 years. The popularity of New Jack Swing and glam metal lasted longer than that. The way grunge was written about in the rock press, it was like it killed the popularity of everything else in the mainstream Top 40. That was not true.

Just wondering...
How many weeks did Dangerous stay at #1 in the US?
And was that around the time of its release or later?
 

Nite Line

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Some reasons that I could think of:

1) MJ’s age. The music industry is a young artists industry. Most artists start to decline in terms of chart performances once they reach their early/mid 30s. Artists like Janet Jackson, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Prince etc all experienced this age related decline and MJ was no different.

2) The controversies surrounding MJ. From all the controversies such as MJ’s changing skin colour, plastic surgeries, elephant bones, molestation allegations, and most importantly, the biased anti MJ media aiming to destroy MJ. That definitely played a part in MJ’s lack of success on the singles market in the US.

3) MJ’s focus shifted to the international market. MJ stop touring in America after the Bad tour and focused entirely on the international market. I definitely feel that if MJ toured the US during Dangerous and History tours, he would have done better on the US single charts. There is no way MJ has 5 number 1 hits from the Bad album, if he doesn’t tour the US during the Bad tour.

4) MJ’s music wasn’t that commercial in the US anymore. 90s was the decade of grunge rock bands like Nirvana and then the rise of Hip Hop music with artists such as Tupac and Biggie Smalls. The radios didn’t play MJ’s music that often.

I think regardless of the above mentioned reasons, MJ has had a phenomenal music career in the US and internationally from 1990 onwards.
 

DuranDuran

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Nite Line;4282780 said:
1) MJ’s age. The music industry is a young artists industry.
Top 40 radio is geared towards young acts, not the music industry itself. There's plenty of older artists that are signed to labels and still release records like Johnny Mathis, Paul McCartney, Tony Bennett, etc. The tours of classic rock artists such as U2, Rolling Stones, Bon Jovi, Eagles, etc make more money than a lot of young currently popular artists.

Nite Line;4282780 said:
1) MJ’s music wasn’t that commercial in the US anymore. 90s was the decade of grunge rock bands like Nirvana and then the rise of Hip Hop music with artists such as Tupac and Biggie Smalls.
People tend to overestimate the reach of grunge. While grunge was hot, Kenny G was still a big seller in the US. Kenny's smooth jazz music is nowhere near grunge or hip hop. The albums of country acts like Shania Twain, Garth Brooks, and even Billy Ray Cyrus sold more than most of the grunge bands. Dance music acts like Ace Of Base, 2 Unlimited, Crystal Waters, & Cathy Dennis were popular then too. So was Sade, Alanis Morrisette, & Celine Dion. Grunge's mainstream popularity lasted about 2 years and then Nu Metal took its place in the late 1990s. Nu metal was rock music with hip hop elements to it (KORN, Limp Bizkit).
[video=youtube;TBDWomgRgWU]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TBDWomgRgWU[/video]
 

Whitty Hutton

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Most of those singles simply were not as good as the ones from Thriller and Bad, and there were a lot of younger artists around in the 90's that were making music that appealed more to the youth that were buying music. And 30-something physically altered MJ was not as cool for guys and cute to girls as 20-something closer to natural MJ
 

travis3000

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The funny thing is, even though They Don't Care About Us was basically non existent on the US charts back when it was released..... on YouTube its since become a classic MJ song. In fact They Don't Care About Us with 722 MILLION views is the 3rd biggest MJ song on Youtube. Only Billie Jean and Thriller have more views.
 

Dani

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This is a really interesting thread.

I'm thinking about what could be the reason behind that Give in to me hasn't been released in the US. I'm 100% sure it would be a big hit, Give in to me is a masterpiece! I'm really curious if anybody has information about this.

The premiere of the short film was in the Oprah interview on 10th February 1993, the single released on 15th (source: wikipedia) everywhere except US.

I remember something that after the brilliant Who is it acapella performance in the interview Sony decided to release Who is it instead Give in to me, but it was released only on 29th March (source: wikipedia), more than 1 month after the interview.

Here is the Who is it chart run on Billboard top 100 https://www.billboard.com/charts/hot-100
10/04/1993 #44 - hot shot debut
17/04/1993 #33 - biggest airplay gain
24/04/1993 #25
01/05/1993 #18
08/05/1993 #15
15/05/1993 #14
22/05/1993 #14
29/05/1993 #18
05/06/1993 #21
12/06/1993 #32
19/06/1993 #39
26/06/1993 #50
03/07/1993 #61
10/07/1993 #70
17/07/1993 #72
24/07/1993 #81
31/07/1993 #91
07/08/1993 #99

Despite it was not a top 10 hit on Billboard top 100, Who is it was #1 on Billboard Hot Dance Club Play and Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles sales chart and #6 on Hot R&B Singles chart (source: wikipedia)

Just a side note: at that time Heal the world was on the Billboard top 100, despite of the Superbowl it was not a hit in the US, there is a gain after the Superbowl and the interview which caused by the airplay gain:

Here is the chart run from https://www.billboard.com/charts/hot-100


12/12/1992 #74 - hot shot debut
19/12/1992 #62
26/12/1992 #54
02/01/1993 #54
09/01/1993 #54
16/01/1993 #54
23/01/1993 #53
30/01/1993 #52
06/02/1993 #56
13/02/1993 #65
20/02/1993 #54
27/02/1993 #36 - biggest airplay gain
06/03/1993 #34
13/03/1993 #28
20/03/1993 #27
27/03/1993 #29
03/04/1993 #32
10/04/1993 #35
17/04/1993 #39
24/04/1993 #42
 

Nite Line

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Top 40 radio is geared towards young acts, not the music industry itself. There's plenty of older artists that are signed to labels and still release records like Johnny Mathis, Paul McCartney, Tony Bennett, etc. The tours of classic rock artists such as U2, Rolling Stones, Bon Jovi, Eagles, etc make more money than a lot of young currently popular artists.


People tend to overestimate the reach of grunge. While grunge was hot, Kenny G was still a big seller in the US. Kenny's smooth jazz music is nowhere near grunge or hip hop. The albums of country acts like Shania Twain, Garth Brooks, and even Billy Ray Cyrus sold more than most of the grunge bands. Dance music acts like Ace Of Base, 2 Unlimited, Crystal Waters, & Cathy Dennis were popular then too. So was Sade, Alanis Morrisette, & Celine Dion. Grunge's mainstream popularity lasted about 2 years and then Nu Metal took its place in the late 1990s. Nu metal was rock music with hip hop elements to it (KORN, Limp Bizkit).

Nothing you said disproved any of my points as to why MJ's 90s singles in the US didn't do so well as his 80s singles.

I honestly don't know what the point of your post was. You have a really annoying habit of "correcting" everyone and acting like some bastion of knowledge.
 

DuranDuran

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I honestly don't know what the point of your post was.
I responded to your comment about Mike not being as commercial because of grunge & hip hop. Those were not the only genres that were popular in the USA during the 1990s and wasn't the only music played on Top 40 radio. Grunge did not make everything else obsolete like the rock press made it sound. If Nirvana & grunge was that powerful on the general public, then Kenny G & Garth Brooks would not have been a thing. As far as age goes, Madonna & the members of U2 were around the same age as Mike and still got Top 40 radio airplay at the time. Those were the only parts of your post that I commented on.
 

DuranDuran

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It's really annoying...
It's not that serious. You volunteer to be annoyed since no one is forcing you to read what I post.
tumblr_oa5rikxc7G1vp26y0o5_250.gifv
 

dam2040

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For one thing, commercial decline is an inevitability for any successful recording artist. Prince, Madonna, Bruce Springsteen, and many others went from dominating the charts to barely making a splash. This seemed to hit Michael harder than most simply because of how astronomically successful he was at his peak; he ruled the 1980s and was breaking records left and right; it was practically impossible for him to get any bigger. Dangerous was the beginning of a gradual decline.

For another thing, Michael's overseas popularity was always remarkably consistent. Take Europe for example -- of the 20 singles MJ released between 1991 and 2001, twelve were top five hits, and only four failed to reach the top ten. (Ever wonder why This Is It was set in London?) After Bad became Michael's first album to sell 2/3rds of its copies overseas, Epic/Sony emphasized overseas marketing, which is why you'd see the elaborate HIStory statues, physical CD singles, and stadium shows everywhere but the United States.

There are many other factors at play -- the child molestation allegations, the sharp shift in tone/lyrical content on HIStory, the increasing fascination towards Michael's personal life -- but these two are the predominant ones in my eyes.

MJ fan clubs in 90s were furious with Sony for not doing their job and promoting MJ. MJ had great success considering their lack of efforts.
 
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