Review Summary: His final stand.
When one thinks about Michael Jackson, it might take them a second to remember that before all the scandals and tragedies, and Invincible, he actually made good music a long time ago. Dangerous was released in 1991, and is generally considered the last true great Michael Jackson record, and depending on the listeners preferred musical genre, it’s considered by quite a few as his best album.
After the huge success of Thriller and Bad, Jackson had the damn near impossible task of trying to maintain the close to perfect quality. In the beginning of the 90s, Jackson was still loved through out the world, but there was no denying that his popularity had diminished a bit since the 80s. The rise of Nirvana, and the more serious and darker tone of the 90s musical scene, meant Jackson had to adapt with the times or risk getting seen as a nostalgia act. Jackson decided to incorporate a heavier more rock sound, and he also sings at a lower register on the majority of the songs, compared to his more upbeat and rhythmic music of his previous albums.
‘Jam’ and ‘Why You Wanna Trip on Me’ open the album and capture the feel of the album pretty darn well. The former mixes rock, funk and dance beats quite well, and helps ease the listener into his new sound. Jackson gives a solid vocal performance, and the lyrics are very good and socially motivated. The latter starts off with a brilliant guitar intro before a heavy but slow electronic beat come sin. The chorus is aggressive and driven, but at 5:24 the song drags a bit at times.
‘In The Closet’ and ‘Remember the Time’ are more typical sounding Michael Jackson R&B songs. The former is about keeping a relationship between lovers a secret. The song has a new jack influence and is pretty upbeat. The latter is one of the better know tracks from the album, and is also influenced by the new jack movement, and has heavy usage of guitar and piano. As expected the song also has a brilliant chorus to dance to.
‘Black or White’ is the definitive track from this album, perfectly combining rap, dance and hard rock. An intro played by Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash, leads into a heavy and fast dance beat and a brilliant socially conscious chorus. ‘Who is It?’ is another brilliant track, with its mid tempo beat and depressive lyrics concerning betrayal. Jackson in a low whisper for most of the track, it’s subtle and quiet but also gut wrenching. He provides a certain vulnerability that most singers can’t muster to save their lived.
‘Heal the World’ is the typical ‘Save the World’ type track. It’s not bad, with the piano being particularly delightful, but the lyrics are excessively preachy, and Jackson’s vocal performance comes off a bit thin. ‘Will You be There’ is an epic, with the use of an orchestra, who perform a snippet of Bethoven’s ninth symphony, and also an epic multi-layered chorus that never seems to end.
‘Give in to Me’ is a pure hard rock song, with a good performance by Slash. A great solo, and some good riffs accompany a powerful vocal performance by Jackson. The chorus is one of his best, although the last three minutes of the song is practically the chorus repeated over and over again, so it gets a bit old by the end of the song.
Dangerous is a great album, filled with brilliant tracks. Some songs like ‘She Drives me Wild’ and ‘Can’t let Her Get Away’ are not particularly amazing, but they came in between some real classics. It’s become too easy to forget that once a long time ago Michael Jackson wrote, and I’m sure inspired, tons of great songs. The sex scandals and the controversy surrounding his death, now already three years ago have unfortunately overshadowed what was once a brilliant career. As the onslaught of postmortem CDs start to bombard the still mourning fans, it is important to remember that once a long time ago, Michael Jackson was more than just a South Park gag.