Showing posts with label dangerous. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dangerous. Show all posts

Friday, 26 June 2009

Generation Thriller

Thursday night witnessed an unprecedented sociological experience. A collective grief shared on social networking site Twitter!

During an advert break I checked Twitter, on my iPod touch, and noticed tweets alluding to Michael Jackson's admission into hospital. Startled, I switched over to various mainstream news networks to confirm the rumour... As the news, and tweets, escalated, I resigned myself to the fact that he was dead and even tweeted to the affect prior to any official confirmation! Followers replied contrary in the hope that it couldn't be true and, obviously, I wanted them to be right.

Alas. Michael Jackson died after suffering a cardiac arrest and slipping into a coma. His death eerily echoing my mum's, only two years ago, this month. I didn't sleep...

Michael Jackson was a childhood hero. Part of an illustrious pantheon that included fictional characters Doctor Who, Luke Skywalker, Kermit and Batman! Jackson, himself, embraced science fiction and fantasy in ground breaking videos such as "Can You Feel It", Disney's "Captain EO" and the prophetically titled "Thriller".

I've no intention of addressing any of the speculation surrounding his personal life. This is a tribute to a cultural phenomenon who, alongside American film composer John Williams, engendered a life long love of music and how it transforms the emotion of the moving image.

Before I heard "Don't Stop Till You Get Enough", at the age of 7, I would only listen, willingly, to classical music and orchestral film soundtracks. I'm sure MJ's enthusiastic reference to the Force in Star Wars, helped too.

Equal parts bizarre and poignant that the last time I should see Michael Jackson would be not at Wembley Stadium or the upcoming O2 Arena residency, instead it was Exeter! He was, briefly, an honourary director of the Grecians and I can still recall his clarion call to hold hands with the person next to you! This was in keeping with concert performances.

More myth than man. Michael Jackson was an enigma force. Combining consummately crafted songs and stellar, gravity-defying, dance moves, his concerts remain vivid and surreal experiences by which I judge all live performances. Indelible memories as my best friend tweeted, that I'll cherish forever. Thank you Moonwalker. That's all I'm going to say...

In death Michael Jackson proved, as always, unstoppable and an achiever of the impossible. RIP 'MJ' and say hello to my mum. She'll finally get to see you dance.

I'll sign off this post, in the manner that I did on my Twitter stream, with Michael Jackson's maxim: "Don't Stop Till You Get Enough".

You should follow me on twitter here.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Britney's Circus is Coming to Town

Billed as one of the all-time comeback pop albums, and accorded the pomp and circumstance of Michael Jackson's Dangerous (1991), Britney's Circus, the follow-up to last year's stunning Blackout (2007), comes to town this upcoming holiday season.

The complete track listing:

1. "Womanizer"
2. "Circus"
3. "Out from Under"
4. "Kill the Lights"
5. "Shattered Glass"
6. "If U Seek Amy"
7. "Unusual You"
8. "Blur"
9. "Mmm Papi"
10. "Mannequin"
11. "Lace and Leather"
12. "My Baby"
Bonus track
13. "Radar"
Additional bonus tracks for international release
14. "Rock Me In"
15. "Phonography"

"Womanizer" was one of the first music videos I downloaded, from iTunes, onto my iPod touch 32GB! The single failed to impress me upon first listen! However, the promo video changed that and "Womanizer" is a contender for pop single of the year along with The Saturdays' "Up" and Girls Aloud's "Promise"!

Zomba Label Group has revealed that Circus' title track will be the next single released to whet your appetite for the main event. I'll be reviewing the album soon.

Thursday, 9 August 2007

Michael Jackson's Sonic 3 Album

How on Earth did this slip past my radar? Back in the late '80s Michael Jackson signed an endorsement deal with Sega America, which produced the arcade and Mega Drive smash hit Moonwalker (1990). A fact that I've covered in a previous post.

With the success of Sonic The Hedgehog (1991), Sega's blue mascot, reaching its zenith with the release of Sonic The Hedgehog 2 (1992) (an essential Virtual Console purchase), Michael Jackson approached the Sega Technical Institute (STI), at one time an elite organisation within Sega America that developed acclaimed titles such as Kid Chameleon and Comix Zone, about scoring the soundtrack for the upcoming Sonic 3 (1994)!

Purportedly the completed score, composed, arranged and performed by Michael Jackson and the musicians who worked on the Dangerous (1991) recording sessions, was axed, at a very late stage of Sonic 3's development, due to the first public allegations of child molestation against the singer in 1993.

However, there's compelling evidence that some, if not all, of Michael Jackson's arrangements remained in the original release of Sonic 3 on the Mega Drive! Certainly the 'Dangerous sound' is unmistakeable and there's a hint of future projects HIStory (1995) and HIStory In The Mix (1997). It is worth noting that whilst Michael Jackson's official involvement was removed from all publicity and in-game end credits, his album session musicians, predominantly keyboard programmers, provided the final Sonic 3 score.

Bobby Brooks - engineer for Michael Jackson. Sequenced synthesizers and drums on Blood on the Dance Floor and mixed HIStory.

Darryl Ross
- vague, ill-defined resume credit: "Darryl Ross is an accomplished producer, musician, songwriter, arranger and vocalist. Artists he worked with are Michael Jackson...".

Geoff Grace
- arranger for Michael Jackson. Credited for arranging the music for Jackson's Dangerous tour.

Brad Buxer
- performed arranging, keyboards, sequencing and more for Blood on the Dance Floor and Invincible.

Doug Grigsby
- unknown credit on HIStory.

Of all Michael Jackson's keyboard virtuosos, Greg Phillinganes is notable by his absence! He has toured with Jackson and was a session keyboardist on his Sony solo albums.

Latterly Michael Jackson makes a cameo appearance in both Sega's Space Channel 5 and Ready 2 Rumble Boxing: Round 2.

Friday, 21 April 2006

The Frog Prince

During yesterday's train journey (upgraded to First Class for free) to London Waterloo, I read, with great interest, that Michael Jackson is to begin work on his comeback album (wasn't that Invincible?) with Crazy Frog producer Guy Holmes (Gut Records)!

This news shouldn't honor a response. However, sans a new Sony deal, MJ, once the quintessential performer, can only 'afford' to compromise! So, there'll be no block booking studios, such as the legendary Ocean Way, for weeks at a time a la the Dangerous recording sessions. There's light at the end of the tunnel; it's amazing what one can do with a computer these days and low cost software!

Presumably any settlement with Sony would include all unreleased recordings made whilst under contract to Epic. I'd love to see Sony release an album solely from this ground-breaking era.

Monday, 13 June 2005

Smooth Criminal

Watching Michael Jackson Moonwalk to freedom from the Santa Maria courtroom gave me pause to reflect on this once enigmatic, and revered, pop icon. Where does he go from here?

Second acts are rare and Michael Jackson's altered popular music forever with the release of Thriller (1982). Motown 25: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow (1983) was a once in a lifetime moment and one Michael Jackson is unlikely to reprise. The success of Thriller, its singles and ground breaking videos was a landmark achievement and music producer Nile Rodgers was famously quoted as saying "There's the music industry before Thriller and there's the music industry after Thriller." An overstatement? I don't think so.

This commercial juggernaut had a negative effect on Michael Jackson who became obsessed with the notion of unit sales for Thriller's first sequel and surgical transformation (America is a shrine to solipsism). He expected to sell 100 million copies of Bad (1987) and crafted songs around the technology of the day (arguably inspired if somewhat dating). At the time I bought a CD player in order to own the bonus track (a concept taken foregranted now) Leave Me Alone.

Citing creative differences with Quincy Jones during the shelved recording of Decade (footwear giant LA Gear signed a $60 million endorsement deal, "Unstoppable", to promote the album and Love Hewitt starred in TV Spots), Michael enlisted Teddy Riley. Dangerous (1991) merged R&B, Rock and Pop with New Jack Swing. The influence of the 'Dangerous sound' can be heard in 2005.

Subsequent album releases were overshadowed by the Jordan Chandler scandal and Michael Jackson's marriage to Lisa Marie Presley. This culminated in a serious financial dilution of Jackson's hits collection (at one time more valuable than any other artist) and the rush release of HIStory Past, Present and Future Book 1 (1995). Disc 2 spawned the classics Scream, They Don't Care About Us and Stranger In Moscow.

Invincible (2001) was hailed as the comeback album. Yet, the inclusion of too many producers (including Darkchild) culminated in a stagnant sound and at great expense to Sony ($20 million). Michael's mantra became "Sony sucks", which recalled George Michael's "Phony"!

After a period of R&R, he will need to sort out his finances and begin to liquidate his assets (perhaps selling his remaining investment in the Beatles catalogue to Sony). His Sony recording contract expires in December, but better the devil you know Michael. He'll have to renegotiate, but with far less generous terms than in 1991. Mariah Carey and George Michael discovered virtual obscurity following splits with Sony. The latter artist, ironically, returned to the fold in 2004.

Jackson should consider performing again. A new studio album produced by Quincy Jones backed by those alluring greatest hits, showcased either on tour or join fellow Sony artist Celine Dion in Las Vegas (the perfect setting).

MJJ as 'celebrity brand' is dead. Yet, the gloved-one may get the last laugh with the power of song (his unique selling point) and see his back catalogue on UMD (Universal Media Disk).

Thursday, 18 November 2004


Destiny Fulfilled completes a quartet of albums from DC (in all the groups various incarnations). From the bland self-titled debut to multi-platinum breakouts The Writing’s On The Wall (1999) and Survivor (2001), DC has delivered consistent commercial and creative success. Expectations for the fourth album were understandably high.

Upon opening the CD jewel case the listener (captive audience) is exposed to a marketing onslaught from Tommy Hilfiger’s True Star campaign (fronted by Beyoncé) and McDonald’s tour sponsorship pack-ins.

Destiny Fulfilled opens with the dynamite duo of Lose My Breath and Soldier (video promo already available online). This listener was so impressed that he had to play them twice a la Michael Jackson’s Dangerous. Then something unexpected happened. It all went so horribly, horribly wrong! Ballad followed ballad showcasing what we already know; the girls harmonise without peer and Beyoncé is the star. Where did the attitude-enthused anthems, Bootylicious, Bills, Bills, Bills and feted CD/DVD flipside technology go? Beyoncé’s second solo album may provide the answer.

If the band's manager, Mathew Knowles, is so astute then why didn’t he assemble an EP or greatest hits package – a fitting final curtain call for DC - instead of this misguided mess? Fulfilled suffers from Beyoncé’s solo success and has echoes of The Jacksons Victory (1984) album. Will a Victory tour debacle follow?

For the time being I'll seek sonic solace in my Canadian roots, and listen to DC's stablemate Avril Lavigne. The string section on Nobody's Home is sublime.