So iconic, Michael in the glitter suit dancing with the lasers behind him. Name a better 80’s R&B jam! This was the old Michael Jackson everyone loved. He looked “black”, sounded natural featuring Quincy Jones best soul music production, and a timeless collection of MJ’s best. “Don’t Stop Till”…. “She’s Out Of My Life”… “Burn This Disco”…. “Working Day and Night”…..as strong of a dance record ever produced.
1983 – “BEAT IT” from Thriller
Michael did a number of rock songs including “Dirty Diana” with Steve Stevens and “Give In To Me” with Slash but his collaboration with guitar hero, Eddie Van Halen is his greatest rock moment. A favorite memory of this song was seeing 5 guys doing this in karaoke, then during the middle, two of their friends did a pretend knife fight during the song! Amazing! This video changed everything. Big budgets, choreographed dance routines (remember Pat Benatar’s “Love Is A Battlefield”?), and videos that told a story, Michael changed MTV in so many ways.
1986 – “MAN IN THE MIRROR” from Bad
“Make That Change” – this song helped inspire me to make my move from Wisconsin to Florida. Those introspective lyrics and the video of people actually changing the world is such a powerful combination. This video should be required viewing in history classes in school. Seeing heroes like Martin Luther King, Lech Walesa, Gandhi, and John Lennon vs. the ignorance of the KKK, Hitler, and the Ethopian famine deaths creates life-altering images that show that music videos can be educational while they entertain.
1991 – “IN THE CLOSET” from Dangerous
Madonna was originally going to be in this video and part of the song. She asked if Michael knew what “in the closet” meant, he naively said he did. Michael meant a secret love affair, but the rumors took off. Unfortunate title but Naomi Campbell’s presence in this video makes it one of the sexiest videos of all-time. My biggest complaint, why didn’t he kiss Naomi in the desert!!
1995 – “THEY DON’T CARE ABOUT US” from HIStory
Like “Man In The Mirror”, this is a song about social injustice, police brutality, and hate. Michael vehemently wants us to take a stand. The clapping and Brazilian drum beat create a lively chant. Ironically this song about equality was banned as racist for the original Anti-Semitic lyric causing Michael to re-record it.
2001 – “BREAK OF DAWN” from INVINCIBLE
The 14 minute video for “You Rock My World” with Chris Tucker is incredible but the slow jam, “Break Of Dawn” was the crowning moment of Michael’s last official CD. The song conjures up the melody of “The Lady In My Life” from Thriller and while the disc got little commercial and critic respect, there are some shining moments including “Whatever Happens” recently featuring on my Santana blog.
2011 – “HOLLYWOOD TONIGHT” from MICHAEL
“Hold My Hand” featuring Akon was originally going to be released in 2008 but Michael said it wasn’t ready yet. He wrote in his estate, this was the next song he wanted released. The video with Akon is beautiful and inspiring. I love the club inspired jam, “Hollywood Tonight” and the accompanying video with a twist (reminds me of Flashdance).