DAR Retro: Michael Jackson In The 90's

By @TrueGodImmortal

For many of us, Michael Jackson is the greatest of all time. His music brought the world joy, with his ability to excite a crowd, command the stage, and just ignite everything he touched, Michael was the measuring stick for a superstar and no one could compare. After a nice run in the 70's, Michael would own the entire decade of the 80s, thanks to the fallout of his classic Off The Wall album, the highest selling album of all time in Thriller, and his hugely successful follow-up album Bad. There was no one that could touch the level that MJ was on in the 80s, but as the next decade began, he was in an interesting position. After a successful Bad tour in the late 80s, MJ set foot in the studio once again with one goal in mind: craft yet another great album and tour. As the 1990s began, no one could imagine the decade ahead for the King of Pop, but it would be a rather eventful collection of years, filled with both good and bad. Let's take a look at Michael Jackson in the 90's.

*New Sony Contract And New Album -When it was announced that Sony was looking to renew the contract of The King Of Pop, there was definitely a belief that he could end up making a big deal occur and make history. While no one had the particular details on what he could have made, the news shocked everyone when it was announced that MJ would earn a record breaking 65 million for his contract, which was unheard of at the time. The contract was well deserved and definitely set MJ as the biggest artist in the world and considering how successful his last three albums had been, it is no shock that he would walk away with a big contract. With the contract signed and ready to go, The King Of Pop then set out to justify that contract with a huge album. As the music game was changing, for the first time in his adult career, MJ decided to make an album without the musical guidance of Quincy Jones. This would be considered a huge move and a game changer for his career. Some didn't like the idea, some loved the idea of progression, but it was clear that MJ was moving on and he was starting with a popular name that was a true spearhead of the movement that was dominating music at the time, the New Jack Swing era. In order to get a nice blend of his own sound and the New Jack Swing sound, Michael would reach out to none other than Teddy Riley. From there, his next album Dangerous was born.

-His fourth solo album on Epic Records in a string of adult MJ album releases is actually amazing and supremely underrated. His eighth official solo album would arrive in November 1991 and surely enough, it would be an instant hit. Fans flocked to stores to pick up the album and of course, the worldwide release was pandemonium. Tackling more responsibility on this album than previous releases, MJ would be responsible for writing 12 of the 14 tracks on the album, as well as assisting with the production as well on a number of songs. The result would be something special, as he would write an album that looked into multiple issues in the world and actually had heavy content throughout. Some songs tackled racism, some discussed poverty and the wellbeing of the children in this world, some songs were about improving this country, and many revolved around romance and love of course, but this time it was with a bigger edge than before. MJ seemed very comfortable under the New Jack Swing sound, and throughout the album, he commands every song with a fierce confidence that only he could exhibit. MJ would see most of the songs on the album released as singles, most of them becoming huge hits around the world, propelling the album to massive sales of 30 million copies worldwide, making it the biggest selling album of the year by far.

Dangerous would lead to multiple awards and nominations for MJ, and with tracks like "Black And White", "In The Closet", "Remember The Time", and much more, it is not hard to see why it was such a success. When we speak of the 90's and MJ, much of his success is lost within the controversy that surrounded him, but the reality is, his music spoke for itself and was the biggest reason that all eyes remained on him during the decade. Sure, there were moments that brought him into the press, but when the sounds of "Give In To Me", "Who Is It", or "Jam" graced your ears, you instantly listened and appreciated the music. The decade started off well for MJ, but as always, something is always waiting for you, at the worst possible time. Little did we know that as the Dangerous album campaign was officially ending, another campaign was starting.

*Super Bowl Halftime Show, Allegations And More
-So, MJ became a lot more open with himself and his life as the 90's were underway and as a result, there became a more personable side of the King Of Pop that his fans began to relate to. While embarking on another tour, Jackson would have his Heal The World foundation start up, as well as the release of a book of poetry titled Dancing The Dream. MJ was outspoken on the issues of the world and utilized his star power to become a voice for them, and through many charitable endeavors, he would put his money where his mouth was. With so much on his plate, MJ seemed focused on continuing his dominance as an artist and would start off 1993 in the greatest way possible. The Super Bowl Halftime Show was struggling and they needed a boost. Who better to call than the King Of Pop, right? The NFL would experience massive ratings as a result and for MJ, it was yet another successful moment in his career to add to his resume. He would also have a major Oprah interview that drew headlines in the early part of the year, and as a result, Dangerous would skyrocket back up the charts. MJ knew how to keep the chatter up about himself and what he was doing in his career, that much is for sure. However, shortly after receiving the Living Legend award at the Grammys, some very strange allegations came out against Jackson that would change his career and presumably his life forever.

When the allegations of child abuse and molestation came his way, many scoffed at the idea that MJ would do such a thing, and many of those people were right. It was a false narrative driven by the world around him and people who he helped that wanted to use him for their monetary gain. The price of fame and celebrity comes with so many different hazards, and unfortunately for Michael, this was an unforeseeable hazard that rocked many to their core. While the allegations were proven not to be true at some point, his image took a hit and the unfair stigma stuck with him for some time. MJ was innocent and a victim of a clear extortion attempt, but regardless, when your image takes a hit.... perhaps you go through drastic measures to try and repair it..... or make it worse.

*Marriage To Lisa Marie -I will keep this brief. I have no desire to discuss the marriage or imply in great terms that this relationship only happened to make up for the charges, especially when most people who knew them say that they were dating months before any allegations existed. Regardless, a lot of people felt that when Michael married Lisa Marie Presley that he was attempting to show the world that he was just as normal as the rest of us (whatever that means) and that he was capable of finding love. Regardless, after everything he had gone through, MJ had seemingly found love and while it didn't last long, there seemed to be something genuine there between the two, no matter how small it was. Marriage aside, the allegations and newfound scenarios definitely shaped the stage for a new album and new music for Michael. Naturally, MJ would oblige that belief in a major way.

*HIStory & Blood On The Dance Floor -So, as the year 1995 arrived, there was a rumbling on a new MJ album. While many details weren't known, something had to be on the way. When the first single for the album arrived in the form of one of the biggest duets ever with his sister Janet on "Scream", the world stopped. Everything he had been through, from the marriage that was questioned, the allegations, and perhaps the fallout of both of those would be forgotten in that moment. A new album from Michael Jackson after four years was welcomed with open arms, but this time, he would do it much differently than before. MJ would release his first and only official double album, but in a much different way than expected. It was packaged as a double album, but one disc was just full of his greatest hits, while the other disc was full of new songs. As the new HIStory album arrived in stores, it was met with mixed reviews surprisingly, but the audiences seemed to love and support it. For the new album, MJ would reach out to Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, as well as R. Kelly, along with producing some of the work himself, providing an entirely new sound for his music than previously heard. Was HIStory a great album overall? To me, it was somewhere in the middle. A good album for sure, but below the standards of his last four albums, while still showing some signs of growth as an artist.

The videos for "Scream", "They Don't Care About Us", and "You Are Not Alone" were hugely successful and the album stands as the highest selling double album in the world, with over 20 plus million copies sold worldwide. It really seemed as if MJ could not lose despite everything thrown against him. Sure, his album success wasn't like it had been during the Thriller and Bad era, but his star power reached a level that no one will ever see and as a result, everything he touched seemed to turn to gold. Well, almost everything. Following the release of HIStory, Michael was set to work on something new, seemingly to keep the flow of things together, and while he didn't necessarily take a loss, he definitely dropped a remix album that didn't seem to resonate nearly as much as the others. Now, a remix album isn't usually expected to be successful like that anyway, so perhaps he gets a pass, but you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who considers the Blood On The Dance Floor album to be an official release in his catalog and most look at it as a novelty in some ways.

It combined a dark side of Michael and his love for horror on some newer tracks with a ton of remixes based on tracks from HIStory. Were the remixes bad? Not necessarily, but they were very insignificant as expected. As for the new songs? They were.... interesting. The title track, "Is It Scary", "Ghosts" (which came with a strange short film), "Superfly Sister", and "Morphine" were all interesting songs, but nothing spectacular that could hold a candle to his previous work. Still, the album would move over 7 million copies worldwide, resulting in yet another win for MJ, but it somehow didn't feel like a real win for the King of Pop anyways. With another notch under his belt however, MJ would be mostly under the radar for the rest of the decade outside of his world tour for HIStory.... and the birth of two children that he cared for as his own. I won't get into that, for numerous reasons, but regardless, MJ would end his decade on the low for the most part, working on various charities, living in New York at different periods, and working tirelessly on his next album. That album would be called Invincible and be released in 2001, but as far as MJ goes in the 90's, he started the decade off with a bang, took over with power, experienced some ups and downs, but managed to come out of it all as still the biggest star in the world. Were the 90's a more successful decade for MJ than the 80's? Not at all, but with over 55 million records sold worldwide during the decade and multiple no. 1 albums and record breaking tours, The King Of Pop still reigned supreme in the biggest decade of them all.



  1. Musically the biggest tracks he ever did are in the 90´s/2000´s. From an objective point of view: Earth Song, Scream, They Dont Care, Heal The World, Speechless, Unbreakable, Is it Scary, We´ve had Enough.. these are much more amazing than thrillers o billie jeans... his 90s songs were better than the 80s ;) WHO ELSE Could SING/COMPOSE/RELEASE SUCH MASTERPIECES? I can´t even think of songs like that by other artists....

    ALSO, on a side note: It´s a pity that the world is so usa-centric... mj sold more during Dangerous and History in Europe and Asia (check the singles and album sales around the globe) but he lost USA and some huge hits like Earth Song were not even singles in America, and when you see lists of hits always come from american reviewers, not german, french or spanish.. where his 90s output was as big as bad or even thriller. He got the same sales as Bad almost losing one market and amidst controversies. Nice article ;)

    Blood on the dancefloor is just a remix album with 5 random tracks, and still sold a lot.. and 4 of those 5 are FIRE, I see it as a treat. We would not have those songs if it hadn´t been for that release ;)


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