Celebrating Bad: Presenting the Music Visually

Joie:  So Willa, everyone knows that Thriller is the biggest-selling album of all time. But did you know that for a short while, Bad was actually the second biggest-selling album of all time?

Willa:  Really?  No, I didn’t know that.

Joie:  To this day, in fact, it is still regarded as one of the best-selling albums ever made – I think it’s like number six on the worldwide list – and until Katy Perry tied the record with her album Teenage Dream, it was the first and only album to spawn five number one singles.

Willa:  I did know that, and it’s amazing – especially for an album many saw as under-performing in terms of record sales. It shows just how high the bar was set for the follow-up album to Thriller.

Joie:  That record stood unmatched for 23 years! And what I love most about this album is that Michael penned over 80% of it himself – nine out of the 11 tracks on the album were written by him.

So, I guess what I’m getting at here is that, even though for many people, Thriller is often seen as the pinnacle of Michael Jackson’s success (and commercially, that is certainly true), it is actually the follow-up album, Bad, where we begin to see the artist really stretch his wings and grow artistically, emotionally, creatively, and politically.

Willa:  That’s really interesting, Joie, and something Quincy Jones has suggested also. As he says in the first additional track on the Bad, Special Edition album, “I could just see him growing as an artist and understanding production and all that stuff.” So here’s a question I want to ask Quincy Jones every time I hear that, but I’m going to put you on the spot and ask you instead: what do you see as the major signs of growth between Thriller and Bad?

Joie:  Well, first of all, what I just pointed out. The fact that he wrote the majority of the songs on it. With his first two adult solo efforts, Off the Wall and Thriller, that wasn’t the case. He only wrote three of the songs on Off the Wall and four on Thriller. So I think that shows major growth and maturity, both artistically and creatively.

Willa:  That’s true, and we can see that in the number of videos he made also. He made three each for Off the Wall and Thriller, but he made eight for Bad – nine if you count “Leave Me Alone” – and nine for Dangerous, so Bad seems to have been an important turning point for him that way too.

Joie:  Also, the things he’s writing about. The subject matter of the songs on Bad show a lot of maturity and growth as well.

Willa:  I suppose, though “Billie Jean” is so emotionally complex, and there’s a lot of depth in “Beat It,” and “Heartbreak Hotel” and “Workin’ Day and Night” as well. So it’s not like his previous songs were simplistic.

Joie:  Well, that’s very true. Simplistic is not a word I would use to describe his writing. But, I don’t know. The Bad album just seems a little more “grown up” to me than his previous two adult efforts.

Willa:  And more uniquely “him” because he did write so many of the songs himself, as you mentioned earlier. You know, the story you always hear about Bad is that he put tremendous pressure on himself to top Thriller, and I’m sure those kinds of pressures were there to some degree. Creating a follow-up to Thriller would be intimidating, I’m sure.

Joie:  Oh, no doubt about it. I can’t imagine what that kind of pressure must be like.

Willa:  Oh, I know!  But listening to this album, it doesn’t feel like it’s coming from a place of anxiety and insecurity. He sounds very sure of himself, with a message he feels compelled to share and the confidence to share it. I wonder if that’s part of what you’re feeling, Joie, when you say that, for you, this is the album where he really comes into his own.

Joie:  You could be onto something there, Willa. He does seem to have a certain level of self-confidence and even cockiness on this album so, maybe that is what I’m reacting to. And, you know, when I think about this album, it’s really difficult for me to choose the one stand-out track that sets this CD apart or makes it great because really, every song is a masterpiece all by itself.

Willa:  I know what you mean, and I wonder if that’s because of all the videos. You know, in Moonwalk he talks about the videos he made for the Thriller album and emphasizes that they weren’t just tacked on after the fact as a marketing tool. They were part of his vision from the beginning. As he says,

The three videos that came out of Thriller – “Billie Jean,” “Beat It,” and “Thriller” – were all part of my original concept for the album. I was determined to present this music as visually as possible.

And Bad is where he really achieves that goal of presenting his songs “as visually as possible.” Except for the two duets, he made a video for every song on the album, and I think that contributes to that feeling you’re talking about, Joie, that “every song is a masterpiece.” Because each song has its own video, each one feels like a fully realized, multi-sensory work of art.

You know, even when I’m not watching the videos themselves, like when I’m listening to Bad on the car stereo, I’m still visualizing those images. They’re just an integral part of each song for me now.

Joie:  I agree with you, Willa; they do feel like an “integral part of each song” and it is almost impossible not to visualize the short film when listening to the songs themselves. And I’m sure that was probably very intentional on his part, as that quote you cited from Moonwalk points out. And, as you said earlier, he also made nine videos for his following album, Dangerous and eight for the HIStory album so, I believe presenting the music “as visually as possible” was something that was very important to him and something that he was committed to doing.

Willa:  I agree. It really feels to me like he achieved the fullest expression of his art through his videos. That’s where it all comes together: the music, the dance, that incredible voice, the visual cues, the backstory and narrative – or as he described the structure of his videos, the beginning and the middle and the ending of what he’s trying to convey.

Joie:  I agree. And it really makes you think about his great love of films. Sometimes I believe his videos are so amazing because of his love for film. How many times did he talk about the power of film and being able to take an audience anywhere you wanted them to go, all through film. And many times, that’s what his videos do – they transport you momentarily to a different place. A place of his choosing. It’s no wonder he wanted them referred to as ‘short films’ instead of videos.

And just thinking about that fact makes me really angry that he was hindered from doing the same with Invincible. I love that album so much, and I would have loved to have seen what videos he could have come up with for it. But you’re right, Bad is the first album where he achieves this goal of presenting the music as visually as possible and because of that, his name really became sort of synonymous with music videos.

It’s an interesting concept that no one else was really doing at the time. You know, most artists were just using the music video as a sort of promotional tool and the resulting videos had very little to do with the song itself. But Michael changed all that; he ‘flipped the script’ as the saying goes. Suddenly music videos weren’t just some abstract add on but, they were a way to actually bring the song to life.

Willa:  And not always in ways you expect – like who would ever listen to “Liberian Girl” and imagine the video he created for it? Or “The Way You Make Me Feel”? Or “Speed Demon”? Or “Bad” or “Smooth Criminal” or “Dirty Diana”? Actually, the Dirty Diana video probably enacts the lyrics more closely than the others:  as he sings about a performer being approached by a groupie, we discover that he really is a performer being approached by a groupie.

But even it heightens and complicates the lyrics in interesting ways. In fact, there are some very interesting details in Dirty Diana. For example, he’s singing about this love triangle between himself, My Baby, and Diana. Diana just wants him, or her idea of him as a famous rock star, and she doesn’t really care if she hurts him or My Baby. At one point he sings that he’s talking on the phone with My Baby, and Diana says into the phone, “He’s not coming back because he’s sleeping with me.” That is such a moment of betrayal – just imagine how painful that moment must be for him and My Baby – yet the concert crowd roars when he sings that. The audience goes nuts. And it’s interesting – the roar of the crowd at that moment isn’t on the album; it’s only in the video.

What the crowd’s reaction says pretty clearly is that they aren’t listening to this song from My Baby’s point of view, or even his point of view, but from Diana’s – and really, that makes perfect sense because they are like Diana. They want him too, just like Diana does. We see that in the video when he rips his shirt open. The crowd really goes wild then. He’s an object of desire, and they fantasize about fulfilling that desire, regardless of the consequences for him or his private life.

And actually, that seems to be the position he wants the audience to be in – he wants us to desire him when he’s on stage, and he wants us to align ourselves with Diana. We see that in the lyrics, where he encourages us to sympathize with her and see things from her point of view. So the audience is positioned with her, which makes sense. But then at the end of the video he does that classic Michael Jackson move we see in so many of his videos where he suddenly shifts the perspective. We follow him as he comes offstage, he opens the door of his car, and there’s a very unsettling power chord as he sees there’s a woman waiting for him inside.

Joie:  That’s a very sharp observation, Willa. I never made that connection between the roar of the crowd and the audience’s point of view in this video before. Interesting.

Willa:  Oh, it’s so interesting – what he does with point of view is just fascinating to me, and he plays with it constantly, in such complicated ways. Like when the perspective shifts in Dirty Diana, suddenly everything takes on a very different character. This isn’t the typical rock star/groupie fantasy we see played out in so many music videos. This is the fantasy giving way to realism, and suddenly our perspective shifts and we’re forced to consider the situation more from his point of view – and his point of view is really complicated. It’s always complicated. He never lets us off with a simple answer.

So there’s a beautiful young woman sitting in his car wanting to have sex with him, and on the one hand, that’s a nice problem to have. I mean, really, things could be worse. But on the other hand, he doesn’t know her, doesn’t know anything about her – doesn’t know if she’s kind or cruel or nutty as a fruitcake – and he’s just described in the lyrics how a woman like this has the potential to hurt him and My Baby. So it’s complicated.

Joie:  It is complicated. And, as we talked about last summer during the My Baby series, Dirty Diana perfectly highlights that complicated, often strange issue of celebrity and fame. And it’s also a perfect example of presenting the music “as visually as possible.” As you stated earlier, many of the short films tell a much different story than we would expect when simply listening to the song itself; but that’s not the case with Dirty Diana. Here the short film mirrors the song very closely – so the song itself really does come alive before our very eyes. If that’s not presenting the music visually, I don’t know what is!


About Dancing with the Elephant contributors

Joie Collins is a founding member of the Michael Jackson Fan Club (MJFC). She has written extensively for MJFC, helping to create the original website back in 1999 and overseeing both the News and History sections of the website. Over the years she conducted numerous interviews on behalf of MJFC and also directed correspondence for the club. She also had the great fortune to be a guest at Neverland. She has been a Michael Jackson fan since she was three years old. Lisha McDuff is a classically trained professional musician who for 30 years made her living as a flutist, performing in orchestras and for major theatrical touring productions. Her passion for popular musicology led her to temporarily leave the orchestra pit and in June 2013 she received a Master’s degree in Popular Music Studies from the University of Liverpool. She’s continuing her studies at McMaster University, where she is working on a major research project about Michael Jackson, with Susan Fast as her director. Willa Stillwater is the author of M Poetica: Michael Jackson's Art of Connection and Defiance and "Rereading Michael Jackson," an article that summarizes some of the central ideas of M Poetica. She has a Ph.D. in English literature, and her doctoral research focused on the ways in which cultural narratives (such as racism) are made real for us by being "written" on our bodies. She sees this concept as an important element of Michael Jackson's work, part of what he called social conditioning. She has been a Michael Jackson fan since she was nine years old.

Posted on September 12, 2012, in Michael Jackson and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 31 Comments.

  1. How I would have loved to see Dirty Diana performed at the TII London concerts–the big bed he described, the aerialists, and whatever else Michael had in store for the occasion. The song itself was something that had to grow on me. I thought it was too raunchy, too raw at first. But it takes you over. And every time I listen to the Invincible album, I try to imagine how he would have presented the songs visually, particularly the first three. There are some good fan videos on YouTube to accompany 2,000 Watts. Electrifying. But my favorite would have been the short film for Speechless. That would have been challenging to present. It still hurts to know Michael had the concepts in place and didn’t get to do them. It’s more than maddening. To keep an artist of his caliber from realizing his vision is no less than a crime.

    • aldebaranredstar

      Thanks for this, Jacksonaktak. Intereseting about the bullying and the transformation of Michael empowering Darren Hayes as well.

  2. Thanks, jacksonaktak, I just read the article. It was great. We sure could use more like it.

  3. I sooooo agree – having seen the short films it is now impossible to listen to the cds without the visuals going through my mind, but I hadn’t realised that Michael had the whole concept of music and visuals already planned – only came to that conclusion thanks to Joe Vogel who wrote about Earth Song consisting of the poem Planet Earth, the song and then the short film. There really is no one to touch him is there?!!
    Actually BAD was the first cd that I bought and Dirty Diana the first song that I learned the words to cos I just couldn’t get it out of my head. I agree that this album shows a much more mature Michael, but I feel that he only got better as he went along – not worse as some Philistines have said (no disrespect to Philistines). His awful experiences in life served to give him material to write some pretty amazing lyrics and music, and how is that for turning lemons into lemonade!! Off The Wall is great, but for me Invinsible is by far the best album of them all, and I too am pretty miffed that we do not have short films to go with those songs – yes Speechless would have been a challenge but would have been amazing, or should I say even more amazing, as all Michael’s short films are all amazing.
    I have never seen a live performance of Dirty Diana – tried to watch a Youtube fan video once but the quality was so poor that I had to abandon it. Can indeed only imagine how fantastic it would have been in TII.
    Counting the day to the BAD release – getting closer!!

  4. Hi, Caro, I love Invincible too–a lot of the songs would have made amazing short films. Michael seemed to be in a romantic frame of mind in some of the songs, like ‘Break of Dawn.’ I love ‘Whatever Happens’–actually there are so many great songs on that Album and I agree it is in many ways the best he ever put out.

    About Dirty Diana, I never saw or heard it until after Michael passed and MTV was showing all his films in 24 hr. rotation. My jaw dropped when I saw Dirty Diana. The intensity was amazing. The emotion was pouring out of him, The dancing was incredible–the spins. The ‘Come On!!!’ literally screamed out Blew. My. Mind. I actually could not understand a lot of what he was saying–what I got out of it was the word “NO!!” I later learned he was saying “Dirty Diana, NO!’ I did not identify with DD but with Michael’s protest, denial, resistance, defiance. It’s true at the end he goes down the stairs to the waiting car and we see him looking in, but to me that is nothing in terms of emotional intensity compared to the performance of the song, which is a major knock-out.

    Thanks, Willa and Joie, for your attention to the visual manifestations of the songs. I agree that Michael’s short films are undeniably part of his artistry and when people comment that there wasn’t much music over the years, they forget the work and artistry that went into the short films as well as the tours.

    Joe Vogel has a quote about Michael’s devotion to all things visual, esp. film: “In film, you live in the moment. You have the audience for two hours. You have their brain, their mind–you can take them any place you want to take them. You know, and that idea is mesmerizing to me–that you can have the power to move people, to change their lives.” (6)

    Director Allen Hughes is quoted in Joe’s book as saying ‘Michael Jackson was an incredible actor and no one knew that.” He then refers to The Wiz and Bad film. ‘The acting he was doing? Oh my god it was good. I know actors and he was an incredible actor.” (117) Wish we had more of that acting talent in a full-length movie, but luckily we have the short films!!

    • Hi Caro and Aldebaran – Dirty Diana is awfully compelling, isn’t it? And it’s hard to explain what it is exactly that makes it so intense.

      He’s incredibly sexy in the video, of course – it’s one of his steamiest – but it’s also those lyrics. They’re telling such an emotionally complex story, and once you understand that story – wow, what a heartbreaker. He loves My Baby but he’s also attracted to Diana, and he’s tempted. Diana wants him, for her own complicated reasons that he tries to explain to us, and she hurts My Baby and destroys his relationship with her.

      So every time I watch this video I find myself in multiple subject positions simultaneously. I’m sitting at home with My Baby, waiting for him to get home, and then get a phone call that he won’t be coming back because he’s sleeping with someone else. I’m also with him, torn between these two women, and horror struck at that moment when Diana tells My Baby that he’s betraying her and won’t be coming home. And I feel like I didn’t explain this very well in the post this week, but what’s so crazy-making for me, as part of the audience, is that I’m with Diana as well. I know Diana wants him, and that her selfish desire hurts him – he tells us that very clearly – but I want him too. And the most interesting part of all, for me, in analyzing this, is that he clearly wants us to align ourselves with Diana to some degree and sympathize with her and see things from her perspective, even though what she’s doing is so destructive for him and My Baby. He wants us to see and even experience this story from all these perspectives.

      He’s so good at that, at putting us in positions where we see multiple points of view at the same time. It’s kind of like being one of those insects with compound eyes. Honestly, watching his videos I sometimes wonder if this is what a dragonfly feels like, seeing multiple views all at once. It’s fascinating, but it can really tie you up in knots emotionally, and that’s what “Dirty Diana” does to me. It’s intense.

      • aldebaranredstar

        Hi, Willa–Thanks for your comments. I watched a DVD of a CBS program called The One, which was a series of snippets of Michael’s works and lots of famous people commenting on his career. It was shown in 2003. So there were a couple of comments related to DD. Mary J. Blige made the comment that Michael went ‘buck wild” on DD–and I think that’s so true, and that’s what draws me in, the intenstiy of his emotions and the way his body reflects them. It is an amazing spectacle to see him go ‘buck wild’!!! Qunicy Jones also made a comment that Billie Jeam, Wanna Be Startin Somethin, and DD were all songs that came from a ‘deep place’ inside him, so deep, Q.says, “you can’t mess with that.”

        There is something triggered inside him that evokes such a strong response and I am speculating that Diana, Billie Jean are personifications of all kinds of things, people he was fighting–fame, the media, the music industry, racism, any effort to tie him down, pin him down, define him, block him, thwart his creativity, control him.

        • sure makes ME go ‘buck wild’

        • aldebaranredstar

          Also to add to the list of repressive energies he was fighting, Jehovah Witnesses and their influence and probably family pressures. Shortly after Bad, he bought Neverland and moved out of Hayvenhurst. In fact, he was negotiating purchase while on the Bad tour.

        • I think this is a really interesting possibility to consider. Billie Jean, Dirty Diana, and all the (female) personifications you can name might be seen as stand-ins for other forces that he felt, you might say, *worked over* and *done in* by.

          I also agree, Willa, that there multiple subject positions are available to us in “Dirty Diana” and other songs—like a kaleidoscope, as you imply.

      • Thanks, Willa for focusing on this aspect of DD. My own emotional response has always troubled me, too, identifying so strongly with the triumphant DD. Clearly, as you say, Michael wanted us to identify with DD — with giving in to that powerful drive to abandon all inhibitions and to go — as Aldebaranredstar says “buck wild.” Very thought provoking.

        • Hi Eleanor. It’s unsettling, isn’t it? To be honest, I don’t really like Diana – she callously hurts My Baby and the protagonist as well – but like you, I still identify with her to some extent, even though I don’t want to. It’s almost like I’m led against my will to see parts of myself in her – to see aspects of myself that I don’t want to see – and that’s very unsettling.

  5. Thanks ladies!

    As for maturity and growth…I’ve always thought that Bad was a turning point. I felt in some ways Quincy and Michael’s partnership had matured (please know that that is not an insult) and that for Michael to keep growing, they would need to part ways. After reading Vogel’s book, it seems that by the time of Bad, Michael was already working outside the previous construct of Quincy and team and had a very good idea of what direction he wanted to go in.

  6. Your description of visualizing the video images when listening to the song happens to me each time I listen to those songs that have videos. Great observation about that phenomenon.

  7. Michael first appears in a cage in DD, the cage door opens and he walks to the microphone. Some of the lyrics point to the theme of entrapment: ‘She trapped me in her heart.” ‘Let me be” is repeated a couple of times. Very interesting line: ‘I’ll be the freak you can taunt.” This is Diana speaking, but it can apply to Michael as well. The ripping open of the shirt is also a way of breaking free. Michael says in the press conference with Sharpton, etc. about Mottola: “I am really, really, really tired of manipulation.” Lots going on in DD. (Nina, yes, it was Missy Elliot, not Mary J. Bilge who said that about him going ‘buck wild’ in DD.)

    What does he mean when he screams: “Come On!!” Is this referring to Steve Steven’s guitar playing? Is he speaking to DD? Or is he saying to her, Bring it, I can handle it?? Or is this for the fans, the audience?

    Funny story about DD in This Is It. Michael Bearden said that there was to be a bed on stage and a pole dancer. During the rehearsals, Bearden asked Michael, where are you going to be? He said, “Why do you ask me that? I’ll be in the bed with the pole dancer.” Then Bearden said, and where will Oriantha be (guitarist)? and Michael said, “Ori’ll be in the bed with me too. And I can handle it, Bearden.” (told on Lopez show).

    • Hi Aldebaran. Thanks for pointing out those interesting details of entrapment, especially the cage at the beginning. I hadn’t noticed that before. And you’re right – he did have a lot of constraints on him, and people pressuring him and trying to manipulate him – so that certainly fits.

      However, he really complicates this by saying pretty clearly that, while he’s wary of Diana, he’s attracted to her as well. And while she may be trying to trap him (“I know your every move / So take your weight off of me”), she’s also in a very vulnerable position. (As you point out, she tells him “I’ll be the freak you can taunt.”) In fact, he clearly has more power than she does. He has money, contacts, influence – in other words, the power to “make me a star,” which is one of the many things she wants from him. And while he shows us how destructive she can be (to his peace of mind, to My Baby’s happiness, to their relationship together), he also encourages us to sympathize with Diana as well.

      So I think you’re absolutely right that a fear of entrapment is a significant element in this video, to an extent I hadn’t realized before. But I also think it’s much more nuanced and complicated than the age-old story of a manipulative woman out to trap a good-hearted man. I fact, the more we look at it, the more complicated – and interesting – it becomes….

  8. aldebaranredstar

    I agree, Willa, that Billie Jean and DD are more than manipulative females, that’s why I suggest they are personifications for forces both inside and outside Michael. When he says, ‘I’ll be the freak you can taunt,” that applies to him as well when he becomes a ‘star.’ Perhaps DD and BJ are personifications of fame itself–alluring, dangerous, deceptive, fickle, corrupting, manipulating?? Just a thought. I think thay are way more than just groupies, that’s for sure.

  9. aldebaranredstar

    Another possibility is that Dirty Diana is a kind of play on the Greek and Roman goddess of the moon, the hunt, virginity, and childbirth (Artemis/Diana). Diana is elusive (like Michael), lives in the woods and associated with animals (like Michael), doesn’t like people to see her, spy on her. (Actaeon saw her naked and she turned him into a deer and his own hunting dogs killed him.) She also has a double, almost contradictory nature in that she was a virgin, yet was the goddess associated with childbirth and with preserving the royal line of rulers. She was both a skilled hunter and yet herself sometimes hunted. Maybe DIRTY Diana is a corrupt form of the goddess?? As in Plato when he speaks about the celestial Venus and the carnal Venus, perhaps she has 2 forms that war within Michael? The desire for purity (Diana, which is a word related to the words ‘divine’ and ‘day’) and the defilment of that purity (Dirty Diana)?

    Remember, fame (dirty Diana) took away Michael’s childhood and exposed him to all kinds of exploitation and pain, as well as being what followed from his talent and his art.

  10. “He loves My Baby but he’s also attracted to Diana, and he’s tempted. Diana wants him, for her own complicated reasons that he tries to explain to us, and she hurts My Baby and destroys his relationship with her.”

    Hi, Willa, I am still thinking about DD. I re-read the comments, and noted this one you wrote. Is he attracted to DD?? He says, “You’ll never make me stay,” and “You seduce every man, this time you won’t seduce me.” Yes, DD is very aggressive (!!!) but he is resisting her advances. She seems to get more and more aggressive the more he resists.

    “Diana Walked Up To Me,
    She Said I’m All YoursTonight
    At That I Ran To The Phone
    Sayin’ Baby I’m Alright
    I Said But Unlock The Door,
    ’cause I Forgot The Key,
    She Said He’s Not Coming Back
    Because He’s Sleeping With Me.”

    I mean here he literally runs away from her. Yes, she does say ‘he’s sleeping with me,’ but it is not clear at all that he does go home with her. The song leaves his decision open, except we hear over and over ‘Dirty Diana, NO!!,” which seems to suggest it’s not going to happen in spite of her aggressive seductions. In the video, he does not get in the car, he just looks, so it seems there is a focus on the choice point and the fores at play in the choice point.

    Have you heard the new song on Bad 25 ‘The Price of Fame’? I still think we could see DD as a personification of the seduction and destruction of fame and his response to it. (cf Hollywood Tonight, Monster, BJ).

    • “I still think we could see Dirty Diana as a personification of the seduction and destruction of fame and his response to it. (cf Hollywood Tonight, Monster, Billie Jean)”

      Hi Aldebaranredstar. I agree – in fact, I think that’s a really useful way to interpret “Dirty Diana.” Joie first suggested this in a post we did about My Baby – that Diana and Billie Jean and these other threatening women who appear throughout his work could represent fame – and we’ve talked several times about how these women can be seen not just as characters but also as an embodiment of his audience or his public life or the media or fame itself. So I’m not disagreeing with that at all, and I absolutely agree that these women “are way more than just groupies,” as you said earlier.

      But I also think there’s something else going on that has me very intrigued at the moment, but I’m having trouble figuring it out and articulating it. It seems to me that one reason Michael Jackson’s work is so powerful is that he doesn’t just describe a situation to us, but actually tries to put us in a position where we to some extent experience that situation. For example, in “Morphine” he doesn’t just tell us about drug addiction, but actually tries to recreate the physical experience of drug addiction – of slipping into a peaceful haze where intense daily pressures don’t matter for a while, and then having them slam back into you again when the drug wears off. The way he handles that in “Morphine” is just fascinating to me.

      Lately I’ve started wondering if there’s something similar happening in Dirty Diana as well. The protagonist wants Diana but he shouldn’t because it would hurt My Baby. And as part of the audience, I find myself in a similar situation – I want him (he’s unbelievably sexy in this video) but I shouldn’t because it hurts him. So I find myself experiencing the same dilemma he faces.

      I should probably say that, in general, I think Michael Jackson is incredibly hot, and I’m openly attracted to him and feel no guilt about it whatsoever. But the Dirty Diana video always pulls me up short – especially that horrible moment when Diana says into the phone, “He’s not coming back because he’s sleeping with me,” and the audience cheers. There’s something about that moment that really gets to me, maybe because there’s such a disconnect between the heartbreaking story he’s telling and the audience’s reaction to it.

      • aldebaranredstar

        Hi, Willa–thanks for pointing me back to your and Joie’s 2011 discussion. I found it so intriguing and I liked the comments as well. Regarding the idea that Michael did not use the seductress theme after ’93, I do see it in ‘Blood on the Dance Floor” and ‘Hearbreaker.”

        I see what you mean about Michael re-creating for us an experience of the forces working on him (as in ‘Morphine’–relax, this won’t hurt you), and yes, we do see it in DD for sure.

        As with any great work of art, there are always multiple dimensions and multiple interpretations possible. For myself, I don’t see this song as heartbreaking b/c I see it mainly as a struggle between forces, rather than a person, acting on Michael, and I see him as fighting back (Dirty Diana, No!) against what DD represents to him. (And if I were his Baby, to take the song literally, I certainly wouldn’t care WHAT DD said, as long as he resisted and came home at last.) I see the song as an enactment of forces, almost like a nightmare where you are fighting and when you wake up it seems real but it isn’t. It’s psychologically real, not ‘really’ real.

        It reminds of of Stranger in Moscow where he says, ‘take my name (fame) and just let me be.’ He also says to DD–‘So won’t you just let me be.’ Maybe he is re-creating for the audience the experience of being endlessly pursued by the paps, the fans, the media, the courts?

  11. Here is the ‘Price of Fame.’ Similar in some ways to DD situation–being pursued, being hurt, feeling pressured.

    • OMG how wonderful to hear something new from Michael, not that the old tracks arn’t wonderful too of course!! Thanx sooo much Aldebaran for posting this. It is absolutely fabulous and to think that as far as Michael was concerned it was not finished and fit for release – any other artist would be much more than happy with such a recording as the finished item. Marvellous.
      Willa and Joie won’t you please put the lyrics of all the ttracks that are new to us on the lyrics library as soon as possible?
      On a less happy note for me, I found out today that the BAD 25 anniversary package is only coming into South Africa in a month – 6 weeks time – boo hoo. I have therefore ordered over the internet and hope that it comes sooner – what a let down. All you people who can go to Target and get is now are sooo lucky – enjoy. I hope it rockets to No 1 in record time.

  12. This is such a great, timely post. Along with every other MJ CD I have, is BAD, the special edition which I believe came out in 2001, and has Streetwalker, the spanish version of ICSLY and Fly Away, all just terrific songs. However, this special edition seemingly released in 2001 got me thinking about Invincible, and the label’s resistance to promoting it. Just wondering if you have any information on why Michael agreed to the release of this special BAD edition in 2001 when he had been working on Invincible for several years and had put all his energies into it, only to be let down by Sony’s failure to properly promote it.

    The demos with BAD25 sound incredible (sorry to have listened to the leaks); can’t wait for my album to arrive! I’ll take a demo of Michael any day over the finished product of any “artist” out there today!

  13. I can’t believe that after watching DD countless, and I mean countless, times, that like Willa I never noticed Michael walking out of that cage!!! Mind you I still find it very difficult to take my eyes off Michael for more than a second in any of his short films to see what is going on around him. I love the part where he is standing next to the guitarist and he goes up on his toes and then bends back – how does he do that without falling over?!!!
    I also don’t think that he goes home with DD at the end. He may spend most of the performance looking off stage for her, but he doesn’t seem at all pleased to see her in the car and he doesn’t actually get in to the car either. I agree with all the references to his life in relation to the song, but I feel he does still have My Baby and he does go home to her at night so to speak. Brilliant!

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