HIStory/Ghosts

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"HIStory"/"Ghosts"
Single by Michael Jackson
from the album Blood on the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix
Released July 30, 1997
Format CD single, 12"
Recorded September - November 1994
Genre Pop, R&B, house
("HIStory" original/remix)
New jack swing, pop
("Ghosts")
Length 4:01 ("HIStory" radio edit)
8:00 ("HIStory" remix album version)
3:50 ("Ghosts" radio edit)
5:13 ("Ghosts" album version)
Label Epic
Writer(s) Michael Jackson, James Harris III, Terry Lewis ("HIStory")
Michael Jackson, Teddy Riley ("Ghosts")
Producer(s) Michael Jackson, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis ("HIStory")
Michael Jackson, Teddy Riley ("Ghosts")
Michael Jackson singles chronology
"Blood On The Dance Floor"
(1997)
"HIStory (Tony Moran's HIStory Lesson)"/"Ghosts"
(1997)
"Stranger in Moscow"
(1997)
HIStory Continues track listing
"2 Bad"
(12)
"HIStory"
(13)
"Little Susie"
(14)
Blood on the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix track listing
"Superfly Sister"
(3)
"Ghosts"
(4)
"Is It Scary"
(5)
Blood on the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix track listing
"You Are Not Alone (Classic Club Mix)"
(12)
"HIStory (Tony Moran's HIStory Lesson)"
(13)

"HIStory"/"Ghosts" is a double A-side single from Michael Jackson's 1997 remix album Blood on the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix. The original version of "HIStory" was released as a track on Jackson's 1995 studio album HIStory, but was never released as a single. "Ghosts" was a brand new recording. "HIStory" was composed by Michael Jackson, James Harris III and Terry Lewis before it was remixed by Tony Moran in 1997. The original version contained many historic audio clips and samples. The remix does not have the audio clips and samples.

"Ghosts" was written, composed and produced by Michael Jackson and Teddy Riley in 1997. Commentators made observations about the paranoid lyrics, a common theme in Jackson's work. The double A-side was promoted with a music video for each song. "HIStory" was set in a nightclub, in a futuristic era, and recalled Jackson's filmography. "Ghosts" was a five-minute clip taken from the much longer film of the same name. The song would become a top five hit in the UK and Italy, but did not chart as highly elsewhere.

HIStory[edit]

"HIStory" was originally written and composed by Michael Jackson, James Harris III and Terry Lewis in 1995.[1] It was the thirteenth track on the studio album HIStory, but was not released as a single. The song sampled multiple musical compositions and historical audio quotes, all of which were dispersed throughout the track. Early in the track, one even included quotes from an interview with a young Michael Jackson from 1970. Musical compositions sampled include "Beethoven Lives Upstairs" and "Pictures at an Exhibition". In reissues of the album, the "Pictures at an Exhibition" piece was replaced by a similar improvised orchestra piece, but the original sample was used in Jackson's live performances in the HIStory Tour. Audio quotes sampled were the "Charles Lindbergh Report" by Lowell Thomas, a report on Hank Aaron, "Robert Kennedy Eulogy" by Edward Kennedy, "Farewell to Baseball" by Lou Gehrig, "Greetings to the Children of England" by Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret, quotes from Muhammad Ali, Thomas Edison, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream".[2]

The woman removing her virtual reality goggles in the music video for "HIStory".

In 1997, Jackson issued the remix album Blood on the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix; the second single from the album would be the double A-side "HIStory"/"Ghosts". The "HIStory" portion was a Tony Moran remix of the original 1995 composition. The remix was entitled "Tony Moran's HIStory Lesson" in the album booklet.[3]

The music video that accompanied the remix opens with the scene of a woman, relaxing on a futuristic sofa, watching the music video through metallic virtual reality goggles. The video is set in a nightclub. Inside the club, televisions, monitors and walls display the history of Jackson's filmography such as "In the Closet", "Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough", "Scream", "Black or White", "Jam", "Earth Song", "Man in the Mirror", "Blood on the Dance Floor", "They Don't Care About Us", "Dirty Diana", "Will You Be There", "Stranger in Moscow", "Rock with You", "The Way You Make Me Feel", "Smooth Criminal", "Beat It", "Remember the Time", scenes from his short film Ghosts, and live performances from the Bad World Tour and the Dangerous World Tour. Wearing the goggles, the woman is led to believe she is in the nightclub too. The video ends with the woman removing the goggles.

Ghosts[edit]

Production, music and commentary[edit]

"Ghosts" was one of the five new tracks on the album. It was written, composed and produced by Michael Jackson and Teddy Riley.[4] Instruments played on the track include a guitar and piano. Jackson's vocal range on the song is G3-A5, the song is in the key E minor.[5] The Washington Post noted, "'Ghosts' is another new jack swing collaboration with Teddy Riley for a similarly titled short film. It is a bit unsettling, particularly when Jackson spits out this line: 'Who gave you the right to shake my family tree?'".[6] Tom Sinclair of Entertainment Weekly, also highlighted those particular lyrics, speculating that "armchair psychologists will have a field day with the words".[7]

The Dallas Morning News described "Ghosts" as an angry tale of a back-stabbing woman.[8] Michael Saunders of The Boston Globe said that album cuts like "Is It Scary" and "Ghosts" "trample well-trodden ground".[9] Sonia Murray of The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution said of the track, "'Ghosts' pounds with funk until Jackson's weak vocals come in.[10] Anthony Violanti of The Buffalo News said "Ghosts"...[is] programmed plastic soul that makes you wonder how someone as talented as Jackson can churn out such tracks.[11] Jim Farber of New York Daily News said of the single "'Ghosts'...boast a few innovative sounds but no real melodies".[12] Roger Catlin of The Hartford Courant stated, "The most intriguing pairing is 'Ghosts' and 'Is It Scary' in which he asks those who've only read about him in tabloids if he seems monstrous".[13]

Jennifer Clay of Yahoo! Music noted that "Ghosts" sounded like material from the Thriller era.[14] A longtime commentator on Jackson's public life, J. Randy Taraborrelli, gave a retrospective analysis of the album in the biography, The Magic & the Madness. Taraborrelli explained, "Several of the other songs on Blood are also memorable. 'Ghosts' stands out, perhaps because it's so evocative of Michael's spell-binding Ghosts long-styled video...it's classic, must-see Michael Jackson".[15]

Music video[edit]

A twenty-eight second sample of Jackson's single "Ghosts".

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The music video for "Ghosts" was a five-minute clip taken from a film entitled Ghosts. Jackson unveiled the film at the Cannes Film Festival, as part of the album promotion. It was released theatrically in the US in October 1996, as for the UK, it debuted at the Odeon Leicester Square in May 1997. The UK event attracted fans, media and business organizations. It was released on cassette in most parts of the world.[16][17][18] The film was written by Jackson and Stephen King and directed by Stan Winston. The story was based loosely on the events and isolation Jackson felt after he was accused of child sexual abuse in 1993. The music video won the Bob Fosse Award for Best Choreography in a Music Video.[15][17][18][19][20]

In the plot, the Maestro—played by Jackson—is nearly chased out of his town by the residents and the mayor—who deliberately looks very similar to Tom Sneddon, a prosecutor who led the child sexual abuse investigation against Jackson several years previously—because they believe him to be a "freak". The film had similar imagery and themes to that of Thriller. It features many special effects and dance moves choreographed to original music, which Jackson himself authored. The film includes several songs and music videos from the albums HIStory and Blood on the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix. The video for Ghosts is over thirty-eight minutes long and holds the Guinness World Record as the world's longest music video. It was included in Michael Jackson Vision's Video Collection.

Chart performance of HIStory/Ghosts[edit]

"HIStory/Ghosts" did generally well of music charts worldwide, having charted within the top—ten and top—twenty in multiple countries. The song's highest peak position was in the United Kingdom, charting at number five. In the Netherlands, Belgium and Sweden "HIStory/Ghosts" spent seventeen to eighteen weeks on the charts. In Australia "HIStory/Ghosts" peaked at forty-three before falling off the chart.[18][21] The single did not appear on any United States Billboard charts.[22]

Track listing[edit]

European CD maxi single
No. Title Length
1. "HIStory" (7" HIStory Lesson Edit) 4:08
2. "HIStory" (MARK!'s Radio Edit) 4:18
3. "HIStory" (MARK!'s Vocal Club Mix) 9:14
4. "HIStory" (The Ummah Radio Mix) 5:00
5. "HIStory" (The Ummah DJ Mix) 3:04
6. "HIStory" (The Ummah Main Acapella) 4:04
7. "Ghosts" (Radio Edit) 3:50
Total length:
33:38
UK CD 1
No. Title Length
1. "HIStory" (7" HIStory Lesson Edit) 4:08
2. "HIStory" (radio edit) 4:01
3. "Ghosts" (radio edit) 3:50
4. "Ghosts" (Mousse T's Club Edit) 4:24
Total length:
16:23
UK CD 2 (Only HIStory)
No. Title Length
1. "HIStory" (Tony Moran's HIStory Lesson) 4:08
2. "HIStory" (Tony Moran's HIStory Dub) 7:56
3. "HIStory" (MARK!'s Vocal Club Mix) 9:14
4. "HIStory" (The Ummah Radio Mix) 5:00
5. "HIStory" (The Ummah Urban Mix) 4:20
Total length:
33:09
UK limited edition CD maxi single
  1. "HIStory" (7" HIStory Lesson Edit) – 4:08
  2. "Ghosts" (Mousse T's Radio Rock) – 4:25
  3. "Ghosts" (Mousse T's Club Mix) – 6:03
  4. "Ghosts" (radio edit) – 3:50
  5. "HIStory" (Tony Moran's HIStory Dub) – 7:56
12" vinyl maxi
  1. "HIStory" (MARK!'s Vocal Club Mix) – 9:14
  2. "HIStory" (MARK!'s Keep Movin' Dub) – 9:23
  3. "HIStory" (The Ummah DJ Mix) – 3:04
  4. "HIStory" (The Ummah Main a Cappella) – 4:04
  5. "Ghosts" (radio edit) – 3:50
Cassette single
  1. "HIStory" (7" HIStory Lesson Edit) – 4:08
  2. "HIStory" (radio edit) – 4:04
  3. "Ghosts" (radio edit) – 3:50
European CD promo
  1. "HIStory" (7" HIStory Lesson Edit) – 4:08
  2. "Ghosts" (radio edit) – 3:50
HIStory (Mark Picchiotti Remixes) 12" promo
  1. "HIStory" (MARK!'s Phly Vocal) – 9:10
  2. "HIStory" (MARK!'s Future Dub) – 9:16
Ghosts (Mousse T Mixes) 12" promo
  1. "Ghosts" (Mousse T's Club Mix) – 6:03
  2. "Ghosts" (Mousse T's Club Mix TV) – 6:03

Charts[edit]

Chart (1997) Peak Position
Australian Singles Chart 43
Austrian Singles Chart 36
Belgium (VI) 17
Belgium (Wa) 10
Netherlands Singles Chart 14
Finnish Singles Chart 16
French Singles Chart 4
New Zealand Singles Chart 29
Swedish Singles Chart 12
Swiss Singles Chart 16
UK Singles Chart 5
Italian Singles Chart 3

Personnel[edit]

The original song, it appeared as a track on the album HIStory.

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"HIStory" (Tony Moran's HIStory Lesson)[edit]

  • Written and composed Michael Jackson, James Harris III and Terry Lewis
  • Produced by Michael Jackson, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis
  • Remix by Tony Moran
  • Additional production by Tony Moran and Bob Rosa
  • Mixed by Bob Rosa
  • Engineered and programming by Tony Coluccio
  • Additional programming by Giuseppe D.
  • Vocals by Michael Jackson and Boyz II Men

"Ghosts"[edit]

The remix, it was released as a single—along with "Ghosts"—from the remix album Blood on the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix.

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  • Written, composed and produced by Michael Jackson and Teddy Riley
  • Engineered by Teddy Riley and Eddie DeLena
  • Mixed by Dave Way
  • Solo and background vocals, vocal arrangement by Michael Jackson
  • Teddy Riley, Brad Buxer and Doug Grigsby: Keyboards and synthesizers
  • Matt Carpenter, Doug Grigsby, Andrew Scheps, Rob Hoffman and Alex Breuer: Drum programming
  • Additional engineering by Bobby Brooks, Matt Forger, Andrew Scheps, Armand Volker and Albert Boekholt
  • Assistant engineers: Tony Black, Mike Scotell, Greg Collins, Gerd Krenz, Patrick Ulenberg, Paul Dicato, Andy Strange, Rob Hoffman and Tom Bender

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Jackson, Michael. HIStory booklet. Sony BMG. p 39
  2. ^ Jackson, Michael. HIStory booklet. Sony BMG. p 50
  3. ^ Jackson, Michael. Blood on the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix booklet. Sony BMG. p 12
  4. ^ Jackson, Michael. Blood on the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix booklet. Sony BMG. p 6
  5. ^ "Ghosts". www.musicnotes.com. Retrieved December 20, 2008. 
  6. ^ "Jackson's 'Blood': It's No Thriller". (June 4, 1997). The Washington Post.
  7. ^ Sinclair, Tom (May 30, 1997). "Music Review". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved February 25, 2009. 
  8. ^ Thor Christensen. (May 20, 1997). "Jackson's new `Blood' generally thin Singer's work best when fresh on remix release". Dallas Morning News.
  9. ^ Michael Saunders. (June 5, 1997). "Blood on the Dance Floor Epic". The Boston Globe.
  10. ^ Sonia Murray. (May 29, 1997). "Jackson's New Album Warrant's No Hype". The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution.
  11. ^ Anthony Violanti. (May 23, 1997). "Lost Soul...". The Buffalo News.
  12. ^ Farber, Jim (May 19, 1997). "The 'Thriller' is gone...". New York Daily News. Retrieved December 12, 2008. [dead link]
  13. ^ Roger Catlin. (May 22, 1997). "Blood on the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix — Michael Jackson". The Hartford Courant.
  14. ^ Clay, Jennifer (May 20, 1997). "Album review". Yahoo! Music. Retrieved January 28, 2009. [dead link]
  15. ^ a b Taraborrelli 610–611
  16. ^ Lewis, p. 58
  17. ^ a b Pinkerton, Lee (1997). The Many Faces of Michael Jackson. Music Sales Distribution. p. 36. ISBN 0-7119-6783-0. 
  18. ^ a b c George, p. 48–50
  19. ^ Lewis, p. 125–126
  20. ^ Guinness World Records 2004
  21. ^ "M. Jackson - HIStory/Ghosts (nummer)". www.ultratop.be. Retrieved September 14, 2008. 
  22. ^ "Artist Chart History - Michael Jackson". Billboard. Archived from the original on May 6, 2008. Retrieved February 27, 2009. 

References[edit]