Invincible (Michael Jackson album)

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Invincible
Studio album by Michael Jackson
Released October 30, 2001
Recorded October 2000 – August 2001
Genre R&B, pop, dance-pop[1]
Length 77:10
Label Epic
Producer Michael Jackson, Rodney Jerkins, Teddy Riley, Andre Harris, Andreao "Fanatic" Heard, Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, R. Kelly, Dr. Freeze
Michael Jackson chronology
20th Century Masters – The Millennium Collection: The Best of Michael Jackson
(2000)
Invincible
(2001)
Love Songs
(2002)
Singles from Invincible
  1. "You Rock My World"
    Released: August 22, 2001
  2. "Cry"
    Released: December 3, 2001
  3. "Butterflies"
    Released: February 8, 2002

Invincible is the tenth and final studio album by American recording artist Michael Jackson. It was released on October 30, 2001, by Epic Records. The album was the first release of new Jackson material since Blood on the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix in 1997, the first studio album in six years since HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I in 1995, and the first studio album of all new material since Dangerous in 1991. Jackson, Rodney Jerkins, R. Kelly and Teddy Riley received producing and writing credits, among others. Similar to Jackson's previous material, Invincible explores themes such as love, romance, isolation, media criticism, and social issues. Invincible received generally mixed reviews from contemporary music critics. The album's singles were incomplete in their release.[2] Jackson was able to use these conflicts as leverage to exit his contract early.[3]

Three singles were released from the album: "You Rock My World", "Cry" and "Butterflies", although none were released as commercial singles in the United States. The album's first and last singles charted within the top twenty on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and they peaked at number one and within the top ten in several markets worldwide; "Cry" was less commercially successful. Following a conflict between Jackson and his record label, Sony Music stopped promoting the album.

The album peaked at number one in eleven territories worldwide, including the United States (with sales of 363,000 units its first week), the United Kingdom, Australia, France and Switzerland. Invincible charted within the top ten in six other territories; its least successful charting area was Mexico, where the album peaked at number twenty nine. Invincible re-entered music charts several times during the decade.

Background[edit]

During Jackson's time as a member of The Jackson 5, he frequently wrote material for the group and began working on projects as a solo artist, which eventually led to recording his own studio albums, notably Off the Wall (1979) and Thriller (1982). The success of Thriller, which still holds its place as the best selling album of all time with a reported 110 million units sold, often over shadowed Jackson's other projects. Prior to the release of Invincible, Jackson had not released any new material since Blood on the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix in 1997, or a studio album since HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I in 1995. Invincible was thus looked at as Jackson's 'career come back'.[1]

Invincible is dedicated to the fifteen-year-old Afro-Norwegian boy Benjamin "Benny" Hermansen who was stabbed to death by a group of neo-Nazis in Oslo, Norway, in January 2001.[4] The reason for this tribute was partly due to the fact that another Oslo youth, Omer Bhatti, Jackson's friend, was also a good friend of Hermansen.[4] The dedication in the album reads, "Michael Jackson gives 'special thanks': This album is dedicated to Benjamin 'Benny' Hermansen. May we continue to remember not to judge man by the color of his skin, but the content of his Character. Benjamin ... we love you ... may you rest in peace."[4] The album is also dedicated to Jackson's grandmother Nicholette Sottile and his parents Joseph and Katherine Jackson.[4]

Production[edit]

Jackson began recording new material for the album in October 2000, and finished with the album's recordings with "You Are My Life" being recorded only eight weeks before the album's release in October 2001.[5] The tracks with Rodney Jerkins were recorded at The Hit Factory in Miami, Florida.[6] Jackson had shown interest in including a rapper on at least one song, and had noted that he did not want a 'known rapper'.[5] Jackson's spokesperson suggested New Jersey rapper named Fats; after Jackson heard the finished product of the song, the two agreed to record another song together for the album.[5] Rodney Jerkins stated that Jackson was looking to record material in a different musical direction than his previous work, describing the new direction as "edgier".[5] Jackson received credit for both writing and producing a majority of the songs on Invincible. Aside from Jackson, the album features productions by Jerkins, Teddy Riley, Andre Harris, Andraeo "Fanatic" Heard, Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, R. Kelly and Dr. Freeze and writing credits from Kelly, Fred Jerkins III, LaShawn Daniels, Nora Payne and Robert Smith.[7] The album is the third collaboration between Jackson and Riley, the other two being Dangerous and Blood on the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix. Invincible is Jackson's tenth and final studio album to have been recorded and released.[5] It was reported that it cost thirty million dollars to make the album.[8] making it the most expensive album ever made.[9]

Composition[edit]

A thirty-second sample from the album's lead single "You Rock My World".

A twenty-eight-second sample from the album's second single "Cry". The song's lyrics are about wanting people to unite to help the world.

Problems playing these files? See media help.

Invincible is composed of R&B, hip hop, dance-pop, adult contemporary and urban songs.[10] Fourteen out of the album's sixteen tracks were written by Jackson. The album's full length is seventy-seven minutes eight seconds, and it contains 16 songs. It was noted that the album shifts between aggressive songs and ballads.[11] Invincible opens with "Unbreakable"; the last line in the first verse recites the lyrics, "With all that I've been through/I'm still around".[10] In a 2002 interview with the magazine Vibe, Jackson commented on his inspiration for writing "Speechless", saying

You'll be surprised. I was with these kids in Germany, and we had a big water-balloon fight - I'm serious - and I was so happy after the fight that I ran upstairs in their house and wrote "Speechless". Fun inspires me. I hate to say that, because it's such a romantic song. But it was the fight that did it. I was happy, and I wrote it in it's [sic] entirety right there. I felt it would be good enough for the album. Out of the bliss comes magic, wonderment, and creativity.[6]

"Privacy", a reflection on Jackson's own personal experiences, is about media invasions and tabloid inaccuracies.[10] "The Lost Children" is about imperiled children.[10] Jackson sings in a third person in "Whatever Happens". The song's lyrics, described by Rolling Stone magazine as having a "jagged intensity", narrate the story of two people involved in an unnamed threatening situation.[10] Invincible features four ballads: "You Are My Life", "Butterflies", "Don't Walk Away" and "Cry".[10] "Cry", similar to Jackson's "Man in the Mirror", is about healing the world together.[1] The lyrics to "Butterflies" and "Break of Dawn" were viewed as "glaringly" and being able to "emanate" to listeners.[11] "Threatened" was viewed as being a story teller.[10] The song was viewed as a "Thriller redux".[11] The song "You Are My Life" is about Jackson's two children at the time, Prince and Paris. The song features Jackson singing, "You are the sun, you make me shine, more like the stars."[11]

"Ekam Satyam", a track composed by Indian musician A. R. Rahman, was supposed to be included in the album. The song, written by Rahman along with Kanika Myer was performed by Jackson. Also considered to be released as a single, it was never released.[12][13] "Shout", a track produced by Teddy Riley, was originally supposed to be included on the album, but it was replaced at the last moment by "You Are My Life". The song later appeared as a B-Side track on the single release of "Cry".[14] Many other songs that were recorded during the Invincible sessions that did not make it into the album were featured on Jackson's posthumous albums Michael and Xscape, such as "(I Can't Make It) Another Day" and "A Place With No Name".

Contract issues[edit]

Jackson was waiting for licenses to the masters of his albums to revert to him, thus allowing him to promote his old material and preventing Sony from getting a cut of the profit. Jackson expected this to occur early in the new millennium, however, due to the fine print and various clauses in the contract, the revert date is still many years away. Jackson began an investigation, and it emerged that the attorney who represented the singer in the deal was also representing Sony, creating a conflict of interest.[3] Jackson was also concerned about another conflict of interest. For a number of years, Sony had been negotiating to buy Jackson's music catalog. If Jackson's career or financial situation were to deteriorate, it would be in Jackson's financial interest to sell his catalog. Thus, Sony had something to gain from Jackson's career failing.[2] Jackson was able to use these conflicts as leverage to exit his contract early.[3]

Just before the release of Invincible, Jackson informed the head of Sony Music Entertainment, Tommy Mottola he was leaving the record label.[3] As a result, all singles releases, video shootings and promotions concerning the Invincible album were cancelled. Jackson made allegations in July 2002 that Mottola was a "devil" and a "racist" who did not support his African-American artists, using them merely for his own personal gain.[3][8] He charged that Mottola had called his colleague Irv Gotti a "fat black nigger".[15] Sony disputed claims that they had failed to promote Invincible with sufficient energy, maintaining that Jackson refused to tour in the United States.[16] The singer accused Sony and the record industry of racism, deliberately not promoting or actively working against promotion of his album.[17]

Promotion and singles[edit]

It was reported that the album had a budget of twenty five million dollars set aside for promotion.[8][18] To help promote the album, a special 30th Anniversary celebration at Madison Square Garden occurred in September 2001 to mark Jackson's 30th year as a solo artist. The singer performed a song from Invincible and marked his first appearance onstage alongside his brothers for the first time since The Jacksons' Victory Tour in 1984.[19] The show also featured performances by Britney Spears, Mýa, Usher, Whitney Houston, Tamia, 'N Sync, and Slash, among other artists.[20] The show aired on CBS in November 2001, as a two-hour television special.

The album spawned three singles, "You Rock My World", "Cry" and "Butterflies", although none were released commercially in the United States. Jackson had wanted "Unbreakable" to be the lead single, but Sony ultimately chose "You Rock My World".[21] "You Rock My World" was only released to radio airplay in the United States, peaking at number ten on the Billboard Hot 100. Internationally, where it was released as a commercial single, it was more successful, peaking at number one in France, number two in Norway, Finland, Denmark, Belgium and the United Kingdom, number three in Italy, number four in Australia, and five in Sweden and Switzerland.[22] The second single, "Cry", was not released in the United States. It was only moderately successful, with the he song's most successful territories being Spain, Denmark, France and Belgium, charting at number six, sixteen, thirty and thirty one.[23]

The album's third single, "Butterflies", was only released to radio airplay in the United States. It peaked within the top twenty at number fourteen on the Billboard Hot 100 and at number two for five weeks on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles Chart.[24] "Heaven Can Wait" also charted at the bottom of the R&B/Hip-Hop Charts, at number seventy two due to radio airplay without an official release; the song did not chart internationally.[24] "Unbreakable" was supposed to be released as a single but it ultimately cancelled.[25]

Critical and public reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3/5 stars[1]
Blender 2/5 stars[26]
Robert Christgau A−[27]
Entertainment Weekly C−[11]
The Guardian 2/5 stars[28]
NME 6/10[29]
Q 3/5 stars[30]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars[10]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 1/5 stars[31]
Slant Magazine 2.5/5 stars[32]

Invincible received generally mixed reviews from contemporary music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalised rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 51 based on 19 reviews.[33] Allmusic editor Stephen Thomas Erlewine commented that it has a "spark" and "sound better than anything Jackson has done since Dangerous [in 1991]."[1] Erlewine noted that while the album had good material it was "not enough to make Invincible the comeback Jackson needed - he really would have had to have an album that sounded free instead of constrained for that to work - but it does offer a reminder that he can really craft good pop."[1] David Browne of Entertainment Weekly, felt that Invincible is Jackson's "first album since Off the Wall that offers virtually no new twists" but remarked that the album "feels like an anthology of his less-than-greatest hits".[11] James Hunter of Rolling Stone critiqued that the album's later ballads made the record too long.[10] Hunter also commented that Jackson and Riley made Invincible "something really handsome and smart", allowing listeners "to concentrate on the track's momentous rhythms" such as "Santana's passionate interjections and Lubbock's wonderfully arranged symphonic sweeps".[10] Mark Beaumont of NME called it "a relevant and rejuvenated comeback album made overlong",[29] while Blender also found it "long-winded".[26]

In his review for The Village Voice, Robert Christgau said that that Jackson's skills as a musician are often forgotten, but noting that the album seemed too long compared to other Jackson albums.[27] While Christgau felt some material was "offensive", he described the album's first three tracks as being the "Rodney Jerkins of the year" adding that he did not "believe the [album's] hype matters".[27] Nikki Tranter of PopMatters said that it is both innovative and meaningful because exceptional songs such as "The Lost Children" and "Whatever Happens" more than make up for overly sentimental songs like "Heaven Can Wait" and "You Are My Life".[34] Q magazine said that it is an aurally interesting, albeit inconsistent, album.[30] In a negative review for The New York Times, Jon Pareles suggested that the album is somewhat impersonal and humorless, as Jackson rehashes ideas from his past songs and is "so busy trying to dazzle listeners that he forgets to have any fun."[35] In a retrospective review for The Rolling Stone Album Guide, Pareles said that Invincible showed Jackson had lost his suave quality to "grim calculation".[31]

Shortly after the release of the album, in a poll conducted by Billboard magazine, "an overwhelming majority" of people—79% of 5,195 voters—were not surprised by Invincible entering the Billboard 200 at number one.[36] Billboard also reported that 44% agreed with the statement, proclaiming that Jackson was "still the King of Pop". Another 35% said they were not surprised by the album's ranking, but doubted Invincible would hold on for a second week at the top of the chart.[36] Only 12% of people who responded to the poll said they were surprised by the album's charting debut because of Jackson's career over past six years and another 9% were taken aback by the album's success, due to light of the negativity that preceded the album's release.[36] Invincible received one Grammy Award nomination at the 2002 ceremony. The album's song "You Rock My World" was nominated for Best Pop Vocal Performance - Male, but lost to James Taylor's "Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight".[37] Due to the album's release in October 2001, it was not eligible for any other nomination from the 2002 Grammy Awards.[38] In December 2009, readers of Billboard magazine voted Invincible as the best album of the decade, from their readers poll.[39]

Commercial performance[edit]

Invincible was Jackson's first studio album to be released in four years, since Blood on the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix in 1997.[40] In the album's first week of release, with the sales of 363,000 units, the album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 on the charts issue date of November 17, 2001.[40][41] Invincible was Jackson's fifth number one entry on the Billboard 200,[40] and the fourth to chart at number one in its debut week as a solo artist. Despite the first week sales of Invincible being good, the album sold less than HIStory in its opening week, with the album having sold 391,000 units.[40] Invincible also charted at number one on Billboards R&B/Hip Hop Albums Chart for four weeks.[42] After eight weeks of release, in December 2001, Invincible was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for the sales of five hundred thousand units.[43] In the same month the album was certified platinum for the sale of one million units.[43] On January 25, 2002, the album was certified two times platinum for the sales of two million units.[43] Some of the songs from Invincible would be used for the Immortal World Tour[44]

Internationally, Invincible was a commercial success. The album peaked at number one in twelve countries worldwide,[40] including the United Kingdom, Australia, Belgium, Denmark, The Netherlands, Germany, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland.[40][45] It also charted within the top ten in several countries, including Austria, Canada, Finland, Italy, New Zealand, and Norway.[45] Mexico was the album's least successful charting territory, peaking within the top thirty at number twenty nine.[45] The album has reportedly sold 13 million units worldwide.[46] However, the sales for Invincible were notably low compared to his previous releases, due in part to a diminishing pop music industry, the lack of promotion, no supporting world tour and the label dispute.[2] Commenting on the sales of Invincible back in late 2003, Bernard Zuel of The Sydney Morning Herald stated:

"Holly Valance or Delta Goodrem would think their Christmases had come at once if they sold five or six million copies of their albums worldwide. Michael Jackson did something similar in the past two years with his seventh solo album, Invincible, and he's been branded a failure in the industry and the media. Unfair? Yes, of course, because his Invincible figures are better than those for 95 per cent of the thousands of artists released each year and would provide a healthy retirement fund for anyone. What's more, that failure tag is consistently applied by comparisons with his 1982 album, Thriller, which has sold about 100 million copies and its follow-ups, Bad, that sold about 30 million copies. However, selling 10 million copies is still phenomenal compared to the album sales of most artists."[17]

In 2004, Invincible re-entered Billboard charts. Invincible placed at 154 on the Billboard 200 on December 4, 2004.[47] The album also peaked at number forty eight on the Billboards R&B/Hip Hop Albums Chart on the charts issue date of December 4.[47] Following Jackson's death in June 2009, his music experienced a surge in popularity.[48] Invincible charted at number twelve on Billboards Digital Albums Chart on July 11, 2009.[49] Having not charted on the chart prior to its peak position, the album was listed as the ninth biggest jump on that chart that week.[49] It also charted within the top ten, peaking at number nine, on Billboard's Catalog Albums Chart on the issue date of July 18.[47] On the week of July 19, 2009, Invincible charted at number eighteen in Italy.[50] Invincible peaked at number sixty four on the European Albums Chart on the charts issue date of July 25.[51] The album also charted at number twenty nine in Mexico in July,[52] and eighty four on the Swiss Albums Chart on July 19, 2009.[53]

Internationally, the album has received multiple certifications. Invincible was certified platinum by the British Phonographic Industry, for the sales of over 300,000 units in the United Kingdom.[54] The album was certified platinum by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) for the sales of 40,000 units in Switzerland.[55] The IFPI also certified the album gold in Austria for the sales of 15,000 units.[56] Australian Recording Industry Association certified Invincible two times platinum for the sales of 140,000 units in Australia.[57] Other certifications include, a gold certification from Argentine Chamber of Phonograms and Videograms Producers for the sales of 20,000 units in Argentina.[58]

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s) Length
1. "Unbreakable" (featuring The Notorious B.I.G.) Michael Jackson, Rodney Jerkins, Fred Jerkins III, LaShawn Daniels, Nora Payne, Robert Smith, Christopher Wallace Michael Jackson, Rodney Jerkins 6:26
2. "Heartbreaker" (featuring Fats) Jackson, Jerkins, Jerkins III, Daniels, Mischke Butler, Norman Gregg Michael Jackson, Rodney Jerkins 5:11
3. "Invincible" (featuring Fats) Jackson, Jerkins, Jerkins III, Daniels, Gregg Michael Jackson, Rodney Jerkins 4:46
4. "Break of Dawn"   Dr. Freeze, Jackson Michael Jackson, Dr. Freeze 5:32
5. "Heaven Can Wait"   Jackson, Teddy Riley, Andreao Heard, Nate Smith, Teron Beal, Eritza Laues, Kenny Quiller Michael Jackson, Teddy Riley, Andreao Heard (co), Nate Smith (co) 4:49
6. "You Rock My World"   Jackson, Jerkins, Jerkins III, Daniels, Payne Michael Jackson, Rodney Jerkins 5:39
7. "Butterflies"   Andre Harris, Marsha Ambrosius Michael Jackson, Andre Harris 4:41
8. "Speechless"   Jackson Michael Jackson 3:21
9. "2000 Watts"   Jackson, Riley, Tyrese Gibson, Jaron Henson Michael Jackson, Teddy Riley 4:25
10. "You Are My Life"   Jackson, Babyface, Carole Bayer Sager, John McClain Michael Jackson, Babyface 4:33
11. "Privacy" (featuring Slash) Jackson, Jerkins, Jerkins III, Daniels, Bernard Belle Michael Jackson, Rodney Jerkins 5:05
12. "Don't Walk Away"   Jackson, Riley, Richard Stites, Reed Vertelney Michael Jackson, Teddy Riley, Richard Stites (co) 4:24
13. "Cry"   R. Kelly Michael Jackson, R. Kelly 5:00
14. "The Lost Children"   Jackson Michael Jackson 4:00
15. "Whatever Happens" (featuring Carlos Santana) Jackson, Riley, Gil Cang, Jasmine Quay, Geoffrey Williams Michael Jackson, Teddy Riley 4:58
16. "Threatened"   Jackson, Jerkins, Jerkins III, Daniels Michael Jackson, Rodney Jerkins 4:20
Notes

Personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from Invincible album liner notes.[7]

Charts[edit]

Chart (2001/2002) Peak
position
Australian Albums Chart[45] 1
Austrian Albums Chart[45] 2
Belgium Albums Chart[40] 1
Canadian Top 50[47] 3
Danish Albums Chart[45] 1
Denmark Albums Chart[45] 1
Finnish Albums Chart[45] 7
French Albums Chart[61] 1
German Albums Chart[40] 1
Italian Albums Chart[45] 2
Mexican Albums Chart[45] 29
New Zealand Albums Chart[45] 4
Norwegian Albums Chart[45] 1
Portuguese Albums Chart[45] 8
Swedish Albums Chart[45] 1
Swiss Albums Chart[45] 1
UK Albums Chart[54] 1
US Billboard 200[41] 1
US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums[47] 1
Chart (2004) Peak
position
US Billboard 200[47] 154
US Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums[47] 48
Chart (2009) Peak
position
Australian Albums Chart[62] 43
European Albums Chart[51] 64
Italian Albums Chart[50] 18
Mexican Albums Chart[52] 29
Swiss Albums Chart[53] 84
US Catalogue Albums Chart[47] 9
US Digital Albums Chart[49] 12

Certifications[edit]

Country Certification
(sales thresholds)
Argentina Gold[58]
Australia 2× Platinum[57]
Austria Gold[56]
Europe 2x Platinum[63]
Finland Gold[64]
France Platinum[65]
Germany Platinum[66]
Mexico Gold[67]
Netherlands Platinum[68]
New Zealand Platinum[69]
Norway Platinum[70]
Poland Gold[71]
Portugal Gold[72]
Sweden Gold[73]
Switzerland Platinum[55]
United Kingdom Platinum[74]
United States 2× Platinum[43]

References[edit]

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Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]

Preceded by
The Great Depression by DMX
Billboard 200 number-one album
November 17–24, 2001
Succeeded by
Britney by Britney Spears