You Are Not Alone

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This article is about the Michael Jackson song. For other uses, see You're Not Alone (disambiguation).
"You Are Not Alone"
Single by Michael Jackson
from the album HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I
Released August 15, 1995
Format CD single, 7", 12", Video promo
Recorded November 1994
Chicago Recording Company
(Chicago, Illinois)[1]
Genre R&B, soul
Length 5:45 (album version)
4:34 (radio edit)
4:56 (single version)
5:35 (video edit)
6:01 (long version)
Label Epic
Writer(s) Robert Kelly
Producer(s) R. Kelly, Michael Jackson
Certification Platinum (U.S.)
Michael Jackson singles chronology
"Scream/Childhood"
(1995)
"You Are Not Alone"
(1995)
"Earth Song"
(1995)
HIStory Continues track listing
"Come Together"
(8)
"You Are Not Alone"
(9)
"Childhood"
(10)

"You Are Not Alone" is the second single from Michael Jackson's album HIStory. The R&B ballad's composition has been attributed by R. Kelly in response to difficult times in his personal life. He then forwarded a bare demo tape to Jackson, who liked the song and decided to produce it with Kelly. Jackson's interest in the song was also linked to recent events in his personal life. However, the song has been faced with allegations of plagiarism by two Belgian songwriters. The song was later covered by R. Kelly himself as a hidden track on his tenth solo studio album Love Letter.

The vast majority of critical reaction to "You Are Not Alone" was positive, although it did not attain unanimous praise. The song was the recipient of Grammy and American Music Award nominations. The corresponding music video, which featured Jackson and his then-wife Lisa Marie Presley was also notable for its scenes of semi-nudity.

Commercially, the song was a significant success. It holds a Guinness World Record as the first song in the 37-year history of the Billboard Hot 100 to debut at number one; it was later certified platinum by the RIAA. The song peaked highly in all major markets. "You Are Not Alone" was Michael Jackson's last number one hit song in the United States during his lifetime.

A clip of the song was remixed and released in 2011, as a song with "I Just Can't Stop Loving You", on the Immortal album.

Production and music[edit]

Excerpt of the R. Kelly penned second single from HIStory. The excerpt shows the final product, after Jackson co-produced the bare demo.

Problems playing this file? See media help.

"You Are Not Alone" is a R&B ballad about love and isolation.[2][3] The song was written by R. Kelly and produced by Kelly and Jackson.[2] Kelly wrote the song after the loss of close people in his life.[4] Kelly was delighted to be able to work with his idol, explaining "I was psyched ... I feel I could have done his whole album. Not being selfish. I was just that geeked about it. It was an experience out of this world ... It's amazing to know that five years ago I was writing songs in a basement in the ghetto and now I'm writing for Michael Jackson ... I'd be a fool not to say it's a dream come true."[5] Jackson contacted Kelly to see if he had any material available. Kelly forwarded a tape recording of the song and Jackson then agreed to work with Kelly on the piece.[5] On the tape sent to Jackson, Kelly sung "You Are Not Alone" mimicking Jackson's vocal style, explaining, "I think I am him. I become him. I want him to feel that as well." Jackson found the interpretation amusing.[6] They spent the last week of November 1994 together in the studio working on the track.[5]

Jackson explained that he instantly liked the song, but listened to it twice before making his final decision. Although the song was written by Kelly, Jackson was adamant that the production should be a collaborative effort amongst the two musicians.[4] The tape sent to him had no harmony or modulations, so Jackson added a choir in the final portion and added a sense of climax and structure to the final piece.[7] The song has a tempo of 60 beats per minute, making it one of Jackson's slowest songs.[8]

Critical reaction[edit]

'You Are Not Alone' received positive views from music critics. James Hunter of Rolling Stone noted that, "the excellent current single 'Scream' or the first-rate R&B ballad 'You Are Not Alone' – manage to link the incidents of Jackson's infamous recent past to universal concepts like injustice or isolation. When he bases his music in the bluntness of hip-hop, Jackson sketches funky scenarios denouncing greed, blanket unreliability and false accusation".[3] Jon Pareles of The New York Times said that it was the only conventional love song on the new material on HIStory. He compared it to Mariah Carey's song "Hero" and said it "sounds like a surefire hit".[2] In more recent years, Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic expressed the opinion that "You Are Not Alone" was amongst some the best songs Jackson ever released, calling the song seductive.[9] The R&B critic and journalist Nelson George described the song as lovely and supple.[10]

Writer and journalist J. Randy Taraborrelli wrote of the song in 2004, "[it] remains among Michael's best songs ... On listening to 'You Are Not Alone', one wonders how many times Michael tried to tell himself, during his most desperate and anguished times, that he did have support in his life, from a higher power, or even friends and family, whether he actually believed it or not".[11] Fred Shuster of the Daily News of Los Angeles described it as the best song on the album.[12] Conversely, while Steve Holsey of Michigan Chronicle gave the album a positive review, he described the song as the worst on the album, calling the Kelly penned lyrics "trite" and below the standard set by Jackson's own lyrical skills.[13] "You Are Not Alone" received an American Music Award nomination and a Grammy nomination both for "Best Pop Vocal Performance".[14]

Chart performance[edit]

Commercially, "You Are Not Alone" remains one of Jackson's best selling singles. It holds the Guinness World Record for the first song ever to debut at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.[15] First week sales were 120,000 copies, it was certified platinum by the RIAA for shipments of at least one million units within the US.[16][17][18] It broke the record set by his previous single "Scream/Childhood," which was the first song in the 37 year history of Billboard to debut at number five—where it peaked.[17] It peaked at number one in the UK after a debut at number three in the prior week.[17][19] The song also reached number one in Wallonia, France, New Zealand, Spain and Switzerland. In Canada it peaked at number 2.[20] With the exception of Italy, it became a top ten hit in every major market.[17][20]

Music video[edit]

Presley leans down towards her husband in the temple scene of the music video.

The music video was directed by Wayne Isham on July 12, 1995 and begins with a large number of paparazzi taking photographs of Jackson. The plot then centers around two locations: a temple where Jackson appears in an affectionate semi-nude scene with his then-wife Lisa Marie Presley and a theater where Jackson performs the song to an empty hall. Jackson also appears alone in other locations such as deserts and along tide pools. The slightly extended version that appeared on HIStory on Film, Volume II was notable for a scene where special effects were used to give Jackson white, feathery, almost angelic wings. The other version of the video is included on Number Ones and Michael Jackson's Vision. The temple scenes were a homage to Maxfield Parrish's 1922 painting "Daybreak".[21] The theater scenes was filmed at the Pantages Theatre, in Los Angeles.

In one scene, Jackson originally appeared in complete nudity, but just before the video aired a decision was made to use special effects to remove or cover these aspects.[22] Despite giving the song a positive review, Taraborrelli said of the video, "The only problem with 'You Are Not Alone' was the bizarre video for it, in which Michael and Lisa Marie frolic about semi-nude against an ethereal backdrop...The semi-nudity made no sense and was a bit disconcerting; one wished they would put their clothes back on".[11] Afterward, Presley expressed regret about doing the video, saying she was "sucked up in the moment. It was kind of cool being in a Michael Jackson video. Come on!".[11]

Live performances[edit]

In live performances, You Are Not Alone was always lip-synced until the end, when the chorus is repeated in a capella and Jackson sings ad-libs live. Michael first performed "You Are Not Alone" at the 1995 Soul Train Music Awards, then at the 1995 MTV Video Music Awards. At the latter awards ceremony, the song was performed without the second verse. Jackson then performed the song at the Royal Brunei concert in 1996 where it was performed as a complete song. Jackson also performed it during the HIStory World Tour as a complete song, during which one lucky girl was allowed to dance with him on stage, similar to the Soul Train Music Awards performance. Michael's next performance of "You Are Not Alone", which also turned out to be the song's last performance by Jackson himself occurred in 1999 during the two MJ & Friends concerts in Seoul and Munich, the former performance being ten years to the day of his death. The song was performed without the second verse, similar to the "1995 MTV Awards" performance. The song was also due to be performed at the This Is It concert series, however the shows were cancelled due to his untimely death.

Diana Ross recorded a version of this song on her international-only released album, "Voice of Love" produced by Nick Martinelli. Diana would also close her successful 2010-12 "More Today Than Yesterday: The Greatest Hits Tour with this song as a tribute to Jackson.

Plagiarism[edit]

In 2007, a Belgian court ruled that R. Kelly had plagiarized the 1993 song "If We Can Start All Over" when composing "You Are Not Alone". The court transferred rights of Jackson's hit to the twin composer brothers, Eddy and Danny Van Passel. The judgment is only recognized in Belgium and airplay of the hit has been banned in that nation.[23][24][25]

Charts[edit]

Preceded by
"Kiss from a Rose" by Seal
Billboard Hot 100 number-one single
(Michael Jackson version)

September 2, 1995
Succeeded by
"Gangsta's Paradise" by Coolio featuring L.V.
Preceded by
"Country House" by Blur
UK Singles Chart number-one single
(Michael Jackson version)

September 3, 1995 – September 17, 1995
Succeeded by
"Boombastic" by Shaggy
Preceded by
"Boombastic" by Shaggy
Billboard's Hot R&B Songs number-one single
(Michael Jackson version)

September 2, 1995 – September 23, 1995
Succeeded by
"Fantasy" by Mariah Carey
Preceded by
"XXL" by Mylène Farmer
French number-one single
(Michael Jackson version)

September 30, 1995 – October 7, 1995
Succeeded by
"Je sais pas" by Céline Dion
Preceded by
"Fight For This Love" by Cheryl Cole
Irish Singles Chart number-one single
(The X Factor Finalists 2009 version)

November 19, 2009 – December 3, 2009
Succeeded by
"Bad Romance" by Lady Gaga
Preceded by
"Meet Me Halfway" by Black Eyed Peas
UK Singles Chart number-one single
(The X Factor Finalists 2009 version)

November 22, 2009 – November 28, 2009
Succeeded by
"The Official BBC Children in Need Medley" by Peter Kay
UK Download Chart number-one download
(The X Factor Finalists 2009 version)

November 22, 2009 – November 28, 2009
Succeeded by
"Whatcha Say" by Jason Derülo

Track listing[edit]

The X Factor UK 2009 finalists version[edit]

"You Are Not Alone"
Single by The X Factor Finalists 2009
Released November 15, 2009 (2009-11-15)
Format CD single, digital single
Genre Pop, R&B
Label Syco
Writer(s) R. Kelly
The X Factor finalists chronology
"Hero"
(2008)
"You Are Not Alone"
(2009)
"Heroes"
(2010)

The final twelve acts from the sixth series of TV talent show The X Factor in the United Kingdom released a cover version of the song on November 15, 2009 in aid of Great Ormond Street Hospital.[45] The finalists premiered the song live on the November 15 edition of the programme; the single was available for digital download that day and a physical release followed the day after.[45] The release of the song follows a similar occurrence a year earlier, when the final twelve acts from the fifth series released a cover version of Mariah Carey's "Hero" in aid of Help for Heroes and raised over £1 million.[46] It has been confirmed to have sold over 400,000 copies, therefore achieving a Gold single certification.

Music video[edit]

The video is very similar to the video of the cover version of the charity single of the year before. It shows various contestants performing their part in front of a plain black background, then shows the 12 finalists together performing the song in front of a screen of photos. Photos and video footage of the finalists at the Great Ormond Street Hospital are shown throughout the video.

Charts[edit]

Chart (2009) Peak
position
Irish Singles Chart[47] 1
UK Singles Chart[48] 1
Eurochart Hot 100[49] 10

End-of-year charts[edit]

Chart (2009) Position
UK Singles Chart[50] 28

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ DeRogatis, Jim (December 2, 1994). "Making `HIStory' Jackson Teams With R. Kelly on Album Here". Chicago Sun Times. News Bank. Retrieved April 3, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c Pareles, Jon (June 18, 1995). "Pop View; Michael Jackson Is Angry, Understand?". The New York Times. Retrieved September 18, 2008. 
  3. ^ a b Hunter, James (August 10, 1995). "Michael Jackson HIStory". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on June 22, 2008. Retrieved July 23, 2008. 
  4. ^ a b Screamin' Siblings: Michael & Janet (Televised interview/press conference). Bryant Park, Manhattan: MTV. June 1995. Retrieved October 6, 2008. 
  5. ^ a b c Brown, p. 56
  6. ^ Brown, p. 57
  7. ^ Grant, Adrian (1998). Michael Jackson : Making History. Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-7119-6723-7. 
  8. ^ The Complete Michael Jackson, International Music Publications Ltd, 1997, ISBN 1859094473, p104
  9. ^ Erlewine, Stephen. "Michael Jackson HIStory Overview". Allmusic. Retrieved June 15, 2008. 
  10. ^ George, p. 24
  11. ^ a b c Taraborrelli, p. 609–610
  12. ^ Shuster, Fred (June 18, 1995). "Jackson attempts to rewrite 'history'". Daily News of Los Angeles. Retrieved November 7, 2008. 
  13. ^ Holsey, Steve (July 4, 1995). "Jackson's 'HIStory' is an impressive one". Michigan Chronicle. Retrieved November 11, 2008. 
  14. ^ George, p. 49
  15. ^ "Jackson receives his World Records". Yahoo!. November 14, 2006. Retrieved November 16, 2006. 
  16. ^ Hochman, Steve (September 3, 1995). "Rewriting Pop HIStory; Michael Jackson's publicists are crowing about new single's unprecedented success, but skeptics abound.". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 10, 2008. 
  17. ^ a b c d e George, p. 48
  18. ^ "RIAA Gold and Platinum, search database". RIAA. Retrieved November 9, 2008. 
  19. ^ Pinkerton, Lee (1997). The Many Faces of Michael Jackson. Music Sales Distribution. ISBN 0-7119-6783-0. 
  20. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o "M. Jackson & J. Jackson – You Are Not Alone (nummer)". ultratop.be. Retrieved November 9, 2008. 
  21. ^ "Famous Art inspired You are Not Alone". 
  22. ^ Kennedy, Helen (July 28, 1995). "Jacko has video surgery". New York Daily News. Archived from the original on December 1, 2008. Retrieved November 11, 2008. 
  23. ^ "Belgian court rules Michael Jackson hit was plagiarized". CBC news. September 12, 2007. Retrieved November 10, 2008. 
  24. ^ Friedman, Roger (October 11, 2007). "Britney Spears' 'Blackout' Hits Internet". Fox News Channel. Retrieved November 10, 2008. 
  25. ^ "R Kelly 'copied Belgian song'". The Independent. UK. September 12, 2007. Retrieved November 11, 2008. [dead link]
  26. ^ Lwin, Nanda. Top 40 Hits: The Essential Chart Guide 1975–1999. Mississauga, Ontario: Music Data Research. ISBN 1-896594-13-1.
  27. ^ Irish Recording Music Association (August 24, 1995). "Irish Singles Chart (searchable database)". irishcharts.ie. Retrieved December 8, 2008. 
  28. ^ Romanian peak
  29. ^ a b "Swiss Singles Chart Archives". hitparade.ch. Retrieved July 18, 2009. 
  30. ^ "Artist Chart History – Michael Jackson". Billboard. Retrieved November 5, 2008. 
  31. ^ "Download French Single Top 50". France. lescharts. Retrieved December 30, 2009. 
  32. ^ "New Zealand Singles Chart". RIANZ. Retrieved July 7, 2009. 
  33. ^ Steffen Hung. "Michael Jackson – You Are Not Alone". swedishcharts.com. Retrieved October 10, 2011. 
  34. ^ "UK Singles Chart". The Official UK Charts Company. Archived from the original on July 30, 2008. Retrieved July 6, 2009. 
  35. ^ "U.S. Billboard Hot Digital Songs". Billboard. Retrieved October 10, 2011. 
  36. ^ "Billboard Top 100 – 1995". Retrieved August 27, 2010. 
  37. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 2009 Singles". Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved 2012-12-03. 
  38. ^ "Austrian single certifications – Michael Jackson – You Are Not Alone" (in German). IFPI Austria. Retrieved 2012-12-03.  Enter Michael Jackson in the field Interpret. Enter You Are Not Alone in the field Titel. Select single in the field Format. Click Suchen
  39. ^ "French single certifications – Michael Jackson – You Are Not Alone" (in French). InfoDisc. Retrieved 2012-12-03.  Select MICHAEL JACKSON and click OK
  40. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Michael Jackson; 'You Are Not Alone')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. Retrieved 2012-12-03. 
  41. ^ "New Zealand single certifications – Michael Jackson – You Are Not Alone". Recording Industry Association of New Zealand. Retrieved 2012-12-03. 
  42. ^ "The Official Swiss Charts and Music Community: Awards (Michael Jackson; 'You Are Not Alone')". Hung Medien. Retrieved 2012-12-03. 
  43. ^ "British single certifications – Michael Jackson – You Are Not Alone". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 2012-12-03.  Enter You Are Not Alone in the field Search. Select Title in the field Search by. Select single in the field By Format. Click Go
  44. ^ "American single certifications – Michael Jackson – You Are Not Alone". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 2012-12-03.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH
  45. ^ a b "First look at The X Factor contestants' charity single!". Heatworld.com. October 30, 2009. Retrieved October 30, 2009. 
  46. ^ Routledge, Rebecca (October 25, 2009). "'X Factor' stars record charity single". Digital Spy. Retrieved October 30, 2009. 
  47. ^ "Irish Singles Chart – The X Factor 2009". Irma.ie. October 6, 2011. Retrieved October 10, 2011. 
  48. ^ "Radio 1 – Chart – The Official UK Top 40 Singles Chart". BBC. Retrieved October 10, 2011. 
  49. ^ "European Hot 100". Billboard. December 11, 2010. Retrieved October 10, 2011. 
  50. ^ "Charts Plus Year end 2009" (PDF). Charts Plus. Retrieved July 19, 2010. 

References[edit]

External links[edit]