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Butterflies (Michael Jackson song)

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Single by Michael Jackson
from the album Invincible
ReleasedFebruary 8, 2002 (2002-02-08)
FormatCD single, 12" single
Songwriter(s)Andre Harris, Marsha Ambrosius,Michael Jackson
Producer(s)Michael Jackson, Andre Harris
Michael Jackson singles chronology
"One More Chance"
Music video
"Butterflies (Audio)" on YouTube
Audio sample

"Butterflies" is a song by American singer, songwriter, and dancer Michael Jackson. It was written and composed by Andre Harris and Marsha Ambrosius, and produced by Jackson and Harris. The track appears on Jackson's tenth studio album, Invincible (2001), and is Jackson's final single from a studio album. The song also appeared in "The Ultimate Collection" (2004). "Butterflies" is a midtempo ballad. The single received generally positive reviews from music critics; some music reviewers described the song as being one of the best songs on Invincible while others felt that it was a "decent track".

The song was only released in the United States to radio airplay. It peaked at number fourteen on the Billboard Hot 100, and also charting at number two and thirty-six, respectively, on alternative Billboard charts in 2001 and 2002. There was no music video released for the song.

Background and development[edit]

"Butterflies" was recorded by Michael Jackson in 2001 for his tenth studio album, Invincible, which was released the same year.[1] The song was written by Andre Harris and Marsha Ambrosius, who is one half of the London bred neo-soul act Floetry,[2] and was produced by Jackson and Harris.[1] Jackson first met Ambrosius and Natalie Stewart, who is also a member of Floetry, through John McClain, who is DreamWorks's senior urban executive and Jackson's manager.[2] Stewart said she was surprised that Jackson invited her and Ambrosius to a studio and asked for their input on the recording of the track.[2] She recalled in an interview with LAUNCH magazine, "It was incredible because he asked, he continually asked, 'Marsh, what's the next harmony? Girls, does this sound right? What do you think? Is this what you were looking for? He was so open".[2]

When Ambrosius first met Jackson, it took a few minutes to calm down.[2] She recalled to the same publication Stewart was interviewed by, "To begin with, I was kinda shook. Because you don't realize how you're going to feel until you're put in that situation. I had the tears in my eyes and got kinda nervous. But as I got into it, I realized it was work, it was a job. I had to vocally conduct a legend."[2] Harris commented on the single, "He's showing you, I'm still the Michael Jackson that did 'Billie Jean' and 'Rock With You' because 'Butterflies' really falls along those lines."[3] Unlike the previous single released from Invincible, a music video was not made to promote the song.[4]


"Butterflies" is a midtempo love ballad song with groove musical influences.[5][6][7] Vaughn Watson of the Providence Journal noted that the track is a "velvety old-school soul ballad" with "elegiac horn riffs" and "simple '70s-style David Ruffin soul."[8] Stephen Thomas Erlewine, a writer for Allmusic noted that "Butterflies" had "Bacharach-styled horns."[9] Lonell Broadnax, Jr., a contributing writer to the Daily Helmsman Online felt that "Butterflies" is a soulful song which takes Jackson back to his "rhythm and blues roots".[10] Ben Rayer of the Toronto Star felt that the song had a "oozy slow jam".[11] "Butterflies" is written in the time signature of common time.[12] Throughout the song Jackson's vocal range spans from E3 to E5.[12] The track is played in the key of A major.[12] "Butterflies" has a moderately slowly tempo and its metronome is ninety-two beats per minute.[12] Lyrically, "Butterflies" describes the feeling of being in love. Archin K of HumboDumbo says the song talks about "that once fell in love".

Plans to be performed on This Is It[edit]

"Butterflies" was considered to be performed on cancelled This Is It concerts that planned to run from July 2009 to March 2010. However, this song was ultimately off the final set list. Later, members of band shared set lists for the shows. "Butterflies" was marked as an additional material. That set list was dated May 22, 2009

Critical response[edit]

The track received generally positive reviews from music critics. Ken Barnes of USA Today described the song as being a "hopelessly sappy ballad oozing with fuzzy sentiments. I'd say it's more like caterpillars."[13] Frank Kogan of The Village Voice, citing the lyrics, "I would give you anything baby, just make my dreams come true/Oh baby you give me butterflies" wrote "so, would he give her, like, caterpillars in exchange? birds?" and added that what grabs his attention about a song like "Butterflies" is not the "melody but the weirdly ringing wrench-against-faucet clang on the backbeat."[14] Christie Leo of the New Straits Times gave the track a more positive review, calling the song a "luxuriant" ballad.[6] Pop music critic Robert Hilburn, writing for the Los Angeles Times, described "Butterflies", and another song from Invincible ("Speechless"), as being "as woefully generic as their titles".[15] A journalist of the same publication felt that track was about romantic "jitters".[16] Darryl Frierson of University Wire felt that songs like "Butterflies" can set the "mood for any romantic interlude".[17] Joel Rubinoff of The Record said that "Butterflies" was one of the "only good songs" from Invincible,[18] while a writer for The Atlanta Journal cited the song as being a "decent track".[19]

A writer for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution viewed "Butterflies" as being "laid-back".[3] Mark Anthony Neal of PopMatters wrote in his music review for Jackson's 2002 album, entitled Love Songs, that in song's such as "Butterflies", it shows the "essence" of Jackson's "genius has been in the boy's uncanny ability to perform, even the mundane, outside of the box."[20] Elliot Sylvester of The Independent felt that ballads on Invincible such as "Speechless and "Butterflies" are "almost to a formulaic fault."[21] Chicago Tribune rock music critic Greg Kot said that Jackson is not "convincing as the vulnerable ladies' man on drippy ballads" such as "Butterflies".[22] Stephen Thomas Erlewine, a writer for Allmusic, commented that Invincible was "highlighted" by "lovely ballads" such as "Break of Dawn" and "Butterflies".[9] David Browne of Entertainment Weekly wrote in his review for Invincible that, "The ballads are a squishy bunch with glaringly banal lyrics, pleasantries like 'Butterflies' and 'Break of Dawn' that could emanate from just about" anyone.[23] A journalist for The Philadelphia Inquirer called the track "gorgeous"[24] and Bomani Jones of called "Butterflies" a "sparkling" track.[25] Ben Rayer of the Toronto Star wrote that Jackson "fares best" on "Butterflies".[11]

Catherine Halaby of the Yale Daily News said that songs on the album like "Heaven Can Wait", "Butterflies", and "You Are My Life" "fulfill the quota for sugary ballads".[26] Jon Pareles, writing for The New York Times, said that tracks on Invincible like "Butterflies"' and "Don't Walk Away" are "melting love ballads".[7] Pareles noted in his review for the album that songs on it are recurring themes present on Jackson's albums, such as love ballads, as well as tracks pertaining to making the world a better place.[7] Tim Perzyk of the Duke Chronicle wrote, "By the time 'Butterflies' spins on track seven, it's unclear why Michael didn't record a collaborative boxed set with Mariah Carey, whose 'Heartbreaker,' 'Breakdown' and 'Butterfly' would fit quite nicely" into Jackson's Invincible album.[27] Pop music critic Craid Seymour of the Buffalo News wrote that "another winning tune" on the album is the "dreamy 'Butterflies,' which flows along at a groovy midtempo pace."[5] Kevin C. Johnson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch described "Butterflies" as being about the "feeling that special someone gives him."[28] Music critics writing for the South Florida Sun Sentinel said that the track shows the "shy, loving, gentle side" of Jackson.[29]

Chart performance[edit]

"Butterflies" entered the Billboard Hot 100 chart in early November 2001, at number sixty.[2] The single eventually peaked at number fourteen on the Billboard Hot 100 the week ending January 26, 2002. The track also charted within the top ten, peaking at number two, on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart on January 26, 2002;[30] the song was held from the top position from Ja Rule and Ashanti's "Always on Time" 2001 single.[31] In 2002, "Butterflies" also peaked at number thirty-six on the Billboard Top 40 Mainstream chart.[30] The track, which was released as a promotional single internationally, did not chart on any music charts outside of the United States.[32] The song was Jackson's last hit single in the United States in the final years of his career.

Track listings[edit]

Promo CD single (Epic ESK 54863)[32]
  1. "Butterflies" (album version) – 4:40
Michael Jackson - Butterflies (Track Masters Remix)[33]
  • A1. "Butterflies" (Master Mix) (featuring Eve) – 3:47
  • A2. "Butterflies" (Michael a cappella) – 2:13
  • B1. "Butterflies" (Eve a cappella) (featuring Eve) – 3:47
  • B2. "Butterflies" (Master Mix Instrumental) – 3:47

Credits and personnel[edit]

  • Written and composed by Andre Harris, Michael Jackson and Marsha Ambrosius
  • Produced by Michael Jackson and Andre Harris
  • Lead vocal by Michael Jackson
  • Background vocals by Michael Jackson and Marsha Ambrosius
  • All musical instruments performed by Andre Harris
  • Horns by Norman Jeff Bradshaw and Matt Cappy
  • Recorded by Andre Harris and Bruce Swedien
  • Assistant engineering by Vidal Davis
  • Mixed by Bruce Rammkisoon



Chart (2001–02) Peak
US Billboard Hot 100[30] 14
US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs[30] 2
US Billboard Top 40 Mainstream[30] 36


  1. ^ a b Invincible liner notes Epic Records (2001)
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Johnson Jr., Billy (2001-11-15). "Songwriter Gets The 'Butterflies'". Yahoo Music. Yahoo Inc. Retrieved 2010-05-08.
  3. ^ a b "With a new album, a popular single, and in demand as a hot commodity on television, Michael Jackson proves he's still.... A fan favorite". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Cox Enterprises. 2002-01-09. Retrieved 2010-05-08.
  4. ^ Phillips, Chuck (2002-07-09). "Power, Money Behind Jackson's Attack on Sony, Insiders Say; Music: Some in the industry question the pop singer's motives in going after his longtime record company". Los Angeles Times. Tribune Company. Retrieved 2010-05-08.
  5. ^ a b Seymour, Craig (2001-10-26). "SAME OLD JACKO". Buffalo News. Berkshire Hathaway. Retrieved 2010-05-08.
  6. ^ a b Leo, Christie (2001-12-02). "Article: Compelling Tori". New Straits Times. Media Prima. Archived from the original on 2012-11-04. Retrieved 2010-05-08.
  7. ^ a b c Pareles, Jon (2001-10-28). "Music; To Regain Glory, The New Michael Imitates the Old (Page 2)". The New York Times. New York Times Company. Retrieved 2010-05-08.
  8. ^ Watson, Vaughn (2001-11-11). "Spears and Jackson: Mostly stuck in old grooves". Providence Journal. A. H. Belo.
  9. ^ a b Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "allmusic ((( Invincible > Overview )))". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Archived from the original on October 12, 2007. Retrieved 2010-05-08.
  10. ^ "In fans' eyes, Jackson still 'Invincible'". Daily Helmsman Online. 2010-10-31. Archived from the original on 2008-10-06. Retrieved 2010-05-08.
  11. ^ a b Rayner, Ben (2001-10-31). "Invincible incredibly insipid ; New album is not the come-back Jackson has been hoping for". Toronto Star. Torstar.
  12. ^ a b c d "Butterflies – Michael Jackson Digital Sheet Music (Digital Download)". Alfred Publishing Co. Inc. Retrieved September 3, 2018.
  13. ^ Barnes, Ken (2001-12-21). "Singling out the year's high, low notes". USA Today. Gannett Co. Inc. Retrieved 2010-05-08.
  14. ^ Kogan, Frank (2001-11-27). "The Man in the Distance". The Village Voice. Village Voice Media. Retrieved 2010-05-08.
  15. ^ Hilburn, Robert (2001-10-28). "Michael Jackson's 'Invincible'". Los Angeles Times. Tribune Company. Retrieved 2010-05-08.
  16. ^ "Pop Music; Record Rack; All the King's Men Can't Help". Los Angeles Times. Tribune Company. 2001-10-28. Retrieved 2010-05-08.
  17. ^ Frierson, Darryl (2001-11-05). "Article: CD REVIEW: New album proves Michael Jackson is 'invincible'". University Wire. Retrieved 2010-05-08.[dead link]
  18. ^ Rubinoff, Joel (2001-11-03). "What has Michael Jackson done to deserve this?". The Record. Retrieved 2010-05-08.
  19. ^ "He's been 'Dangerous', 'Bad,' now -- ho-hum -- 'Invincible'". The Atlanta Journal. Cox Enterprises. 2001-10-31.
  20. ^ Neal, Mark Anthony (2002-01-15). "Michael Jackson: Love Songs". PopMatters. PopMatters Media, Inc. Retrieved 2010-05-08.
  21. ^ Sylvester, Elliot (2002-01-14). "Invincible shows that Jackson is not". The Independent. Alexander Lebedev.
  22. ^ Kot, Greg (2001-10-29). "Neither off-the-wall nor off-the-charts ; Michael Jackson's `Invincible' a big disappointment". Chicago Tribune. Tribune Company. Retrieved 2010-05-08.
  23. ^ David Browne (2001-11-09). "Invincible (2001)". Entertainment Weekly. Time Warner Inc. Retrieved 2010-05-08.
  24. ^ "King of Pop is back, with slick, soulless 'Invincible'". The Philadelphia Inquirer. 2001-11-04. Retrieved 2010-05-08.
  25. ^ Jones, Bomani (2002-06-26). "Who's bad?". Salon Media Group, Inc. Archived from the original on 2010-06-24. Retrieved 2010-05-08.
  26. ^ Halaby, Catherine (2001-11-02). "Jacko exposes mortality in Invincible". Yale Daily News. The Yale Daily News Publishing Company. Archived from the original on 2012-09-16. Retrieved 2010-05-08.
  27. ^ Perzyk, Tim (2001-11-02). "Jackson sucks". Duke Chronicle. DSPC. Retrieved 2010-05-08.
  28. ^ Johnson, Kevin C. (2001-11-02). "JACKSON'S "INVINCIBLE" ISN'T "BAD, "JUST "OLD"". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Lee Enterprises. Retrieved 2010-05-08.
  29. ^ "THE JACKSON LEGEND". South Florida Sun Sentinel. Tribune Company. 2001-11-30. Retrieved 2010-05-08.
  30. ^ a b c d e "allmusic ((( Invincible > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles )))". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2010-02-13.
  31. ^ "Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs: Week of January 26, 2002". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. Retrieved 2010-05-08.
  32. ^ a b "MICHAEL JACKSON - BUTTERFLIES (CHANSON)". Hung Medien. Retrieved 2010-05-08.
  33. ^ "Michael Jackson - Butterflies (Track Masters Remix)". Discogs. Retrieved 2001-05-10.
  34. ^ Liner notes of Invincible (2001).

External links[edit]