Dangerous (Michael Jackson album)
Original album artwork by Mark Ryden
|Studio album by|
|Released||November 26, 1991|
|Recorded||June 1989 – October 1991|
|Michael Jackson chronology|
|Michael Jackson studio album chronology|
|Singles from Dangerous|
Dangerous is the eighth studio album by American singer Michael Jackson. It was released by Epic Records on November 26, 1991. The album was co-produced by Jackson, Bill Bottrell, Teddy Riley, and Bruce Swedien. Dangerous was Jackson's first album since Forever, Michael (1975) not produced by longtime collaborator Quincy Jones.
The album incorporates R&B, pop and rock, plus a newer genre, new jack swing; Riley, credited as the creator of new jack swing, was involved to present Jackson to a younger urban audience. Jackson wrote twelve of the album's fourteen songs, whose themes include racism, poverty, romance, self-improvement, and the welfare of children and the world.
Dangerous reached number one in nine countries and the top ten in four others. Nine singles were released between November 1991 and December 1993, including two released only outside the US. A video and single for "Dangerous" was canceled due to Jackson's touring commitments and allegations of child sexual abuse in 1993.
Dangerous received several Grammy nominations, winning for Best Engineered Album (Non-Classical), and won two awards at the 1993 American Music Awards. It is one of the best-selling albums of all time, and has sold 32 million copies worldwide, including 8 million in the United States alone. According to Chicago Tribune journalist Kelley L. Carter, it is the most successful new jack swing album of all time. It produced four singles that reached the top ten on the Billboard Hot 100, including the number one "Black or White".
After completing the Bad tour in January 1989, which spanned 123 concerts attended by 4.4 million people, Jackson developed projects for two greatest hits albums, Decade 1979–1989 and Decade 1980–1990. The albums would comprise songs from his studio albums Off the Wall (1979), Thriller (1982), and Bad, plus four new songs. However, after Jackson wrote half an album's worth of material deemed strong enough for release, he and managements at Epic Records decided to produce a full studio album.
In March 1991, days after his sister Janet Jackson signed a $32 million deal with Virgin Records, the 32-year-old Jackson secured a $65 million deal with Sony Music. Sony had inherited Jackson following its takeover of Epic Records. The deal granted Jackson an advance of $5 million per album with a 25 per cent ownership of royalties based on retail sales. It remains the most lucrative recording contract in music history. Jackson's stipulations for the contract were that he must release at least three studio albums, two greatest hits collections, and one remix album and box set.[not in citation given][clarification needed] It also granted him his own label, Nation Records, and full rights to sign artists.
Dangerous was recorded between June 1989 and October 1991, with an advance of $18 million. It was recorded in seven recording studios, including Ocean Way, Westlake Recording Studios, Record One, and Larrabee Sound Studios in Los Angeles. At twenty-eight months, it was one of the longest album recording periods in Jackson's career. For over two years Jackson had exclusive 24-hour access to Record One Studios at an estimated cost of $4,000 per day, and secured Larrabee Sound for around nine months at roughly the same price. This was partly due to Jackson's secrecy for the album, preventing other artists in adjacent studios hearing the music in progress. Jackson had video game consoles set up and posters of Peter Pan and other Disney characters on the studio walls.
Epic enforced a deadline for the album to be released before November 28, 1991, Thanksgiving Day. For the last two months of recording, Jackson and Swedien rented hotel rooms located four minutes from the studio. Some sessions were put on hold due to Jackson's health problems; he had spent weeks in a Los Angeles hospital after complaining of chest pains.
Dangerous was produced by Jackson, Teddy Riley, Bill Bottrell, and Bruce Swedien. It marked the end of Jackson's collaboration with longtime producer Quincy Jones, as Jackson wanted a more "hard-edged" and "streetwise" sound. Riley helped to introduce "RnB back to Michael in its barest form" with a mixture of funk music.[clarification needed] The main mixing desks used were by Reed and an SSL XL-Desk, which Riley preferred over digital units as he felt they gave a warmer sound.
Jackson wanted to create an album similar to The Nutcracker Suite by Tchaikovsky, "so that in a thousand years from now, people would still be listening to it ... I want it to live". Guns N' Roses guitarist Slash, who performs on two songs, said "It's at once the most sterile and creative process I've been involved in. Everything is pieced together from samples: you use the same drum beat and chords, then later add things to make it different... Michael hires out the studio for like ten years and shows up once a month." Upon receiving a tape of "Give in to Me" without guitars other than some "slow picking", Slash called Jackson and sang what he wanted to play over the phone.
Bottrell, who had worked on Bad as a musician and engineer, co-wrote "Dangerous", "Give in to Me", and "Black or White". The songs began with Jackson beatboxing and humming melodies, which Bottrel developed with samples and drum machines such as an Akai S1000. Bottrel also produced "Give in to Me", "Black or White" and "Who Is It". When sessions relocated to Westlake, Bottrell, Swedien, and musician Bryan Loren worked from a studio room to themselves, with Bottrell operating a Neve console and two 24-track Studer analogue tape machines to put down ideas and demos. He then used a 32-track Mitsibushi machine to assemble the album. Swedien recalled recording sessions lasting up to 18 hours. On one occasion, he ordered Jackson not to leave the studio unless he sang the vocals for "Keep the Faith" all the way through: "This was scary but he did it. He didn't leave the studio until dawn."
Jackson recorded 60 to 70 songs for Dangerous. Omitted tracks include "Lisa, It's Your Birthday", "Monkey Business", "She Got It", "Work That Body", "Man in Black", "Serious Effect" (featuring rapper LL Cool J), and "If You Don't Love Me". Some were released later, including the ballad "For All Time", released on Thriller 25; "Slave to the Rhythm", remastered and released for the 2014 compilation album Xscape; the environmental anthem "What About Us", finished as "Earth Song" for HIStory; "Superfly Sister" and "Blood on the Dance Floor", both released on the remix compilation Blood on the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix; and "Joy", released on on Blackstreet's 1994 debut album. None of the material worked on at Ocean Way Studios was included the album.
Composition and lyrics
Dangerous incorporates new jack swing music, a genre which producer Riley is credited for creating. It was also the first album in which Jackson began rapping. The inclusion of the rap group Wreckx-n-Effect, Jackson's embrace of hip-hop rhythms and new jack swing were designed to give Jackson a new younger urban audience. In other recordings, with Bottrell, Jackson's sounds were more diverse as it had been in other albums with "Black or White" recorded under the pop rock genre while the Slash-featured "Give In to Me" was recorded as a hard rock ballad. The rap in "Black or White" was written and performed by Bottrell, who is credited as a pseudonym "L.T.B". "Jam" developed from a collection of sound loops that Swedien and René Moore had worked on, including drums and the sound of sleigh bells. Assistant engineer Brad Sundberg recalled: "It kept growing and growing [...] Teddy's industrial hits were added. Horns. Orchestral hits. Vocals. Lots of vocals. More of Teddy's sounds. More of Rene's sounds", to the point where around 128 tracks of sounds were played simultaneously. The ballads, "Keep the Faith", composed by Jackson and his "Man in the Mirror" collaborators Siedah Garrett and Glen Ballard, and the self-composed "Will You Be There" both featured strong elements of gospel music while the other ballads "Heal the World" and "Gone Too Soon" were softer pop ballads. The smooth R&B number, "Remember the Time", featured elements of not only new jack swing but also funk, while "Who Is It" and "Jam" had stronger funk elements.
Lyrics for the songs' subject matter were more varied than in Jackson's previous records. Though he often talked of the subject of racial harmony in some of his songs with his brothers, The Jacksons, Dangerous was the first of these albums in which he talked openly of racism, which was the main topic with the hit song, "Black or White". Other social commentary topics that Jackson had never touched as a solo artist including poverty and inner city life were discussed in the song "Why You Wanna Trip on Me", in which he compared social ills to his own alleged publicized eccentricities that were covered in the press at the time asking critics and tabloid media why were they focusing on him when other more social problems were going on. He addressed similar issues in the album's opening track, "Jam", which included rapping from Heavy D. "In the Closet" had originally been set as a duet between Jackson and Madonna though this recording never happened and focused on two lovers carrying on a discreet affair without being open about the affair. The album also included songs of other personal nature especially in songs such as "She Drives Me Wild", "Remember the Time", "Can't Let Her Get Away", "Who Is It" and "Give In to Me". The social commentary "Heal the World" was in the middle of the number of personal songs. "Gone Too Soon", written by Larry Grossman and Buz Kohan, was written and recorded for Ryan White following White's death from AIDS in 1990. The title track's lyrics were compared to that of "Dirty Diana" with the song focusing on a seductress.
Being his first album in four years, plus his lucrative recording deal with Sony, David Browne of Entertainment Weekly wrote: "There is more riding on the success of Dangerous than on any other album in pop history". Five days before the album's release, three men armed with guns robbed 30,000 copies of the album from a Los Angeles warehouse.
The album was released on November 26, 1991. After its first week of release, it debuted at number-one on the Billboard 200, staying there for four weeks. It spent a total of 119 weeks on the chart. In January 1992, the album was certified quadruple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for sales of over 4 million in the United States. In August 2018, this number had grown to eight million certified units sold.
Globally, Dangerous dominated worldwide charts debuting at number-one in the United Kingdom while also reaching number-one in seven other territories including Australia, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain. It was also a huge success in Asian countries. Sales of the album eventually reached over 32 million copies worldwide.
Similar to how Jackson's label had approached the Bad album, expectations again were raised high for the Dangerous album. In September 1991, Jackson netted a deal to have his videos air on the Fox TV network alongside regular music-video channels, MTV, BET and VH-1. The eleven-minute "Black or White" video debuted on November 14, 1991, and was seen in 27 countries and reportedly watched by a record 500 million viewers, said to be the most to ever watch a music video. The airing and later controversy of the video helped the sales of Dangerous, as did the broadcasting of two other Jackson videos for "Remember the Time" and "In the Closet". Jackson's first HBO concert special, Michael Jackson: Live in Bucharest, also helped in the sales of Dangerous after it aired in October 1992, reviving sales of the album. After several weeks of tapering off again, Jackson made personal appearances in early 1993 including the American Music Awards and Grammy Awards, the latter in which he accepted the Grammy Legend Award from his sister Janet, a widely discussed interview with Oprah Winfrey, helping to return the album to the top ten.
The album's leading track, "Black or White", was an instant number-one hit upon its release that November, debuting at the top of the charts several weeks after it was released, staying there for seven weeks. It would be his only number-one single from the album on the pop charts. Jackson had four top ten singles in the United States from the album including "Remember the Time", which peaked at No. 3 but reached number-one on the R&B chart, his first R&B number-one since "Another Part of Me" nearly four years earlier; "In the Closet", which peaked at No. 6 on the Hot 100, but also reached number-one.
The last top ten single for the album was "Will You Be There", which reached number seven and was boosted by an appearance on the Free Willy soundtrack, helping to boost more sales from Dangerous. "Who Is It" peaked at number fourteen, while "Jam" and "Heal the World" would both peak at the top thirty on the Hot 100 respectively, Jackson's lowest pop showings since early 1979; and the overseas-only singles, "Give In to Me" and "Gone Too Soon" with "Give In to Me" reaching the top five in the UK, Netherlands, Australia and hitting the top of the charts in New Zealand, while "Gone Too Soon" was more moderately received, charting within the top forty.
The singles success of Dangerous was more successful overseas than in Jackson's native United States: in the UK alone, seven of the singles from the album all reached the UK top ten. This was a record for any studio album in the UK until Calvin Harris broke this in 2013.
|Encyclopedia of Popular Music|||
|Los Angeles Times|||
|The Village Voice||A−|
In a contemporary review for Rolling Stone, Alan Light wrote that Jackson was "a man, no longer a man-child, confronting his well-publicized demons and achieving transcendence through performance", on an album that rose to "the impossible challenge set by 'Thriller'" during moments when Riley's production dance rhythms "prove a perfect match for Jackson's clipped, breathy uptempo voice". Robert Christgau of The Village Voice deemed it Jackson's "most consistent album since Off the Wall, a step up from Bad even if its hookcraft is invariably secondary and its vocal mannerisms occasionally annoying." While he felt Jackson was too insistent with the "faith-hope-and-charity" message songs, Christgau applauded the production's "abrasively unpredictable" rhythms and the "sex-and-romance" songs, calling them the most plausible of Jackson's career.
Jon Pareles was less receptive in The New York Times, calling it Jackson's "least confident" solo album yet. He believed Jackson sounded anxious and out of place with Riley's electronic beats while panning the "dogmatically ordinary" lyrics of the love songs, writing that "they seem based on demographic research rather than experience or imagination." Los Angeles Times critic Chris Willman found the record "relatively tame" and "wildly unfocused", being particularly critical of the songs not produced by Riley such as the "embarrassingly oversentimental" "Heal the World"; of the overtly "black" first half of songs, Willman found the music innovative although lacking in substantial themes. Dangerous received four Grammy nominations including three for Jackson including Best Pop Vocal Performance for 'Black or White', as well as Best R&B Vocal Performance and Best R&B Song for 'Jam', while Teddy Riley and Bruce Swedien won the Grammy for Best Engineered Album – Non Classical.
In a retrospective review for AllMusic, Stephen Thomas Erlewine believed Dangerous was "a much sharper, riskier album" than Bad. Critic Joseph Vogel wrote that it fulfilled Jackson's creative ambitions and was his most socially conscious record, "his most personally revealing", and "a dazzling musical odyssey", likening it to Stevie Wonder's Songs in the Key of Life as "the work of an artist engaging with the world around him-and inside him-as never before". Writing for PopMatters, Vogel argued that the R&B/New jack swing album's music was more groundbreaking than any other pop record of the time. "If indeed it is considered a pop album, Dangerous redefined the parameters of pop. How else to explain an album that mixes R&B, funk, gospel, hip-hop, rock, industrial, and classical; an album that introduces one song ('Will You Be There') with Beethoven's Ninth Symphony and another ('Dangerous') with what sounds like the heart of a steel-city factory; an album that can alternately be paranoid, cryptic, sensual, vulnerable, idealistic, bleak, transcendent, and fearful?" In 2007, the National Association of Recording Merchandisers (NARM) ranked Dangerous number 115 on its list of the "Definitive 200 albums of all time developed by the NARM". Chuck Eddy named it the eighth most essential new jack swing album in a list published by Spin.
|1.||"Jam" (featuring Heavy D)||5:39|
|2.||"Why You Wanna Trip on Me"||5:24|
|3.||"In the Closet" (featuring Princess Stéphanie of Monaco)||6:32|
|4.||"She Drives Me Wild" (featuring Wreckx-n-Effect)||3:42|
|5.||"Remember the Time"||4:01|
|6.||"Can't Let Her Get Away"||4:59|
|7.||"Heal the World"||6:25|
|8.||"Black or White" (featuring L.T.B.)||4:16|
|9.||"Who Is It"||Jackson||6:35|
|10.||"Give In to Me" (featuring Slash)||5:30|
|11.||"Will You Be There" (theme from Free Willy)||7:41|
|12.||"Keep the Faith" (featuring Andraé Crouch)||5:57|
|13.||"Gone Too Soon"||3:22|
- ^[a] signifies a co-producer
- John Bahler – vocal and choir arrangements (track 7)
- The John Bahler Singers – choir (track 7)
- Glen Ballard – arrangement (track 12)
- John Barnes – keyboards (track 8)
- Michael Boddicker – synthesizer (tracks 1, 7, 11-13), sequencer (8), keyboards (9), programming (9)
- Bill Bottrell – producer (tracks 8-10), recording engineer (8-10), audio mixer (8-10), percussion (8), guitar (8, 10), rap (8), Father speaking part (8 intro), drums (9-10), synthesizer (9), bass guitar (10), mellotron (10)
- Craig Brock – guitar recording engineer assistant (track 10)
- Brad Buxer – keyboards (tracks 1, 7-9, 11), synthesizer (1, 14), percussion (8), programming (9)
- Larry Corbett – cello (track 9)
- Andraé Crouch – choir arrangement (tracks 11-12)
- Sandra Crouch – choir arrangement (tracks 11-12)
- The Andraé Crouch Singers – choir (tracks 11-12)
- Heavy D – rap (track 1)
- George Del Barrio – string arrangement (track 9)
- Matt Forger – recording engineer (track 7), audio mixer (7), engineering and sound design (8 intro)
- Kevin Gilbert – speed sequencer (track 8)
- Endre Granat – concertmaster (track 9)
- Linda Harmon – soprano voice (track 9)
- Jerry Hey – arrangement (track 12)
- Jean-Marie Horvat – recording engineer (track 14)
- Michael Jackson – producer (all tracks), lead vocals (all tracks), background vocals (1-12, 14), arrangement (1, 9), vocal arrangement (1, 3-7, 11, 14), rhythm arrangement (7, 11), director (8 intro), soprano voice (9)
- Paul Jackson Jr. – guitar (track 2)
- Terry Jackson – bass guitar (track 8)
- Louis Johnson – bass guitar (track 9)
- Abraham Laboriel – bass guitar (track 13)
- Randy Jackson: Guitar
- Christa Larson – ending solo vocal (track 7)
- Rhett Lawrence – synthesizer (tracks 1, 11-12, 14), synthesizer programming (11), arrangement (12), drums (12), percussion (12)
- Bryan Loren – drums (track 8-9), synthesizer (8)
- Johnny Mandel – orchestral arrangement and conductor (track 11)
- Jasun Martz – keyboards (track 8)
- Andres McKenzie – Son speaking part (track 8 intro)
- Jim Mitchell – guitar recording engineer (track 10)
- René Moore – arrangement (track 1), keyboards (1)
- David Paich – keyboards (tracks 7, 9, 13), synthesizer (7, 13), keyboard arrangement (9), programming (9), rhythm arrangement (13)
- Marty Paich – orchestral arrangement and conductor (tracks 7, 13)
- Greg Phillinganes – keyboards (track 11)
- Tim Pierce – heavy metal guitar (track 8)
- Jeff Porcaro – drums (track 7)
- Steve Porcaro – synthesizer (tracks 7, 13), keyboards (9), programming (9)
- Teddy Riley – producer (tracks 1-6, 14), recording engineer (1-6, 14), audio mixer (1-6, 14), arrangement (1), keyboards (1-6), synthesizer (1-6, 14), drums (1), guitar (1-2), rhythm arrangement (2-6, 14), synthesizer arrangement (3-6, 14)
- Thom Russo – recording engineer (track 14)
- Slash – special guitar performance (track 8 intro, track 10)
- Bruce Swedien – producer (tracks 1), co-producer (tracks 7, 11-13), recording engineer (1-7, 11-14) audio mixer (1-7, 11-14), arrangement (1), keyboards (1), drums (1, 11-12), percussion (11-12)
- Jai Winding – keyboards (track 9), programming (9), piano (12), bass guitar (12)
- Mystery Girl (Princess Stéphanie of Monaco) – vocals (track 3)
|US||US R&B||US Dance||CAN||UK||AUS||AUT||BEL||FRA||GER||IRL||ITA||NED||NOR||NZ||PL||SPN||SWI|
|1991||"Black or White"||1||3||2||1||1||1||1||1||1||2||1||1||2||1||1||1||1||1|
|1992||"Remember the Time"||3||1||2||2||3||6||16||2||5||8||3||8||3||10||1||2||2||4|
|"In the Closet"||6||1||1||16||8||5||23||14||9||15||4||2||9||10||5||7||2||25|
|"Who Is It"||14||6||1||6||10||34||5||5||8||9||6||18||13||10||6||3||9||14|
|"Heal the World"||27||62||―||21||2||20||4||3||2||3||2||4||4||3||3||1||1||5|
|1993||"Give In to Me"||―*||―*||―*||―*||2||4||12||13||7||10||2||―||3||7||1||1||6||7|
|"Will You Be There"||7||53||―||3||8||42||10||3||29||12||6||―||3||―||2||4||―||3|
|"Gone Too Soon"||―*||―*||―*||―*||33||76||―||21||32||45||8||―||20||―||6||10||―||33|
|"—" / "*" denotes songs that did not chart / songs that weren't released as a single|
Sales and certifications
|Australia (ARIA)||10× Platinum||700,000^|
|Austria (IFPI Austria)||4× Platinum||200,000*|
|Brazil (Pro-Música Brasil)||Gold||350,000|
|Canada (Music Canada)||6× Platinum||600,000^|
|Chile (IFPI)||5× Platinum||125,000|
|Germany (BVMI)||4× Platinum||2,000,000^|
|Japan (RIAJ)||2× Platinum||400,000^|
|Malaysia (RIM)||7× Platinum||175,000|
|Mexico (AMPROFON)||2× Platinum+Gold||600,000^|
|Netherlands (NVPI)||3× Platinum||300,000^|
|New Zealand (RMNZ)||6× Platinum||90,000^|
|Spain (PROMUSICAE)||6× Platinum||600,000^|
|Sweden (GLF)||3× Platinum||300,000^|
|Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)||5× Platinum||250,000^|
|United Kingdom (BPI)||6× Platinum||2,010,069|
|United States (RIAA)||8× Platinum||8,000,000^|
|Europe (IFPI)||5× Platinum||5,000,000*|
*sales figures based on certification alone
- Dangerous World Tour
- Live in Bucharest: The Dangerous Tour
- Dangerous – The Short Films
- List of best-selling albums
- List of best-selling albums in Australia
- List of best-selling albums in France
- List of best-selling albums in Germany
- List of number-one albums of 1991 (U.S.)
- List of number-one albums of 1992 (U.S.)
- List of number-one R&B albums of 1992 (U.S.)
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'Black or White', described by the record company as 'a rock 'n' roll dance song about racial harmony'
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