Ghosts (Michael Jackson song)

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Single by Michael Jackson
from the album Blood on the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix
ReleasedJuly 30, 1997
GenreNew jack swing
Length3:50 (radio edit)
5:13 (album version)
Songwriter(s)Michael Jackson, Teddy Riley
Producer(s)Michael Jackson, Teddy Riley
Michael Jackson singles chronology
"Blood on the Dance Floor"
"HIStory" / "Ghosts"
"Is It Scary"
Music video
"Ghosts" on YouTube

"Ghosts" is a 1997 song by Michael Jackson. "Ghosts" was written, composed and produced by Michael Jackson and Teddy Riley. Commentators made observations about the paranoid lyrics, a common theme in Jackson's work. Its music video was a five-minute clip taken from the much longer film of the same name. It was released as part of the single release "HIStory"/"Ghosts", a double A-side single from Michael Jackson's 1997 remix album Blood on the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix. The song would become a top five hit in the UK, France and Italy, but did not chart as highly elsewhere.

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.[1] Instruments played on the track include a guitar and piano. Michael's vocals are dramatic, operatic and scary tenor. Jackson's vocal range on the song is E3-A5, the song is in the key E minor.[2] 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?'".[3] Tom Sinclair of Entertainment Weekly, also highlighted those particular lyrics, speculating that "armchair psychologists will have a field day with the words".[4]

The Dallas Morning News described "Ghosts" as an angry tale of a back-stabbing woman.[5] Michael Saunders of The Boston Globe said that album cuts like "Is It Scary" and "Ghosts" "trample well-trodden ground".[6] 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.[7] 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.[8] Jim Farber of New York Daily News said of the single "'Ghosts'...boast a few innovative sounds but no real melodies".[9] 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".[10]

Jennifer Clay of Yahoo! Music noted that "Ghosts" sounded like material from the Thriller era.[11] 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's classic, must-see Michael Jackson".[12]

Music video[edit]

The music video for "Ghosts" was a five-minute cut-down of the short film of the same title, which Jackson unveiled at the Cannes Film Festival as part of the album promotion. It was released theatrically in the US in October 1996 and made its UK debut the following May at the Odeon Leicester Square. It was released on cassette in most parts of the world.[13][14][15] The music video won the Bob Fosse Award for Best Choreography in a Music Video.[12][14][15][16][17]

Written by Jackson and Stephen King and directed by Stan Winston, the short film was inspired by the isolation the singer felt after he was accused of child sexual abuse in 1993. It centers on the Maestro (Jackson), who's nearly chased out of his town by the residents and the mayor (who intentionally resembles Tom Sneddon, a prosecutor in the 1993 accusations) because they believe him to be a "freak." The film includes several songs and music videos from the albums HIStory and Blood on the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix. At 38 minutes, the film holds the Guinness World Record for longest music video. The short version is included in Michael Jackson's Vision.

Chart performance of HIStory/Ghosts[edit]

"HIStory/Ghosts" generally did well in music charts worldwide, having charted within the top-ten and top-twenty in multiple countries. The song's highest peak position was in Italy, charting at number three. 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.[15][18] The single did not appear on any United States Billboard charts.[19]

Track listing[edit]

European CD maxi single
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
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)
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) (Correct name: MARK!'s Vocal Club Mix) – 9:10
  2. "HIStory" (MARK!'s Future Dub) (Correct name: MARK!'s Keep Movin' 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


Chart (1997) Peak
Australian Singles Chart 43
Austrian Singles Chart 36
Belgium (Flanders) 17
Belgium (Wallonia) 10
Dutch Singles Chart 14
Finnish Singles Chart 16
French Singles Chart 4
Irish Singles Chart 16
New Zealand Singles Chart 29
Swedish Singles Chart 12
Swiss Singles Chart 16
UK Singles Chart 5
Italian Singles Chart 3

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (1997) Position
Germany (Official German Charts)[20] 58


  • 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]


  1. ^ Jackson, Michael. Blood on the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix booklet. Sony BMG. p 6
  2. ^ "Ghosts". Retrieved December 20, 2008.
  3. ^ "Jackson's 'Blood': It's No Thriller"". The Washington Post. June 4, 1997.
  4. ^ Sinclair, Tom (May 30, 1997). "Music Review". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved February 25, 2009.
  5. ^ Thor Christensen. (May 20, 1997). "Jackson's new `Blood' generally thin Singer's work best when fresh on remix release". Dallas Morning News.
  6. ^ Michael Saunders. (June 5, 1997). "Blood on the Dance Floor Epic". The Boston Globe.
  7. ^ Sonia Murray. (May 29, 1997). "Jackson's New Album Warrant's No Hype". The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution.
  8. ^ Anthony Violanti. (May 23, 1997). "Lost Soul...". The Buffalo News.
  9. ^ Farber, Jim (May 19, 1997). "The 'Thriller' is gone..." New York Daily News. Archived from the original on June 29, 2009. Retrieved December 12, 2008. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  10. ^ Roger Catlin. (May 22, 1997). "Blood on the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix — Michael Jackson". The Hartford Courant.
  11. ^ Clay, Jennifer (May 20, 1997). "Album review". Yahoo! Music. Retrieved January 28, 2009.[dead link]
  12. ^ a b Taraborrelli 610–611
  13. ^ Lewis, p. 58
  14. ^ a b Pinkerton, Lee (1997). The Many Faces of Michael Jackson. Music Sales Distribution. p. 36. ISBN 0-7119-6783-0.
  15. ^ a b c George, p. 48–50
  16. ^ Lewis, p. 125–126
  17. ^ Guinness World Records 2004
  18. ^ "M. Jackson - HIStory/Ghosts (nummer)". Retrieved September 14, 2008.
  19. ^ "Artist Chart History - Michael Jackson". Billboard. Archived from the original on May 6, 2008. Retrieved February 27, 2009. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  20. ^ "Top 100 Single-Jahrescharts" (in German). GfK Entertainment. Retrieved April 17, 2018.