Invincible (Michael Jackson album)
|Studio album by Michael Jackson|
|Released||October 30, 2001|
|Recorded||October 1997 – September 2001|
|Michael Jackson chronology|
|Singles from Invincible|
Invincible is the final studio album by American singer Michael Jackson. It was released on October 30, 2001, by Epic Records. Similar to Jackson's previous material, Invincible explores themes such as love, romance, isolation, media criticism, and social issues. It was Jackson's sixth studio album released through Epic, and his 10th studio album released before his death in 2009.
An extensive and laborious album to make, Jackson started the multi genre production in 1997, and did not finish until eight weeks before the album's October 2001 release.
The album peaked at number one in eleven territories worldwide, including the United States (with first-week sales of 363,000 units), the United Kingdom, Australia, France and Switzerland. Invincible charted within the top ten in six other territories. Upon release, the album received mixed reviews from contemporary music critics.
Invincible was one of the best-selling of 2001, being ranked at #9 on the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry's (IFPI) Top 50 Global Best Selling Albums for 2001. In December 2009, readers of Billboard magazine voted Invincible as the best album of the decade, from their readers poll.
Jackson had been recording solo studio albums since Got to Be There for Motown in 1971. During his time as a member of the Jacksons, he frequently wrote material for the group after they left Motown in 1975 and began working on more projects as a solo artist, which eventually led to recording his own solo albums for Epic Records, notably Off the Wall (1979), Thriller (1982), Bad (1987), and Dangerous (1991). The success of Thriller, which, as of 2018, still holds its place as the best selling album of all time with a reported 66 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 in 1995. Invincible was thus looked at as Jackson's 'career come back'.
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. 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. 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." The album is also dedicated to Nicholette Sottile and his parents Joseph and Katherine Jackson.
Jackson began recording new material for the album in October 1997, and finished with "You Are My Life" being recorded only eight weeks before the album's release in October 2001 – the most extensive recording of Jackson's career. The tracks with Rodney Jerkins were recorded at the Hit Factory in Miami, Florida. Jackson had shown interest in including a rapper on at least one song, and had noted that he did not want a 'known rapper'. 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. 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". 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 Bill Gray and writing credits from Kelly, Fred Jerkins III, LaShawn Daniels, Nora Payne and Robert Smith. 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. It was reported that it cost thirty million dollars to make the album, making it the most expensive album ever made.
Invincible is composed of R&B, hip hop, dance-pop, adult contemporary and urban songs. The album's full length is seventy-seven minutes eight seconds, and it contains 16 songs – fifteen of which were written (or co-written) by Jackson. It was noted that the album shifts between aggressive songs and ballads. 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". 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.
"Privacy", a reflection on Jackson's own personal experiences, is about media invasions and tabloid inaccuracies. "The Lost Children" is about imperiled children. 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. Invincible features four ballads: "You Are My Life", "Butterflies", "Don't Walk Away" and "Cry". "Cry", similar to Jackson's "Man in the Mirror", is about healing the world together. The lyrics to "Butterflies" and "Break of Dawn" were viewed as "glaringly banal" and it was implied that they could have been written by anyone. "Threatened" was viewed as being a story teller. The song was viewed as a "Thriller redux". 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."
Promotion and singles
It was reported that the album had a budget of twenty five million dollars set aside for promotion. Despite this, however, due to the conflicts between Jackson and his record label, little was done to promote the album. The album spawned three singles, although all were given limited releases. "You Rock My World" was only released to radio airplay in the United States, consequently only 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. The second single, "Cry", was not released in the United States. It was only moderately successful, with the song's most successful territories being Spain, Denmark, France and Belgium, charting at number six, sixteen, thirty and thirty one.
The album's third single, "Butterflies", was only released in the United States to radio airplay, consequently only peaking at number fourteen on the Billboard Hot 100 and at number two for five weeks on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles Chart. "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. "Unbreakable" was originally supposed to be released as a single, but it was ultimately cancelled. It was however, later included on The Ultimate Collection box set.
Unlike with Jackson's post-Thriller adult studio albums, there was no world tour to promote the album; a tour was planned, only to be cancelled due to a combination of internal conflicts between Jackson & Sony Music Entertainment and the September 11th Attacks (the latter of which had also motivated many other artists to cancel their then-upcoming concerts in late 2001 and early 2002). There was, however, a special 30th Anniversary celebration at Madison Square Garden in early 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 since the Jacksons' Victory Tour in 1984. The show also featured performances by Britney Spears, Mýa, Usher, Whitney Houston, Tamia, Backstreet Boys, 'N Sync, 98 Degrees, and Slash, among other artists. The show aired on CBS in November 2001 as a two-hour television special and garnered 29.8 million viewers.
The album's promotion was met with trouble due to internal conflicts going on between Sony Music Entertainment and Jackson due to issues with his ownership with the company and the contract to this deal with Sony that was originally signed back in 1991. The issue stemmed back during production of Invincible when Jackson learned that the rights to the masters of his past releases, which were to revert to him in the early 2000s, wouldn't actually revert to him until much later in the decade. When Jackson went to lawyer who worked with him in making the deal back in 1991, he learned that the same lawyer was also working for Sony, revealing a conflict of interest he was never aware of. Not wanting to sign away his ownership in Sony Music Entertainment, Jackson elected to leave the company shortly after the album's release. After the announcement, Sony halted promotion on the album, cancelling single releases, including a 9/11 charity single that was intended to be released before Invincible.
Following Sony's decision to abruptly end all promotion for the album, Jackson made allegations in July 2002 that Mottola was a "devil" and a "racist" who did not support his African-American artists, but merely used them for his own personal gain. The singer accused Sony and the record industry of racism, deliberately not promoting or actively working against promotion of his album. Sony disputed claims that they had failed to promote Invincible with sufficient energy, maintaining that Jackson refused to tour in the United States.
Critical and public reception
|The Rolling Stone Album Guide|||
Invincible received mixed to negative reviews from mainstream critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received a mixed score of 51 based on 19 reviews. AllMusic editor Stephen Thomas Erlewine commented that it has a "spark" and "sound better than anything Jackson has done since Dangerous." 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." 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". James Hunter of Rolling Stone critiqued that the album's later ballads made the record too long. Hunter also commented that Jackson and Riley made "Whatever Happens" "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". Mark Beaumont of NME called it "a relevant and rejuvenated comeback album made overlong", while Blender also found it "long-winded".
In his review for The Village Voice, Robert Christgau said that Jackson's skills as a musician are often forgotten, but noted that the album seemed too long compared to other Jackson albums. 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". 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". Q magazine said that it is an aurally interesting, albeit inconsistent, album. 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." In a retrospective review for The Rolling Stone Album Guide, Pareles said that Invincible showed Jackson had lost his suave quality to "grim calculation".
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. 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. 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, in light of the negativity that preceded the album's release. 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". Due to the album's release in October 2001, it was not eligible for any other nomination from the 2002 Grammy Awards. In December 2009, (just a few months after Jackson's death) readers of Billboard magazine voted Invincible as the best album of the decade, from their readers poll.
Invincible was Jackson's first studio album to be released in six years, since HIStory in 1995. 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. Invincible was Jackson's fifth number one entry on the Billboard 200, 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. Invincible also charted at number one on Billboards R&B/Hip Hop Albums Chart for four weeks. 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. In the same month the album was certified platinum for the sale of one million units. On January 25, 2002, the album was certified two times platinum for the sales of two million units. Some of the songs from Invincible would be used for the Immortal World Tour
Internationally, Invincible was a commercial success. The album peaked at number one in twelve countries worldwide, including the United Kingdom, Australia, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland. It also charted within the top ten in several countries, including Austria, Canada, Finland, Italy, New Zealand, and Norway. The album has reportedly sold around 6 million copies units worldwide. 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. 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."
In 2004, Invincible re-entered Billboard charts. Invincible placed at 154 on the Billboard 200 on December 4, 2004. The album also reached at number forty eight on Billboards R&B/Hip Hop Albums Chart that same week. Following Jackson's death in June 2009, his music experienced a surge in popularity. Invincible charted at number twelve on Billboards Digital Albums Chart on July 11, 2009. 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. It also charted within the top ten, peaking at number nine, on Billboard's Catalog Albums Chart on the issue date of July 18. On the week of July 19, 2009, Invincible charted at number eighteen in Italy. Invincible peaked at number sixty four on the European Albums Chart on the charts issue date of July 25. The album also charted at number twenty nine in Mexico in July, and eighty four on the Swiss Albums Chart on July 19, 2009.
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. The album was certified platinum by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) for the sales of 40,000 units in Switzerland. The IFPI also certified the album gold in Austria for the sales of 15,000 units. Australian Recording Industry Association certified Invincible two times platinum for the sales of 140,000 units in Australia. Other certifications include, a gold certification from Argentine Chamber of Phonograms and Videograms Producers for the sales of 20,000 units in Argentina.
Invincible was the 11th best-selling album of 2001, shipping 5.4 million copies worldwide in that year according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI).
|1.||"Unbreakable" (featuring The Notorious B.I.G.)||6:25|
|2.||"Heartbreaker" (featuring Fats)||5:10|
|3.||"Invincible" (featuring Fats)||4:45|
|4.||"Break of Dawn"||5:32|
|5.||"Heaven Can Wait"||4:49|
|6.||"You Rock My World"||5:39|
|10.||"You Are My Life"||4:33|
|12.||"Don't Walk Away"||4:25|
|14.||"The Lost Children"||Jackson||Jackson||4:00|
|15.||"Whatever Happens" (featuring Carlos Santana)||4:56|
- "Unbreakable" features a rap verse by The Notorious B.I.G. The rap verse was originally from the song "You Can't Stop the Reign" by Shaquille O'Neal. It was written by Carl McIntosh, Jane Eugene and Steve Nichol.
- "Break of Dawn", "2000 Watts" and "Threatened" were excluded from the original Chinese release. In the Chinese edition of the box set The Collection released in 2013, all 16 tracks are included.
Credits adapted from Invincible album liner notes.
- Michael Jackson – arranger, conductor, programming, vocals, multiple instruments, producer
- Rodney Jerkins – programming, multiple instruments, producer, engineer, mixing, instrumentation
- Marsha Ambrosius – additional vocals
- Maxi Anderson – additional vocals
- David Ashton – assistant engineer
- Gloria Augustus – vocals
- Babyface – guitar (acoustic and bass), keyboards, additional vocals, producer, drum programming
- Tom Bahler – choir, chorus
- Emanuel Baker – drums
- Daniel Barrera – choir
- Edie Lehmann Boddicker – choir, chorus
- Robert Bolyard – choir, chorus
- Paul Boutin – engineer, mixing
- Brandy – additional vocals, background vocals
- Stuart Brawley – whistle (human and instrument), engineer, digital editing, mixing, soloist
- Mary Brown – background vocals
- Tim Fulford Brown – vocals
- Brad Buxer – keyboards, programming, engineer, digital editing, drum programming, mixing, keyboard programming
- David Campbell – arranger
- Matt Cappy – horn
- Chris Carroll – assistant engineer
- David Daoud Coleman – art direction
- Paulinho da Costa – percussion
- LaShawn Daniels – background vocals
- Roy "Royalty" Hamilton - Producer, songwriter
- Vidal Davis – assistant engineer
- Valerie Doby – vocals
- Dr. Freeze – background vocals, multiple instruments, producer
- Nancy Donald – art direction
- Kevin Dorsey – vocals
- Craig Durrance – assistant engineer
- Nathan East – bass guitar
- Jason Edmonds – choir, chorus
- Tess Escoto – choir
- Eq – mixing
- Voncielle Faggett – vocals
- Karen Faye – make-up, hair stylist
- Lynn Fiddmont – choir, chorus
- Kirstin Fife – violin
- Paul Foley – digital editing
- Jon Gass – engineer, mixing
- Humberto Gatica – engineer, mixing
- Uri Geller – illustrations
- Steve Genewick – assistant engineer, assistant
- Brad Gilderman – engineer, mixing
- Mike Ging – engineer, mixing
- Judy Gossett – vocals
- Franny "Franchise" Graham – assistant engineer
- Harold Green – vocals
- Alexander Greggs – digital editing
- Bernie Grundman – mastering
- Mick Guzauski – engineer, mixing
- Justine Hall – choir, chorus
- Steven Hankinson – cover design
- Andre Harris – producer, engineer, instrumentation
- Scottie Haskell – choir, chorus
- Micha Haupman – choir, chorus
- Gerald Heyward – drums
- Andreao "Fanatic" Heard" – producer
- Rob Herrera – digital editing, assistant engineer
- Jean-Marie Horvat – engineer, mixing
- Tabia Ivery – choir, chorus
- Luana Jackman – choir, chorus
- Prince Jackson – narrator
- Tenika Johns – vocals
- David Coleman – art direction
- Andraé Crouch – vocals
- Sandra Crouch – vocals
- Paul F. Cruz – engineer, digital editing
- Brandon Lucas – choir, chorus
- Jonathon Lucas – choir, chorus
- Ricky Lucchse – choir, chorus
- Melissa MacKay – choir, chorus
- Angela Johnson – vocals
- Late Great Daniel Johnson – vocals
- Zaneta M. Johnson – vocals
- Laquentan Jordan – vocals
- KB – mixing
- R. Kelly – arranger, producer, choir arrangement
- Peter Kent – violin
- Gina Kronstadt – violin
- Michael Landau – guitar
- Slash - guitar solo on "Privacy"
- James Lively – choir, chorus
- Robin Lorentz – violin
- Rob Lorentz – violin
- Jeremy Lubbock – arranger, conductor, orchestral arrangements
- Fabian Marasciullo – digital editing
- Harvey Mason, Jr. – digital editing
- Harvey Mason, Sr. – digital editing
- George Mayers – engineer, digital editing, mixing
- Howard McCrary – vocals
- Linda McCrary – vocals
- Sam McCrary – vocals
- Alice Jean McRath – vocals
- Sue Merriett – vocals
- Bill Meyers – arranger
- Mischke – background vocals
- Patrice Morris – vocals
- Kristle Murden – vocals
- The Notorious B.I.G. – rap
- Novi Novog – viola, contractor
- Adam Owett – art direction
- Nora Payne – background vocals
- Michael Prince – engineer, digital editing
- Seth Riggs – vocal consultant
- Teddy Riley – multiple instruments, producer, mixing, digital drums
- Steve Robillard – assistant engineer
- John "J.R." Robinson – drums
- Carlos Santana – guitar, whistle (human, instrument), soloist
- Dexter Simmons – engineer, mixing
- Ivy Skoff – production coordination
- Andrew Snyder – choir, chorus
- Sally Stevens – choir, chorus
- Richard Stites – background vocals, producer
- Bruce Swedien – engineer, mixing
- Thomas Tally – viola
- Brett Tattersol – choir, chorus
- Jeff Taylor – remixing
- Ron Taylor – vocals
- Michael Hart Thompson – guitar
- Michael Thompson – guitar
- Christine Tramontano – assistant engineer
- Chris Tucker – introduction
- Mario Vasquez – background vocals
- Tommy Vicari – engineer, mixing
- Nathan Walton – choir, chorus
- Albert Watson – photography
- Rick Williams – guitar
- Yvonne Williams – vocals
- Zandra Williams – vocals
- John Wittenberg – violin
|Australian Albums (ARIA)||1|
|Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria)||2|
|Belgian Albums (Ultratop Flanders)||2|
|Belgian Albums (Ultratop Wallonia)||1|
|Canadian Album (Billboard)||3|
|Danish Albums (Hitlisten)||1|
|Finnish Albums (Suomen virallinen lista)||7|
|French Albums (SNEP)||1|
|German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)||1|
|Italian Albums (FIMI)||2|
|New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)||4|
|Norwegian Albums (VG-lista)||1|
|Portuguese Albums (AFP)||8|
|Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)||1|
|Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)||1|
|UK Albums (OCC)||1|
|US Billboard 200||1|
|US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums||1|
|US Billboard 200||154|
|US Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums||48|
|Australian Albums Chart||43|
|European Albums Chart||64|
|Italian Albums Chart||18|
|Mexican Albums Chart||29|
|Swiss Albums Chart||84|
|US Catalogue Albums Chart||9|
|US Digital Albums Chart||12|
|Billboard 200 Albums (2002)||Position|
|US Billboard 200||
|Australia (ARIA)||2× Platinum||140,000^|
|Austria (IFPI Austria)||Gold||20,000*|
|Macao (IFPI Macao)||2× Platinum||60,000|
|New Zealand (RMNZ)||Gold||7,500^|
|Norway (IFPI Norway)||Platinum||50,000*|
|Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)||Platinum||40,000^|
|United Kingdom (BPI)||Platinum||300,000^|
|United States (RIAA)||2× Platinum||2,000,000^|
|Europe (IFPI)||2× Platinum||2,000,000*|
*sales figures based on certification alone
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Though fatally flawed, Invincible does boast its fair share of sonic exhilaration.
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A long-winded, soulless soul album of the kind Levert might have once turned in.
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