Leave Me Alone
|"Leave Me Alone"|
|Single by Michael Jackson|
|from the album Bad|
|Michael Jackson singles chronology|
"Leave Me Alone" is a single by American singer Michael Jackson. The song was featured on Jackson's seventh studio album, Bad (1987), and was its eighth single in February 1989, but was released outside of the United States and Canada. "Leave Me Alone" was recorded during the original album sessions but the song only appeared on the CD editions of Bad as a bonus track, as well as on the 2001 cassette edition. The song was written and composed by Jackson and produced by Quincy Jones (with Jackson serving as co-producer).
Internationally, the song was a success, peaking at number one and two in Ireland and the United Kingdom respectively and reaching the top 10 in Belgium, New Zealand and Spain. "Leave Me Alone" was generally well received by contemporary music critics. A short film was released for the song. In the film, Jackson pokes fun at the false rumors about him such as the stories about him purchasing the bones of "The Elephant Man" and his cosmetic surgeries. The short film was the recipient of a Grammy Award in 1990 for Best Short Form Music Video. Despite the success of the single, the song never appeared on any of Jackson's world concert tours.
Background and composition
A twenty seven second sample from "Leave Me Alone".
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"Leave Me Alone" was a response to negative and false stories about Jackson that frequently appeared in the media and tabloids post-1986 after the success of Thriller. Beginning in 1986, the tabloids began to publish false stories about Jackson, one of the first being a story claiming that Jackson slept in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber to slow the aging process. A picture leaked out to the media of him lying down in a hyberbaric chamber at a hospital he visited. An unknown person took the picture of Jackson while he was testing out the chamber out of curiosity.
When Jackson bought a pet chimpanzee named Bubbles, the media viewed it as evidence of Jackson's increasing detachment from reality. It was also reported that Jackson had offered to buy the bones of Joseph Merrick, the "Elephant Man"; Jackson stated that the story was "a complete lie." These stories inspired the nickname "Wacko Jacko", which Jackson acquired the following year, and would come to despise. Another frequent response from the media was about Jackson's plastic surgery. Jackson's manager said of the media's criticism towards the topic, "So many terrible things have been written. Okay, so he had his nose fixed, and the cleft — big deal. I got news for you, my nose has broke five times. It's been fixed twice. Who gives a shit? Who cares? Elvis had his nose done. Marilyn Monroe had her nose done, had her breasts done? Everybody's had it done."
The song has been viewed as having a "paranoia theme", a theme that Jackson had frequently used on previous studio albums. The Atlantic felt that Jackson showed "obvious expressions of distrust" in the song and that the song was one of multiple songs where Jackson's "persistent loneliness in his music" was "prominent". In 2009, J. Edward Keyes, of Rolling Stone, described "Leave Me Alone" as sounding like "vintage Michael" and the song works because of its music, "a batch of thick chords for Jackson to vamp over". Keyes noted that the song was a "kind of darker inversion" of "The Way You Make Me Feel", and that "Leave Me Alone" was "worked-up and angry, and Jackson's aggressive scraping of the high notes makes plain his frustration."
"Leave Me Alone" is a funk song played with a synthesizer and a guitar. According to MusicNotes.com, the song is set in the key of Gb Major with Jackson's voice range being sung from Bb3 to Ab5. The song's tempo is moderate and its metronome is 112 beats per minute.
Critical and commercial reception
"Leave Me Alone" was generally well received by contemporary music critics. Stephen Thomas Erlewine, a writer for AllMusic, stated he felt that "Leave Me Alone" was the best track on Bad, commenting "why are all of his best songs paranoid anthems?" Steve Morse, a writer for The Boston Globe, described "Leave Me Alone" as a "send-up" of Jackson's feuds with the "paparazzi-filled tabloids." Jon Pareles, of The New York Times, commented that "Leave Me Alone" had an "unmistakable message". After Jackson's death in June 2009, Rolling Stone listed "Leave Me Alone" as being one of Jackson's most monumental work, and the song's composition was generally praised.
"Leave Me Alone" performed well on various charts. It was released as a single outside of the United States and Canada. The song, similar to Bad's previous singles, proved to be a commercial success internationally. "Leave Me Alone"'s most successful territory was Ireland, where the song peaked at number one. The song saw similar chart success on the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Norwegian and Switzerland charts, peaking within the top 10 at number two, five, six and ten. "Leave Me Alone" also peaked within the top 20 in Austria, France and Sweden, peaking at number 15, 17 and 19. The single was least successful in Australia, where the song peaked at number 37.
The music video for "Leave Me Alone", was directed by Jim Blashfield, produced by Jim Blashfield and Paul Diener and released on January 2, 1989. The video was also featured in the 1988 film Moonwalker. In essence, the video is an amusement park consisting of stylistically crude images based around Jackson's successful career since 1982's Thriller. There is an emphasis on the tabloid view of Jackson's personal life and public image, referring to the nickname "Wacko Jacko" given to him by the press, and the various headlines associated with him in the 1980s. Lampooning rumours that he tried to purchase Joseph Merrick's bones, Jackson dances with stop motion "Elephant Man" bones in the video. This particular segment (without the image of the bones) was used for the single's cover art, and the boneless video segment was featured in the Moonwalker trailer.
In the video, there are images of shrines to actress Elizabeth Taylor, a real life close friend of Jackson. Throughout the video newspaper headlines, published by "National Intruder", with bizarre titles are shown, such as "Michael's Space-Age Diet" and "Michael Proposes to Liz". Another notable scene in the music video was a nose being chased by a surgical scalpel, which was reference to Jackson's plastic surgery being criticized by the media. At the end of the video, it is revealed that a gigantic Jackson himself is the amusement park. He breaks free, tearing the park to pieces. That scene is a somewhat reminiscent of Gulliver's Travels, where Gulliver eventually breaks free from the Lilliputians' grasp from Lilliput. The video is featured on Michael Jackson's Vision and the Target version DVD of Bad 25.
"Leave Me Alone" was the recipient of multiple nominations for its music video. The video won a Grammy Award in 1990 for Best Short Form Music Video at the 32nd Grammy Awards. The video also received six nominations at the 1989 MTV Video Music Awards for Video of the Year, Viewers' Choice, Breakthrough Video, Best Editing and Best Art Direction; the video won Best Special Effects. The video lost its six nominations to Neil Young's "This Note Is for You" ("Video of the Year"), Art of Noise ("Breakthrough Video"), Paula Abdul ("Best Editing"), and Madonna's "Express Yourself" ("Best Cinematography", "Best Art Direction") and "Like a Prayer" ("Viewers' Choice"). Erlewine described the music video as being "weirdly claustrophobic" and felt that, "not coincidentally," it was the "best video from the album."
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- Written, composed, vocal synthesizer, solo and background vocals by Michael Jackson
- Produced by Quincy Jones
- Co-produced by Michael Jackson
- Larry Williams: Drum programming, synthesizers
- Paul Jackson, Jr.: Guitar
- Casey Young: Synclavier, synthesizer programming
- Greg Phillinganes: Synthesizer
- Rhythm and vocal arrangements by Michael Jackson
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