Slave to the Rhythm (Michael Jackson song)

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"Slave to the Rhythm"
Slave to The Rhythm.jpg
Song by Michael Jackson
from the album Xscape
ReleasedMay 8, 2014 (2014-05-08)
  • 1990 (original)
  • 2013–2014 (reworked)
  • 4:15 (album version)
  • 4:35 (original version)
  • 3:30 (radio edit)
Music video
"Slave To The Rhythm" on YouTube

"Slave to the Rhythm" is a song by American recording artist Michael Jackson. The song is the 5th track of Jackson's second posthumous album Xscape.[1] Despite not being released as a single, the song appeared on several notable music charts due to digital downloads and streaming. Sony Mobile used a snippet of "Slave to the Rhythm" in their advertising campaign for the Xperia Z2 mobile phone. It was performed live at the 2014 Billboard Music Awards with a "Pepper's ghost" of Michael Jackson.[2] Due to streaming of the "hologram" performance on Billboard, the song debuted at number 45 on the Billboard Hot 100, giving Jackson a posthumous 50th entry on the Billboard Hot 100.[3]

Background and leak[edit]

The song was written and recorded in 1990, with L.A. Reid and Babyface during sessions for the Dangerous album,[4] but didn't make the final cut. In 2010, a version of the song remixed by Tricky Stewart was leaked. This remix remains unreleased officially, but a snippet was played on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in the weeks before the release of Xscape. In 2013, another version of the song leaked featuring Jackson's vocals in a duet with Canadian artist Justin Bieber. In response to criticism over this remix, the Michael Jackson Estate had not authorized release of this recording, and has since made attempts to remove the song from as many sites and YouTube channels as possible.[5]


In February 2014, Sony and Jackson's estate announced a partnership with Sony Mobile that saw the release of an ad incorporating a new version of the track "Slave to the Rhythm", which had been confirmed as one of the album tracks. The Re-tooled Version is produced by Timbaland and J-Roc.[6] The commercial advertisement was for Sony Mobile's Xperia Z2 mobile phone.[7] Both Xperia Z2 and M2 come with "Slave to the Rhythm" while users can download the rest of the album [8] The original version is found in the deluxe edition of the Xscape album. In 2014, a version of the song remixed by Audien was released.[9]

Live performance[edit]

On May 18, 2014, a Pepper's ghost (incorrectly referred to as a hologram[10]) illusion of Michael Jackson performed "Slave to the Rhythm", for the 2014 Billboard Music Awards. The selection of the song "Slave to the Rhythm" for the performance was made in late 2013.

The Talauega brothers, Rich and Tone, were brought on right after New Year's Day, and they started to draw up dance moves for Jackson and for the other dancers in the film. The brothers' involvement with Jackson dates back to the 1995 MTV Video Music Awards; they also were backup dancers for the HIStory World Tour in 1997. Jamie King was brought in to direct the video, which was produced by Pulse Evolution and Tricycle Logic.[11]

A day after the coverage, the live performance of "Slave to the Rhythm" was uploaded to Michael Jackson's Vevo YouTube Channel.[12] Among Jackson's fans, reception of the performance has been mixed; some fans believe that an impersonator was used.[13]


Chart (2014) Peak
Canada (Canadian Hot 100)[14] 91
France (SNEP)[15] 119
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[16] 48
South Korea International Songs (Gaon)[17] 4
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[18] 98
US Billboard Hot 100[19] 45
US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs (Billboard)[20] 12

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Opam, Kwame (March 31, 2014). "New Michael Jackson album 'XSCAPE' will be released May 13th". The Verge. Retrieved May 2, 2014.
  2. ^ Phil Gallo (18 May 2014). "Michael Jackson Hologram Rocks Billboard Music Awards: Go Behind the Scenes". Billboard. Retrieved 21 May 2014.
  3. ^ "Michael Jackson's Billie Jean Returns To Hot 100; Legend Lands 50th Hit". Billboard. Retrieved May 29, 2014.
  4. ^ New Michael Jackson Album 'Xscape' - L A Reid-Interview (Today, NBC) - YouTube on YouTube
  5. ^ "Justin Bieber, Michael Jackson Duet: Estate Releases Statement". 20 August 2013. Retrieved 21 May 2014.
  6. ^ "New Michael Jackson Album 'Xscape' to Be Released in May". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. March 31, 2014. Retrieved March 31, 2014.
  8. ^ Michael Jackson’s new album XSCAPE will be free for 2014 Xperia owners | Xperia Blog
  9. ^ Slave to the Rhythm (Audien Remix Radio Edit), retrieved 2019-08-23
  10. ^ "Why Billboard Music Awards' Michael Jackson Can't Be Called a 'Hologram'".
  11. ^ "Michael Jackson Hologram at Billboard Music Awards: How It Came Together (Video)".
  12. ^ "Michael Jackson - Slave To The Rhythm".
  13. ^ Wain, Natalie. "Michael Jackson hologram leaves fans disappointed at the Billboard Music Awards". Metro. Retrieved 29 May 2014.
  14. ^ "Michael Jackson Chart History (Canadian Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved May 29, 2014.
  15. ^ " – Michael Jackson – Slave to the Rhythm" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved May 28, 2014.
  16. ^ " – Michael Jackson – Slave to the Rhythm" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved May 21, 2014.
  17. ^ "Gaon Digital Chart" (in Korean). Gaon Chart. Retrieved May 23, 2014.
  18. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved May 26, 2014.
  19. ^ "Michael Jackson Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved May 28, 2014.
  20. ^ "Michael Jackson Chart History (Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved May 23, 2014.