Will You Be There

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"Will You Be There"
Will You be There.jpg
Single by Michael Jackson
from the album Dangerous and Free Willy: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
B-side
ReleasedJune 28, 1993
Recorded1990–91
Genre
Length7:41 (Album Version)
5:52 (Without Introduction)
3:40 (Radio Edit)
LabelEpic
Songwriter(s)Michael Jackson
Producer(s)
Michael Jackson singles chronology
"Whatzupwitu"
(1993)
"Will You Be There"
(1993)
"Gone Too Soon"
(1993)
Music video
"Will You Be There" on YouTube

"Will You Be There" is a song by Michael Jackson which was released as a single on June 28, 1993. The song is the eighth single from the 1991 album Dangerous. The song gained recognition for its appearance on the soundtrack to the film Free Willy (1993), under the title "Will You Be There (Theme from Free Willy)", of which it is the main theme, and was also included in the album All Time Greatest Movie Songs and video game Michael Jackson: The Experience. With the album version clocking in at seven minutes and forty-one seconds, it is the longest song in Michael Jackson's solo discography.

"Will You Be There" became yet another successful single from Dangerous, peaking at number seven on the Billboard Hot 100, selling 1,000,000 copies and earning a platinum certification. Outside of the United States, "Will You Be There" peaked within the top ten of the charts in Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the Republic of Ireland, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

Background[edit]

Jackson revealed in Living with Michael Jackson that "Will You Be There" was one of several songs he wrote in addition to "Heal the World" while at the Giving Tree, located on his Neverland Ranch property.[1]

According to Free Willy director Simon Wincer in his conversation with Slash Film, the idea of affording a Michael Jackson song came when the budget for the music increased following the film's positive reception at an advance screening.[2] Although Jackson didn't have the time to write a new song despite seeing a preview, it was Jerry L. Greenberg who made the suggestion of including "Will You Be There", around the same time he was recruiting talent for the film's soundtrack which was then released in collaboration with Epic Soundtrax and Jackson's imprint MJJ Music.[3]

Composition[edit]

The song is written in the key of D major.[4] Jackson's vocal spans from D3 to E5.[4] It has a tempo of 83 beats per minute. Jackson wrote and produced "Will You Be There" – with co-producing credits going to Bruce Swedien – and orchestrated the rhythm and vocal arrangements. Featured instruments are noted as piano, synthesizer, keyboard, drums, and percussion.

Song information[edit]

The album version of the song includes a prelude featuring the Cleveland Orchestra and the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus performing a portion of Beethoven's ninth symphony. The segment is from the fourth movement and is a lesser known portion of the famous "Ode to Joy". The German lyrics were written by Friedrich Schiller.

German original[5]
English translation
Ihr stürzt nieder, Millionen?
Ahnest du den Schöpfer, Welt?
Such' ihn über'm Sternenzelt!
Über Sternen muss er wohnen.
Do you bow down, millions?
Do you sense the Creator, world?
Seek Him beyond the starry canopy!
Beyond the stars must He dwell.

This classical introduction is then followed by a chorale interlude arranged by Andrae and Sandra Crouch. The Andrae Crouch Singers are heard throughout the rest of the song as well. At the end, Jackson recites a poem. This outro was also featured in his book Dancing the Dream.

Two more edits were created for the Free Willy soundtrack. The first that played in the film's closing credits is similar to the album version but without the prelude and interlude while the single version, also known as "Will You Be There" (Reprise), removes the prelude, interlude and spoken outro.

Legal issues[edit]

"Will You Be There" was the subject of two lawsuits. The first was for copyright infringement of the Cleveland Orchestra's recording and lack of credit to Beethoven for the use of his symphonic prelude. The suit was filed by the Cleveland Orchestra[6] for 7 million dollars and was settled out of court with subsequent pressings of Dangerous including full credits in the album booklet. The second lawsuit was a claim of plagiarism by Italian songwriter Albano Carrisi who claimed that "Will You Be There" was copied from his song "I Cigni di Balaka" ("The Swans of Balaka"). After seven years, an Italian court ruled in favor of Carrisi because Jackson failed to show up to court. In a follow-up case some months later, the court ruled in favor of Jackson and rejected the claim, stating that while the two songs were very similar, they both may have been inspired by The Ink Spots' 1939 hit "Bless You for Being an Angel".[7]

Critical reception[edit]

Chris Lacy from Albumism noted the "gospel fervor" of "Will You Be There" and "Keep the Faith" in his retrospective on Dangerous' 25th anniversary. Calling the former song "a symphonic, heart-wrenching confession in which the shackles of Jackson’s deepest insecurities snap and crash to the floor".[8] The song was picked as critic's choice in a Billboard review from Larry Flick who described it as a "highly inspirational, gospel/pop tune", stating that Jackson "offers one of his purest vocals in a long while, wisely sidestepping busy instrumentation and studio gimmicks. As a result, listeners are reminded how special and unique he truly is."[9] Troy J. Augusto from Cashbox commented, "Not as immediate as much of Michael's material, but dreamy enough to connect with his audience." He added, "Big vocal chorus and string arrangement add to song's appeal."[10] Alan Jones from Music Week gave it four out of five, stating that this "Afrocentric, spiritually uplifting" track "will be a hit."[11] Rolling Stone wrote that "the grandiose 'Will You Be There' never catches fire" and added that "the sequencing of Dangerous often clusters similar songs in bunches", and with that "it's easy to overlook" the following track "Keep The Faith" which, like "Will You Be There", also features the Andrae Crouch Singers. However, according to the article "is looser and sets off fireworks with a call-and-response gospel coda".[12]

Accolades[edit]

Award Category Result
1994 MTV Movie Awards Best Song From a Movie Won

Music video[edit]

Vince Patterson directed two music videos for "Will You Be There". The official video included Jackson performing the song during various stops of the Dangerous World Tour while scenes from Free Willy centering around the friendship of Jesse and Willy are shown. The original VHS copies of Free Willy included the music video prior to the film. The second video from Dangerous: The Short Films contained the full length of MTV's 10th Anniversary special performance intercut with the Dangerous World Tour footage and footage of the fans.

Live performances[edit]

Jackson first performed "Will You Be There" following "Black or White" during MTV's 10th Anniversary special that aired prior to the release of Dangerous, and would later perform it again throughout the Dangerous World Tour. During the spoken outro, he would sometimes have children in tow while an angel, played by Angela Ice in the 10th Anniversary performance, appears from behind and uses her wings to embrace him at the conclusion of the song.

At the 25th NAACP Image Awards in 1993 where Jackson accepted "Entertainer of the Year" that night, Daryl Coley, Patti LaBelle and the Voices of Faith Choir performed the song with Jackson joining in at the end. The song was planned for the HIStory World Tour (1996–1997), but was not included in final set list. A version was released on the 2004 DVD Live in Bucharest: The Dangerous Tour. Jackson would have performed the song for the This Is It concerts which never took place due to his sudden death. The rehearsal for it, which took place on June 23, was not featured in the film This Is It (although it appears briefly on the DVD/Blu-ray bonus features), but was confirmed to have been part of the concert.

Other performances[edit]

Jennifer Hudson performed the song at Michael Jackson's memorial service on July 7, 2009.

The song was also covered by the band Boyce Avenue on their 2010 album Influential Sessions. Sales of this song on iTunes were used to raise money for relief of the 2010 Haiti earthquake through the American Red Cross. Band member Alejandro Manzano said "...though we knew that any cover of [Michael Jackson's] music would pale in comparison to the original, we were still compelled to give a shout out to the late great in this time of need, by doing our rendition of one of our favorite songs of his, 'Will You Be There.'"[13]

Michael Lynche performed the song on the ninth season of American Idol on May 11, 2010, prior to being eliminated from the Final 4.

Melanie Amaro performed the song in the first season of The X Factor on 2011. She survived during elimination bouts at judges' houses.

Fleur East performed the song on the eleventh season of the original The X Factor in the United Kingdom on November 8, 2014, during Queen vs. Michael Jackson week.

"Will You Be There" was included in the "Heal the World – Will You Be There" number in Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour.

Track listing[edit]

CD and 12" single

  1. "Will You Be There" (Radio Edit) – 3:40
  2. "Man in the Mirror" – 5:19
  3. "Girlfriend" – 3:04
  4. "Will You Be There" (Album Version) – 7:40

CD promo

  1. "Will You Be There" (Radio Edit) – 3:40

7" and cassette single

  1. "Will You Be There" (Radio Edit) – 3:40
  2. "Will You Be There" (Instrumental) – 3:40

3-inch single

  1. "Will You Be There" (Radio Edit) – 3:40
  2. "Girlfriend" – 3:04

Video single

  1. "Will You Be There" (Music Video) - 5:56

Running time: 4 minutes 30 seconds

Personnel[edit]

Charts and certifications[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Will You Be There". Fanpop. Retrieved July 13, 2012.
  2. ^ Blake Harris (August 12, 2016). "HDTGM: A Conversation With Simon Wincer, Director Of THE PHANTOM". Slash Film. Retrieved September 6, 2021.
  3. ^ Nikki Neil (August 10, 2010). "Interview with Jerry Greenberg". Bite Me! Music + Fashion. Retrieved September 6, 2021.
  4. ^ a b "Will You Be There– Michael Jackson Digital Sheet Music (Digital Download)". MusicNotes.com. Alfred Publishing Co. Inc. April 10, 2002. Retrieved July 13, 2012.
  5. ^ "Beethoven Foundation – Schiller's "An die Freude" and Authoritative Translation".
  6. ^ Michael Jackson: The King of Pop Branden Publishing Company, 1993, p. 315
  7. ^ "Michael Jackson Fends off Plagiarism Suit". MTV.
  8. ^ Lacy, Chris (November 21, 2016). "TRIBUTE: Celebrating 25 Years of Michael Jackson's 'Dangerous'". Albumism. Retrieved November 16, 2020.
  9. ^ Flick, Larry (June 26, 1993). "Single Reviews" (PDF). Billboard. p. 84. Retrieved October 26, 2020.
  10. ^ Augusto, Troy J. (July 3, 1993). "Pop Singles: Reviews - Pick Of The Week" (PDF). Cashbox. p. 13. Retrieved November 3, 2020.
  11. ^ Jones, Alan (June 12, 1993). "Market Preview: Mainstream - Singles" (PDF). Music Week. p. 8. Retrieved March 28, 2021.
  12. ^ "Michael Jackson's 'Dangerous'". Rolling Stone. January 1992.
  13. ^ Will You Be There – Help for Haiti on YouTube
  14. ^ Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988-2010. Mt. Martha, VIC, Australia: Moonlight Publishing.
  15. ^ a b "Michael Jackson – Will You Be There" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved November 15, 2019.
  16. ^ "Michael Jackson – Will You Be There" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved November 15, 2019.
  17. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 2242." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved November 15, 2019.
  18. ^ "Top RPM Adult Contemporary: Issue 2231." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved November 15, 2019.
  19. ^ "Eurochart Hot 100 Singles" (PDF). Music & Media. Vol. 10, no. 32. August 7, 1993. p. 15. Retrieved November 15, 2019.
  20. ^ Nyman, Jake (2005). Suomi soi 4: Suuri suomalainen listakirja (in Finnish) (1st ed.). Helsinki: Tammi. ISBN 951-31-2503-3.
  21. ^ "Michael Jackson – Will You Be There" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved November 15, 2019.
  22. ^ a b "Michael Jackson – Will You Be There" (in German). GfK Entertainment charts. Retrieved November 15, 2019.
  23. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Will You Be There". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved November 15, 2019.
  24. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – week 33, 1993" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40. Retrieved November 15, 2019.
  25. ^ a b "Michael Jackson – Will You Be There" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved November 15, 2019.
  26. ^ a b "Michael Jackson – Will You Be There". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved November 15, 2019.
  27. ^ a b "Michael Jackson – Will You Be There". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved November 15, 2019.
  28. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved November 15, 2019.
  29. ^ "Michael Jackson Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved September 29, 2021.
  30. ^ "Michael Jackson Chart History (Adult Contemporary)". Billboard. Retrieved November 15, 2019.
  31. ^ "Michael Jackson Chart History (Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved November 15, 2019.
  32. ^ "Michael Jackson Chart History (Pop Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved November 15, 2019.
  33. ^ "Michael Jackson – Will You Be There". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Retrieved November 15, 2019.
  34. ^ "Michael Jackson Chart History (Canadian Digital Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved November 15, 2019.
  35. ^ "Michael Jackson – Will You Be There". Tracklisten. Retrieved November 15, 2019.
  36. ^ "Michael Jackson – Will You Be There". Singles Top 100. Retrieved November 15, 2019.
  37. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved November 15, 2019.
  38. ^ "Michael Jackson Chart History (Digital Song Sales)". Billboard. Retrieved November 15, 2019.
  39. ^ "Jaaroverzichten 1993" (in Dutch). Ultratop. Retrieved November 15, 2019.
  40. ^ "The RPM Top 100 Hit Tracks of 1993". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved November 15, 2019.
  41. ^ "The RPM Top 100 A\C Tracks of 1993". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved November 15, 2019.
  42. ^ "1993 Year-End Sales Charts" (PDF). Music & Media. Vol. 10, no. 51/52. December 18, 1993. p. 15. Retrieved February 1, 2020.
  43. ^ "Top 100 Single–Jahrescharts 1993" (in German). GfK Entertainment. Retrieved December 5, 2015.
  44. ^ "Top 100-Jaaroverzicht van 1993". Dutch Top 40. Retrieved May 23, 2020.
  45. ^ "Jaaroverzichten – Single 1993" (in Dutch). MegaCharts. Retrieved November 15, 2019.
  46. ^ "End of Year Charts 1993". Recorded Music NZ. Retrieved November 15, 2019.
  47. ^ "Top 100 Singles 1993" (PDF). Music Week. January 15, 1994. p. 24. Retrieved May 20, 2022 – via World Radio History.
  48. ^ "Billboard Top 100 – 1993". Archived from the original on November 10, 2006. Retrieved August 27, 2010.
  49. ^ "The Year in Music 1993" (PDF). Billboard. Vol. 105, no. 52. December 25, 1993. p. YE-46. Archived (PDF) from the original on June 27, 2021. Retrieved August 17, 2021.
  50. ^ "Cash Box YE Pop Singles - 1993". Archived from the original on November 14, 2017.
  51. ^ "New Zealand single certifications – Michael Jackson – Will You Be There". Recorded Music NZ. Retrieved November 15, 2019.
  52. ^ "American single certifications – Michael Jackson – Will You Be There?". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved November 15, 2019.

External links[edit]