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You Are Not Alone

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"You Are Not Alone"
You Are Not Alone.jpg
Standard artwork (U.S. CD single pictured)
Single by Michael Jackson
from the album HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I
B-side"Scream Louder"
ReleasedAugust 15, 1995
RecordedNovember 1994
Chicago Recording Company
(Chicago, Illinois)[1]
Length5:45 (Album version)
4:34 (Radio edit)
4:56 (Single version)
5:35 (Video edit)
6:01 (Extended version)
Songwriter(s)Robert Kelly
Michael Jackson singles chronology
"You Are Not Alone"
"Earth Song"
Music video
"You Are Not Alone" on YouTube
Audio sample
"You Are Not Alone"

"You Are Not Alone" is a song by American recording artist Michael Jackson from his ninth studio album HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I (1995). It was released on August 15, 1995 as the second single from the album. The song was re-released in 2006, as part of Jackson's Visionary: The Video Singles collection box set, where it re-entered at number 30 in the UK Singles Chart in 2006.[2] The R&B ballad was written by American R&B singer R. Kelly in response to difficult times in his personal life. He then forwarded a bare demo tape to Jackson, who liked the song and decided to produce it with Kelly. Jackson's interest in the song was also linked to recent events in his personal life.

The song's corresponding music video, which featured Jackson and his then-wife Lisa Marie Presley, was notable for its scenes of semi-nudity. "You Are Not Alone" received a generally positive critical reception and was the recipient of Grammy and American Music Award nominations. Commercially, the song was a significant success. It holds a Guinness World Record as the first song in the 37-year history of the Billboard Hot 100 to debut at number one; it was later certified platinum by the RIAA. The song peaked highly in all major markets worldwide. "You Are Not Alone" was Michael Jackson's 13th and last number one hit single in the United States during his lifetime.

The song's writer R. Kelly covered the tune as a hidden track from his tenth studio album Love Letter (2010), paying tribute to Jackson after his death in June 2009. In 2011, a clip of the song was remixed with the song "I Just Can't Stop Loving You"; the final "Immortal Version" was released on the Immortal album.

Production and composition[edit]

"You Are Not Alone" is an R&B ballad about love and isolation.[3][4] The song was written by R. Kelly and produced by Kelly and Jackson.[3] Kelly wrote the song after losing close people in his life.[5] Kelly was delighted to be able to work with his idol, explaining "I was psyched ... I feel I could have done his whole album. Not being selfish. I was just that geeked about it. It was an experience out of this world ... It's amazing to know that five years ago I was writing songs in a basement in the ghetto and now I'm writing for Michael Jackson ... I'd be a fool not to say it's a dream come true."[6] Jackson contacted Kelly to see if he had any material available. Kelly forwarded a tape recording of the song and Jackson then agreed to work with Kelly on the piece.[6] On the tape sent to Jackson, Kelly sung "You Are Not Alone" mimicking Jackson's vocal style, explaining, "I think I am him. I become him. I want him to feel that as well." Jackson found the interpretation amusing.[7] They spent the last week of November 1994 together in the studio working on the track.[6]

Jackson explained that he instantly liked the song, but listened to it twice before making his final decision. Although the song was written by Kelly, Jackson was adamant that the production should be a collaborative effort among the two musicians.[5] The tape sent to him had no harmony or modulations, so Jackson added a choir in the final portion and added a sense of climax and structure to the final piece.[8] The song is written in the key of B major. The song has a tempo of 60 beats per minute, making it one of Jackson's slowest songs.[9]

In 2007, a Belgian court ruled that R. Kelly had plagiarized the 1993 song "If We Can Start All Over" when composing "You Are Not Alone". The court transferred rights of Jackson's hit to the twin composer brothers, Eddy and Danny Van Passel. The judgment is only recognized in Belgium and airplay of the hit has been banned there.[10][11][12]

Critical reaction[edit]

'You Are Not Alone' received positive views from music critics. James Hunter of Rolling Stone noted that, "the excellent current single 'Scream' or the first-rate R&B ballad 'You Are Not Alone' – manage to link the incidents of Jackson's infamous recent past to universal concepts, like injustice or isolation. When he bases his music in the bluntness of hip-hop, Jackson sketches funky scenarios denouncing greed, blanket unreliability and false accusation".[4] Jon Pareles of The New York Times said that it was the only conventional love song on the new material on HIStory. He compared it to Mariah Carey's song "Hero" and said it "sounds like a surefire hit".[3] In more recent years, Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic expressed the opinion that "You Are Not Alone" was amongst some of the best songs Jackson ever released, calling the song seductive.[13] The R&B critic and journalist Nelson George described the song as lovely and supple.[14]

Writer and journalist J. Randy Taraborrelli wrote of the song in 2004, "[it] remains among Michael's best songs ... On listening to 'You Are Not Alone', one wonders how many times Michael tried to tell himself, during his most desperate and anguished times, that he did have support in his life, from a higher power, or even friends and family, whether he actually believed it or not".[15] Fred Shuster of the Daily News of Los Angeles described it as the best song on the album.[16] Conversely, while Steve Holsey of Michigan Chronicle gave the album a positive review, he described the song as the worst on the album, calling the Kelly penned lyrics "trite" and below the standard set by Jackson's own lyrical skills.[17] "You Are Not Alone" received an American Music Award nomination and a Grammy nomination both for "Best Pop Vocal Performance".[18][19]

Chart performance[edit]

Commercially, "You Are Not Alone" remains one of Jackson's best selling singles and it is also his 13th number one hit. It holds the Guinness World Record for the first song ever to debut at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.[20] First week sales were 120,000 copies; it was certified platinum by the RIAA and sold one million copies domestically.[21][22][23][24] It broke the record set by his previous single "Scream/Childhood," which was the first song in the 37-year history of Billboard to debut at number five—where it peaked.[22] It peaked at number one in the UK after a debut at number three in the prior week.[22][25] The song also reached number one in Wallonia, France, New Zealand, Spain and Switzerland. In Canada it peaked at number 2.[26] With the exception of Italy, it became a top ten hit in every major market.[22][26]

Music video[edit]

Presley leans down towards her husband in the temple scene of the music video.

The music video was directed by Wayne Isham on July 12, 1995 and begins with a large number of paparazzi taking photographs of Jackson. The plot then centers around two locations: a temple where Jackson appears in an affectionate semi-nude scene with his then-wife, Lisa Marie Presley, and a theater where Jackson performs the song to an empty hall. Jackson also appears alone in other locations such as deserts and along tide pools. The slightly extended version that appeared on HIStory on Film, Volume II was notable for scenes where special effects were used to give Jackson white, feathery, almost angelic wings. Several of these scenes included Michael's side having been pierced by an arrow. The other version of the video is included on Number Ones and Michael Jackson's Vision. The temple scenes were a homage to Maxfield Parrish's 1922 painting Daybreak.[27] The theater scenes were filmed at the Pantages Theatre, in Los Angeles.

Live performances[edit]

Michael first performed "You Are Not Alone" at the 1995 Soul Train Music Awards, then at the 1995 BET Awards and also at the 1995 MTV Video Music Awards. At the latter awards ceremony, the song was performed without the second verse. Jackson then performed the song at the Royal Brunei concert in 1996 where it was performed as a complete song. Jackson also performed it during the HIStory World Tour as a complete song, during which one lucky girl was allowed to dance with him on stage, similar to the Soul Train Music Awards performance. Michael's next performance of "You Are Not Alone" was at the MJ & Friends concert in Seoul on June 25, 1999; this also turned out to be the song's last performance by Jackson himself, occurring ten years to the day of his death. The song was performed without the second verse, similar to the "1995 MTV Awards" performance. The song was also due to be performed at the This Is It concert series, however the shows were cancelled due to his untimely death.

Diana Ross recorded a version of this song on her international-only released album, "Voice of Love" produced by Nick Martinelli. Diana would also close her successful 2010-12 "More Today Than Yesterday: The Greatest Hits Tour" with this song as a tribute to Jackson.

Track listing[edit]


The X Factor UK 2009 finalists version[edit]

"You Are Not Alone"
Single by The X Factor Finalists 2009
ReleasedNovember 15, 2009 (2009-11-15)
FormatCD single, digital single
GenrePop, R&B
Songwriter(s)R. Kelly
The X Factor finalists singles chronology
"You Are Not Alone"

The final twelve acts from the sixth series of TV talent show The X Factor in the United Kingdom released a cover version of the song on November 15, 2009 in aid of Great Ormond Street Hospital.[84] The finalists premiered the song live on the November 15 edition of the programme; the single was available for digital download that day and a physical release followed the day after.[84] The release of the song follows a similar occurrence a year earlier, when the final twelve acts from the fifth series released a cover version of Mariah Carey's "Hero" in aid of Help for Heroes and raised over £1 million.[85] It has been confirmed to have sold over 400,000 copies, therefore achieving a Gold single certification.

Music video[edit]

The video is very similar to the video of the cover version of the charity single of the year before. It shows various contestants performing their part in front of a plain black background, then shows the 12 finalists together performing the song in front of a screen of photos. Photos and video footage of the finalists at the Great Ormond Street Hospital are shown throughout the video.


Chart (2009) Peak
Ireland (IRMA)[86] 1
Scotland (Official Charts Company)[87] 1
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[88] 1

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (2009) Position
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[89] 28

R. Kelly version[edit]

"You Are Not Alone"
Song by R. Kelly
from the album 'Love Letter'
ReleasedDecember 14, 2010 (2010-12-14)
Formatdigital single
GenreR&B, Soul
Songwriter(s)R. Kelly
Producer(s)R. Kelly

R. Kelly recorded his own version of the song and put it on his critically acclaimed 2010 album Love Letter, he recorded it as a tribute to Jackson following his death. The song was a hidden bonus song on the album, shown as the final song on the album's track list. The song starts with Kelly paying tribute to Jackson, saying "In loving memories of my hero... MJ".

Track listing[edit]

Digital single from Love Letter
15."You Are Not Alone"R. KellyR. Kelly4:29


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External links[edit]