Under the Radar : Micheal Jackson, Dangerous (1991)
In November 1991, Michael Jackson released his eighth studio album, Dangerous. It seems that after finishing up the Bad tour, which managed to prove that his album Thriller was no fluke; Michael endeavored by taking the elements from Thriller and expanding upon them thus creating, Bad. Although it was a success, it was viewed by most as a cold calculated version of Thriller.
Because of this, Jackson changed his approach when recording his Dangerous album. Instead of collaborating with long-time friend and producer, Quincy Jones, he shifted gears and proceeded to team-up with producer, Teddy Riley. It would seem he wanted to get in touch with a younger, urban market.
Riley brought in new song writers into the Dangerous sessions, which pushed Jackson into whole new directions during the recording. These new influences brought out elements of Funk, Gospel, Hip-Hop, Rock, R&B, Rap and the then new: New Jack Swing (a style of music created by Teddy Riley that fused rhythms, samples and production techniques of hip-hop and dance with an urban contemporary sound of R&B).
Dangerous had four top ten hit singles (Black or White, In the Closet, Will You Be There and Remember the Time) and it went on to sell twenty million certified copies world-wide. Most critics would agree, that Dangerous was riskier and a more consistent album over-all than Bad.
As a number one, multi-platinum album however, it seems to be often forgotten when Michael Jackson’s music is discussed. Perhaps, had the album been released prior to the commercialization of the Grunge/Seattle Sound success of the early nineties, it may have had a different outcome.
The bottom line is, Michael Jackson was a genius. The King of Pop saw the musical landscape changing and instead of becoming a casualty of the Grunge scene, he paved a new path for himself.Michael Jackson took all his experience, knowledge and talent, merged it all with the new up and comers (Riley and team) and it resulted in the Dangerous album.
The Dangerous album not only reinvents pop, but redefines its parameters by bringing R&B, Hip-Hop, Rock, Gospel, New Jack Swing and Classical influences into a collection of songs that run an unparalleled range of emotions; (paranoia, cryptic, sensual, vulnerability, idealist, bleak, transcendent, and fearful). Most Pop albums didn’t have this reach at the time, until Dangerous.
When I first listened to this album, I thought Jackson was losing his way in his musical career, but I was so wrong. The King of Pop was not lost at all, he was a visionary who created a new musical template, ensuring that he and Pop music would not only continue but also prosper through to the next millennium
Michael Jackson’s Dangerous in my opinion has become the blue print for today’s pop albums and its influences are still heard in today’s music.
Funny how Dangerous was considered a disappointment upon its initial release, but over the course of time, has developed a new found appreciation. In my opinion this album was ahead of its time and perhaps was just overlooked because of the Grunge scene.
Whether a long–time fan or not of Michael Jackson’s music, I urge you to give the 1991 Dangerous album a try.
Standout Tracks: Jam, In the Closet, Remember the Time, Black or White, Who Is It & Give in to Me