Michael Jackson's career has been long and prosperous, shining through thirty years and uncountable hits. It's hard to dispute that the 80's signed his deepest impact - artistically and commercially - on the world's musical canvas but it's also notable that after a decade that crowned him as one of its most significant representatives, Michael decided to lead his music onto new solutions, instead of laying on the reassuring decision of becoming a classic act (it wouldn't have been too difficult to reproduce ad libitum Quincy Jones' formulas).
For these reasons I always considered Jackson's production in the 90's equally important and interesting as the 80s masterpieces, especially the HIStory series, where the stylistic experiments started in the uptempo tracks of Dangerous evolved to full maturity (ballads, for obvious reasons, require less bold structures).
I'd like to play the What If game: because during the period that presumably matched the conception of the HIStory bulk, the Jordan Chandler bomb exploded. A pivotal event in Michael's life and career, so destructive to cause the downfall of his universe, triggering a painfully long string of controversy, blant mistakes and unwise choices that followed him until his tragic death in 2009.
I'd like to imagine what would have happened if the veil Chandlers had turned elsewhere their filth and if Michael had been able to continue on his artistic way in a - if not total - at least accettable serenity.
Around the mid-90s, without the urge of rebuilding an image shattered by media, no one would have adopted absurd formats like the one HIStory or the following Blood on the Dancefloor came in, no hurried retrospectives, no monumental gimmicks, no messy doughs… Instead of an album married with a greatest hits(!) in 1995 and a follow-up EP plus remixes (!!) in 1997, a new album of brand new material (maybe in 1996).
The title? I've always liked Blood on the Dancefloor, it holds the sinister flavour (strangely enough, considering the good nature of the artist) of his former albums (think about it: Thriller, Bad, Dangerous... the guy is sick)
The songs? I believe that the need for simmetry with the 15 tracks of the greatest hits forced too many fillers in HIStory disc 2 that are not as good as Jackson's standards would have normally allowed, essentially I would have taken out:
This time around - because the production is awesome but the song doesn't take off,
D.S. - I welcome the rant against Thomas Sneddon but the music idea deserved more development,
Money - good rhythm patterns but overall a bit trivial,
You are not alone - I would have included Why? instead of this track, still an R.Kelly tune but a better one if you ask me. Besides, gifting the nephews of a successful single didn't manage to kickstart their career, if not briefly,
Childhood - musically speaking it would have served better elsewhere,
HIStory - an experiment that didn't end up quite straight - too many elements not working together,
Come together - probably one of the best covers ever recorded but why here (since it had already been released anyway)?
Superfly sister (from BOTDF) - nothing more than a cute song.
Obviously I would have released the BOTDF remixes as b-sides, rather than on an album.
The resulting tracklist of Blood on The Dance Floor - 1996 of the alternative reality - the album that could have been:
- Blood on the dancefloor - the title track: powerful, danceable, innovative
- Ghosts - a respectful call on Thriller's atmospheres
- Why? - Wonderful ballad with his nephews as guests
- They don't care about us - simply perfect
- Stranger in Moscow - unquestionably perfect
- Scream - another duet within the family
- Morphine - a ghastly and visionary Michael at its rough best
- Earth song - important themes on an indelible melody
- 2Bad - killer rhythm, leaves you breathless
- Tabloid junkie - same as above
- Little Susie - moving and orchestral
- Is it scary? - epic closure
(ghost track) Smile - written by Charlie Chaplin but a Michael's tune by right.
Would it have been or not an amazing record?