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How Michael Jackson's Bad Shaped Pop As We Know It
David Bennun , August 21st, 2017 12:16

Thriller might be considered the greatest Michael Jackson album but, argues David Bennun, it's Bad that changed pop music forever

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Some things are so big, you no longer see them. Some things, so pervasive you no longer notice them.

Who, for instance, are the most influential artists in popular music? Dylan, The Beatles, Bowie, The Velvet Underground, Patti Smith. They’re usually, and justly, near the top of any such list. But they shouldn’t be at the top. The question really being asked, and answered, is “Who are the artists you like who were most influential on other artists you like?”

The most influential artists of the last 40 years – and perhaps ever, depending on how one attempts to quantify it – are Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston. Nobody has had a greater impact on more music enjoyed by more people. Just not necessarily music you listen to. Not necessarily people you hang out with.

It was Brian Eno who made the now famous observation that the first Velvet Underground album sold only 30,000 copies in the five years after its release (mind you, plenty of bands today would consider that a major success, which is another matter), but everyone who bought it started a band. And, as Eno didn’t mention, a few of those bands flourished, but most sold even fewer. Jackson and Houston sold in the tens of millions; since then, people who sound like Jackson or Houston have cumulatively sold tens of millions more.

This doesn’t in itself make Jackson or Houston better than the Velvet Underground – whatever that might mean. Quantity is not quality. Might is not right. It’s simply how it happened.

Houston’s influence has diminished now. Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, the mode she established was standard for women pop stars – due not only to her huge commercial impact, but also to the influence of TV talent shows which gauged female acts in particular purely on technical terms: who was the most forceful; who had the greatest range, the most acrobatic melisma. As long as you could sing soul, you didn’t need to have it. This affected even the fresher and more imaginative Britney/Christina school; those girls required their chops to get ahead. Then along came Beyoncé, Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift, each with a different and novel way of being a superstar, and the spell was broken. Not that they can’t do all that stuff if they want to. But they don’t have to. For them, it isn't the point.

Jackson’s influence on the men, conversely, is not just undimmed; it is – at least in the Anglophone world – definitive. If you are a male solo artist, and you sing and dance and entertain (on which counts Ed Sheeran scores one out of three), and you aim to be a major global pop star for any substantial duration, then you’re pretty much going to be Michael Jackson or die trying. Usher, Justin Timberlake, Bruno Mars, a host of other would-be’s and almost-are’s: it’s not just that they are indebted to him; they’re all but doing him. These are, to one degree or another, performers of considerable qualities who have made some very good music and staged excellent shows. But nobody in their field has as yet worked out how to do it significantly differently to the way M.J. did it.

Jackson’s single most influential work, obviously, is Thriller, his 1982 opus and the biggest-selling album of all time. I mean, how could it not be?

Except, a lot of the stuff that, whether by accident or design, still sounds like Michael Jackson – and whenever I make one of my occasional forays into the Top 40, I hear something that does; it’s not always by male artists, either – doesn’t sound that much like Thriller. It often sounds more like Bad.

Which in turn means that, 30 years later, Bad sounds weirdly current. Then again, it sounds weirdly everything, in that everything it does, it does weirdly. It’s a weird album.

Thriller sounds classic, because it is; classics are, by definition, timeless, even if they do recall a particular time. Bad does not sound timeless. It sounds exactly like 1987, and it is a curious turn of events that in the succeeding three decades, we have never ceased to hear things that sound like Bad. If that stopped happening tomorrow, Bad would suddenly sound very dated indeed. Which would not make it a bad record. Despite all the guffaws and banalities that greeted its title at the time, it is anything but bad. It is, as I mentioned, weird, and it is so absurdly variable as to be capricious, but when it’s good, it is blinding. Those post-Jacko stars I mentioned above? It’s not just that they couldn’t exist without Jackson. They couldn’t exist without ‘Smooth Criminal’ alone.

Thriller exudes the kind of ease you hear on an unimpeachably great record where everything has come together just as well as it could. Even if that wasn’t the story in the studio, even if that’s not how the people who made it feel about it – even if they were miserable making it – you can tell when the music itself has been struck by lightning. It took a lot of people to make Thriller, and every last one of them aced it. The sound may be on the synthetic side – that’s just how it sounds, as did so many records at the time, many of them all the better for it – but the feel of it is natural. It feels as if that’s the way it had to go.

Bad, by contrast, could hardly have felt less natural, in that sense. Or so it seemed then; Jackson’s subsequent, stilted work shows that it could have. But where Thriller had flowed, strutted, swayed, glided and moonwalked, Bad stuttered, shuddered, jolted and jerked. Nothing on it seemed quite human – least of all Jackson himself, whose vocal manner seemed to reflect his changing appearance, becoming hacked, shaped and re-coloured into a series of cartoonish symbols, signals, tics and gestures. Again, this is not an inherently bad thing. Weird as hell, but not necessarily bad. In retrospect, it is clearly the first step – indeed, several steps – towards Jackson’s work assuming the suffocating, joyless character it would later exhibit on such tracks as ‘Scream’: frantic, plastic, mechanical, shrink-wrapped. (The shiny, claustrophobic, space-capsule video for that song could not have been more apt.) That music is fascinating in its own right, and not a little unnerving. But Jackson wasn’t there yet. Bad is certainly airless, though. No wonder he gasps all the way through it as if desperate for oxygen. It is, in every sense, compressed, its sounds for the most part dry and taut. There’s no pliancy in the upbeat numbers – not an inch of give, not an ounce of fat, no soft surfaces, and only the faintest intimations of warmth. Even the smoochy numbers are curiously brittle: ‘Liberian Girl’, whose timid efforts at quasi-African fluidity are scattered and squashed beneath the crashing percussion; ‘I Just Can't Stop Loving You’, which with kinder treatment might easily have been one of those sweet ballads Jackson turned out so ably in his teens, and to which may be accorded the backhanded compliment that it is the least fraught thing on the album, in part thanks to the calming vocal contribution of Siedah Garrett, she of that delicious Dennis Edwards collaboration, ‘Don’t Look Any Further’.

Because, make no mistake, this is one fraught record. In its sound, in its themes, in its overriding atmosphere. It is laden with grievance, with jittery defiance, with anxiety, with unconvincing braggadocio. That it was much more Jackson’s own record than its predecessor is clear from the credits. He was sole writer on all but two of its 11 songs (he had written four of Thriller’s nine). He took an album co-production credit alongside Quincy Jones. Yet if this was a liberation, it doesn’t feel like it. It feels like an artist straining at the leash, beating his fists upon his own limitations when all others have been removed. What motivated him? Did he feel the need to rival Prince’s prodigious abilities as an auteur? (Prince had been billed as a prospective duettist, likewise Whitney Houston; neither collaboration took place.) Were defiance and anxiety what he wanted to express now he had the chance, or was Bad itself the source of them? Here was a man, famous from the age of 11, whose strange and difficult life had made him the world’s greatest pop star, projecting himself on the cover as the street tough he unmistakably was not and could not be, a leather-encased hombre proclaiming on the opening title track just how dangerous he was.

Perhaps it was all theatre. For as long as we’ve had pop stars, they’ve played versions of themselves, or other people entirely. Acting a part comes with the territory. Plainly, Jackson was doing a bit; the question is, was he just doing a bit, assuming a new persona as part of the game, or was he signalling his own longing to be that way? With its stings and its drama, ‘Bad’ has a curious West Side Story-revisited quality. Its lyrics are far more abstruse than a simple throw-down, to the point of being nearly incomprehensible. Yet it’s difficult to shake the sense that this is who Jackson genuinely wanted to be. That like so many victims of bullying he yearned to transform himself into a hard nut, equipped with powers not just to resist but to humiliate his persecutors. And ‘Bad’ is an amazing song. Had it not been made by the recent creator of pop’s biggest ever album – had a hitherto unknown act recorded it – it might have been greeted as a remarkable experiment in catchy, neurotic avant-garde electro-funk.

The same is true for much of the album; if it seems an obvious pop record, in the narrower generic sense of the term, that’s because it was made by a person who was the world’s most obvious pop star. But for the most part, it doesn’t take the easy road. True, some things fit a template: ‘Just Good Friends’ and ‘Another Part Of Me’, closing the first side of the vinyl release and opening the second, are the very definition of filler, Prince/Jam & Lewis-derived products of their moment. Others are – again – more weird than anything else. ‘Speed Demon’ could be the soundtrack to a 1980s video game, and the notion of Jackson as an outlaw road racer is at once bizarre, hilarious and oddly poignant; Jackson has become what millions of others fantasise they might be, yet he implies again and again that his own fantasies are very different, and no more attainable for him than megastardom is for the rest of us. ‘The Man In the Mirror’ is a thoroughly dislikeable song; even though Jackson didn’t write it, it is the harbinger of the self-basting, sermonising style that would reach its apotheosis in ‘Earth Song’, occasioning Jarvis Cocker’s splendid spontaneous response at the 1996 Brits. But it wasn’t an obvious song. The obvious thing would have been to make it into a pious, saccharine ballad. Doing it as a thumping chunk of Formica gospel was . . . well, again, it was kind of weird.

Nine – nine! – of Bad’s tracks would be released as singles. At least five of them, including the title track, are bona-fide jaw-dropping belters. ‘The Way You Make Me Feel’ has the structure of a standard old-school rock & roll tune, but Jackson turns it into a swaggering, clattering, modern R&B showpiece, in which he gets to play the smitten, streetwise lothario he could never and would never be in person. ‘Dirty Diana’ returns to one of Jackson’s favourite themes – bad women who are out to do bad things to him. (In fairness, this is hardly a motif peculiar to Jackson, or even to pop music, although pop music has tended to specialise in it.) It rocks in that contained, uptight way chart rock had about it at that moment, but still, it rocks. It stings. Mind you, for Jackson to complain about anybody else’s sexual mores took some brass balls. As for ‘Smooth Criminal’, it was, remains, always will be, a dazzling, gobsmacking, electrifying tune. It is pure, breathless action, in every way: a movie scene magically transfigured into fierce, razor-edged, bastard-tight disco-funk.

When you consider that Bad starts off with the one-two punch of ‘Bad’ and ‘The Way You Make Me Feel’, and ends with the troika of ‘Dirty Diana’, ‘Smooth Criminal’ and ‘Leave Me Alone’, that is half of a ridiculously great album right there. That much of the other half is merely ridiculous is a pity. But ridiculous, in turn, beats bland every time, and aside from that dip right in the middle, Bad is never that. 

Jackson could hardly have made Bad less like Thriller. That’s just a turn of phrase. Obviously, he could have. He could have made an album of Andean nose flute music, or whatever. But he could hardly have made an album that was evidently the Big New Release by Michael Jackson, Megastar that felt more different to Thriller. It was a bold thing to do. And – as I keep repeating, but it bears repeating – it was a weird album to make. But then Jackson was, notoriously, a weird individual – and, it transpired, a monstrous one. It’s notable that he hasn’t been un-personed the way the still living Gary Glitter has. You might say he was too big to fail; I think it’s more that people love his music too much to relinquish it, so they just blot that side of things out. I do, so I do.

I remember seeing ‘Leave Me Alone’ on Top Of The Pops and staring at the screen open-mouthed in astonishment at the brilliance of its slamming, furious appropriation and retooling of Beatlesque harmony, instrumentation and (in the video) imagery. (It only now occurs to me, after all this time, to wonder if this might have been a coded memo to Paul McCartney to stop asking Jackson to raise the royalty rate on the Northern Songs catalogue Jackson had acquired after taking McCartney’s advice to buy publishing rights; just as McCartney’s ‘You Never Give Me Your Money’ surely addresses Allen Klein.)

‘Leave Me Alone’ being the final track means Bad is a record that opens with the message “Fuck you!” and closes with the message “Fuck off!” Thus book-ended, it has, to date, sold 35 million copies. Maybe Michael Jackson was a pretty bad dude after all.

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Aug 21, 2017 2:26pm

Nice potshot at Ed Sheeran there - just out of curiosity, which one of the three are ya giving him credit for?

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joe soap
Aug 21, 2017 2:41pm

"But then Jackson was, notoriously, a weird individual – and, it transpired, a monstrous one. It’s notable that he hasn’t been un-personed the way the still living Gary Glitter has. You might say he was too big to fail; "

This seems a bit definitive given that he wasn't convicted of any charges brought against him...

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Peter Robinson
Aug 21, 2017 2:48pm

Interesting article. I'd always dismissed Bad as the point at where MJ became less interesting but over the past couple of years listening to the album's biggest tracks has caused me to rethink this. I think it's not quite the unexpected turn of foot suggested here as a listen back to the work he did with his brothers on Destiny and the criminally underrated Triumph album shows the seeds of Bad have quite a long history. Tracks such as Walk Right Now and Shake Your Body Down To The Ground would have fitted onto it quite easily. I also think there's an argument to be made that sister Janet's Control album had quite a lot of influence on the sound of the record. The essay mentions the Jam & Lewis feel the album has and it cannot be coincidence that they produced Control.

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Aug 21, 2017 2:48pm

Bad is a great album, but I still enjoy Off The Wall a little more.

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Aug 21, 2017 4:35pm

'Leave Me Alone' wasn't the final track on 'BAD' - in fact it wasn't even on 'BAD'. Now it's included as a bonus track because it was a stand-alone single from that era.

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Aug 21, 2017 5:14pm

I disliked this article more than I liked it. Mainly for the slating of his character as 'weird' or 'monstrously weird' in the later years. And the Gary Glitter association - what the actual fuckery?! What a way to discredit what could potentially have been a great article. The ironic thing about this write up is that it's over obsessiveness on trying to convince the reader of the albums 'weirdness' just becomes a total distraction to other points the poster is trying desperately hard to convey. In the end the weirdest thing isn't the album, it's the total lack of regard for MJ's sheer brilliance for creating a masterpiece (the comments Reg MITM is laughable alone).

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Aug 21, 2017 7:40pm

Awful article. Feels like the author had a deadline to meet, and the night before realised "oh god, what am I going to write about? Ah, well, Bad is 30 years old, that'll do, I can make up some complete contrived bullshit about it and get my paycheck".

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Aug 21, 2017 8:03pm

I have to disagree with one of the "album filler" choices. The forgettable 'Speed Demon' needs to be swapped in for the catchy 'Another Part of Me'.

Did Bad really sound weird? To me it just sounded like a very 'produced' pop album that lacked a 'Billie Jean' or a 'Gotta be Startin Somethin'. The weirdist thing about Bad was surely the cover image with Jacko's ever lightening skin colour and widening eyes. Tough as...jelly. Weird though he may have been, was he a monster? We don't really know. Other than the case in which he was acquitted I'm not sure he was the subject of any other credible accusations.

As for Leave me alone, Johan is partly correct - it wasn't on the LP or cassette versions of Bad, however a quick glance at Discogs confirms it was always on the CD. Of course CD had yet to become the dominant format back in '87. Personally I thought Leave Me Alone was more interesting for its video and lyrics than for it's average tune; no wonder it was only a bonus track. I suspect that single wouldn't have sold as well as it did if everybody already owned it on Bad.

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Aug 21, 2017 8:11pm

ps: Speaking of influential artists, New Order's Substance has also just turned 30. Wouldn't that be more appropriate for a Quietus retrospective?

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Aug 21, 2017 11:26pm

In reply to Johan:

I think "Leave Me Alone" was a bonus track on the "Bad" CD.

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Johnny Nothing
Aug 21, 2017 11:29pm

This article reads like a first draft. Sorry.

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Aug 22, 2017 12:48am

You've led a very sheltered life, music-wise, if you think Bad is weird. And definitely should not be writing for The Quietus.

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Azmat Mahmood
Aug 22, 2017 2:09am

Was this meant to be a positive article on Michael Jackson and his album Bad? To me it seems like you bash the two main subjects of this very confusing article. Both Michael Jackson and Bad deserve better than this crap.

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Aug 22, 2017 5:12am


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Aug 22, 2017 5:15am

What is the purpose of this article? How can a web platform give space to this kind of low league ignorant opinions? Why this free and unhappy irony to slander the work of the greatest entertainer of our time? Does it make you happy?
Do you feel realized? Just take note that the album had six Grammy Award nominations, winning two and it was well-received by critics. Bad has sold an estimated of 35 million copies worldwide and has been cited as one of the best-selling albums of all time. In 2017, the album was certified Diamond by the Recording Industry Association of America, denoting sales of over ten million copies in the United States. Does it mean anything to you? And considering that the artist passed away 8 years ago!!

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steve bucket
Aug 22, 2017 8:41am

A monstrous one?? You compared him to a convicted pedophile who had child porn and CREDIBLE accusers?

Did you even bother to look at how those absurd self contradictory allegations were created, how the parents were behind Jordan's and Gavin's allegations how the police never found any evidence to corroborate any of those allegations, how a real pedophile named Victor Gutierrez who attended a NAMBLA conference and who targeted MJ since 1986 and invented virtually all molestation stories against MJ, gave them to anyone wiling to use them to make lawsuit money, books money or tabloid money.

MJ was the exact opposite of a monster which you would now if you actually listened to the kids and families who knew him and who unlike the monstrous Chandlers and Arvizos had no reason to lie. Like Mack Culkin, Corey Feldman, Brett Barnes, Frank Cascio, Eddie CAscio, Omer Batthi

This is how one of the kids, Frank Cascio, who had 100s of sleepovers with him described him in his book, as an adult after MJ died:

" The bottom line: Michael’s interest in young boys had absolutely nothing to do with sex. I say this with the unassailable confidence of firsthand experience, the confidence of a young boy who slept in the same room as Michael hundreds of times, and with the absolute conviction of a man who saw Michael interact with thousands of kids. In all the years that I was close to him, I saw nothing that raised any red flags, not as a child and not as an adult. Michael may have been eccentric, but that didn’t make him criminal. "

And years later in a tweet:

" Let me also say this: Michael Jackson was the greatest person I have ever known and I would do ANYTHING for him, then and now. I am beyond grateful for the opportunities he blessed me with. He left and indelible mark on my soul and my life and my heart will never be the same without him. "

MJ , unlike Glitter or any actual pedophile, consistently have been praised and defended by the very kids who knew him best along with countless adults who were his friends, employees. No he was not monstrous. To the contrary. Like Jonathan Moffet who knew him for 30+ years said:

"Michael was beautiful, loving, a visionary, brilliant, a perfectionist, sensitive, and an overall wonderful human being. "

He spent his entire life trying to make kids happy, trying to help them
mentor them make their life more joyful and this is what he got in return:
false allegations, relentless bullying, persecution and articles like this.

The mother of all character assassination.

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Kat Sommers
Aug 22, 2017 10:31am

In reply to Peter Robinson:

Yes! Absolutely agree re Destiny and Triumph. If you're listening again to Bad though, give Dangerous another listen too. His post-80s work is too often dismissed out of hand IMO.

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Aug 22, 2017 11:01am

'As long as you could sing soul, you didn’t need to have it.'

White man decides black woman didn't have soul. Whitney Houston remains an unparalleled vocalist and the natural musicality and vibrancy of her voice can inspire musicians of any genre or race if they choose to appreciate it.

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Aug 22, 2017 11:32am

Why was the album called Bad?
Because they couldn't fit the word 'Terrible' on the cover.

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Aug 22, 2017 1:00pm

In reply to faith :

no nothing weird at all about paying off people to the tune of 134 million not to spill the peado beans

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Mark Johnson Collins
Aug 22, 2017 1:58pm

In reply to steve bucket:

so what you are saying is that you also have no evidence what so ever to say that MJ was a monster peado that paid off millions of dollars to keep people quiet as reported many times over, you just another one of those weirdly blind super fans that wont have a bad (oops) word said against him? next thing you will be telling us he had no plastic surgery..

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steve bucket
Aug 22, 2017 2:46pm

In reply to Mark Johnson Collins:

"keep people quiet as reported many times over"

That's nothing but tabloid junk, all your sources are tabloids not court documents. Nobody was kept quiet let alone many times over the whole idea that MJ somehow managed to run into dozens of families who would
shut up for money forever and would not want a molester behind bars is absurd on its face. No pedo is that lucky. Most victims and their parents want justice like the Sandusky victims did.
These ridiculous tabloid reporters can't even make up their mind what numbers they want to use against MJ: first it was 24 families for 35 million then it was 200 million so which one is it?
These stories have been debunked repeatedly. If such payoffs had existed Sneddon would have introduced them during the trial. You think some tabloid knows more than the prosecutors?

Tabloid report on Michael Jackson 'FBI files' questioned

Did the FBI have evidence that Michael Jackson paid off dozens of young boys to silence them after he sexually abused them?

Michael Jackson Slimed By British Press: Here’s the REAL Story from 2005

Charles Thompson explains the facts behind the bogus payoff story:

The 200 million dollar hush money bullshit was made up by Stacy Brown a tabloid hack who had a history of lying about the Jackson and Michael Jackson in particular. In reality no such evidence was ever presented to the judge and the judge never excluded such evidence. If you believe otherwise show me in the court transcripts when did the judge made such a decision and show me the prosecution motion where such payoffs were mentioned.

Use common sense.

Explain if MJ silenced victims why didn't he offer any money to the Arvizos? Why was there a trial why didn't he silence them?

Explain if he silenced victims how come you know about the Chandlers? Why didn't he silence them when he had an excellent opportunity to do so in August 1993?

If the Francias were silenced then how come both of them testified during the 2005 trial?

Fact is nobody was paid off and nobody was silenced. Here's what really happened:
Evan Chandler first demanded millions and screenwriting contracts from MJ in August 1993 and blackmailed him if he doesn't pay they would accuse him. MJ refused to pay so they accused him and sued him.
Then the Chandlers fought to get the civil case before the criminal case was resolved and MJ fought to get the criminal case go first, which is what a guilty person wouldn't have done!

The judge sided with the Chandlers because Jordan was not yet 14 and allowed the civil trial go first thus violating Mj's rights for a fair criminal trial. In order to protect his defense strategy for a possible criminal trial MJ bought the civil trial out on Jan 25 1994 6 months after fighting the Chandlers. Chandlers admitted in their book they never wanted anything else but money. They were basically selling the civil case for millions.

The civil settlement didn't end the criminal case and didn't prevent Chandler from testifying in criminal court. He didn't because he never wanted to. And he never wanted to because he was a liar not a victim!
The whole dirty scheme was made up by the father Evan Chandler his lawyer Barry Rotham and NAMBLA pedo Victor Gutierrez who targeted MJ since 1986 and who made up the molestation story and helped Evan Chandler write the script he used to coach his son.

Read the actual court documents and testimonies, the media has lied about MJ for decades, fabricates evidence against him all the time.
Here are the real facts about his corrupt accusers:

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Steve Bucket
Aug 22, 2017 2:52pm

In reply to Deeps :

Why do you judge MJ based on a freaking tabloid article which doesn't even show a single piece of proof that such payoff ever happened and which contradict the prosecutors themselves who never mentioned any such payoffs let alone try to introduce such evidence during the trial?

The fact is that 200 million dollar payoff story is a big fat lie just like
the previous tabloid payoff story about 24 families being paid off was a lie.

No such evidence ever was introduced by Sneddon and the judge never made any decision to exclude it because it didn't exist. Stacy Brown simply pulled these numbers out of his ass and the rest of the tabloid media copypasted it without fact checking. This is the way the media have treated MJ for decades just make shit up about him and publish it.

Use your mind: if MJ silenced everyone with money how come he refused to pay off Evan Chandler in August 1993 when Evan Chandler demanded money for his silence? And how come he never offered any money to the Arvizos? And how come the Chandlers, Arvizos and Francias all publicly accused him if they were silenced?

This is from the Chandler's own book. If this is not proof they were extortionists what do you think would be proof?

“On the morning of August 17, 1993, as he negotiated with Barry Rothman, Anthony Pellicano had in his possession a copy of the psychiatrists report with the names omitted. He held in his hand the future of the most famous entertainer in human history. Yet the tape is replete with examples of Pellicano refusing to compromise on what would amount to chump change to Jackson. Why take the chance of Michael’s name ending up on that report and triggering an investigation?”
[Ray Chandler All that Glitters; page 138]

“Had Michael paid the twenty million dollars demanded of him in August, rather than the following January, he might have spent the next ten years as the world’s most famous entertainer, instead of the world’s most infamous child molester.”
[Ray Chandler All that Glitters; page 128]

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Aug 22, 2017 3:06pm

In reply to Mark Johnson Collins:


Those stories are false, Jackson's real FBI files were released in 2009 and they don't show any payoffs in fact they fully supported his innocence. Of course the media reported otherwise but they virtually never tell the truth about Jackson.

BI Files Support Jackson’s Innocence; Media Reports Otherwise

The so called "FBI files" were in fact just transcripts of a tabloid reporter who was creating stories about Jackson back in 1993 and interviewed a shady couple the Lemarques who were trying to sell stories to tabloids. The Lemarques got those stories from Victor Gutierrez, a pedophilia advocate who promoted NAMBLA in his book and also sold false stories about Jackson. Let's just say none of those people has any credibility whatsoever.

If you take a closer look at the so called documents they actually include 17 names all blacked out not 24 as the headline claimed and all were supposedly paid off before 1993! Now remember there was a 14 month long investigation in 1993 1994 which included the FBI
who can get access to Currency Transaction Reports which had to be filed by the bank whenever someone transfers more than 10 000 dollars. No such evidence was found, if they had we would have heard about it in 1993 1994 already and Sneddon would have used them against Jackson during the trial.

In reality there were two and only two civil settlements with the Chandlers and the Francias and both were discussed during the trial, there is nothing new about them. The circumstances of those settlements make it clear that Jackson settled the civil cases to protect his defense strategy in case he would be indicted , which is what I would have done too. Innocent people can be convicted especially African Americans with a white judge and jury.

The real question is: why didn't the Chandlers and Francias want a criminal trial, the only thing which can put someone in jail? Why did they only want money and most of all why did the parents want money for themselves?

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Aug 22, 2017 3:17pm

In reply to Steve Bucket:

Its not a tabloid its the Independent

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Steve Bucket
Aug 22, 2017 3:27pm

In reply to Mark Johnson Collins:

As for that ridiculous Sun article that Chandler could now speak publicly it's bullshit. They don't even read the settlement document apparently. The settlement agreement did not allow Chandler or Jackson to talk about the case in the media at any time however he had every right to testify in criminal court you cannot prevent that with a civil settlement. He was NOT silenced!
In fact June Chandler who also signed the settlement testified in 2005.
Chandler cooperated with the DAs for months after the Jan 1994 settlement. He only told them in July 1994 that he won't testify.
So explain why MJ was not arrested and charged between Aug 1993
and July 1994 if Chandler was so credible and if they had so much evidence? Fact is they had nothing except Jordan's ever changing story
no way they would have won in criminal court and they knew it, they ever admitted it in their book.

Jordan Chandler was approached by the FBI in 2004, Sneddon wanted him to testify against MJ and you now what Chandler did?
he threatened Sneddon with legal action if he had dared to put him on the stand against MJ! You heard it. The supposed victim
was ready to take action against the prosecutor not MJ. MJ's FBI files revealed this but of course the Sun and the rest of the media refused to report it. They will never ever tell the truth about these motherfuckers who falsely accused MJ. You have no idea how corrupt they were, you have no idea what the real story is. Instead you believe in non-existent payoffs which don't even make sense in light of what MJ did in August 1993: he refused to pay and silence Chandler.

Here's the FBI files which proves Jordan Chandler was a disgusting coward even as a grown ass man in 2004:

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Steve Bucket
Aug 22, 2017 3:53pm

In reply to :

"Its not a tabloid its the Independent"

The original story which the Independent shamelessly copypasted without factchecking was tabloid! It was published in the New York Post and it was written by Stacy Brown a notorious serial prevaricator who has made a carrier out of lying about Jackson. He also reported that Jackson molested his nephews and threw poop in Neverland. Seriously.

This is the original tabloid junk which the Independent re-published:

Lawyers say Jacko paid $200M in hush money to ‘victims’

Notice that the lawyers are not named and there is just one line about the payoffs no evidence whatsoever just a claim:

Lawyers say the King of Pop shelled out nearly $200 million to as many as 20 victims.

Which actually contradicted by Robson and Safechuck themselves who both specifically said they were NOT paid off! (BTW Safechuck's lawsuit has been dismissed this year and Robson's will be dismissed later this year. Two fucking money hungry opportunist liars, not victims)

Who are those 20 victims? Why none of them wanted to put MJ behind bars? How come Sneddon didn't find them? How come the FBI didn't find them? How come 200 million changing hands couldn't be detected by any of the agencies who investigated MJ for years?

It's ridiculous. How anyone can take this bullshit seriously is beyond me. Just because it's in a fucking paper it doesn't mean it's true! Media LIES! Especially when it comes to Jackson.

Bottom line: there was no 200 million payoff, nobody was silenced. There is not a shred of evidence in that article or anywhere to support that claim but if you believe otherwise go find the court document which includes such evidence.
Everything about the 2005 trial can be found here:

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Aug 22, 2017 5:40pm

In reply to steve bucket:

thank you steve ..well said .i thought this article was about michael BAD album ..this writer is way off point .going into those BS charges

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Aug 22, 2017 5:42pm

In reply to Deeps :

not true .read the FBI file on MJ ..they found nothing ..its on line

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Aug 22, 2017 5:43pm

In reply to Deeps :

i dont read tabloids ..i go by the evidence

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Aug 22, 2017 5:45pm

In reply to Mark Johnson Collins:

its a tabloid paper the FBI FOUND NOTHING ..his file is online ...

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Aug 22, 2017 6:11pm

In reply to Steve Bucket:


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Aug 22, 2017 9:41pm

In reply to faith :

"THERE WAS NOTHING WEIRD ABOUT MJ" Have you looked at his nose?

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Aug 22, 2017 10:03pm

'Indie guy finds out MJ fans have tendrils beyond his wildest imaginations'. You fucked up bro

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Mark Johnson Collins
Aug 22, 2017 10:13pm

In reply to Steve Bucket:

ever get the feeling you been conned?

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Aug 23, 2017 12:04am

In reply to Andreas:


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Aug 23, 2017 12:08am

In reply to :

IF your not a mj fan ,why are you even reading this article .let the man RIP

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Aug 23, 2017 12:10am

In reply to silverado:


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Steve Bucket
Aug 23, 2017 4:04am

In reply to :

It's not Brett it's Safechuck. Brett is one of MJ's most loyal defender he HATES these backstabbing liars this is what he tweeted about Robson after his U turn in 2013. pretty much sums up all MJ accusers:

I wish people would realise, in your last moments on this earth, all the money in the world will be of no comfort. My clear conscience will.

Safechuck's lawsuit is basically a copy of Victor Gutierrez's pro pedo book, fiction from start to finish. Safechuck saw an opportunity to make millions without working and needed a molestation story to sue MJ's Estate and companies and of course Gutierrez's and his allies Dimond and Stacy Brown were more than happy to help him.

Robson also uses ex employees in his lawsuit who were all connected to Gutierrez and sold his stories to tabloids.

People have no idea about the level of corruption that has been going on into branding MJ as a serial molester. People cannot believe that so many horrible lies can be told about one person but this is exactly what has been happening because it's very very good business for the accusers, the lawyers and the media.

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Steve Bucket
Aug 23, 2017 4:11am

In reply to Andreas:

Janet and LaToya had the exact same nosejobs as MJ in the 80s and they all looked great. However MJ had lupus which attacked his skin and needed reconstructive surgery. Unless you know his full medical record you should not say anything about his nose you don't know what was done and why. Here's an interview with the doctor who examined his records in 1993 when the government hired him for the
strip search. He talks about how lupus affected his skin on his nose and how MJ just wanted to look as normal as possible given the condition he had:

It's also a fact that MJ had vitiligo which turned most of his skin snow white. If he had kept his afro nose people like you would have bullied him for that. He was doomed if he did doomed if he didn't

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Steve Bucket
Aug 23, 2017 4:23am

In reply to Mark Johnson Collins:

If you want to pretend now that you were not serious
in the first place, I don't buy it. You believed that tabloid junk like it's the gospel.

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Aug 23, 2017 6:27pm

The 'post Jacko' comment stopped me from reading on. Very insensitive & disrespectful. Mind you it'd a racist name.

I do hope for a day when people can appreciate 'Bad's greatness without bringing in stale tabloid lies. It's unfortunate that critics always sneak in their snide remarks (most times) unrelated to the album about Michael's personal life.

Bad is an awesome album, even though it hasn't reached Thriller's astronomical sales. It's sonically innovative, packed with great visual videos and showcases Michael's diverse vocal range & prominent co-producing & writing skills. It's worthy of plaudits.

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Mark Johnson Collins
Aug 24, 2017 11:09am

In reply to Steve Bucket:

trust me, I couldn't give a (Bubbles) monkey, it's just been hilarious seeing you massively over react and defend some one, that half the world thinks is an utter CHILD MOLESTING FUCKING MONSTER

Singer-songwriter Michael Jackson reportedly had a large collection of 'paedophilic' content at his Neverland Ranch in 2003, according to police reports cataloging the property following a search of the residence that have surfaced recently.

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Steven Bucket
Aug 24, 2017 1:05pm

In reply to Mark Johnson Collins:

So publishing lies is OK to you but posting the actual facts is an overreaction? Typing it in caps won't make it true if you are not a sheep you don't accept something as fact just because half of the world BELIEVES it thanks to 24 years of propaganda by the corrupt US and UK media. Half of the world did not look at the evidence did not listen to the kids who knew MJ or use common sense for that matter when it comes to this case you are the best example of that with your ridiculous tabloid sources.

You are doing it again citing a gossip rag Radar Online's debunked story and not using common sense: child porn is a federal crime. If they had found ANY paedophilic content MJ would have been charged and convicted for that alone! He was never charged for child porn because he didn't have any and that 2003 police report itself states 15 times that nothing illegal was found, read it yourself if you don't believe me:

As for it "surfacing recently", again, use your mind: how the hell could a 2004 police report be new evidence in 2016 especially when there was a trial?
Nothing in that police report surfaced recently everything in it was shown during the 2005 trial, read the actual court transcripts. The report itself was published in 2006 on this website not in 2016 as Radar Online claimed:

Here's what really happened:

In 2003 November Tom Sneddon and the SBSD raided MJ's ranch desperately looking for anything incriminating. They found no child porn and no boys underwear, no DNA, no letters or notes or anything which proved MJ molested anyone. So they cherrypicked 23 books from his giant 10 000 strong library

Michael Jackson “Extremely Well-Read,” Had 10,000 Books

because those books had pictures of semi nude and nude people of all ages both genders and they simply claimed they can be used to groom children, nevermind the fact that no child ever even mentioned those books let alone
MJ using them to groom them. It's not even part of the allegations. The SBSD made it up. The books were either adult sex books or art photography books everyone can buy on Amazon or see in major libraries. Here's the full list, name the one which proves MJ was into little boys:

This picture sums up the sheer absurdity of the sheriff's department trying to create evidence out of no evidence:

Not surprisingly when it came to the trial using these books against MJ was beyond absurd: the DA argued that magazines with nude women proved he was into little boys. That books with nude men proved he was into little boys. That an adult gay sex book proved he was into little boys. Everything somehow became evidence that he was into little boys. Two books with photos of nude boys he didn't even open and didn't even remember having (some fan sent to him in 1983) became evidence he was into little boys. It was a joke, it was desperate and the jury didn't buy it.

Then in 2016 the UK and US media once again decided to smear MJ and made that police report sound even worse than it was claiming that it mentioned child porn, animal torture, child torture when no such thing is mentioned in that report at all! Even the DA who hates MJ debunked that story:

Authorities rebut claims child porn found at Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch

Here's a lengthy article about what was really found in Neverland and how Radar Online photoshopped pictures to make them look like they were nude boys when in fact they were clothed men in an art book. Pure propaganda:

The Truth About What Michael Jackson Had (And Didn’t Have) In His Bedroom

More info about Mj's books magazines:

Has child pornography ever been found in Michael Jackson’s possession?

Here's how Radar Online falsified evidence against MJ taking pictures from the net which MJ didn't even own then claiming they were child torture pictures:

Ottawa artist angry over unauthorized use of photo in online gossip rag

Mj's actual porn was all adult and heterosexual (which actually proves MJ was into women not boys) here's the full list as shown during the trial:

Even the two art photography books a fan sent him in 1983 which had pictures of nude boys prove he was not a pedophile once you learn all the facts about them, which of course the media does not report. Guess why.

Nude boy books prove Jackson was no pedophile

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Aug 25, 2017 5:14am

In reply to Mark Johnson Collins:

Mark, that's like saying the Library of Congress or have "a large collection of pedophilic content" as the few books the police confiscated were art books you can find them in standard bookstores, the Library of Congress or on Amazon. It was a witch-hunt and the media can go fuck themselves for constantly lying about this man.
Everyone who genuinely knew Michael knew that he loved art photography and books in general, he's on this list of 10 famous book hoarders:
Fans sent him such books all the time too, a few of them had photos of nude people how does that prove pedophilia? The owner of one of the stores where Michael bought art books tweeted this:

Michael Jackson bought dozens of photography art books from me, some art books have nude models in them. That is not pornography. Bullshit

The police report was not new either it's been available since 2006 and the jury in 2005 saw all those books and magazines as Sneddon and Zonen were desperate to use anything with a nude person against Michael, sounding really ridiculous and desperate.
The jury also saw Michael's large collection of adult magazines, you think a few art books some fans sent him, books he didn't even open didn't even buy prove he liked little boys but dozens of girly magazines he actually did collect and did read does not prove he liked women?

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Mark C
Aug 31, 2017 10:52am

In reply to joe soap:

Hi, Michael Jackson was never convicted of any sexually related charge. However it is interesting that David Bennun claims to 'blot out' what in his opinion is child awful, that is a wicked thing to say, and then to tar every other fan with the same disgusting slur. Apologise please.

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Sep 1, 2017 5:32am

David, I would like to thank you for this article/essay. You have some really intriguing insights into pop music here. Plus I enjoyed your language and song descriptions. I'm only moderately familiar with Michael Jackson's catalogue, but your text definitely makes me want to listen to this album in full. Unfortunately, a lot of the people in the comementaries have taken the article too literally and seemed to have missed its point. The text wasn't about Jackson's sensational private life, it was a tribute to his music (paid with respect) and an exploration of his unique style. IMO, calling an album or an artist "weird" is not an accusation, it's a compliment. I'm sure a lot of work went into this article, and that should be appreciated.

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Oct 2, 2017 12:52pm

In reply to Mariya :

You are absolutely right, nobody had a greater influence on the music industry as Michael Jackson because of his uniqueness he is still regarded as one of the best of all times.

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Oct 7, 2017 6:04am

hmm, well, I don't know. 'the way you make me feel' doesn't make much of a case for this album being a complete departure from 'thriller', eh? it's the sweet, gooey flip-side to 'you wanna be startin something''s 'bad'-presaging false-braggadocio. as otherwise mentioned, 'leave me alone' is not from the album. the face-morphing of the 'black or white' video is probably, realistically, the most influential thing here, even more than 'dirty Diana' or 'smooth criminal', which I think is a bit over-credited here as more revolutionary than it actually is. there is something really 'hard' about the track, though, it's so rigid it's practically taken viagra before it existed. for sure, both this album and 'thriller' made marks on the pop landscape that are felt to this day. but I don't think MJ did 'intentionally weird'. I think he just had fewer and fewer filters until he had none, and madness ensued, gradually.

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Oct 9, 2017 11:51am

Interesting piece though it must be said that my phrase (annoyingly not gone viral yet) that all music is eventually intellectualised, stands true with this piece.

But its always worthwhile revisiting critically derided albums to see if it wasn't just the, then powerful, music press who had decided it was rubbish before it had even left the bag.

I revisited Be Here Now recently and while yes it is ridiculously overblown, there are some sharp tunes in there buried beneath the production of a madman with no 'no' button.

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