Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Music Retrospective - Michael Jackson: HIStory - Past, Present, and Future Book 1

Well, it’s time to throw on the hat and glove because it’s time for another Michael Jackson album. It’s definitely a big one and I mean that literally. HIStory: Past, Present, and Future Book 1 was released during the summer of 1995. It’s split up into two discs. Disc One is a compilation of all of his biggest hits from Off The Wall to Dangerous. The other disc is the one that has new material. Unfortunately, it seems the the first disc is the only one that gets seen these days because it was eventually put out on its own.

The album sold well but not like the rest of his previous albums. Seven (technically eight) singles were released from the album. Jackson also wrote all but three of the songs on the album. It took me a long time to find this two-disc album. I didn’t want to download it from iTunes, so I looked around in music stores until I found it for a cheap price. I think my sister doesn’t even have this one though she probably does have the songs somewhere. Since I’ve basically looked at the first disc on my previous posts, I’ll only be concentrating on the second disc with new material. I will list what songs were included with the disc though.

HIStory: Past, Present, and Future Book 1

Disc One

  • Off the Wall: Don’t Still Till You Get Enough, Rock With You, and She’s Out of My Life
  • Thriller: Thriller, Beat It, Billie Jean, Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’, and The Girl Is Mine
  • Bad: Bad, The Way You Make Me Feel, I Can’t Just Stop Loving You, and Man in The Mirror
  • Dangerous: Remember the Time, Black Or White, and Heal The World
Disc Two
  1. Scream – Disc Two of the album starts out in the same way the previous albums: it’s loud, it’s fast, and funky. “Scream” is basically about being fed up with gossip and the media. Just know that  most of this album is like this. Jackson is assisted by his sister, Janet, on the vocals and it’s a nice duet. The music is cool and sounds futuristic. We even get an f-bomb in here which is the only thing that could knock this song down a little bit. Overall, this was a nice song to start out on.
  2. They Don’t Really Care About Us – Next up is a song that’s sort of in the vein as “Black or White.” “They Don’t Really Care About Us” essentially talks about injustice against minorities. At least that’s what I got from it. There are a couple of derogatory words about Jews thrown in the original version and that kind of knocks it down a bit. If you’re gonna throw one word in there, you might as well throw some more in there about other races too. Just sayin’. The music is at a moderate pace and is mostly drums and piano. Then, you get hit upside the head when the guitar comes in. I really like this song. The music is good and the message is a pretty relevant one. It’s probably one of my favorite songs on the album.
  3. Stranger in Moscow – Things slow down considerably with this song. It’s been said that “Stranger in Moscow” is about how alone Jackson was during the trial back in the 90’s. He compared his loneliness to being a stranger in Soviet Moscow. It can also been interpreted with someone going through some sort of depression. This was another good song from Jackson. The music’s good and moody. The lyrics are also quite nice. Overall, it’s one of the best songs on the album.
  4. This Time Around – Things do speed up a little bit with this song that’s pretty much about paranoia. He literally feels like someone’s controlling him and out to get him. This song was also feels like it was written during that time of the trial. We also get a nice rap verse from the Notorious B.I.G. and that was pretty cool. The music is good and it kind of feels like a slowed down version of Rick James’ “Superfreak.” We even get the Temptations for good measure. Just listen to both songs and you’ll see what I mean. Anyway, I like the song but it’s not of my favorites on the album.
  5. Earth Song – Here’s a song that’s done in the same vein as “Man in the Mirror” and “Heal The World.” The song talks about how the Earth and its inhabitants are ravaged by the various things that happen like wars, disease, and injustice. The song even goes into  full-on “Gospel Mode” towards the end as well. The song tries to go beyond epic and I think it succeeds for the most part. Even if I can’t tell what Jackson’s saying towards the end, I think the song’s quite good. It’s also one of the best songs on the album.
  6. D.S. – The next song is a fast piece about “a cold man” since that was one of the only phrases I could get from this song. I could barely understand what Jackson was saying in this song. At least the music is good with Slash providing some riffs and a solo. I later found out that the song is supposedly a big diss to D.A. Tom Sneddon. The investigations into the molestation charges were headed by Sneddon. Overall, it’s okay but it’s probably one of my least favorite songs on the album.
  7. Money – Next up is a funky song that talks about how one could do anything for money. This also feels like it was influenced from Jackson’s experiences with the molestation charges. The song also reminds me of “For the Love of Money” by the O’Jays. It has that funky feel and basically talks about the same thing: the love of money. Anyway, Jackson talks instead of sings during the verses and throws out some nice lyrics about how folk will do horrible things for money. Overall, it’s an okay song with a still-relevant message.
  8. Come Together – Now, I didn’t know that this existed. This is a cover of a well-known song from the Beatles. Of course, this is one of the songs Jackson didn’t write. It’s basically the same song done in Michael’s style. I’ve heard the original I still don’t know the song’s about. The lyrics are just weird. Overall, Michael’s rendition is fine but I kind of like the original better.
  9. You Are Not Alone – We then get to what is basically the only love song on here. It’s kind of a shock since Jackson usually has like three or four of them on most of his albums. This song was actually written by R. Kelly which is pretty weird because he has craploads of controversy as well. The song is about someone dealing with a long-distance relationship. There’s still a part of that person with them even though they aren’t physically together. While it’s not one of my favorites, it’s a good song. I like the music and the lyrics.
  10. Childhood – This slow song delves into Michael’s childhood in that he basically didn’t have one. Basically, he’s giving a reason on why he’s so eccentric with Neverland Ranch and all that. I remember hearing that this song was also on the soundtrack to Free Willy 2. It’s weird because while I’ve seen the Free Willy sequels, I’ve never seen the first movie. I’ve even seen the cartoon tie-in on ABC that had the whale talking. Anyway, this song’s okay. The music is akin to songs like “She’s Out of My Life” and “Gone Too Soon.” Overall, it’s an okay song with a kind of peculiar message.
  11. Tabloid Junkie – Next up is another upbeat song that jumps on the media. “Tabloid Junkie” talks about how the media just comes out with the most ridiculous, slanderous headlines. He also tells the people who buy the stuff to not believe what the headlines say. This is also another song where I can rarely tell what Jackson is saying. Luckily, it’s just some lyrics, not the whole song.  I like the fast music and the lyrics. The chorus is also well done. Overall, it’s a nice song, but it’s not one of my favorite songs.
  12. 2 Bad – Next up is “2 Bad,” which is apparently the long-awaited sequel to “Bad.” I guess that’s what it means. I really can’t tell what the song is about. I guess it’s about getting up when others knock you down? Whatever the meaning, I can tell you that this is an awesome song. The music’s awesome and the lyrics are cool. The only thing that could knock this song down a bit is the rap verse from Shaquille O’Neal. Yes, “The Diesel” did rap back in the day and his verse is... okay? When I heard “Shaq Fu,” I knew it was that tall man. Still, the rap doesn’t hurt the song. It’s still pretty awesome.
  13. History – The next song on the album is a pretty weird one. “History” is about history. It’s about how we make it and about we remember it. The song also has different anthems and sound bits from American history spliced in. That’s why I say it’s pretty weird. It’s an okay song, but it’s not really one of my favorite ones on the album.
  14. Little Susie – This next song is a pretty slow, downbeat one. “Little Susie” is about a little girl who was killed and no one seemed to care. It’s basically about child neglect and that is something that does unfortunately happen. The music has a classical feel to it and the vocals definitely fit the haunting mood of the song. Overall, it’s a nice, sad song, but it’s not a song I really want to listen to a lot.
  15. Smile – The final song is kind of a cover to a song from Charlie Chaplin’s movie, Modern Times. It was even done by Nat King Cole. The song is simple in its meaning. You should smile during the good times and the bad times. While the song is just okay, Jackson throws his all into the slow, classical rendition. In a way, it’s needed here because the previous song was depressing. Still, this song is okay and is a nice song to end the complete album on.

Favorite Song – I think that title can either go to “They Don’t Really Care About Us” or “2 Bad” because they’re pretty cool.

Least Favorite Song – “D.S.” gets this title. While the music is okay, I really can’t understand what Jackson saying except for a couple of words.

Disc Two to this album is generally pretty good. While there are some lackluster songs on it, it also has some of Jackson’s best stuff as well. The music was diverse and included some different styles as usual. It’s been said that this is his most personal album and you can definitely tell that in the lyrics. They center on paranoia, the media, social commentary, and what he was feeling during the time of the investigations.  You can definitely tell he wasn’t a fan of the media during this time. I also liked how this part of the album was laid out. You had a mixture of fast and slow music. This wasn’t a straight-up dance album like Dangerous was at times.

While I enjoy this second half of the album, there are some songs that are just okay. They’re not necessarily bad, but they’re not really good either. A couple of the songs were also kind of undecipherable at times. You really couldn’t tell what Jackson was saying in most of them. I kind of want to know what’s being said in a song without needing to look up the lyrics. Other than those things and a couple of little nitpicks, I really enjoyed this. Overall, the whole album (including disc one) is good. While Disc One has a lot of the hits, there were some of my favorite songs missing on there. It’s really Disc Two that makes the rest of the album worth buying since it has new material.

I don’t know of any songs that didn’t get included here. Instead, here’s a song that’s not on any of his main albums. “We’ve Had Enough”was included on his Ultimate Collection from 2004. It talks about who has the right to take a life. I really like this song because has an interesting message and the music is pretty good. Well, that ends this long tapestry. Luckily, I’m not waiting a month for the next album. Since I have something planned for next month, I’ll be looking at his next feature next week. Until then, Peace, God Bless, and please remember to talk about your problems to somebody.


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