Tuesday, June 1, 2010
#WhatIf...One Last Album
After the successful releases of 1979's disco-esque classic Off the Wall, 1982's legendary Thriller (often known as "the biggest selling album ever"), and 1987's popular Bad, Michael Jackson decided to part ways with Quincy Jones after the two shared creative differences for the forthcoming highly anticipated Dangerous album. During that time, circa '88-90, a new popular genre created by Teddy Riley known as New Jack Swing emerged and caught the attention of the King of Pop, who then labeled Riley as the executive producer along with Grammy award winner Bill Bottrell. Dangerous was released on November 26th, 1991 and became the most successful New Jack Swing album of all time with sales of 326,500 in it first week. As of 2008, the album has reached sales of 7x Platinum and is currently placed at number 115 of NARM's "Definitive 200" albums of all time.
Aside from this, the infamous question that comes to mind is..."What if Quincy had his hands on this project?"
After many accolades garnered for this 1991 album, its no question that if Quincy was executive producer, Dangerous would have skyrocketed past a whole other musical plateau. Not to knock Teddy Riley, who is by far one of the best producers of all time, but Quincy could have provided much needed input. Although, the album is considered as one of the best, it isn't quite the strongest in Jackson's catalog. In fact, it is on Dangerous that MJ reaches his musical peak (the latter releases although successful, weren't critically appealing).
Dangerous featured a new sound and style brought forth by the chemistry shown between MJ and Riley. Songs like "Jam", "In the Closet", the New Jack favorite "Remember the Time", and not to mention the commercially successful "Who Is It"(written by MJ and produced by Bill Bottrell w/ MJ) provided listeners and fans a different look at MJ who adapted to different styles throughout the album. In fact, it is noteworthy that Dangerous is also often regarded by fans as their favorite album over Thriller, which is somewhat unbelievable. Over 77 minute long, this album nonetheless was a little too much for comfort.
If Quincy had his hands on this project, the 14 tracked LP would probably have been reduced to the same 10-song format of the previous releases. Throughout Dangerous, it is evident that amongst the 14 tracks of New Jack Swing and R&B, it is the latter genre that presented MJ at his best along with providing undeniably classic tracks for his catalog. There is an a little inconsistency in the musical content because of the inclusion of New Jack Swing and simple R&B tracks.
With that in mind, the best advice for this album would have been "It's either New Jack Swing or R&B..." The album as a whole just felt like it was meant to be double disc'd or if that wasn't the case, meant to be a compilation of tracks. Tracks like "Heal the World" and "Black or White" didn't fit or even sit well with "She Drives Me Wild" or ""In the Closet" (as good as it sounded).
But, #whatif Quincy touched this embodiment of work? Here's a preview, based on Quincy Jones' previous format with Off the Wall, Thriller, and Bad along with both critically and musically the best tracks, Dangerous's track listing would probably look like this...
2) Remember the Time
3) Heal the World
***My Pick: Why You Wanna Trip On Me***
4) Black or White
5) Who is It
6) Give Into Me
7) Will You Be There
8) Keep the Faith
Bonus: Gone Too Soon
Not in the exact order of course, but these tracks were undeniably the strongest out of the 14. Quincy Jones has provided us all with musical tunes that are still to this day considered classics. He is without a doubt the best producer of all time and through his work with the best artist of "A"generation, Michael Jackson, the two created magic.
Unfortunately, all that we're left with are just #whatif's, RIP Michael Jackson, they'll never be one like you but, you will ultimately live within us all.