“Dangerous” by Michael Jackson (1991)

“Dangerous” is the final track on the Michael Jackson album of the same name, and it ends the proceedings with a bang. It says a lot to the quality of Dangerous that you’re not like “holy fuck, is this album over yet?” by the end. Because it’s damn near 80 minutes long.

In my piece about “Can’t Let Her Get Away”, I mentioned how Teddy Riley revealed himself as the most logical option when it came to progressing Michael’s sound out of the Quincy Jones era. “Dangerous” is proof that their chemistry was explosive. The beat slams (that snare sound is loud and insistent and perfect), and MJ is clearly in his element (if you listen closely, you can actually hear him dancing). The spoken pre-verses (what about that bass in his voice?) leading into the sung verses is novel and dramatic. The lyrics are meh (par for the course when it comes to MJ’s self-composed songs) but the groove is what’s important here.

Side note; imagine being a producer in the studio and Michael Jackson is doing the Michael Jackson dance to a song that you’ve been a part of. I think I would spontaneously combust.

Mike dug the song enough that he performed it on a couple of award shows, even though it was never released as a single here in the U.S. Most notably, he began his early 1993 “hey, I’m a real person!” publicity tour by opening the American Music Awards with a performance of it. What I find most interesting about this particular bit (which I watched about eleventy billion times in the first six months of 1993 because I was babysitting kids and that was the only thing that would get their attention) is that, although it’s amazingly staged, it’s not Michael’s most precise performance (watch it-he actually misses a step or two). It’s still super magnetic and enthralling, though. Michael just had a presence when he moved.

For some reason, I’m interested in the Michael/Teddy origin story. I think it’s only because Michael never discussed it and Teddy’s remembrances seem to be apocryphal. I was at a Red Bull session where he was interviewed and said Michael originally wanted him for Bad, which is patently false just based off of common sense. No one knew who Teddy Riley was during the time when MJ was working on Bad. He hadn’t had a hit yet. That said, I’m sure Michael listened to the radio and stayed on top of who was hot. He had to have heard “Just Got Paid” and Guy’s first album and he must have heard “My Prerogative”. I’d imagine he officially got introduced to TR at some point in late ‘88/early ‘89, as Teddy produced two songs on the Jacksons’ 2300 Jackson Street album, one of which Michael appears on. I get wanting to wow the crowd and/or come up with a tasty headline, but sometimes you’re best off just telling the truth.

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