“Dirty Diana” by Michael Jackson (1987)

Can you imagine the wild shit Michael Jackson encountered in his life? Like, before this dude was 15, he’d had more life craziness than a lot of people live out full lives having to go through. The groupie stories alone could probably fill a book.

“Dirty Diana” is a groupie story, and it’s not especially complimentary to the groupie. How real is it? Hell if I know, I’ve never been around Michael Jackson nor have I personally had groupies. But I’ve been adjacent to enough musicians to know that the tale of obsessive fans buzzing around the tour bus, scheming to get time with the musician or anyone associated with him or her, trying to get famous or get laid (or both) is very very real. Michael’s reading sounds pretty note-perfect from my vague “insider” perspective.

“Dirty Diana” continued Michael’s occasional excursions into hard rock, following “Beat It” and “State Of Shock”. While those other two songs were sort of a mash-up of rock and dance music, “Dirty Diana” could have been a Whitesnake record. It sounds sleazy in that late ‘80s hair metal way. Steve Stevens’ guitar pyrotechnics added some credibility.

So, was “Dirty Diana” an attempt at being shady by Mike? I mean, he’d professed his love for Diana Ross on numerous occasions. She famously got married at the beginning of 1987, the year “Dirty Diana” was released. Mike had to know that people would speculate on why he used that name to paint a picture of a…well, a not very nice person (although, granted, Michael doesn’t acquit himself especially well in the song’s lyrics.) EVEN IF the song had nothing to do with her at all. Hmmm…


“Different Times” by Raphael Saadiq feat. T-Boz (2002) : Raphael’s boyish croon buts against T-Boz’s sandpapery rasp on this spiritual, devotional tune. “Different Times” is a testimony from two people who have their backs against the wall. I also love the way Ray and Tionne sing parts of the verse melody in a tumble of words; not stopping to take a breath. It adds to the spiritual nature of the song.

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