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Music / Dangerous

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The girl was persuasive, the girl I could not trust
The girl was bad, the girl was dangerous!
Because there's something about you, baby
That makes me want to give it to you
I swear there's something about you, baby

Just promise me whatever we say
Or whatever we do to each other
For now we will be making a vow, to just
Keep it in the closet
"In the Closet"

Dangerous is the eighth studio album recorded by Michael Jackson. It was released through Epic Records on November 26, 1991.

For the first time since the 1975 album Forever, Michael, Quincy Jones was not the producer; instead that function was jointly held by Teddy Riley, Bill Bottrell and Bruce Swedien.

Given Teddy's involvement, this meant the album would have Michael jump head-first into the New Jack Swing genre. Several of its songs, including "Black or White", "Jam", and "In the Closet", would be rich with its influence.

This album was yet another monster hit. It went eight-times Platinum in the United States, and ten-times Platinum in the United Kingdom. When all was said and done, it sold 33 million copies. It finished #2 on the Billboard Top 200 year-end chart for 1992, and was still in the upper half of the chart in 1993. It would finish as the 44th best-selling album of The '90s in the U.S.


The album spawned nine singles: "Black or White", "Remember the Time", "In the Closet", "Jam", "Who Is It", "Heal the World", "Give In to Me", "Will You Be There", and "Gone Too Soon". Four would reach the Top Ten of the Billboard Hot 100, though only "Black or White" would hit #1. Seven would be Top Ten in the United Kingdom.

Naturally, there would be many memorable music videos among the album. There were cameos in "Black or White" (several, including Macaulay Culkin) and "Remember the Time" (again several, including Eddie Murphy and Iman). The video for "Black or White", however, would see controversy due to its post-song epilogue.

"Will You Be There" was also included in the soundtrack of the 1993 film Free Willy.

It turned out to be Jackson's last blockbuster. Early in 1992, Dangerous was unexpectedly and symbolically knocked off the #1 position on the Billboard 200 album sales chart by Nirvana's Nevermind, suggesting that The '80s' focus on internationally famous mega-acts was at an end. And for Michael, that fall would end up being complicated further, even expedited, by growing personal troubles.



  1. "Jam" (5:39)
  2. "Why You Wanna Trip On Me?" (5:25)
  3. "In The Closet" (6:32)
  4. "She Drives Me Wild" (3:42)
  5. "Remember The Time" (4:01)
  6. "Can't Let Her Get Away" (5:00)
  7. "Heal The World" (6:25)
  8. "Black Or White" (4:16)
  9. "Who Is it?" (6:34)
  10. "Give In To Me" (5:29)
  11. "Will You Be There?" (7:39)
  12. "Keep The Faith" (5:57)
  13. "Gone Too Soon" (3:24)
  14. "Dangerous" (7:00)

"Why You Wanna Trope On Me?"

  • Ancient Egypt: The setting of the "Remember the Time" video.
  • Appeal to Worse Problems: "Why You Wanna Trip On Me" is basically this in song.
  • Break Up Song: "Who Is It?"
    It's seems that she has left me, for such reasons unexplained
    (...) And she didn't leave a letter, she just up and ran away
  • Concept Video: Most of the singles received one of these. "Remember The Time" and "Black or White" are considered the two most notable videos from the album.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Jackson is noted as a "smooth criminal" during the rap segment of "Jam", calling back to Bad.
    • In the music video for "Jam" a window is smashed in by a basketball. In the music video for "Stranger In Moscow" on his next album HIStory (1995), a window is broken by a baseball.
    • Just like "The Way You Make Me Feel" and "Speed Demon" on Bad start off with car motor sounds, so does "She Drives Me Wild".
  • The Cover Changes the Meaning: Jackson's cover of "Gone Too Soon" changes the focus of the song's grief from Janis Joplin to Ryan White, a teenager who came to national attention in 1985 after being expelled from school for having AIDS (having contracted the virus from a contaminated Factor VIII blood treatment the year prior). Jackson befriended White, who died of complications from the disease in 1990.
  • Cover Version: "Gone Too Soon" is a cover of a 1983 Dionne Warwick song. Jackson recorded it as a tribute to Ryan White, a teenager who came to national attention in The '80s after being expelled from school for having AIDS (due to a blood transfusion). Jackson befriended the youngster, who passed away in 1990.
  • Dancing Is Serious Business: A small homage to dancing written by Jackson appears in the album liner notes.
  • Darker and Edgier: The music video for "Who Is It" is the most adult video Jackson ever released, in terms of subject matter.note  Since Jackson still had a heavy kid fanbase at the time, the music video did not get a USA release for several years, and was replaced by a video package showing clips from past performances and videos.
  • Design Student's Orgasm: The surreal album cover by Mark Ryden. Much of the imagery was suggested by Jackson himself, which explains the huge amount of animals.
  • Epic Rocking: From Dangerous onward, all of Jackson's albums max out the total available runtime of a CD at 70-76 minutes each. As for individual songs, "Dangerous" is the longest on the album at 7 minutes total. (While "Will You Be There" clocks in at 7:39, the opening minute-plus choral stretch is a segment of Ludwig van Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.)
  • Evil Overlooker: Michael's eyes appear this way on the cover.
  • Fake-Out Fade-Out: "Why You Wanna Trip on Me?" has two on the last segment of choruses.
  • Femme Fatale: The subject of "Dangerous".
  • Glass-Shattering Sound: Heard in "Jam" (caused by a basketball crashing through a window in the video), "Why You Wanna Trip on Me", and "In the Closet".
  • Grief Song: "Gone Too Soon" (see Cover Version above).
  • Hotter and Sexier: "In the Closet", both song and video. Supposedly this was intended as a duet with Madonna, who challenged him to write a song that fit this trope, but she thought the result was too poor for her to waste time with; other accounts allege that Madonna herself brought forward a set of lyrics for the song that were more overtly raunchy, only for Jackson to turn them down out of personal discomfort.
  • List Song: "Why You Wanna Trip on Me" lists things Michael thinks people should worry about more than his personal life.
    "They say I'm different, they don't understand,
    But there's a bigger problem, there's much more in demand
    You got world hunger, not enough to eat,
    So there's really no time to be trippin' on me
    You got school teachers who don't wanna teach,
    You got grown people who can't write or read
    You got strange diseases, ah but there's no cure,
    You got many doctors that aren't so sure, so tell me!"
  • Mythology Gag: The elaborate cover has images of various things associated with Jackson incorporated into it: His pet chimpanzee Bubbles, a rat (could be "Ben", his 1971 hit), various zoo animals, a hand with bandaged fingertips, a carnival ride, a supposed skeleton of the Elephant Man, and Jackson himself as a child star.
  • New Jack Swing: The genre's undisputed blockbuster, and is considered the swan song for the New Jack Swing Era. To date, it remains the world's biggest selling New Jack Swing album at 32 million copies.
  • New Sound Album: Dangerous was Jackson's first foray into the New Jack Swing fusion genre; it also marked the transition away from the disco/post-disco sound of his three Quincy Jones-produced albums to a more contemporary R&B sound that would dominate his music for the rest of his career.
  • Not Quite Starring: Due to being busy with the Dangerous World Tour at the time, Jackson wasn't available for the majority of the filming for "Who Is It"'s music video. Noted MJ impersonator E'Casanova Evans filled in for the real Jackson during scenes where his face wasn't fully visible.
  • Obsession Song: "Can't Let Her Get Away", "Who Is It?", "Dangerous" and "Why You Wanna Trip On Me?" are all songs where Jackson feels obsessed about, respectively: a woman he loves, one who left him, one who is "dangerous", and the tabloid press hounding him.
  • One-Word Title: "Dangerous". "Jam".
  • Pep-Talk Song: "Keep the Faith", where Jackson tells people to keep their faith that everything will turn out to be alright.
  • Questioning Title?: "Why You Wanna Trip On Me?", "Who Is It?", "Will You Be There?"
  • Record Producer: Teddy Riley, Bill Bottrell, and Bruce Swedien.
  • Sampling:
    • The background music in Sonic 3 & Knuckles' "Carnival Night" zone blatantly sampled the glass-breaking sound effects from "In The Closet" and the downward horn riff heard in the bridge of "Jam", complete with a distorted voice clip of Heavy D going "Jam!" at the end of it. Justified, however, as the Carnival Night song was also composed by Jackson (though the sampling, among other things, led to a lawsuit from Jackson's sound team, who also worked on the game).
    • "Can't Let Her Get Away" sampled the well-known horn stab from James Brown's "Get Up Offa That Thang".
  • Shout-Out:
    • The album cover shows a nude couple in a bubble near the right. This is a shout-out to Hieronymus Bosch's middle panel of The Garden of Earthly Delights. The white middle-aged man is PT Barnum. The dog on an imperial throne is a shout-out to Jean-Dominique Ingres' painting Napoleon on His Throne.
    • The intro to "Will You Be There" is a snippet from Ludwig van Beethoven's Ode an die Freude from his Ninth Symphony. (This went awry when he initially did not credit Beethoven, much less the musicians.)
  • Special Guest: Mostly in the music videos, but the album itself is packed with these as well.
    • Michael Jordan, Heavy D, Naughty By Nature, and Kris Kross appear in "Jam".
    • Princess Stephanie of Monaco provides the voice of the "Mystery Girl" in "In The Closet", while fashion model Naomi Campbell appeared in the video.
    • "She Drives Me Wild" features a Wreckx-n-Effect appearance.
    • The "Remember The Time" music video includes Eddie Murphy, Magic Johnson, The Pharcyde, wrestler Tom Lister Jr and Iman.
    • "Black or White" features a rap segment by L.T.B. and an opening guitar solo by Slash, who also solos on "Give in to Me". The video has Macaulay Culkin, George Wendt (best known as Norm from Cheers), Tess Harper and Bart and Homer Simpson at the end. In the morphing segment at the end, fashion model Tyra Banks can be recognized.
    • "Keep The Faith" features a return appearance from the Andraé Crouch Singers, who previously appeared on Bad's "Man in the Mirror".
  • Spoken Word in Music: "In The Closet", "Heal The World", and "Black Or White" all open with this; in the last case it's a conversation between a boy and his father (not Macaulay Culkin and George Wendt — that's just the video). "Will You Be There" ends with a spoken-word prayer.
  • Stock Sound Effects: Besides the aforementioned multiple uses of a Glass-Shattering Sound, "She Drives Me Wild" starts with a car motor starting up and car horns.
  • Take That!
    • "Why You Wanna Trip on Me?" is a stab at the tabloid press for being preoccupied with his private life rather than social problems.
    • "I ain't scared of your sheets" in "Black Or White" is a thinly-veiled attack on the Ku Klux Klan.
  • Thousand-Yard Stare: Michael's eyes on the album cover.
  • Title Track: Closes with the title song "Dangerous".
  • Tragic AIDS Story: "Gone Too Soon" is a eulogy for Ryan White, who died of complications from AIDS in 1990 after five years of trying to destigmatize the disease.
  • Truck Driver's Gear Change: "Heal the World", "Will You Be There" and "Keep the Faith" all have instances of note changes over the song, but "Keep the Faith" only does it once (mid-track) at least.
  • Up to Eleven: The dials on Macaulay Culkin's speaker cabinets in the "Black Or White" video have levels that read "Loud", "Louder", and "Are you nuts!?!"
  • Updated Re-release: Averted; Dangerous was reissued in 2001 as a "Special Edition" to promote Invincible, but a second disc full of unreleased tracks that was supposed to come with it was axed for unknown reasons. Unsurprisingly, the lack of bonus material hurt the reissue's sales. Then again it was re-released in 2009 and in 2013 as part of two box sets. None of its reissues contained unreleased material compared to the previous three albums' updated re-releases.


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