Every path you take you're leaving your legacy!
Every soldier dies in his glory
Every legend tells of conquest and harmony!
A Distinct Double Album, the first CD is a Greatest Hits Album covering his solo career on Epic Records, while the second CD contains all-new material. It yielded several worldwide Top 10 hits ("Scream", "They Don't Care About Us", "Earth Song", "You Are Not Alone", "History" and "Stranger In Moscow") and ambitious music videos note and is the highest-selling double album of all time, with over 33 million copies sold worldwide. The first disc would later be re-released on its own in 2001 as Greatest Hits: HIStory, Volume I, though the second remains exclusive to the double-CD package. The music videos associated with both the previous hits included on disc one and the new material included on disc two would also be collected on the 1998 compilation HIStory on Film, Volume II.
In the interim between Dangerous and this album, Jackson was first accused of sexually abusing a 13-year-old boy, which resulted in him negotiating a multi-million dollar out-of-court settlement with the accuser's family. This permanently tainted his public image, and his widely publicized 1994 marriage to Lisa Marie Presley (daughter of Elvis Presley) just months after the settlement arguably made matters worse. These scandals provided much grist for the mill of the new songs on Disc Two of this album, resulting in a substantially Darker and Edgier work for Jackson. Sales and reviews of HIStory: Past, Present And Future, Book I were greatly overshadowed by the controversy about Jackson's private life and failed to notice the merits of the music itself.
In 1997, eight of the 15 tracks from the second disc were remixed and compiled into Blood On The Dance Floor: HIStory In The Mix, a remix album which also contained four cut songs from the Dangerous sessions ("Ghosts", "Superfly Sister", "Is It Scary", and the title track), and a brand new composition, "Morphine". Though it's recognized as the world's best-selling remix album of all time at six million copies, it remains the lowest selling album Jackson released on Epic Records, due in part to the poor USA promotion by the label. Its title song would also be Jackson's final number one single during his lifetime. note
- "Billie Jean" (4:53)
- "The Way You Make Me Feel" (4:57)
- "Black Or White" (4:16)
- "Rock With You" (3:41)
- "She's Out Of My Life" (3:37)
- "Bad" (4:07)
- "I Just Can't Stop Loving You" (4:12)
- "Man In The Mirror" (5:19)
- "Thriller" (5:58)
- "Beat It" (4:19)
- "The Girl Is Mine" (3:41)
- "Remember The Time" (4:00)
- "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" (6:05)
- "Wanna Be Startin' Something" (6:05)
- "Heal The World" (6:24)
- "Scream" (4:38)
- "They Don't Care About Us" (4:44)
- "Stranger In Moscow" (5:44)
- "This Time Around" (4:20)
- "Earth Song" (6:46)
- "D.S." (4:50)
- "Money" (4:42)
- "Come Together" (4:02)
- "You Are Not Alone" (5:45)
- "Childhood" (4:28)
- "Tabloid Junkie" (4:32)
- "2 Bad" (4:49)
- "History" (6:34)
- "Little Susie" (6:13)
- "Smile" (4:57)
The original tracks from "Blood On The Dance Floor":
- "Blood On the Dance Floor" (4:14)
- "Morphine" (6:28)
- "Superfly Sister" (6:27)
- "Ghosts" (5:13) note
- "Is It Scary" (5:35)
The remixes from "Blood On The Dance Floor":
- "Scream Louder" [Flyte Tyme Remix] (5:26)
- "Money" [Fire Island Radio Edit] (4:22)
- "2 Bad" [Refugee Camp Remix] (3:33)
- "Stranger in Moscow" [Tee's In-House Club Mix] (6:53)
- "This Time Around" [D.M. Radio Mix] (4:05)
- "Earth Song" [Hani's Club Experience] (7:55)
- "You Are not Alone" [Classic Club Mix] (7:37)
- "HIStory" [Tony Moran's HIStory Lesson] (8:00)
Troper In Moscow:
- Album Filler: To Jackson fans who already owned his four previous albums, the first CD was seen as unnecessary.
- Angry Black Man: Jackson comes across as this in "They Don't Care About Us".
- Artistic License Geography: "Stranger In Moscow" makes mention of Stalin's tomb and the KGB, two things that were already abolished in 1995. Stalin's tomb had been removed in 1960, after the destalinization. The KGB was abolished in 1991.
- Bowdlerize: Later releases of the double-album version censor antisemetic slurs that were included in "They Don't Care About Us", replacing them with synthesized percussion sounds after Jackson attracted criticism for their use. Jackson claimed that the use of such language was meant to connect to his own dilemma at the time, but accusations of Jackson being an antisemite persisted nonetheless. Versions of the album with the uncensored version of the song are now considered collector's items.
- Changed for the Video: The Fugees remix of "Blood On The Dance Floor" had its own music video, and was included in the Michael Jackson's Vision DVD set over the original Teddy Riley version. HIStory also used a remix for its video.
- Cloud Cuckoolander: Michael claims to be this in "Childhood".No one understands meThey view it as such strange eccentricitiesIt's been my fate to compensate for the childhood I've never known
- Concept Album: The original album largely serves as an allegory for Jackson's personal trials during the child molestation scandal, as well as his anger at Evan Chandler (his former friend who caused the scandal in the first place), and Tom Sneddon (the former district attorney who forced a strip search on Jackson, and later took him to court in 2005 when a similar scandal occurred). Most of the themes are listed below in the Darker and Edgier entry.
- The "Blood on the Dance Floor" tracks on their own can be considered a concept album on inner demons like jealousy, relationships, lust, drug addiction, and masochism.
- Continuity Nod:
Too bad too bad about itWhy don't you scream and shout it?
- "2Bad" namedrops the Jackson songs "Bad" and "Scream".
- The music video of "History" shows people dancing in a discotheque, while the TV screens in the background play clips from Michael's music videos, including "Don't Stop Till You Get Enough", "Black Or White", "Bad", "Jam", "In The Closet", "Earth Song", "Stranger In Moscow", "Ghosts",...
- Cover Version: "Come Together" (The Beatles; recorded for Moonwalker), and "Smile" (Charlie Chaplin).
- Cradle of Loneliness: "Stranger In Moscow"How does it feel?How does it feel?When you're alone and you're cold inside?
- Crossover/The Cameo: The Fugees remixed "Blood on the Dance Floor" and "2Bad", with John Forte and Wyclef even appearing on the latter remix as guests.
- Shaquille O'Neal and The Notorious B.I.G. also appeared on "2 Bad" and "This Time Around", respectively. Jackson would later reuse one of Biggie's verses from O'Neal's "You Can't Stop the Reign" in his album Invincible, and appeared alongside O'Neal and Ice Cube on the unreleased "We Be Ballin'".
- Q-Tip and fellow Native Tongues member J Dilla (both credited as "The Ummah") created several remixes for the album's title track, though they didn't lend any vocals. MJ and Tip would work together again as backing vocalists on Jay-Z's "Girls, Girls, Girls (Part 2)"
- Rap group Naughty By Nature remixed "Scream", with group member Treach appearing on a guest verse.
- R&B group Boyz II Men appear as backing vocalists on "History".
- Cue the Rain: "Stranger In Moscow"'s music video is in black-and-white and about feeling sad and lonely; however, the rain represents a healing process.
- Darker and Edgier: Many songs are about injustice, from parents ("Scream"), politicians and police officers ("They Don't Care About Us"), pollution ("Earth Song"), justice system ("D.S."), capitalism ("Money"), the tabloid press ("Tabloid Junkie") and warfare ("History").
- Deal with the Devil: "Money"Anything for moneyWould lie for youWould die for youEven sell my soul to the devil
- Deliberately Monochrome: The music videos for "Scream" and "Stranger In Moscow".
- Distinct Double Album: The first CD is a compilation, the second new material.
- Drugs Are Bad: "Morphine" is a song about addiction to painkillers, complete with a moment where the Industrial Metal drums suddenly cut off and are replaced with an orchestra, Not only was this extremely poignant for Michael to address this, while being addicted to it himself, it got even more notability after his death in 2009, more or less from the same cause.
- Face on the Cover: Michael, albeit as a statue.
- Flipping the Bird: Janet Jackson does this in the "Scream" music video, during the line "stop fucking with me" (usually pixelated in airings).
- Flipping the Table: Michael Jackson does this in the prison version of "They Don't Care About Us".
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Listen to any radio edit of "This Time Around", and you'll notice that Jackson's curses are edited out, but Biggie's N-bombs are left intact. You would never hear anyone, rapper or otherwise, get away with that on mainstream radio today.
- Glass-Shattering Sound: Michael's screams in the video for "Scream" shatter the glass in his spaceship in a few instances.
- Grief Song: "Little Susie"Everyone came to seeThe girl that now is dead
- Greatest Hits Album: The first CD.
- Green Aesop: "Earth Song". In the music video, Jackson and various people on Earth summon nature's forces to magically reverse the killing of animals, rainforest deforestation, warfare, and pollution. To answer complaints that Jackson saw himself as some sort of Messianic Archetype who could change the world by himself, he pointed out that in the video the healing requires the grief of many people.
- Gratuitous Foreign Language: "Stranger In Moscow" ends with a whispering voice in Russian. It translates to: "Why have you come from the West? Confess! To steal the great achievements of the people, the accomplishments of the workers..."
- Hidden Track: Original pressings of the French,German and Holland releases contain a hidden twenty second greeting from Jackson on the first disc. Here's his greeting from the Holland pressing:
- Michael Jackson: Hi, this is Michael Jackson. I wanna thank all of my fans in Holland for their continuing love and support over the years. I hope to come and visit you very soon and perform for all of you. I look forward to seeing you. Until then, I'd like to say good bye. I love you, take care. Bye.
- Last Note Nightmare: "Stranger In Moscow" , a slow, moody ballad, ends with a man whispering menacingly in Russian over the end. Chills right up the spine. Allegedly this is a KGB agent interrogating us. The liner notes for Michael's album Blood on the Dance Floor: History in the Mix give a translation: "Why have you come from the West? Confess! To steal the great achievements of the people, the accomplishments of the workers..."
- Let's Duet: "Scream" is a duet between Michael and his sister Janet
- Letters 2 Numbers: "2Bad".
- List Song: "Earth Song" has a list near the end of things Michael thinks we should worry about involving the Earth's ecology.
- Mistaken for Gay: "Tabloid Junkie":Just because you read it in a magazineOr see it on the TV screenDon't make it factual, actualThey say he's homosexual
- Money Song: "Money", where Jackson criticizes someone for doing "everything for the money".
- Moonwalk Dance: Jackson is seen performing the moonwalk during a concert on one of the TV screens in the background in the music video of "History", intercut with the famous shot of an astronaut walking on the moon.
- National Stereotypes: "Stranger In Moscow" takes place in Moscow and mentions the Kremlin, recalling more the USSR (like Stalin's tomb and the KGB), than Russia after the fall of the Iron Curtain — odd, since it was written in 1993, two years after the collapse of Soviet Union.
- New Jack Swing: Both HIStory and Blood On The Dance Floor use the sound liberally, despite it being considered outdated by many.
- Nostalgia Filter: In "Childhood", Jackson looks back at what he thinks an ideal childhood for him would have been like.Have you seen my childhood?I'm searching for the world that I come fromCause I've been looking aroundIn the lost and found of my heart
- N-Word Privileges: Not invoked by Jackson himself, but by The Notorious B.I.G. on "This Time Around".
- One-Woman Song: "Little Susie".
- One-Word Title: "Money", "Scream", "Childhood", "History", "Smile".
- Parental Abandonment: "Little Susie", which is about a little girl who lives alone in her apartment with just a music box to keep her company — and who eventually winds up dead.
- Pep-Talk Song:
You are not aloneI am here with youThough we're far apartYou're always in my heart
- "You Are Not Alone"
Smile, what's the use of cryingYou'll find that life is still worthwhileIf you just smile
- The Power of Love: "You Are Not Alone".
- Precision F-Strike: "Scream"Stop fucking with me
- Police Brutality: "They Don't Care About Us"I'm the victim of police brutality
- Protest Song: "They Don't Care About Us", against injustice.
- Pun-Based Title: The album title is a pun on "history" and "his story". This is especially made clear in the music video, where people are dancing in a club with various TV screens show clips from Michael's music videos.
- Rearrange the Song: "Stranger in Moscow" is a rearrangement of the Sonic the Hedgehog 3 credits music of all things; Jackson co-composed the track with sound team member Brad Buxer, and it was one of only a small number of Jackson compositions that were retained in the final version of Sonic 3.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: "2 Bad"You ain't done enough for meYou ain't done enough for meYou are disgustin' me, yeah yeahYou're aiming just for meYou are disgustin' me
- Record Producer: All songs have a different producer, so let's break it down:
- Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis (Scream, Is It Scary, Tabloid Junkie)
- Dallas Austin (This Time Around)
- David Forester (Earth Song, Childhood)
- Janet Jackson (Scream)
- Teddy Riley (Ghosts, Blood On the Dance Floor)
- Bryan Loren (Superfly Sister)
- Rene Moore (This Time Around, 2Bad)
- Brad Buxer (Not credited, however he co-composed two versions of Stranger In Moscow: The original Sonic 3 & Knuckles version, and the final album cut.)
- R. Kelly (You Are Not Alone)
- And finally, Jackson himself, who produced several songs on his own (Money, D.S., Little Susie, They Don't Care About Us) and has co-producing credits on everything else
- Rockers Smash Guitars: Michael Jackson smashes a guitar in the video for "Scream".
- Self-Plagiarism: To a degree. in 1993, Michael and his sound team were tapped to help compose the music for Sonic the Hedgehog 3. However, they were abruptly dropped from the project for unclear reasons (their removal happened to coincide with the child molestation accusations, though others who also worked on the game said Michael didn't like the sound quality of the music and voluntarily quit), though their music was kept in the game. Not wanting the music to go to total waste, Michael took the ending theme he composed for the game, slowed it down, and turned it into "Stranger in Moscow". It would be ten years before Sonic fans started putting two and two together.
- In the music video of "Scream" Michael and Janet are seen looking at famous art objects, including René Magritte's painting "Son Of Man" and a self portrait of Andy Warhol. Clips from AKIRA and Red Photon Zillion can also be seen.
- "King of rock come on, and there is none higher! Sucker MC's shall call me sire!"
- "They Don't Care About Us" makes mention of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Martin Luther King who, if they "were livin'" "wouldn't let this be, no no".
- The music video of "History" shows archive footage of John F. Kennedy, the Berlin Wall being destroyed, Desmond Tutu, Martin Luther King, Neil Armstrong,...
- "Tabloid Junkie" namedrops John F. Kennedy and his murder and the death of Marilyn Monroe.
- Singer Name Drop: "2Bad"I'm really undefeated when MJ is on my team, theme(...) Mike's bad, I'm bad, who are you?
- Slow Motion: The music video of "Stranger In Moscow" is shot in slow-motion.
- The Something Song: "Earth Song".
- Sound-Effect Bleep: The lines "jew me" and "kike me" in "They Don't Care About Us" lead to accusations of antisemitism, which Jackson denied. In later releases, the lines were censored out with record scratches.
- Special Guest: "2Bad" features a rap segment by basketball player Shaquille O' Neal. "This Time Around" also has one by The Notorious B.I.G..
- Once again, Slash of Guns N' Roses lends his guitar skills on an MJ album, this time on "D.S.".
- Spiritual Successor: "2 Bad" is one to Jackson's 1987 hit "Bad", even going as far as to reuse certain lyrics in the beginning of the song.
- Strawman News Media: "Tabloid Junkie" is built on this trope, decrying the news reports surrounding his child molestation accusations as falsified sensationalism and flat-out comparing them to the crucifixion of Jesus.
- Stealth Insult: Though he openly attacked Thomas Sneddon on "D.S.", MJ had to resort to subliminal disses for Evan Chandler on the tracks "Money", "2 Bad", and "This Time Around" because of a non-disclosure agreement as a result of the child molestation settlement. Chandler attempted to sue him again anyway in for breaching it, but the case was thrown out.
- Take That!: The song "D.S.". The lyrics say that someone named "Dom Sheldon" is a cold man, but if you listen to the song, he's clearly saying "Tom Sneddon", the Santa Barbara DA who went after him for child molestation back in the '90s and again in 2005 in fact, some people believed that Sneddon had a vendetta against Jackson because of this song, and it was at least part of the reason he took him to trial.
Sister's married to a 'hood,Sayin' that she got it good.
- "Superfly Sister" has allusions to his sister LaToya's abusive marriage to Jack Gordon...
Mother's preaching Abraham,Brothers, they don't give a damn.
- ...As well as subtle shots at his brothers promiscuity during their Jackson Five days:
- Take That, Critics!: "Tabloid Junkie" is aimed at the tabloid press.Just because you read it in a magazineOr see it on the TV screenDon't make it factualThough everybody wants to read all about it
- Title Track: "History"He say one day you will seeHis place in world history
- The Unintelligible: "Tabloid Junkie". Jackson raps the verses so ridiculously fast it's impossible to figure out exactly what he's saying the first time around. The fact he raps in a bitter growl the whole time doesn't help.
- Updated Re-release: Alongside Off the Wall, Thriller, Bad, and Dangerous, the first disc was remastered and released as Greatest Hits: HIStory Vol. 1 in 2001 to help promote Jackson's final album Invincible. Interestingly, outside of the remix album, the second disc had never been released by itself in any format until 2013's The Indispensable Collection, which was released exclusively in iTunes and contains only the second disc.
- The Vamp: Susie, from "Blood On the Dance Floor". She seduces Jackson, all the while planning to stab him.
- War Is Glorious: "History"Every soldier dies in his glory
- War Is Hell: "They Don't Care About Us", "Scream" and "History" all criticize war.How many victims must there beSlaughtered in vain across the landAnd how many struggles must there beBefore we choose to live the prophet's plan
- What Have I Done: "Earth Song", about pollution, war and animal extinction caused by humans.What have we've done to the world?Look what we've done
- A Wild Rapper Appears!: During "2Bad" basketball player Shaquille O' Neal has a rap segment. Halfway into "This Time Around", The Notorious B.I.G. has a rap.
- Jackson himself offers up two variations: "Money" and "Tabloid Junkie", the seventh and eleventh tracks respectively on the second disc, are done entirely in rap, save for the chorus.