Dangerous Era

The Dangerous Era, 1990-1994, would usher in a new decade with brand new sounds and the best in contemporary concert entertainment. Michael Jackson set new recording, filming and entertainment standards that were legendary.

Starting the new Era off, in 1990, Michael was honoured with many awards, including several “Entertainer of the Decade” awards from Soul Train, MTV and Sony. He was honoured at the White House by President George Bush, who presented him with a special “Entertainer of the Decade Award”. He also received the American Cinema Award for “Entertainer of the Decade”, presented to him by Elizabeth Taylor.

Michael Jackson originally planned to release a compilation album of previous hits along with 3 new songs to be called “Decade” in 1990. However, Michael had written and recorded several songs and had plenty of material to release an album of all new songs. In March of 1991, Michael renegotiated his contract with Sony, which included a 15 year 6 album deal. The royalty rates included were the largest for any artist at 25% of the retail price of every album sold. The deal also included Michael’s own record label. The deal landed Michael Jackson in the Guinness World Records again, for the Largest Entertainment Contract Ever, worth $890 million.

Michael started recording the new album on June 25, 1990. During the year, Michael lent his voice to an episode of the Simpsons, called "Stark Raving Dad", under the pseudonym "John Jay Smith". The use of Michael's voice in the episode was not confirmed until many years later. He also wrote a song for the Simpsons, called "Do The Bartman", with Bryan Loren, which was released as a single in early 1991.

In September, Michael was honoured by MTV when they renamed the “Video Vanguard Award” to “Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award”.
On November 14, 1991, Michael released the first single and short film from the Dangerous album, called “Black or White”. For the 11 minute short film, Michael again asked John Landis to direct. The film also starred Macaulay Culkin, Peggy Lipton and George Wendt. The film cost an estimated $4 million to create and included amazing dancing and special effects. The “Black or White” short film was one of the earliest films to employ the technique of morphing to change one face to another at the end of the clip.The debut of the short film was shown in 27 countries simultaneously and viewed by approximately 500 million people; the largest audience to ever view a music video. The short film created controversy due to the last four minutes, where Michael dances a Capella in the streets of L.A. Some audiences and critics saw the dance as violent and not suitable for family viewing. The day after its release, Michael cut the last four minutes from the film and issued an apologetic statement. To date, the video is often shown with the final segment cut and is considered one of the most controversial music videos of all time. Controversy aside, “Black of White” went to number one in 13 countries; staying at the top spot in the US for 7 weeks and Australia for 8 weeks.

The Dangerous album was released worldwide on November 26, 1991. After 16 months of recording, Michael had a spectacular album with 15 new songs. Michael had ended his association with producer Quincy Jones and enlisted new producers Teddy Riley and Bill Botrell. The album had a “New Jack Swing” sound as a result and was more influenced by gospel and hip hop. Michael had written over 60 songs for the new project; 13 of those going on the album: “Jam”, “In The Closet”, “She Drives Me Wild”, “Remember the Time”, “Can’t Let Her Get Away”, “Heal The World”, “Black Or White”, “Who Is It”, “Give In To Me”, “Will You Be There”, “Keep The Faith”, and “Dangerous”. Teddy Riley and Bernard Belle contributed “Why You Wanna Trip on Me” and Larry Grossman and Buz Kohan contributed the haunting “Gone Too Soon”. Michael again teamed up with Siedah Garrett and Glen Ballard to write “Keep the Faith”. Guitarist Slash played on two of the songs: “Black or White” and “Give in to Me”. Also enlisted were three different rappers: Heavy D on “Jam”, Wrecks ‘N Effect on “She Drives Me Wild” and LTB on “Black or White”. A “Mystery Girl” was asked to contribute to the sexy “In the Closet”. It was later revealed that the “Mystery Girl” was in fact Princess Stephanie of Monaco. The stunning cover art was created by Mark Ryden and the first pressing of Dangerous came with a pop up artwork cover.

Dangerous was one of the most anticipated albums of the 1990’s- so much so that armed robbers stole approximately 30,000 copies when the first shipment arrived at the L.A. Airport. Dangerous received amazing reviews and went straight to number one in several countries; also becoming the highest selling album of 1992.

Dangerous Album
On November 27, Michael performed “Black or White” and “Will You Be There” on MTV’s 10th Anniversary TV special. Joining Michael onstage was Guns ‘n’ Roses guitarist, Slash.

On February 14, 1992, Michael Jackson announced at a Pepsi press conference that he would indeed be touring again. Michael made it clear that he was touring for one reason: to raise funds for his newly formed “Heal the World” foundation. His goal was to gross $100 million by Christmas 1993. The announcement of the tour coincided with a new deal between Michael Jackson and Pepsi: a reported $20 million to sponsor the Dangerous World Tour.

Also in February, Michael released the single “Remember the Time” with a spectacular short film directed by John Singleton. The 9-minute clip starred Eddie Murphy, supermodel Iman and Magic Johnson. The film had amazing dance sequences and special effects. The single went to number one on the US R&B chart and it became a top ten single in nine different countries.

In Early March 1992, Michael went on a tour of five different African nations. His first visit there in 19 years was greeted with 100,000 fans on his arrival in Gabon. He was presented two awards in Gabon: the “National Honour of Merit Award” and the “National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters: Lifetime Achievement Award”. He attended historic African ceremonies and was crowned “King Sani” by tribal leaders on the Ivory Coast.

In May, Michael released “In the Closet”. The short film to accompany the song was directed by renowned photographer, Herb Ritts and starred supermodel Naomi Campbell as Michael’s love interest. The steamy clip was filmed in the desert in Palm Springs, California and also featured real white oxen. The song was a top ten hit in five countries.

In June, Michael released a new book called “Dancing the Dream”. The book featured poems, songs and reflections written by Michael and featured loads of photos from his private collection, photo shoots and short films. It also featured pictures and paintings by some of Michael’s favourite artists.

On June 27, 1992, Michael kicked off his Dangerous World Tour in Munich, Germany. The show featured special effects by David Copperfield, a specially built stage, special lighting and pyrotechnics, new and original choreography and amazing costumes. It took tow 747 jets to transport the equipment from country to country. Michael greeted the crowd at each concert by popping out from below the stage. When Michael performed “Smooth Criminal”, he performed ‘the lean” live on stage with a newly created and patented device.

In London, Michael again sold out Wembley Stadium and grossed $13 million in just three shows. HBO offered Michael Jackson a staggering $21 million to film and televise the last of his European shows at Bucharest, Romania. It was the most ever paid to televise a concert and it became the highest rated show in cable history.

“Jam” was released in July 1992. The video was directed by Michael Jackson along with David Kellogg. It featured Michael Jordan and Kriss Kross. The song became a top ten smash in five countries.

In November, “Heal the World”; the album’s fifth single was released. The song was a top ten hit in four countries. Also in November 1992, “The Jacksons: An American Dream” was broadcast on ABC. It was the story of the rise of the Jackson Five and was produced by Jermaine Jackson. It featured an all-star cast with Angela Bassett, Billy Dee Williams and Vanessa Williams. The amazing Wylie Dryper played a teen to twenties Michael Jackson. The film became one of the most successful music biographies of the 1990’s and received high ratings. The film was nominated for seven Emmy awards and won four, including “Outstanding Individual Achievement in Choreography”.

On December 31st in Tokyo, Japan, Slash joined Michael onstage for a special performance of “Black or White”. It was the last concert of the first leg of the Dangerous World Tour. Michael had many exciting projects in store for 1993 and he began rehearsals for the Superbowl halftime show.

In January 1993, Michael attended the NAACP awards where he received the “25th Silver Anniversary Entertainer of the Year Award” and “Outstanding Music Video Award” for “Black or White”. He then attended and performed “Gone Too Soon”, “Heal the World” and “We Are the World” at President Clinton’s Inaugural Ball. On the 25th of January, Michael performed the song “Dangerous” at the American Music Awards, where he received 3 awards including “Best Pop/Rock Album”, “Best Soul/R&B Single” and the first “Michael Jackson International Artist Award” for record sales and humanitarian efforts.

Topping off a fabulous month, Michael performed at the 1993 Superbowl Halftime show on the 31st of January. The show included “Jam”, “Billie Jean”, “Black or White” and “Heal the World”, which included a 98,000 audience card stunt, and a 750 member choir. Approximately 120 million people tuned into the event; one of the largest viewing audiences in TV history.

January 1993 also marked the release of the sixth single off Dangerous, “Who Is It”. The short film was directed by David Fincher and had a story about a cheating lover. The single became a top ten hit in five countries and number one on the US dance chart.

On February 10, 1993, Michael was interviewed by Oprah Winfrey at his Neverland Ranch. It was Michael’s first live TV interview in 14 years. During the 90 minute special, Michael spoke about his personal life and career and gave Oprah a night time tour of his ranch. He also danced live in his theatre and gave the audience a special a Capella performance of “Who Is It”. The show became the fourth highest rated entertainment show in history. Michael also debuted his seventh single from dangerous: “Give in to Me”. After the Interview, the Dangerous album had a boost in sales, reaching the top 10 once again in several countries.

“Give in to Me” was officially released in Europe in February with a video clip featuring Slash, filmed in Germany in two hours in front of a live audience. The single was not released in North America, but became a top ten hit in five countries.

On March 15th, Michael attended the Grammy Awards and was honoured with the “Legend Award”, presented to him by his sister, Janet. The same month, Michael attended the Soul Train Awards, where he performed “Remember the Time” and received three awards including “Humanitarian of the Year”. Michael was then honoured again at the World Music Awards in Monaco where he received three awards including “World’s Best Selling Artist of the Era”.

In July 1993, “Will You Be There”, the eighth single from Dangerous was released. The song received an amazing reception all over the world, staying in the top 10 in the US and top 40 in the UK for over six weeks. The song was also on the soundtrack for the movie, “Free Willy”.

On August 24th 1993, Michael resumed his Dangerous World Tour, starting the second leg in Bangkok, Thailand. The tour moved through Asia, Russia and onto South America. Michael played his last show of the Tour on the 11th of November, 1993 in Mexico. The Tour had ended suddenly as Michael had become the subject of child abuse allegations and had become dependant on painkillers due to recent surgery on his scalp. Michael had played 69 concerts to approximately 3.5 million fans and had donated all proceeds to his Heal the World foundation and other charities around the world. It was the biggest tour of its time.

In December, the ninth and last single off Dangerous was released: “Gone Too Soon”. The song enjoyed top 40 success in the UK. Also around this time, “Dangerous: The Short Films” was released by Sony. It featured all the short films from the Dangerous album plus footage from Michael’s Superbowl performance and award ceremonies.

The Dangerous album had been received amazingly well and had spent 117 weeks in the US charts. At the end of the Era, it had sold over 20 million copies worldwide. Currently, Dangerous is at sales of over 32 million copies!

After a well deserved break from touring and performing, Michael recovered and all investigations were dropped in early 1994. On the 26th of May, 1994, Michael married Lisa Marie Presley in a ceremony at the Dominican Republic. They did not announce their union until two months later. During 1994, Michael began work on a new album. He had already written several songs while on tour and was ready to get back to recording and performing.

Michael Jackson had certainly dominated the headlines in the Dangerous Era with spectacular performances, an amazing world tour and controversy. He had introduced a new sound to the 1990’s and had again changed the face of music videos, making use of new and expensive technology. The album Dangerous had dominated the charts for two years and had won 16 awards. Michael was honoured everywhere he went with awards and ceremonies, setting an example in the music world and as an incredible humanitarian.

by Marni Carlsson.


Post a Comment