Michael Jackson – Man in the Mirror

First Hit #1: March 26, 1988

Man in the Mirror is painfully sincere. Maybe it’s my fault, I’m not generally moved by songs that are outright telling me what to think, even if their motives are pure. Man in the Mirror has very pure motives – be a better person, help your fellow man, change yourself and the world around you, that kind of thing – but I find myself resisting. I don’t want to be told the best way to live my life, or to make a change like Michael Jackson did, or anything. I actively resist the really heavy handed moralizing and the sledgehammer used to pound in that message. I mean, it’s not a bad message, and I feel as though it’s actually going to be a meaningful song to many people, but it outright tells you its message and everything that you are supposed to take away from it, and I resist that in general, no matter how well the song is actually sung.

Michael Jackson in the ’80s is still going to be good, and the song is really well performed, but I can’t welcome it in to my heart.

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2 Responses to Michael Jackson – Man in the Mirror

  1. RBerman says:

    These kinds of preachy songs inevitably resonate most strongly with those who have the strongest experiences with the underlying issue. I’m guessing that you, like myself, have not been a victim of institutional racism, so we don’t get hit in the gut by this song like some people do. It’s the same as when I listen to “Sunday Bloody Sunday” and think, “Hmm, Bono seems upset, and that bombing sounds sad.” But I can’t feel the outrage to the level that he does. Or when non-Christians listen to worship music and find it cheesy or boring. Or the heavy “Southern pride” component of modern (though not classic) American country music. The communal and cultural character of music can be powerful for insiders but sometimes leaves outsiders with a big “meh.”

    Musically, this song is strong. Great melody for both verse and chorus, with a non-cliche chord progession for both. Simple opening builds into a gospel frenzy by the end.

  2. Pingback: Michael Jackson – Black or White | We Are Number Ones

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