Michael Jackson – You Are Not Alone

First Hit #1: September 2, 1995

Like most people, I associate R. Kelly with goofball sexuality and mad ambition. So it was something of a shock to hear that Kelly wrote this song for Michael Jackson, a song that is most notable for how sentimental and straightforward it is. It’s just a vaguely gospel-tinged track that could be about a relationship with a distant person, a dead person or God, depending on how you feel like interpreting the song. It’s a pretty common trope in gospel-inspired pop music, appearing several times before, though Jackson does steer it towards it being about a human woman by the end of the song. It’s slightly ambiguous about the subject, but not about the emotions, and it isn’t really anything new. It’s not bad, Jackson does a credible performance and the music is just the right amount of cheese for seasoning. It is, as a whole, totally acceptable as a piece of pop music. It’s just that everyone involved has done music that’s much more compelling and unique.

The video is interesting, as it’s a product of the era when Jackson was getting really self-conscious about his sexuality and the way others viewed it, so in order to prove he liked adult females he decided it would be a great idea and not at all awkward to hang around with his wife while everyone was wearing only strategically placed sheets. It does not help the song.

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One Response to Michael Jackson – You Are Not Alone

  1. RBerman says:

    When the new Michael Jackson album only ekes out two Top Twenty singles (the last two albums each had five), we know his moment has passed. This, his final Number One, is a sweet ballad with a heartfelt vocal; I always saw the lyrics as a “missing you while I’m on the road” song. The whole step modulation for the last set of choruses is a 70s pop touch straight from Manilowville.

    This was from the double album “History,” which was half a greatest hits of his adult career, and half new material. Some of the new songs (The Janet Jackson paparazzi duet “Scream”, the screed against Santa Barbara’s District Attorney Tom Sneddon “D.S.”, the ‘don’t judge me’ song”Childhood,” and a surprisingly reverent cover of Charlie Chaplin’s “Smile” for instance) spoke specifically to his legal and publicity woes. One of the best new songs (the spooky “Stranger in Moscow” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pEEMi2j6lYE) returned like a lost “Thriller” single to his favorite theme of paranoia, with a spy metaphor standing in for the real life scrutiny he was getting.

    But my favorite new song was the apocalyptic gospel “Earth Song” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XAi3VTSdTxU) which demands of God why He lets us screw up His planet. Among the many examples Jackson gives (“this crying earth, these weeping shores”; “the Holy Land, torn apart by creed”), one natural disaster goes by implicitly: Jackson’s own self-ruined empire, his unmet longing that someone would sing, “You Are Not Alone” back to him, and mean it.

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