‘Dangerous’ is an album by Michael Jackson, also commonly referred to as ‘the King of Pop,’ and was released in 1991, on the 26th of November. It was a very successful album, reaching the number 1 spot in the album charts in not only the US and the UK, but also in France, Germany, Brazil and many more countries, and it reached the top 10 in three other countries. It was also well received by critics too, being heralded as an album that was good enough to compete with ‘Thriller,’ Jackson’s most successful album, and still one of the best selling albums of all time.
‘Dangerous’ is classified as belonging to the little-known genre ‘New Jack Swing.’ This genre was conceived and lead by Teddy Riley and Bernard Belle in the 1980’s and 1990’s. This is no surprise then that Jackson’s album fits this genre, as Teddy Riley worked with Jackson on the album. The genre itself is essentially a hybrid genre, taking influence from many places, especially from hip-hop, and also by using techniques that are affiliated with certain genres, such as using sampling. It also included rhythms that would be perhaps well suited and found with genres such as R&B, Urban Contemporary and Dance-pop. However, the popularity of this new genre may have been down to the subtle infusions of Jazz and Blues music, music that really resonated with audiences, especially African-American audiences. This seems a natural move for Jackson, having left Motown after his ‘Off the Wall’ album, wherein he reportedly felt stifled due to lack of creative control. Motown arguably created a similar style of music, though it could be said that Jackson’s album was more authentic, and much more of an accurate expression of himself.
The album ‘Dangerous’ contains a broad spectrum of songs, ranging from songs dealing with hefty topics such as racism, and then going on to motivational ‘anthems’ such as ‘Keep the Faith,’ and everything inbetween. ‘Black or White’ is one of the most famous singles from the album, which challenged racism and prejudices, stating, ‘It don’t matter if you’re black or white.’ The music video contained shots of people from all different cultures and ethnicities, some of them dancing, for example, we see traditional Russian Dancing and Bollywood/Bhangra dancing. The music itself is very uplifting, with a catchy guitar riff being played on an electric guitar throughout.
‘Heal the World,’ another single from the album, continues on a similar vane, however, this time discussing how we as people can make the world a better place in various ways. This song takes a more sombre tone, though has a childlike innocence to it, with Jackson’s soft flowing vocals in a relatively high register and also through the inclusion of a child’s voice. At the end, Jackson merges his voice with the child’s voice until it is indistinguishable, before fading to just the child’s voice. The use of a child’s voice is very powerful, as children are perceived as being good and pure, and the concept of youth subconsciously makes the listener think of returning the planet to a better state.