A Paranoia Theme

Leave Me Alone, a song featured on Michael Jackson‘s seventh studio album, Bad in 1987, was a response to negative and false stories about Jackson that frequently appeared in the media and tabloids post-1986 after the monumental success of Thriller. Beginning in 1986, the tabloids began to publish false stories about Jackson, one of the first being a story claiming that Jackson slept in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber to slow the aging process. A picture leaked out to the media of him lying down in a hyberbaric chamber at a hospital he visited. An unknown person took the picture of Jackson while he was testing out the chamber out of curiosity.

 
 

 
 

When Jackson bought a pet chimpanzee named Bubbles, the media viewed it as evidence of Jackson’s increasing detachment from reality. It was also reported that Jackson had offered to buy the bones of Joseph “The Elephant Man” Merrick; Jackson stated that the story was “a complete lie”. These stories inspired the nickname “Wacko Jacko”, which Jackson acquired the following year, and would come to despise. Another frequent response from the media was about Jackson’s plastic surgery. Jackson’s manager said of the media’s criticism towards the topic, “So many terrible things have been written. Okay, so he had his nose fixed, and the cleft — big deal. I got news for you, my nose has broke five times. It’s been fixed twice. Who gives a shit? Who cares? Elvis Presley had his nose done. Marilyn Monroe had her nose done, had her breasts done? Everybody’s had it done.”

The song has been viewed as having a “paranoia theme”, a theme that Jackson had frequently used on previous studio albums. The Atlantic felt that Jackson showed “obvious expressions of distrust” in the song and that the song was one of multiple songs where Jackson’s “persistent loneliness in his music” was “prominent”.In 2009, J. Edward Keyes, of Rolling Stone, described Leave Me Alone as sounding like “vintage Michael” and the song works because of its music, “a batch of thick chords for Jackson to vamp over”. Keyes noted that the song was a “kind of darker inversion” of The Way You Make Me Feel, and that Leave Me Alone was “worked-up and angry, and Jackson’s aggressive scraping of the high notes makes plain his frustration.”

 
 

 
 

The music video for Leave Me Alone, was directed by Jim Blashfield, produced by Jim Blashfield and Paul Diener and released on January 2, 1989. The video was also featured in the 1988 film Moonwalker. In essence, the video is an amusement park consisting of stylistically crude images based around Jackson’s successful career since 1982’s Thriller. There is an emphasis on the tabloid view of Jackson’s personal life and public image, referring to the nickname “Wacko Jacko” given to him by the press, and the various headlines associated with him in the 1980s. Lampooning rumours that he tried to purchase Joseph Merrick’s bones, Jackson dances with stop motion “Elephant Man” bones in the video. This particular segment (without the image of the bones) was used for the single’s cover art, and the boneless video segment was featured in Moonwalker trailer.

 
 

 
 

In the video, there are images of shrines to actress Elizabeth Taylor, a real life close friend of Jackson. Throughout the video newspaper headlines, published by “National Intruder”, with bizarre titles are shown, such as “Michael’s Space-Age Diet” and “Michael Proposes to Liz”. Another notable scene in the music video was a nose being chased by a surgical scalpel, which was reference to Jackson’s plastic surgery being criticized by the media. At the end of the video, it is revealed that a gigantic Jackson himself is the amusement park. He breaks free, tearing the park to pieces. That scene is a somewhat reminiscent of Gulliver’s Travels, where Gulliver eventually breaks free from the Lilliputians’ grasp from Lilliput.

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The Devil is in the Detail

 
 

The creator of the cover of Dangerous was the artist Mark Ryden. It took six months to end in. Much of the life of Michael Jackson is reflected in it both in pictures as symbols. This artist was born on 20 January 1963, in Medford, Oregon, California. In 1987 he received the School of Design in Pasadena. Among his clients include Stephen King, Leonardo Di Caprio, Robert De Niro, etc …  Jackson asked very specific things, he told to Ryden that “the design should be mysterious, that people will interpret in their own way …”So, as that famous idiom which refers to a catch or mysterious element hidden: the devil is in the detail.

Account Mark Ryden, artist of the cover of Dangerous that had previously worked with the Art Director for Sony, Nancy Donald in many other projects and when the project was commissioned by Michael Jackson she thought of him. A Michael Jackson’s friend showed him a book with their jobs and liked a lot. Ryden was thus that he met with the King of Pop in his study where he could hear some of his new music and talked about the idea. He then had a week to create some strokes, doing 5 pencil drawings. Only one was elected, the current draft of the lid. The other four sketches were not accepted by Michael Jackson, but had the same general style that the cover of Dangerous. One was a circus poster with a skeleton jumping from the innards of a clown, another was focused on a girl in her hand she held a skull, another idea was very similar to the final cover, but the scene was set outdoors and the Michael Jackson’s eyes were mixed with clouds over the chimp Bubbles which was standing on a pile of animals. Mark Ryden also note that for the first sketches of the cover of Dangerous drew heavily on the video for the song Leave Me Alone found in the feature film Moonwalker, saying that  “it was the image, design and the items were great.”

Although the original painting is very large, the great challenge of the artist was that by reducing the size of a cover of a compact disc detail and the concept did not disappear. One of its inspiration to the many details was listening to the tracks on the album as Michael Jackson was finishing his recording and song titles also served to introduce certain concepts. And so the album title and the song Dangerous provided a starting point for the base of the drawing. Mark Ryden said that despite the great advances in digital technology, the drawing is not supported by computers, only brush with acrylics on a panel, which still remains in its original study.  As for the freedom to create his work, Ryden had the opportunity to draw without pressure, except for some very specific added that Michael Jackson asked himself near the end of the work. For example he wanted the actor Macaulay Culkin was in one of the cars that pull out of the tunnel on the right and placed the pin “1998″ on the lapel of P. Barnum, creator of the world’s most famous circuses. The image of Afghan dog on his throne is inspired by an oil,  Napoleon on his Throne, painted by artist Jean-Auguste Ingres in 1806.