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Renat Kornilov
Renat Kornilov

Bow Your Head - Hael (Official Audio)

"In the studio, Michael was silly and fun-loving," recalled Rod Temperton, who began working with Jackson during the late Seventies. "He never swore. He didn't even say the word 'funky,' he said 'smelly.' So that was Quincy's nickname for him: Smelly." His loose, playful side is on display during the title track, written by Temperton. "Off the Wall" was an ode to "party people night and day." It invited listeners to "hide your inhibitions/Gotta let that fool loose deep inside your soul" by hitting the dance clubs and "livin' crazy, that's the only way." But its succulent groove, swathed in Jackson's sumptuous overdubbed harmonies, was as smoothly seductive as the vision of dance music in his head. Temperton, who arranged the rhythm and vocal tracks, re-created the dance-floor vibe of his disco band Heatwave, and the song's growling funk synths were partly played by jazz and fusion keyboardist George Duke. The song was also strangely prophetic: In the decades after its release, the world saw how truly off the wall Jackson's life could become.

Bow Your Head - Hael (Official Audio)

A visionary mix of metal bluster and disco glitz, complete with a headbanger's ball of an Eddie Van Halen guitar eruption. With its down-in-jungleland video, "Beat It" crashed rock radio along with every other station on the dial, reaching Number One just a week after "Billie Jean" ended its seven-week run at the top. (The song that hit Number One in between? Dexys Midnight Runners' "Come on Eileen.") "Beat It" was the last song added to Thriller, as the clock was ticking to the release date. As Quincy Jones told Rolling Stone, "When we were finishing 'Beat It,' we had three studios going. We had Eddie Van Halen in one. Michael was in another singing a part through a cardboard tube, and we were mixing in another. We were working five nights and five days with no sleep. And at one point, the speakers overloaded and caught on fire." The only person not blown away was Van Halen's David Lee Roth, who scoffed, "What did Edward do with Michael Jackson? He went in and played the same fucking solo he's been playing in this band for 10 years. Big deal!"

Given that he was the biggest, most beloved pop star in the world, not everyone was happy about Michael Jackson coming out with a song that built on the aggression of Thriller's "Beat It." He and Quincy Jones reportedly butted heads over including the irresistibly menacing "Smooth Criminal" on Bad, and Jehovah's Witness elders visited the set of the song's video and expressed disappointment with its violent imagery. But Jackson held his ground, and the result is his best blend of R&B groove and rock edginess, and a turning point in his shift toward darker, harder-edged material. Inspired in part by the story of mid-Eighties serial killer Richard Ramirez, "Smooth Criminal" had been around in slightly different form since 1985, first called "Chicago 1945" and then "Al Capone"; both versions of the track featured a rapid-fire funky bass line close to the ravaging synth-bass of the finished number. The heartbeat heard on the track is a Synclavier rendition of Jackson's own, and helps provide creeping counterpoint to his haunting cries of "Annie, are you OK?"

At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book. Daniel 12:1 041b061a72


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