My obscure MJ contribution

Stranger_In_MoscowAs the tributes and memories continue to pour in after the sudden death of Michael Jackson, most people are (rightly) focused on the height of his musical powers. And while I certainly am a huge fan of “Thriller”-era MJ, I’d like to spotlight my favorite song of the post-popularity, Wacko Jacko, plastic-surgery freak era.

“Stranger in Moscow” was allegedly written back in 1993, at the height of MJ’s first foray into child molestation charges, although it did not see the light of day until HIStory was released in 1997. It didn’t make much of a dent on the charts, topping out at 91 on the Billboard Hot 100.

But I would argue that this is Michael’s last great song, a haunting ballad about lonliness, made all too true by the troubles that Jackson had then, and when the song was eventually released. I always enjoyed MJ’s ballads, none more so here – his falsetto, at times seemingly cracking with pain, is exquisite. It doesn’t hurt that the song is undeniably catchy, with the “How does it feel?” chorus sticking in your head.

Really, this would have been a blip on the radar if not for the video, which I happened to catch one day while channel surfing. We all know that Jackson took the music video form and revolutionized it, but even in 1997 he was still capable of making an effective video, one that continues to be aped to this day.

This was actually the song that first came to mind when I learned of MJ’s passing. RIP to the King of Pop.


~ by Elliott on June 26, 2009.

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