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Michael Jackson - Invincible

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  • Michael Jackson - Invincible




    It’s hard for a new Michael Jackson album to get a fair review, because it seems that most people nowadays are too busy making fun of his face and personal life to critique his music fairly. Those people are nothing more than narrow-minded idiots, along with the MJ fans who blindly praise everything he releases, as if he can do no wrong. If you want to read an unbiased review, based strictly on the content of the album and nothing else, read on...


    The album begins with 3 dance songs, co-produced by Rodney Jerkins (in other words, he did the beats). “Unbreakable” addresses all the haters out there who want to see MJ fall. The beat, led by a simple piano jingle, hip-hop drums and no real bass-line, is nothing spectacular, mediocre at best. Actually, that can be said for the whole song, which, even with a dope verse by The Notorious B.I.G. and a few bars of melodious crooning by Brandy at the peak, should’ve never made it onto a Michael Jackson album.

    On “Heartbreaker”, the first thing that catches your attention is the insane, futuristic, techno, bounce beat (you've never heard MJ sing over anything like this). The vocal-arrangements of the verses and chorus are okay, but the track takes a turn for the better when the harmonious bridge arrives, then Fats drops a verse, then comes the best part of the song, where MJ ad-libs over the repeated chorus, hyping the track up with his signature touch ("Ain't nobody's business!"). Then, Rodney Jerkins goes wild on the beat, mixing in various sound-effects and reverbs at high speed, creating a boiling peak of dance-music hot enough to get any club jumpin. By the way, the song is about a slick girl who goes around playing guys, running game on them, making them believe she's an innocent pick, when actually she's out for their money and pride. She tries to pull that charade on MJ, but what she does't know is that he's on to her game, “and she'll get played the same”.

    “Invincible”, the title track, is where you realize that, like Dangerous, he isn't referring to himself, he's referring to a girl. He's kickin game to her ("If there's somebody else, he can't trick you like me"), but she ain't trying to hear it. Even Fats (yeah, I’m also wondering why he’s on the album again) tries his luck by spittin game thru a pretty tight 8-bar verse, but she still won't give in. She's invincible. Though the near-industrial beat is one of Rodney Jerkins' weakest productions and the breakage of the word "in-vinc-ible" on the chorus is a bad idea, the track is pulled out of mediocracy by a strand, with the help of the Fats verse (which is pretty tight) and MJ's signature "acting a fool" toward the end (though even that isn't up to his usual standard, with him trying much too hard to "get it"). Though I wouldn’t go as far as to say those first three songs sound alike, I can say that it’s fairly obvious by the beats that they’re all co-produced by the same person (just as Dr. Dre and most other beat-makers have their own “sound”).

    "Break of Dawn" gives Rodney a much-needed break. Here, MJ is actually singing, about making love to a woman, over a slow, sensual beat, co-produced by Dr. Freeze. MJ's vocals haven't sounded like this in a while. This is romantic harmony that only a few artists can create.

    "Heaven Can Wait" is another sweet love song. The vocals are very melodic and beautiful to listen to. My favorite part is probably the end where he sings "Leave us (and 'me') alone" over and over again, showing that his voice is just as good, if not better, than it's ever been in his career, as the slow, syrupy beat drips away.

    Those two love songs are both 5-star classics, beautiful gems, modern-day Thrillers, along with “You Rock My World” (where Rodney returns, making his first three tracks sound wack in comparison), in which he takes an almost silly title with a basic concept (another song about a girl) and transforms it into an inspirational classic, a cool love song to play while kickin it with your chick, just telling her how you feel about her. And, while she’s there, you may as well let it play thru the next track.

    Track 7, “Butterflies” has a beautiful slow, jazzy feel. It also finds MJ singing at that high pitch he hasn't visited for a long time. The song, co-produced by Andre Harris, is created and arranged very impressively, full with soothing horns, a relaxing drum-beat, and finger-snaps. Though produced by different people, the last four tracks (just as the first three), fit together perfectly and I have to wonder if Michael Jackson would blow-up all over again if the entire album would have fit into that same “ebony R & B” zone.

    "Speechless" starts off as an accapella, then comes the orchestra. It's a love song about not having the words to express your love for someone. The Andrae Crouch Singers (who dropped on every MJ album since Bad) also lend a hand, rather a voice, handling the chorus.

    www.marcellee.com


  • #2
    After 5 love songs in a row, "2000 Watts" flips the script, while taking the listener back to the dance-floor (that’s if “You Rock My World” wasn’t hype enough for them to dance to). Though I don't care for the "deepening" effect on MJ's vocals (think of the Basement Boys club mix of "Stranger in Moscow") and the industrial dance beat (produced by Teddy Riley) isn't anything special, it's still a fairly good song. It's best when played loud with a lot of bass (with that "du-dum-du-dum" bass-line exercising the woofers). The lyrics of the song appear to be about music equipment, but a deeper listen shows that it's probably a big metaphor for sex ("How low can you go?", "Can I go till I hit my peak?"). Well, either way, though it's not another Jackson/Riley classic, it's a nice track to bang in your ride or in the clubs.

    Just when you’re ready to be hit with another clubber, Babyface kills the moment, slowing the album down tremendously with syrupy acoustics and lyrics that surpass sweet and borderline flat-out corny (“You are the sun, you make me shine / Or more like the stars that twinkle a night”). Nevertheless, it’s a good song. The best part is at the peak when he's singing ("I love you") over the repeated chorus. It's beautiful, which is more than I can say for "Privacy".

    Like "Scream" & "Tabloid Junkie", "Privacy" addresses the infamous paparazzi and, to compliment the grungy rock track, Slash drops a guitar riff (almost a ritual on MJ albums as of late). The peak (again, thanks to MJ ad-libs) is decent, but the track is dead mediocre on the whole. It has no real melody, nothing catchy or interesting, everything just flows along with no magic (think Eminem’s “White America”). It should’ve never made it onto the album.

    Just when you thought the pace of the album is gonna kick back up, "Don't Walk Away" brings it down with more syrup. Only this time, it’s a classic (the first classic on the album since “You Rock My World”), a great love ballad, very soulful, this time addressing the heartbreak and sorrow of ending a relationship. You can feel his pain as he croons in lament. It's really a sad and beautiful song.

    The same can be said for "Cry" (written and produced by R. Kelly), which is arguably the best song on the album (or a tie with “World”). Here, MJ carries-on in the tradition of “Earth Song”, “Heal The World” and “Man In The Mirror”, but this time, he's asking for your help (voice: “You can change the world”, MJ: “I can’t do it by myself”, voice: You can touch the sky”, MJ: “It’s gonna take somebody’s help”).This song is an epic inspiration as MJ goes through topics such as war, which we are all too familiar and fed up with. Maybe he's right. Maybe if we all cry at the same time, we can change the world.

    “Cry” is followed by “The Lost Children”, yet another slow number (that’s five in a row!), which serves as prayer for missing children everywhere. Some might think it's corny or cheesy, but I think it's nice.

    Track 15, "Whatever Happens" picks up the pace a bit with cool Latin jazz at it's best. I'm not quite sure what it's about (sticking together?), but does that even matter? It's a wonderful soother, featuring Carlos Santana on guitar, and everything blends together nicely, from the western whistling to the hypnotic background singing. It's another melodious gem.

    The albums ends with "Threatened". With lyrics like "Every time your lady speaks, she speaks to me", I don't know if this track is a hidden warning to Tommy Mottola or what, but it took me a while to really get into this track. The first thing that turned me off initially was the extremely bubble-gum-pop-rock beat (think Spice Girls at their peak), not to mention the mediocre chorus, but after repeated listening, the track is a bit better than I thought. While the beat is still a bit annoying and the chorus isn't neccessarily catchy, the track has a certain undeniable spark to it. Sure, Rod Serling's cut & paste "rap" is kinda cool, but the best part of the track can be found in the background, during the last two (of four) chorus breaks. It's a quiet, yet flashy chord arrangement, probably created with one of Rodney Jerkin's keyboards, but it adds just enough magic to give the track a thumbs-up rating, not to mention MJ's signature ad-lib performance over the chorus at the end (you know, the "hoo-hoos" and stuff). No, it's not up there with "Thriller", "Ghosts" or "Is It Scary", but it ain't bad. Still, MJ could’ve ended the album much better than that (just as he could’ve began the album much better than he did).

    As a whole, Invincible is Michael Jackson's worst solo album of the seven majors (including the under-rated Blood On The Dance Floor: HIStory In The Mix), yet it's still a good album, particularly when compare to most of the new stuff you’ll find in the pop section of the record-stores nowadays. That says a lot about Michael Jackson.


    My Rating: 4 (of 5)


    ******************


    For more Album Reviews by Marcel Lee, visit www.*************

    www.marcellee.com

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