Monday, February 15, 2021

"Man in the Mirror" by Michael Jackson

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  3406
Date:  02/06/1988
Debut:  48
Peak:  1 (2 weeks)
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Pop


Pop Bits:  Jackson's Bad album was certainly making an impression with its singles. By this point in time, the first three from the LP had all reached #1. To follow-up the third #1, the shufflin' "The Way You Make Me Feel," this gospel-enhanced mid-tempo track was released. It would end up following the previous three hits straight to the top of both the Pop and R&B charts, making it four straight #1s for Jackson on both charts. The song also got to #2 at AC. While the Bad album wouldn't generate nearly as many Grammy nods as Thriller did, among its handful of nominations was one for this song in the Record of the Year category. This single in its actual product version was not a gold seller at the time, however, later on the digital version would get certified for sales of over three million.

ReduxReview:  At the time Bad came out, I thought this was easily the best track on on the album. It was just a no-brainer that it was going to be a hit. It was a message song that had universal appeal and it was perfect for Jackson. It was one of only two tracks on the album not written by Jackson (the other was the bland Stevie Wonder duet "Just Good Friends"). Frankly, I think the album could have benefited from having more tracks by outside songwriters. After all, Jackson only wrote four songs for Thriller and it was a much better album. However, I know that songwriting/publishing are the real moneymakers on an album, so I can understand Jackson wanting to do it all. Luckily, he at least allowed this gem in and it has been one of his longest lasting hits.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  This song was written by Siedah Garrett and Glen Ballard. Garrett had auditioned for Quincy Jones around '85 to be in the group Deco and secured the spot. (The group would record tracks for the 1985 musical flick Fast Forward.) Garrett wasn't known for songwriting at the time, but it seems that Jones was trying to push her that way and invited her to a publishers meeting that took place during the sessions for Bad. Jones explained that he was looking for an anthem-like hit for the album and sent the songwriters off to do their best. Garrett then got together with songwriter Glen Ballard to try and hash out a song for Michael Jackson. Within a few days, they had written and recorded a demo of "Man in the Mirror." They rushed it to Jones, who loved the track. The trick then was to get Jackson on board. With Bad certain to be a major hit, Jackson was more interested in writing/publishing his own songs than doing ones by other writers. However, after Jackson heard the song, he decided to record it. At first, Jackson asked for some changes, which Garrett and Ballard did, but in the end, most of the changes were scrapped and the song came out nearly like it was on the demo. There were two arrangement changes that did take the song to the next level. First was the key change and the second was getting Garrett, The Winans, and the Andrae Crouch Choir to sing the gospel-styled background vocals. It ended up not only being what Jones had wanted for Bad, but it ended up being a #1 single that also became another one of Jackson's signature songs.

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