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Michael Jackson|Invincible

Invincible

Michael Jackson

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Let's get the clichéd bad joke out of the way to begin with: at the time Michael Jackson released Invincible in the fall of 2001, he hardly seemed "invincible" -- it was more wishful thinking than anything else, since he hadn't really had a genuine hit in ten years, and even that paled in comparison to his total domination of the '80s. That lack of commercial success, combined with a fading reputation as a trailblazer, a truly ugly public scandal, and swirling rumors about his diminishing finances, along with a huge wait between albums (by teaming his Dangerous follow-up with a hits collection, it wound up being overlooked, despite a gaudy publicity push), resulted in Jackson being deep down in the hole, needing to surge back out with a record that not only proved his talents, but his staying power. So, faced with a make-or-break record, what did Jackson do to save his career? What he had done since Dangerous, take a turn toward the street and craft a hard-driving, hard-polished urban soul album, heavy on the dance numbers and sweetened by lugubrious ballads. That's a proven formula for commercial success, but it didn't push his music forward, particularly when compared to the wildly rich, all-encompassing musical vision of Thriller and Bad. Here, he is reined in by a desire to prove himself, so he keeps his focus sharp and narrow, essentially creating a sparkly, post-hip-hop update of Off the Wall. However, the infectious joy and layered craft of that masterpiece have been replaced with a desire to craft something hip enough for the clubs and melodic enough for mainstream radio, thereby confirming his self-proclaimed status as the King of Pop. Since he is exceptionally talented and smart enough to surround himself with first-rate collaborators, this does pay off on occasion, even when it feels a little too calculated or when it feels a little padded. Ultimately, the record runs too long, losing steam halfway through, as it turns to a series of rants about "Privacy" or a deadly stretch of uncomfortably treacly, sub-"Man in the Mirror" songs about "The Lost Children," or when he says that he can't change the world by himself on "Cry." Fortunately, Jackson was clever enough to front-load this record, loading the first seven songs with really good, edgy dance numbers -- even the opening "Unbreakable" isn't sunk by the creepy resurrection of Biggie Smalls -- and lovely ballads, highlighted by "Break of Dawn" and "Butterflies" with its Bacharach-styled horns. Even if these are too self-conscious and a little mechanical, they still have a spark and sound better than anything Jackson did since Dangerous. That's not enough to make Invincible the comeback Jackson needed -- he really would have needed an album that sounded free instead of constrained for that to work -- but it did offer a reminder that he could really craft good pop.
© Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo

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Invincible

Michael Jackson

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1
Unbreakable (Album Version)
00:06:24

Michael Jackson, Background Vocal - Michael Jackson, Performer - Michael Jackson, Producer - Michael Jackson, Vocal - M. J. Jackson, Composer - M. J. Jackson, Lyricist - F. Jerkins, III, Composer - F. Jerkins, III, Lyricist - Rodney Jerkins, Producer - R. Jerkins, Composer - R. Jerkins, Lyricist - Brandy, Background Vocal - L. Daniels, Composer - L. Daniels, Lyricist - The Notorious B.I.G., Rap - N. Payne, Composer - N. Payne, Lyricist - Rex Smith, Composer - Rex Smith, Lyricist

(P) 2001 MJJ Productions Inc.

2
Heartbreaker (Album Version)
00:05:09

Michael Jackson, Background Vocal - Michael Jackson, Composer - Michael Jackson, Lyricist - Michael Jackson, Performer - Michael Jackson, Producer - Michael Jackson, Vocal - Rodney Jerkins, Composer - Rodney Jerkins, Lyricist - Rodney Jerkins, Mixing Engineer - Rodney Jerkins, Producer - Mischke Butler, Background Vocal - Fred Jerkins III, Composer - Fred Jerkins III, Lyricist - Stuart Brawley, Editor - Stuart Brawley, Mixing Engineer - Stuart Brawley, Recording Engineer - LaShawn Daniels, Background Vocal - LaShawn Daniels, Composer - LaShawn Daniels, Lyricist - Alex Greggs, Editor - Nora Payne, Background Vocal - Mischke, Composer - Mischke, Lyricist - Fabian Marasciullo, Editor - Bruce Swedien, Mixing Engineer - Bruce Swedien, Recording Engineer - Norman Gregg, Composer - Norman Gregg, Lyricist - Bob Brown, Rap

(P) 2001 MJJ Productions Inc.

3
Invincible (Album Version)
00:04:45

Michael Jackson, Background Vocal - Michael Jackson, Composer - Michael Jackson, Lyricist - Michael Jackson, Performer - Michael Jackson, Producer - Michael Jackson, Programmer - Michael Jackson, Vocal - Rodney Jerkins, Composer - Rodney Jerkins, Lyricist - Rodney Jerkins, Mixing Engineer - Rodney Jerkins, Producer - Rodney Jerkins, Programmer - Fred Jerkins III, Composer - Fred Jerkins III, Lyricist - Stuart Brawley, Editor - Stuart Brawley, Mixing Engineer - Stuart Brawley, Recording Engineer - Bruce Swedien, Mixing Engineer - Bruce Swedien, Recording Engineer - FATS, Rap - LaShawn Daniels, Composer - LaShawn Daniels, Lyricist - Norman Gregg, Composer - Norman Gregg, Lyricist

(P) 2001 MJJ Productions Inc.

4
Break of Dawn (Album Version)
00:05:31

Michael Jackson, Background Vocal - Michael Jackson, Composer - Michael Jackson, Drum Programmer - Michael Jackson, Performer - Michael Jackson, Producer - Michael Jackson, Vocal - Dr. Freeze, Background Vocal - Dr. Freeze, Composer - Dr. Freeze, Lyricist - Dr. Freeze, Producer - Michael J. Jackson, Composer - Michael J. Jackson, Lyricist - Stuart Brawley, Editor - Harvey Mason, Jr., Editor - Rodney Jerkins, Composer - Humberto Gatica, Mixing Engineer - Humberto Gatica, Recording Engineer - Teddy Riley, Composer - Teddy Riley, Mixing Engineer - George Mayers, Mixing Engineer - George Mayers, Recording Engineer - Mike Ging, Recording Engineer - Brad Gilderman, Recording Engineer - Dextor Simmons, Recording Engineer - Brad Buxer, Drum Programmer

(P) 2001 MJJ Productions Inc.

5
Heaven Can Wait (Album Version)
00:04:48

Michael Jackson, Background Vocal - Michael Jackson, Composer - Michael Jackson, Lyricist - Michael Jackson, Performer - Michael Jackson, Producer - Michael Jackson, Vocal - Teddy Riley, Composer - Teddy Riley, Editor - Teddy Riley, Lyricist - Teddy Riley, Mixing Engineer - Teddy Riley, Producer - Teddy Riley, Recording Engineer - Dr. Freeze, Background Vocal - Andreao Heard, Composer - Andreao Heard, Lyricist - Jeremy Lubbock, Conductor - Jeremy Lubbock, Orchestrator - Nate Smith, Composer - Nate Smith, Lyricist - George Mayers, Editor - George Mayers, Mixing Engineer - George Mayers, Recording Engineer - Bruce Swedien, Mixing Engineer - Bruce Swedien, Recording Engineer - Teron Beal, Composer - Teron Beal, Lyricist - Eritza Laues, Composer - Eritza Laues, Lyricist - Kenny "KQ" Quiller, Composer - Kenny "KQ" Quiller, Lyricist - Terence Thompson, Composer - Terence Thompson, Lyricist

(P) 2001 MJJ Productions Inc.

6
You Rock My World (with intro)
00:05:37

Michael Jackson, Performer - Michael Jackson, Producer - Michael Jackson, Vocal - Michael J. Jackson, Composer - Michael J. Jackson, Lyricist - LaShawn Daniels, Composer - LaShawn Daniels, Lyricist - Rodney Jerkins, Composer - Rodney Jerkins, Lyricist - Rodney Jerkins, Producer - Fred Jerkins III, Composer - Fred Jerkins III, Lyricist - Nora Payne, Composer - Nora Payne, Lyricist

(P) 2001 MJJ Productions Inc.

7
Butterflies (Album Version)
00:04:38

Michael Jackson, Background Vocal - Michael Jackson, Performer - Michael Jackson, Producer - Michael Jackson, Vocal - A. Harris, Composer - A. Harris, Lyricist - Andre Harris, Producer - M. Ambrosius, Composer - M. Ambrosius, Lyricist - Bruce Swedien, Mixing Engineer - Marsha Ambrosius, Background Vocal - Norman Jeff Bradshaw, Horn - Matt Cappy, Horn

(P) 2001 MJJ Productions Inc.

8
Speechless (Album Version)
00:03:17

Michael Jackson, Arranger - Michael Jackson, Composer - Michael Jackson, Conductor - Michael Jackson, Lyricist - Michael Jackson, Orchestrator - Michael Jackson, Performer - Michael Jackson, Producer - Michael Jackson, Vocal - Stuart Brawley, Editor - Stuart Brawley, Recording Engineer - Jeremy Lubbock, Conductor - Jeremy Lubbock, Orchestrator - Brad Buxer, Editor - Brad Buxer, Keyboards - Brad Buxer, Recording Engineer - Bruce Swedien, Mixing Engineer - Bruce Swedien, Recording Engineer - Peter Kent, Violin - Gina Kronstadt, Violin - Robin Lorentz, Violin - Kirstin Fife, Violin - John Wittenberg, Violin - Novi Novoq, Viola - Thomas Tally, Viola

(P) 2001 MJJ Productions Inc.

9
2000 Watts (Album Version)
00:04:23

Michael Jackson, Background Vocal - Michael Jackson, Composer - Michael Jackson, Lyricist - Michael Jackson, Performer - Michael Jackson, Vocal - Teddy Riley, Background Vocal - Teddy Riley, Composer - Teddy Riley, Editor - Teddy Riley, Lyricist - Teddy Riley, Mixing Engineer - Teddy Riley, Producer - Teddy Riley, Recording Engineer - Tyrese Gibson, Composer - Tyrese Gibson, Lyricist - George Mayers, Editor - George Mayers, Mixing Engineer - George Mayers, Recording Engineer - Bruce Swedien, Mixing Engineer - JaRon Henson, Composer - JaRon Henson, Lyricist

(P) 2001 MJJ Productions Inc.

10
You Are My Life (Album Version)
00:04:32

Michael Jackson, Background Vocal - Michael Jackson, Composer - Michael Jackson, Lyricist - Michael Jackson, Performer - Michael Jackson, Producer - Michael Jackson, Vocal - Babyface, Acoustic Guitar - Babyface, Background Vocal - Babyface, Bass Guitar - Babyface, Composer - Babyface, Drum Programmer - Babyface, Keyboards - Babyface, Lyricist - Babyface, Producer - Ivy Skoff, Coordinator - Carole Bayer Sager, Composer - Carole Bayer Sager, Lyricist - Paul Boutin, Engineer - Lynne Fiddmont-Linsey, Performer - John McClain, Composer - John McClain, Lyricist - Tommy Vicari, Engineer - Steve Genewick, Assistant Engineer - Jon Gass, Mixing Engineer - Jason Edmonds, Performer - EQ, Mixing Engineer - BILL MEYERS, Arranger - Nathan Walton, Performer - Tabia Ivery, Performer

(P) 2001 MJJ Productions Inc.

11
Privacy (Album Version)
00:05:04

Michael Jackson, Background Vocal - Michael Jackson, Composer - Michael Jackson, Lyricist - Michael Jackson, Performer - Michael Jackson, Producer - Michael Jackson, Vocal - Rodney Jerkins, Composer - Rodney Jerkins, Lyricist - Rodney Jerkins, Mixing Engineer - Rodney Jerkins, Producer - Rodney Jerkins, Recording Engineer - LaShawn Daniels, Background Vocal - LaShawn Daniels, Composer - LaShawn Daniels, Lyricist - Fred Jerkins III, Composer - Fred Jerkins III, Lyricist - Harvey Mason, Jr., Editor - Michael Thompson, Guitar - Paul Cruz, Editor - Gerald Hayword, Drums - Bernard Belle, Composer - Bernard Belle, Lyricist - Emanuel Baker, Drums - Jean-Marie Horvat, Mixing Engineer - Jean-Marie Horvat, Recording Engineer - Nathan East, Bass - Brad Gilderman, Recording Engineer - David Campbell, Arranger

(P) 2001 MJJ Productions Inc.

12
Don't Walk Away (Album Version)
00:04:24

Michael Jackson, Background Vocal - Michael Jackson, Composer - Michael Jackson, Lyricist - Michael Jackson, Performer - Michael Jackson, Producer - Michael Jackson, Vocal - Teddy Riley, Composer - Teddy Riley, Editor - Teddy Riley, Lyricist - Teddy Riley, Mixing Engineer - Teddy Riley, Producer - Teddy Riley, Recording Engineer - Richard Stites, Background Vocal - Richard Carlton Stites, Composer - Richard Carlton Stites, Lyricist - Reed Vertelney, Composer - Reed Vertelney, Lyricist - George Mayers, Editor - George Mayers, Mixing Engineer - George Mayers, Recording Engineer - Bruce Swedien, Mixing Engineer

(P) 2001 MJJ Productions Inc.

13
Cry (Album Version)
00:05:00

Michael Jackson, Drum Programmer - Michael Jackson, Mixing Engineer - Michael Jackson, Performer - Michael Jackson, Producer - Michael Jackson, Vocal - R. Kelly, Composer - R. Kelly, Lyricist - R. Kelly, Producer - Michael Landau, Guitar - Paulinho Da Costa, Percussion - John Robinson, Drums - Mick Guzauski, Mixing Engineer - Mike Ging, Recording Engineer - Brad Gilderman, Recording Engineer - Humberto Gatica, Recording Engineer - Brad Buxer, Drum Programmer

(P) 2001 MJJ Productions Inc.

14
The Lost Children (Album Version)
00:03:59

Michael Jackson, Arranger - Michael Jackson, Composer - Michael Jackson, Lyricist - Michael Jackson, Performer - Michael Jackson, Producer - Michael Jackson, Vocal - Stuart Brawley, Editor - Stuart Brawley, Recording Engineer - Brad Buxer, Editor - Brad Buxer, Recording Engineer - Bruce Swedien, Mixing Engineer - Bruce Swedien, Recording Engineer

(P) 2001 MJJ Productions Inc.

15
Whatever Happens (Album Version)
00:04:55

Michael Jackson, Background Vocal - Michael Jackson, Composer - Michael Jackson, Lyricist - Michael Jackson, Performer - Michael Jackson, Producer - Michael Jackson, Vocal - Teddy Riley, Composer - Teddy Riley, Editor - Teddy Riley, Lyricist - Teddy Riley, Mixing Engineer - Teddy Riley, Producer - Teddy Riley, Recording Engineer - Gil Cang, Composer - Gil Cang, Lyricist - Mario Vasquez, Background Vocal - Mary Brown, Background Vocal - Jasmine Quay, Composer - Jasmine Quay, Lyricist - George Mayers, Editor - George Mayers, Mixing Engineer - George Mayers, Recording Engineer - Bruce Swedien, Mixing Engineer - Bruce Swedien, Recording Engineer - Jeremy Lubbock, Conductor - Jeremy Lubbock, Orchestrator - Geoffrey Williams, Composer - Geoffrey Williams, Lyricist - Carlos Santana, Guitar - Carlos Santana, Whistles - Rick Williams, Guitar

(P) 2001 MJJ Productions Inc.

16
Threatened (Album Version)
00:04:18

Michael Jackson, Background Vocal - Michael Jackson, Composer - Michael Jackson, Lyricist - Michael Jackson, Performer - Michael Jackson, Producer - Michael Jackson, Vocal - Rodney Jerkins, Composer - Rodney Jerkins, Lyricist - Rodney Jerkins, Mixing Engineer - Rodney Jerkins, Producer - Fred Jerkins III, Composer - Fred Jerkins III, Lyricist - Stuart Brawley, Editor - Stuart Brawley, Mixing Engineer - Stuart Brawley, Recording Engineer - Bruce Swedien, Mixing Engineer - LaShawn Daniels, Composer - LaShawn Daniels, Lyricist

(P) 2001 MJJ Productions Inc.

Album Description

Let's get the clichéd bad joke out of the way to begin with: at the time Michael Jackson released Invincible in the fall of 2001, he hardly seemed "invincible" -- it was more wishful thinking than anything else, since he hadn't really had a genuine hit in ten years, and even that paled in comparison to his total domination of the '80s. That lack of commercial success, combined with a fading reputation as a trailblazer, a truly ugly public scandal, and swirling rumors about his diminishing finances, along with a huge wait between albums (by teaming his Dangerous follow-up with a hits collection, it wound up being overlooked, despite a gaudy publicity push), resulted in Jackson being deep down in the hole, needing to surge back out with a record that not only proved his talents, but his staying power. So, faced with a make-or-break record, what did Jackson do to save his career? What he had done since Dangerous, take a turn toward the street and craft a hard-driving, hard-polished urban soul album, heavy on the dance numbers and sweetened by lugubrious ballads. That's a proven formula for commercial success, but it didn't push his music forward, particularly when compared to the wildly rich, all-encompassing musical vision of Thriller and Bad. Here, he is reined in by a desire to prove himself, so he keeps his focus sharp and narrow, essentially creating a sparkly, post-hip-hop update of Off the Wall. However, the infectious joy and layered craft of that masterpiece have been replaced with a desire to craft something hip enough for the clubs and melodic enough for mainstream radio, thereby confirming his self-proclaimed status as the King of Pop. Since he is exceptionally talented and smart enough to surround himself with first-rate collaborators, this does pay off on occasion, even when it feels a little too calculated or when it feels a little padded. Ultimately, the record runs too long, losing steam halfway through, as it turns to a series of rants about "Privacy" or a deadly stretch of uncomfortably treacly, sub-"Man in the Mirror" songs about "The Lost Children," or when he says that he can't change the world by himself on "Cry." Fortunately, Jackson was clever enough to front-load this record, loading the first seven songs with really good, edgy dance numbers -- even the opening "Unbreakable" isn't sunk by the creepy resurrection of Biggie Smalls -- and lovely ballads, highlighted by "Break of Dawn" and "Butterflies" with its Bacharach-styled horns. Even if these are too self-conscious and a little mechanical, they still have a spark and sound better than anything Jackson did since Dangerous. That's not enough to make Invincible the comeback Jackson needed -- he really would have needed an album that sounded free instead of constrained for that to work -- but it did offer a reminder that he could really craft good pop.
© Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo

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