MIMO - When Music is Your Fix

Pop Rewind: Michael Jackson “Black or White”

Yesterday, June 25, marked five years since the “King of Pop” passed away. It only seems fitting, then, to pull another Michael Jackson hit out of the vault for this week’s Rewind.

“Black or White,” Jackson’s ode to racial harmony, was the lead single from 1991’s Dangerous, blending pop, dance, rap and a touch of metal into a highly catchy tune that dares you not to dance to it. The song shot to Number 1 in the U.S. in only three weeks, tying a record set by The Beatles in 1969 with “Get Back,” and remaining at the top for another six weeks after that. It also placed Jackson as the first artist ever to top the charts in three consecutive decades.

The song was not without controversy, most of which surrounded the music video. The original cut included an additional four minutes at the end where Jackson is depicted as morphing from a black panther into himself, dancing suggestively, vandalizing cars and windows, and blowing up a building.  When issues were raised about the violence in particular, Jackson apologized, explaining that he was trying to depict the animalistic tendencies of the panther.  The controversial four minutes were removed from the official video cut.

While Michael Jackson went on to chart many more times before his death, “Black or White” turned out to be his last worldwide number-one hit approaching the popularity of earlier hits like “Beat It” and “Billie Jean.” A bit of trivia for Jackson history buffs: many people incorrectly attribute the guitar work on the song to Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash.  In fact, he only plays during the introductory skit, not on the song itself.  Enjoy!

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About the Author


Tim Ferrar's interest in pop and rock started as a child, listening to Top-40 radio for hours on end while playing air guitar in his bedroom. Eventually air guitar led to electric guitar, and Tim began playing in bands and writing his own songs. With an admitted weakness for "a great hook or a great guitar riff," Tim's musical tastes are broad and varied, ranging from Michael Jackson and Lady Gaga on the pop side to Bon Jovi and Foo Fighters on the rock side- making him the ideal guy to cover our Rock and Pop categories. By day, Tim is a mild-mannered accountant in Chicago. By night, he rocks out on electric guitar in a cover band in various clubs around town- much to the surprise of some of his clients.

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