After fully embracing pop music on 1987’s BAD album, Michael seemed to purposely re-embrace his R&B music roots on this album. This time Michael did not hire Quincy Jones to produce his album, instead producing most of the album himself along with producers Teddy Riley, Bill Bottrell, and Bruce Swedien. Riley’s involvement is felt most heavily on this album, as he brings his signature New Jack Swing style to Michael’s music. Michael also wrote or co-wrote 12 of this album’s 14 songs.
A strong hip-hop-influenced dance track, co-written by Michael with René Moore, Bruce Swedien, and Teddy Riley, which also features a rap by Heavy D.
2/WHY YOU WANNA TRIP ON ME?
A strong rock-influenced dance track, written by Teddy Riley and Bernard Belle.
3/IN THE CLOSET
A midtempo latin-flavored song, written by Michael and Teddy Riley. And I only just found out that the female voice on this song (whom I always suspected was either Janet Jackson or Michael himself using a vocalizer) was actually Princess Stéphanie of Monaco!
4/SHE DRIVES ME WILD
A powerful dance track, written by Michael, Teddy Riley, and featuring a rap by Aqil Davidson of the group Wrecks-n-Effect.
5/REMEMBER THE TIME
A nice melodic midtempo song written by Michael with Teddy Riley and Bernard Belle.
6/CAN’T LET HER GET AWAY
Another uptempo dance track written by Michael and Teddy Riley
7/HEAL THE WORLD
The lyrics on this are a tad simplistic but, it’s a nice message.
8/BLACK OR WHITE
A hip-hop and rock-influenced dance track, by Michael Jackson and Bill Bottrell (who performs the rap on it). I remember I didn’t care for this song when I first heard, but it eventually grew on me.
9/WHO IS IT?
I love this mid-tempo song, with Michael singing about the heartbreak he feels over being cheated on.
10/GIVE IN TO ME
A hard-rock power-ballad, written by Michael and Bill Bottrell, featuring guitar by Slash.
11/WILL YOU BE THERE
This song, written by Michael for the Free Willy movie, has an almost Gospel-flavor to it.
12/KEEP THE FAITH
And this song, which Michael wrote with Glen Ballard and Siedah Garrett, and features backing vocals by a gospel choir, is a gospel song.
13/GONE TOO SOON
A powerful ballad written by Larry Grossman and Buz Kohan.
This mid-tempo title track was written by Michael with Teddy Riley and Bill Bottrell.
A great collection of songs. What’s most impressive is how, despite it’s heavy New Jack Swing influence, it doesn’t feel dated at all. This album was recorded in the 1990’s, but could have just as easily been recorded in the 2010’s, which is impressive.