Blood on the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix
Blood on the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix is a remix album by American recording artist Michael Jackson. It was released on May 20, 1997 by Epic Records and is the second album released by Jackson's own record label, MJJ Productions. The album is made up of eight remixes from Jackson's previous studio album HIStory, and five new songs. Jackson was heavily involved with the production of the new material while the remixes were produced by other artists. The new material dealt with themes such as drug addiction, sex and relationships, and paranoia.
The album received minimal promotion by Jackson's standards, particularly in the United States. Still, a film, two singles ("Blood on the Dance Floor" and "HIStory/Ghosts") and three music videos were issued as promotion. Reviews at the time of release were largely mixed, some critics felt that Jackson had already explored these musical themes while others criticized what they perceived as weak vocals. Other critics were favorable, with praise issued for similarities to the music of Marilyn Manson and Trent Reznor.
Since its debut, the album has sold an estimated six million copies worldwide, making it the best selling remix album ever released. Several contemporary critics[who?] view the material in an increasingly favorable light and believe the album could have been more successful—commentators argue that certain sections of the world took interest in tabloid stories about the singer's personal life over his musical career.
Production and music
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The album was produced while Jackson traveled the globe on his HIStory World Tour. Thus, the songs were produced in a variety of countries that included Sweden, Switzerland and Germany. The album is made up of eight remixes from HIStory—"Scream Louder", "Money", "2 Bad", "Stranger in Moscow", "This Time Around", "Earth Song", "You Are Not Alone" and "HIStory"—and five new songs—"Blood on the Dance Floor", "Morphine", "Superfly Sister", "Ghosts" and "Is It Scary".
Jackson was heavily involved in the writing, composition and production of the five new songs, and sang all the lead vocals. Todd Terry remixed "Stranger in Moscow", Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis remixed "Scream", and The Fugees worked on the new track "Blood on the Dance Floor" and the remix of "2 Bad". Wyclef Jean, a member of The Fugees, told MTV of his involvement in the production, "We did a first remix for Michael, and he wanted us to do another one". The group spoke of their excitement at receiving a phone call from Jackson. "Morphine" contained an audio clip from The Elephant Man, courtesy of Paramount Pictures. On this song, Jackson was the sole arranger, including the classical, vocal and orchestral arrangement. Jackson also played solo percussion and drums and joint guitar credit alongside longtime collaborator Slash. Andrae Crouch's choir also collaborated on the piece.
"Morphine"'s central themes is the drug usage of Demerol. In the track, he sings, "Trust in me/Just in me/Put all your trust in me/You're doin' morphine...Go on babe/Relax/This won't hurt you/Before I put it in/Close your eyes and count to ten/Don't cry/I won't convert you/There's no need to dismay/Close your eyes and drift away". "Scream Louder" contains elements from "Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)", performed by Sly & the Family Stone. "2 Bad" contains a sample of Jackson's 1982 hit "Beat It" as well as a rap by John Forté and guitar solo by Wyclef Jean.
Packaging, release and promotion
The 23 page album booklet contains the lyrics to "Blood on the Dance Floor", "Stranger in Moscow" and "HIStory". The eight remixes from HIStory are given additional titles such as "Flyte Tyme Remix" and "Tee's In-House Club Mix". The booklet contains many images from the HIStory World Tour and Ghosts film. Towards the end of the booklet, Jackson pays respect to friends such as Elizabeth Taylor and Elton John, his family, employees and fans.
The album was released by Epic Records on May 20, 1997. HIStory on Film, Volume II was released on the same day—a video collection of Jackson's music videos and television performances from the HIStory era of 1995–1997. By Jackson's prior standards, it was not widely promoted upon release. The New York Times described the US promotional effort as "subdued", creating "hardly a sound" and "perplexing to many people in the industry". Jackson's label Epic Records, refuted allegations they were not promoting the album sufficiently in the United States, saying, "We are completely behind the album...Michael is certainly one of our superstars and is treated as such...We just went into this one with our global hats on". The New York Times acknowledged that promotion was stronger internationally, where Jackson had more commercial force and popularity. Jackson effectively no longer needed the US market to have a hit record. By June 1997, only ten percent of sales from Jackson's prior studio album came from within the United States.
The singer released a film entitled Ghosts, which he unveiled at the Cannes Film Festival, as part of the album promotion. It was released theatrically in the United States in October 1996, as for the United Kingdom, it debuted at the Odeon Leicester Square in May 1997. The UK event attracted fans, media and business organizations. It was released on cassette in most parts of the world. The film was written by Jackson and Stephen King and directed by Stan Winston. The story was based loosely on the events and isolation Jackson felt after he was accused of child sexual abuse in 1993. In the plot, the Maestro—played by Jackson—is nearly chased out of his town by the residents and the mayor—who deliberately looks very similar to Tom Sneddon—because they believe him to be a "freak". The film had similar imagery and themes to that of Thriller. It features many special effects and dance moves choreographed to original music, which Jackson himself authored. The film includes several songs and music videos from the albums HIStory and Blood on the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix. Ghosts is over thirty-eight minutes long and holds the Guinness World Record as the world's longest music video. It won the Bob Fosse Award for Best Choreography in a Music Video.
The album was also promoted with the singles "Blood on the Dance Floor" and "HIStory/Ghosts" as well as three corresponding music videos. The video for "Blood on the Dance Floor" premiered on Top of the Pops. It centered on Susie seducing Jackson in a courtship dance, before opening a switchblade. The lead single peaked at number one in several countries, including the United Kingdom. The double A-side "HIStory/Ghosts" was promoted with a video for each song. "HIStory" was set in a nightclub, in a futuristic era, and recalled Jackson's filmography. "Ghosts" was a five-minute clip taken from the much longer film Ghosts. The double A-side would become a top five hit in the United Kingdom, but did not chart as highly elsewhere.
Initial sales in the United States were seen as disappointing for Jackson. It peaked at number 24 on the US Billboard 200 chart and after four weeks the record had sold 92,000 copies. Despite this, long term sales were stronger, it was certified platinum in May 2000, for shipments of at least a million units. It was certified Gold in Canada for a minimum of 50,000 shipments.
In Europe the record has been certified for shipments of at least two million copies. Blood on the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix debuted atop the UK album chart, by July 1997 it had sold 250,000 units in the United Kingdom and 445,000 units in Germany. The album also peaked at number one in France, Belgium, Spain and New Zealand. Since its debut, the album has sold an estimated six million copies worldwide, making it the best selling remix album ever released.
Jim Farber of New York Daily News labeled the album's theme, "Predatory women, jealous underlings and the evil media continue to obsess him. He's once again playing victim—the world's most powerless billionaire, it seems—mewling about forces conspiring against his heavenly self." He said of the lead single, "[Jackson] coughs up a series of strangulated mutters and munchkin hiccups in lieu of a vocal, while its chilly, faux-industrial music proves as appealing as a migraine." He contained, "'Ghosts' and 'Is It Scary' boast a few innovative sounds but no real melodies." Thor Christensen of The Dallas Morning News noted the album focused on "angry tales about a coldhearted 'Superfly Sister' or the back-stabbing women in 'Ghosts' and 'Blood on the Dance Floor'. Three of the five new songs on this remix album...involve mean, psychotic ex-lovers". He observed, "The dark, cryptic 'Morphine' is easily one of the most ambitious songs he's ever recorded. He fuels the song with narcotic industrial funk—look out Trent Reznor—but then dilutes it by sticking [in] 90 seconds of goopy, string-laden balladry."
Neil Strauss of The New York Times gave the album a positive review, saying the record, "put Mr. Jackson halfway on the road to a very interesting concept album. There is real pain and pathos in these new songs...[he] frets about painkillers, sexual promiscuity and public image. In many of them, Mr. Jackson seems like The Elephant Man, screaming that he is a human being...With beats crashing like metal sheets and synthesizer sounds hissing like pressurized gas, this is industrial funk." He favorably compared Jackson's performance of "Is It Scary" to rock singer Marilyn Manson and noted the lyrics, "If you want to see eccentric oddities, I'll be grotesque before your eyes". Strauss suggested that the predatory woman, "Susie", from the title track, was a metaphor for AIDS. Finally, he described "Morphine" as "chilling... Mr. Jackson sings seductively from the point of view of the drug itself...he intones sweetly".  Roger Catlin of The Hartford Courant stated, "The most intriguing pairing is 'Ghosts' and 'Is It Scary' in which he asks those who've only read about him in tabloids if he seems monstrous." The Cincinnati Post described the lead single as a "lackluster first release...dated, played-out dance track", but gave the album an overall favorable analysis. The review described "Ghosts" and "Is It Scary" as "classic Jackson paranoia". The publication also thought that in "Superfly Sister", Jackson took inspiration from Prince.
Anthony Violenti of The Buffalo News said of the lead single, "[it is] laced with Teddy Riley's new jack swing sound and a pounding techno beat". Violenti added, "'Superfly Sister', 'Ghosts' and 'Is It Scary' are programmed plastic soul that makes you wonder how someone as talented as Jackson can churn out such tracks". He said of "Morphine", "[it] has more synthesized beats and quickly fades into Jackson's current indistinguishable style". William Ruhlman of Allmusic said of the lead track, "'Blood on the Dance Floor' is an uptempo Jackson song in the increasingly hysterical tradition of 'Billie Jean' and 'Smooth Criminal' with Jackson huffing, puffing, and yelping through some nonsense about a stabbing...over a fairly generic electronic dance track." Stephen Thomas Erlewine, also of Allmusic, had a negative reaction to the record. He said that all five new tracks were, "embarrassingly weak, sounding tired, predictable and, well, bloodless". He described "Blood on the Dance Floor" as a "bleak reworking of 'Jam' and 'Scream'".
Chris Dickinson of St. Louis Post-Dispatch, noted, "'Superfly Sister' comes on like a classic Michael dance track, with Michael and Bryan Loren playing all the instruments...Blood On the Dance Floor [album] is definitely a dance record. It's not Thriller or Bad or even Off the Wall and it's not trying to be." Jae-Ha Kim of Chicago Sun-Times, noted "'Is It Scary' shows a darker side of Jackson than even the tabloids would have you believe...With the hypnotic 'Morphine', he sounds like a seductive cousin of Trent Reznor's." Sonia Murray of The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution gave the album a D grade. She claimed that, "'Ghosts' pounds with funk until Jackson's weak vocals come in." She described "Morphine" as an "overblown rock hiss". The Virginian-Pilot gave the album a positive review, also expressing the opinion that "Morphine" sounded "eerily like 'State of Shock'", and continued, "'Scream Louder' a remix of his hit duet with sister Janet, is better than the original only because it takes away the overpowering guitar twangs." The Washington Post described "Superfly Sister" as "sex funk", adding, "'Morphine' apparently told from the drug's point of view and featuring both the Andrae Crouch Singers and an orchestra, alternates between hard-edged rock and operatic pop."
A longtime commentator on Jackson's public life, J. Randy Taraborrelli, gave a retrospective analysis of the album in the biography, The Magic & the Madness. Taraborrelli explained, "Michael's 1997 album contained...kick-ass dance remixes...Several of the other songs on Blood are also memorable. 'Ghosts' stands out, perhaps because it's so evocative of Michael's spell-binding Ghosts long-styled video...it's classic, must-see Michael Jackson...The collection was not a success in America; it was dismissed by critics and much of his audience, who seemed confused as to whether it was a new release or some kind of hybrid combination of songs". He expressed the opinion that the project was a "major hit" in the United Kingdom. Tabarorrelli said that "Blood on the Dance Floor" was one of Jackson's best songs, a song that US fans "don't even know exists". The reporter concluded that the US public were more interested in the controversial tabloid stories about his personal life.
William Ruhlman of Allmusic, agreed that part of the blame for a perceived commercial disappointment in the United States, could be attributed to the ongoing public interest in the singer's private life. Nonetheless, Ruhlman still felt the album was artistically disappointing. In 2005, J T Griffith, of Allmusic, believed that in hindsight, "Blood on the Dance Floor" was actually a good song. He explained, "[it is] a second-rate mixture of 'Beat It' and 'Thriller' but Jackson's missteps are better than most pop music out there. This track showcases all the artist's trademarks: the ooohing, the grunts, and funky basslines. It is hard to hear 'Blood on the Dance Floor' and not want to moonwalk or dance like a ghoul".
The song "Morphine" includes repeated screaming by Jackson of the name of the drug Demerol, which he condemns. The track received later attention after Michael Jackson's death, as his body contained the drug.
|1.||"Blood on the Dance Floor"||Michael Jackson, Teddy Riley||4:11|
|2.||"Morphine" (guitar performance by Slash)||Michael Jackson||6:29|
|3.||"Superfly Sister"||Michael Jackson, Bryan Loren||6:27|
|4.||"Ghosts"||Michael Jackson, Teddy Riley||5:13|
|5.||"Is It Scary"||Michael Jackson, James Harris III, Terry Lewis||5:35|
|6.||"Scream Louder (Flyte Tyme Remix)" (duet with Janet Jackson)||James Harris III, Terry Lewis, Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson||5:27|
|7.||"Money (Fire Island Radio Edit)"||Michael Jackson||4:22|
|8.||"2 Bad (Refugee Camp Mix)" (featuring John Forté)||Michael Jackson, Bruce Swedien, René Moore, Dallas Austin||3:32|
|9.||"Stranger in Moscow (Tee's In-House Club Mix)"||Michael Jackson||6:55|
|10.||"This Time Around (D.M. Radio Mix)"||Michael Jackson, Dallas Austin||4:05|
|11.||"Earth Song (Hani's Club Experience)"||Michael Jackson||7:55|
|12.||"You Are Not Alone (Classic Club Mix)"||R. Kelly||7:38|
|13.||"HIStory (Tony Moran's HIStory Lesson)"||Michael Jackson, James Harris III, Terry Lewis||8:00|
- "Morphine" is also titled "Just Say No" on some licensed editions of the album.
- Both "Is It Scary" and "Ghosts" share certain lyrics.
- The LP version replaces "This Time Around (D.M. Radio Mix)" and "You Are Not Alone (Classic Club Mix)" with "This Time Around (D.M. Mad Club Mix)" (the version on the LP is different from the mix of the same title on the single release of the song) and "You Are Not Alone (Classic Club Edit)", respectively.
"Blood on the Dance Floor" Written, composed, and produced by Michael Jackson and Teddy Riley
"Morphine" Written by, Composed by, Arranged by, lead and backing vocals, guitar, percussion, drums by Michael Jackson
"Superfly Sister" Written and produced by Michael Jackson Composed and arranged by Michael Jackson and Bryan Loren
"Ghosts" Written, composed, and produced by Michael Jackson and Teddy Riley
"Is It Scary" Written and composed by Michael Jackson, James Harris III and Terry Lewis
"Scream Louder (Flyte Tyme Remix)" Written and composed by James Harris III and Terry Lewis, Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson
"2 Bad (Refugee Camp Mix)" Song and lyrics by Michael Jackson Music composed by Bruce Swedien, René Moore and Dallas Austin
"Stranger in Moscow (Tee's In-House Club Mix)" Written, composed, and produced by Michael Jackson
"This Time Around (D.M. Radio Mix)" Song & lyrics by Michael Jackson Music composed by Dallas Austin
"Earth Song (Hani's Club Experience)" Written and composed by Michael Jackson
"You Are Not Alone (Classic Club Mix)" Written and composed by R. Kelly
"Money (Fire Island Radio Edit)" Written, composed, and produced by Michael Jackson
"HIStory (Tony Moran's HIStory Lesson)" Written and composed by Michael Jackson, James Harris III and Terry Lewis
Charts and certifications
- Thor Christensen (May 20, 1997). "Jackson's new 'Blood' generally thin Singer's work best when fresh on remix release". The Dallas Morning News.
- Anthony Violanti (May 23, 1997). "Lost Soul...". The Buffalo News.
- Lewis, p. 58
- Pinkerton, Lee (1997). The Many Faces of Michael Jackson. Music Sales Distribution. p. 36. ISBN 0-7119-6783-0.
- Jackson, Michael. Blood on the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix booklet. Sony BMG. p 2–7.
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- Guinness World Records 2004
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- Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. [[[:Template:Allmusic]] "Blood on the Dance Floor: History in the Mix"]. Allmusic. Retrieved December 20, 2008.
- Chris Dickinson (June 5, 1997). "Blood on the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix". St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
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Spice by Spice Girls
|UK number one album
May 24, 1997 – June 6, 1997
| Succeeded by|
Open Road by Gary Barlow
The Dance by Fleetwood Mac
|Irish Albums Chart number-one album
July 11 - 18, 1997
| Succeeded by|
Wu-Tang Forever by Wu-Tang Clan