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Tabloid Junkie

"Tabloid Junkie"
Song by Michael Jackson from the album HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I
Released 1995
Format CD, digital download
Recorded 1994
Genre Dance pop, electro, new jack swing
Length 4:32
Label Epic
Writer Michael Jackson
James Harris III
Terry Lewis
Producer Michael Jackson
Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis
HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I track listing

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"Tabloid Junkie" is a pop song performed by American recording artist Michael Jackson. The song appeared as the album's eleventh track on Jackson's ninth studio album, entitled HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I, which was released in 1995 as a two-disc set. The song was written, composed, and produced by Michael Jackson, Jimmy Jam (James Harris III) and Terry Lewis.

The song received generally positive reviews from music critics. "Tabloid Junkie" is a pop-rock song, with lyrics that pertain to media bias and negative coverage of rumors about Jackson and his personal life, similar to previous songs recorded by Jackson. "Tabloid Junkie" is the seventh song on HIStory: Past, Present And Future, Book I to be aimed at the media.[1] The track was not released as a single.


Similarly to "Leave Me Alone" (1987) and HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I album tracks, "They Don't Care About Us", "Scream" and "This Time Around", amongst others, "Tabloid Junkie", co-written by Jackson, shows Jackson's dissatisfaction with the media, particularly the tabloids, because of the bias and negative media coverage of false rumors and the 1993 child sexual abuse accusations made against him.[2] Ever since the late 1980s, Jackson and the press did not have a good relationship. In 1986, the tabloids ran a story claiming that Jackson slept in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber to slow the aging process, with a picture of him lying down in a glass box; Jackson stated that the story was untrue.[3] When Jackson bought a pet chimpanzee Bubbles, the media viewed it as evidence of Jackson's increasing detachment from reality.[4]

It was reported that Jackson had offered to buy the bones of Joseph "The Elephant Man" Merrick; Jackson stated that the story was false.[3][4][5] These stories inspired the nickname "Wacko Jacko", which Jackson acquired the following year, and would come to despise. Jackson stopped leaking untrue stories to the press, so the media began making up their own.[6] In 1989, Jackson released the song and music video "Leave Me Alone", a song about his perceived victimization at the hands of the press.[7] The video shows Jackson poking fun at both the press and himself.[8] In the video, there are newspapers with bizarre headlines, Jackson dancing with the bones of "The Elephant Man", and an animated nose with a scalpel chasing it across the screen.[8]

In August 1993, the relationship between Jackson and the press soured entirely when he was accused of child sexual abuse. Although never charged with a crime, Jackson was subject to intense media scrutiny while the criminal investigation took place. Complaints about the coverage included the media using sensational headlines to draw in readers and viewers when the content itself did not support the headline,[9] accepting leaked material from the police investigation and of Jackson's alleged criminal activity in return for money,[10] a lack of objectivity[11] and using headlines that strongly implied Jackson's guilt.[11] At the time, Jackson said of the media coverage, "I will say I am particularly upset by the handling of the matter by the incredible, terrible mass media. At every opportunity, the media has dissected and manipulated these allegations to reach their own conclusions."[12] Jackson began taking painkillers, Valium, Xanax and Ativan to deal with the stress of the allegations made against him.[13] When he left the United States to go into rehabilitation, the media showed him little sympathy.[14]


A twenty six second sample of Michael Jackson's "Tabloid Junkie". In the sample, Jackson expresses his feelings towards the media, describing his treatment as "slander".

Problems playing this file? See media help.

"Tabloid Junkie" is credited as a pop—funk song, that is similar to New Jack Swing. Throughout the song, Jackson sings in a quick-voice,[15] which some music critics viewed as Jackson "not singing" but "harrumphing".[16] It is a plea to the public to not believe everything in the tabloids; and the lyrics are about media bias and sensational journalism about Jackson and in general. This can be heard in lyrics such as, "Just because you read it in the magazine or see it on the TV screen don't make it factual".[16] Jackson uses the song to criticize journalists, commenting "with your pen you torture men", describing how he was affected by the media coverage about him, and "speculate to break the one you hate", describing how reporters used sensational writing to mislead people and cast him in a negative view.[17] "Tabloid Junkie" is played in the key of G♭ major and in common time signature.[17] It has heavy beats throughout with Jackson beatboxing throughout.[2] Jackson's voice range is from C♭4 to B♭7.[17] The songs tempo is moderate and its metronome is 111 beats per minute.[17]


"Tabloid Junkie" received primarily positive reviews from contemporary music critics. James Hunter, a writer for Rolling Stone, described "Tabloid Junkie", as well as "Scream", another track from the album, as being "two adventurous Jam and Lewis thumpers" that "work completely", commenting that "Jackson's slippery voice is caught in mammoth funk-rock constructions".[15] Hunter noted that the "choruses of 'Tabloid Junkie' in particular sing out with quick-voiced warnings about the failings of media truth."[15] Robert Christgau, a film and music critic, who gave the album ** Honorable Mention ((2-star Honorable Mention)11px), listed "Tabloid Junkie" as being one out of two of the albums highlights.[18] Jim Farber, of the New York Daily News, commented that "Tabloid Junkie" sounded "like virtual satires" of the "beat-heavy sound devised" by Jam and Lewis in the 1980s.[2]

David Browne, of Entertainment Weekly, noted that "Tabloid Junkie," comes as "close to transcendence as anywhere on the album" and described the chorus, "Just because you read it in the magazine or see it on the TV screen don't make it factual" as Jackson's "grabbiest, most driven refrain in years."[16] Although Browne praised the song, he commented, "The rest of the song, however, is mucked up with fake tabloid-TV snippets about his 'life,' and on the verses Jackson's delivery is so terse (he's not singing, he's harrumphing) that his lyrics are all but obliterated. Handed a golden opportunity, he throws it all away — but then, it wouldn't be the first time."[16] Deepika Reedy, of The Daily Collegian, described the "rust in songs" like "Tabloid Junkie" as having a "raw aspect" that Jackson "hasn't approached since a near-miss with 'Billie Jean'."[19] Patrick Macdonald, of The Seattle Times, noting that "Tabloid Junkie" was a "disingenuous attack on sensational news stories" about Jackson, remarked that most of stories were "planted" by Jackson himself.[1]

Track listing

  1. "Tabloid Junkie" - 4:32


  1. ^ a b Patrick Macdonald (1995-06-21). "`History' Lesson: Jackson's Living On Past Glories". The Seattle Times Company. Retrieved 201-01-26.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  2. ^ a b c Jim Farber (1995-06-19). "Michael's 'His'-sy Fit Singers Big New Collection Is Little More Than Whiny Jackson Jive About His Perceived Mistreatment". Mortimer Zuckerman. Retrieved 2010-01-26. 
  3. ^ a b Ken Tucker (2009-06-25). "Beyond the Pale". Time Warner Inc. Retrieved 2010-01-27. 
  4. ^ a b "Music's misunderstood superstar". BBC Online. 2005-06-13. Retrieved 2010-01-26. 
  5. ^ Taraborrelli, p. 355–361
  6. ^ Taraborrelli, p. 370–373
  7. ^ Taraborrelli, p. 365
  8. ^ a b Taraborrelli, p. 413
  9. ^ Campbell (1995), p. 42–45
  10. ^ Campbell (1995), p. 77–80
  11. ^ a b Taraborrelli, p. 500–507
  12. ^ "Michael Jackson speaks: 'I am totally innocent of any wrongdoing.'". Johnson Publishing Company. 1994-01-10. Retrieved 2010-01-26. 
  13. ^ Taraborrelli, p. 518–520
  14. ^ Campbell (1995), p. 104–106
  15. ^ a b c James Hunter (1995-08-10). "Album Reviews". Wenner Media LLC. Retrieved 2010-01-26. 
  16. ^ a b c d David Browne (1995-06-23). "Music Review: HIStory: Past, Present, and Future Book I". Time Warner Inc. Retrieved 2010-01-26. 
  17. ^ a b c d "Tabloid Junkie - Michael Jackson Digital Sheet Music (Digital Download)". Alfred Publishing Co. Inc. Retrieved 2010-02-12. 
  18. ^ Robert Christgau. "HIStory: Past, Present and Future Book 1". Retrieved 2010-01-26. 
  19. ^ Deepika Reedy (1995-06-23). "Jackson's latest lives up to his character". Collegian Inc. Retrieved 2010-01-26. 
  20. ^ "Michael Jackson - Tabloid Junkie (Chanson)". Hung Medien. Retrieved 2010-01-26. 

Further reading

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