Michael Jackson was an artist that despite his questionable behavior and issues, especially among the media, was still an innovator of pop music and music in general. He changed the way pop music was with his incredible dance moves, philanthropic efforts by creating several different charities, and powerful messages in his songs. Through these achievements, Jackson influenced the progression of pop music and we can still find bits of the sound he created in modern pop today through the many present day artists he heavy influenced like Chris Brown and Justin Timberlake. Now, while everybody knows the obvious songs that were recorded by Jackson like "Thriller," "Beat It," "Billie Jean," "Bad," "Don't Stop 'Till You Get Enough," and many others, I thought I would highlight some tunes from the 'King of Pop' that seemed to go under the radar during his career and didn't get the recognition that I feel they deserved. Some of these were released as singles, but a few of these songs are deep cuts as well. First, I'll start with a couple honorable mentions and then the actual list. In the end, despite the allegations and controversies that he faced throughout his lifetime, you can't deny that this man was the greatest pop artist, let alone entertainer, to ever walk the earth.
1. "Streetwalker"- Bad (2001 Special Edition Bonus Track Version)
"I have to tell ya that you give me strong hot fever, my every thought is you and that's a fact, yeah yeah."
I decided to put this Jackson song as an honorable mention simply because it was intended to be a song included on Bad, but it was cut from the album's track listing at the last minute. While I can see why it was left off because it doesn't really fit the overall sound of Bad and it's message is pretty simple, it goes to show that even songs that Jackson didn't include on his records were incredibly catchy and classic!
2. "The Lady in My Life"- Thriller
"So I promise you tonight, that you will always be the lady in my life."
It was hard to keep this song off of my actual list because I believe that it is one of the most romantic love songs ever written. However, there is still one other song off of Thriller that I consider to be more underrated, which I will get to later on in the list, so I decided to keep it off. One thing I can guarantee about this song though is that it will without a doubt be played at my future wedding, whenever that'll be, after all I'm only 21. Got a long way to go before that ever happens.
The Actual List:
10. "Workin' Day And Night"- Off The Wall
"But what is love girl, if I'm always out of sight."
I have always considered Off The Wall to be Michael Jackson's most underrated album, especially compared to Thriller, Bad, and Dangerous, simply because this was just when Jackson was starting to rise into the pop music scene as a solo artist, with help from legendary musician and producer Quincy Jones, and it contains some of the funkiest songs to ever be recorded. I personally would be dancing to this song while flipping burgers on the grill at my job just because it would fit the mood, but of course that would never happen as I would be fired and sent off to a world of not being able to dance for all the rest of eternity (okay, not really). However, if you somehow have a boss that lets you listen to music while you work, put this song on and you'll get through your shift in no time!
9. "Speed Demon"- Bad
"Pull over boy and get your ticket right."
This is one of my absolute favorite songs off of Bad because this was around the time where Jackson was beginning to experiment with adding rock elements into his songs to broaden his audience, and it certainly worked. The biggest reason why I love this track is because the instrumentation makes you feel that your actually driving fast in a car on a freeway somewhere and putting the "pedal to the medal" So, If you need a new song to drive on the highway to, by all means turn to this funk rock jam. However, don't go too crazy out on the roads and as Michael says, if you get caught "pull over boy and get your ticket right."
8. "2 Bad" (featuring Shaquille O'Neal)- HIStory: Past, Present, and Future, Book I
"You're aiming just for me, you are disgustin' me, just want your cut from me, but too bad, too bad."
This song has such a great beat on it that makes me just want to get moving on a dancefloor when I hear it. Not to mention it has a rap feature from the one, the only, Shaquille O'Neal (aka Shaq Diesel), and believe it or not, his guest verse actually works in this song. I mean, "Nine five Shaq represent with the Thrilla, grab my crotch, twist my knee, then I'm through, Mike's bad, I'm bad who are you," that's pretty good lyricism from a guy as cheesy as Shaq, I don't know about you.
7. "Privacy"- Invincible
"Cause your cameras can't control, the minds of those who know, that you'll even sell your soul just to get a story sold."
Now, obviously Invincible was an album that was poorly received among both fans and critics alike, with some considering this to be Jackson's worst album. While I too consider this to be his weakest album, it isn't as awful as some think of it to be. Many of the songs off this record I actually enjoy quite a bit, like "You Rock My World," and "Butterflies" both of which were successful charting singles, but songs such as "Privacy." have made Invincible a "semi-enjoyable" listen in my opinion. I thought this song was a highlight on the album for me because while Michael had made many songs throughout his career slamming on the paparazzi by the way they would portray him in the news, like "Leave Me Alone" and "Tabloid Junkie," I thought that this song was the best "f*** the press" type of song Jackson recorded because of the powerful words he uses throughout the song. The instrumentation is interesting to listen to as well, but I would try hearing what Jackson is trying to say in the lyrics to get something from this tune because he gives you an insight on how he really felt about the press and the way they made him look to the world.
6. "Why You Wanna Trip On Me"- Dangerous
"You got world hunger, not enough to eat, so there's really no time to be trippin' on me."
I've always had mixed reactions about Dangerous because while it has some great tunes on it like "Remember The Time," "Black Or White," and "In The Closet," it is hard for me to listen to the album as a whole, mostly because some of the instrumentation on the deep cuts don't do much for me. However, with this song, I absolutely love the message that Jackson says on it because while it is repetitive, especially near the end of the track where he just sings the chorus over and over again, Jackson is simply asking us why should we care what he's doing during his every day life (hence "why you wanna trip on me?) when there are a number of problems to worry about going on in the world that have yet to be resolved that we should address? So, while Dangerous might not be my favorite record by Jackson, it certainly is an enjoyable listen that includes elements of new jack swing, rock, gospel, and hip hop, just to name a few.
5. "Burn This Disco Out"- Off The Wall
"So D.J. spin the sounds, there ain't no way that you're gonna let us down, gonna dance, gonna shout, gonna burn this disco out."
This was such a great song to close out Off The Wall and I can never get enough of the background vocals during the chorus on this track. "Groove all night, Get that sound" man, soooo good!
4. "Childhood"- HIStory: Past, Present, and Future, Book I
"It's been my fate to compensate for the childhood, I've never known."
HIStory was actually the first Michael Jackson album I ever listened to and it was perfect for me since it had his greatest hits as well as an album of new songs on it too. While there are some great tracks on this record with cuts like "They Don't Really Care About Us," "D.S.," and the awesome collaborative song "Scream" that he sang with his sister Janet, I always find myself coming back to this song the most. I'm sure we all had some very memorable times during our childhoods, myself included, but there are people like Jackson who technically didn't have a childhood growing up. This is mostly due to the fact that he was the lead singer of a boy band with his four brothers (Jackson 5) and was on a busy touring schedule at a very young age. Therefore, I think this song is Jackson singing about how he has lived the childhood he never had as he has grown up through life and is still looking for more to make up for the "childhood" he missed having as a kid. While this song has a nice message to it, My favorite element to this song has to be the instrumentation and if you don't believe me, just listen to the orchestral part played during the bridge of the song and you'll see what I mean. It honestly makes me tear up every time I hear it.
3. "Unbreakable" (Featuring The Notorious B.I.G.) - Invincible
"You'll never break me, 'cause I'm unbreakable."
Next to "Wanna Be Startin' Something" being the opening track to Thriller, I think this track is the second best opening tune that Jackson ever made for any of his records, simply because it makes sense for kicking off Invincible. Based on the fact that this album came out around the height of Jackson's child molestation accusations that were coming into effect, I get the feeling that this track was basically a message to his haters and the paparazzi that you can try to bring him down and continue giving him a bad name with these allegations, but through it all he is "unbreakable." After all, one of the parts of the song has Jackson singing, "You can try to stop me, but it won't do a thing. No matter what you do, I'm still gonna be here."
2. "Get On The Floor"- Off The Wall
"There's a chance for groovin' and it will be soothin' with a song."
Only one thing to say about this song to make you give it a listen: the bass guitar. It may be a funky disco track, and I know disco is long gone or at least it seems like it, but rest assured that you will at least be groovin' to this song a little bit if you turn it up, especially on a dance floor.
1. "Baby Be Mine"- Thriller
"I don't need no dreams when I'm by your side."
This is unquestionably the most underrated Michael Jackson song in my opinion. Why is that? Because of the rest of the songs that this tune is surrounded by. I mean, Thriller is still the highest selling album of all time and one of the greatest albums from a musical standpoint as well. The fact that this song, along with "Lady In My Life" were the only songs off this record that didn't chart just baffles me because the instrumentation on this song is irresistible, thanks in part to the synthesizers and horns that are played throughout the track. However, because of other tunes like "Thriller," "Beat it," "Billie Jean," and "Wanna Be Startin' Something" appearing on this masterpiece of a pop record, "Baby Be Mine" has never been able to see the light of day, until now! Please check this song out if you haven't heard it. I realize it might not be a song for everybody, but you should definitely give it a chance, especially if you consider yourself to be a Michael Jackson fan.