Dear Michael Jackson
So you've just released your first single for two years. It has lots of sirens and breaking glass in it. And as for the lyrics ... a former fan wonders what's going on in your head
Monday 22 May 1995
We were in the minority, Eamonn, Anthea and I. A spokesperson declared that 75 per cent of all radio stations played the single on Friday morning. One breakfast DJ in Bristol even spun it nonstop for a whole hour. Chastised by his boss, he retaliated by following it with your hit "Don't Stop Till You Get Enough", one of those appalling gags you have to master for your DJ entrance exam.
Oh, we were impressed by your video. Well, by its budget, anyway. Two million dollars a minute, Eamonn announced proudly, as though it were his $2m. You haven't actually released the video yet, so GMTV had to cobble together one of their own. Judging by your past efforts, it will be a special effects-packed extravaganza with a guest appearance from, say, Jim Carey. He's just the sort of star who would excite the child in you (apologies for the phrasing).
And there's bound to be a car chase or something in there, seeing as how the song has sirens blasting whenever the listener's interest might be waning. And breaking glass - there's a lot of that on the record, too. What's that all about, then? Is it the sound of the police smashing up your ranch, looking for evidence, or did you knock a fruit bowl off the worktop? All very dramatic. Sirens, breaking glass, a man screaming, and your obligatory, pained "Oooh-hoo-hoos" and "Yuh-yuhs".
And those lyrics! I was set to tell you that the whole ordeal was probably the best thing that could have happened to you. Just like those who observed that the McCarthy witchhunts might have been the perfect Communist-engineered PR stunt. But you've beaten me to my own conspiracy theory with the words to "Scream": "Tired of the injustice/ Tired of the scheme/ The lies are disgusting/ So what does it mean?" And, "They tell me I'm wrong/ Then you gotta prove you're right." The "scheme?" A regular little Joseph K, aren't you? Welcome to the real world.
I think "Scream" is the sound of you waking up, actually. The child abuse controversy has shown that, even if you're not guilty, you're not untouchable, either - you can be injured. The song's no classic, though that will hardly matter to you: it will be straight in at Number One after its 29 May release. And I bet it will be the first record by a man once suspected of child molestation to do so. If only Coronation Street's Len Fairclough had had your singing voice.
Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes
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