Singles #9: Michael Jackson - Who Is It (1992)
Single number 5 off the Dangerous album, Who Is It is one of my favourite MJ songs. The bassline groove is simply killer and MJ's trademark hiccups are displayed in its full glory here. I remember the first time I heard it, I thought MJ sang the F-word in the chorus, but turns out he actually meant "fortune". Once again, MJ takes liberties with pronunciation (refer to a line from the song Bad: "Come on" is pronounced as "Shamon").
Who Is It is a highly repetitive song that goes on for 6 minutes and 34 seconds, 3 minutes too long for radio. Yet, it is never boring and the magic is that MJ varies his vocal delivery and ad libs a lot, making the final few choruses a masterclass in improvisation.
I feel that MJ's genius lies in his ability to ad lib, something that very few artistes can do. I will make another post sometime later to show you the evidence, the instances where MJ improvises at will. The words very often don't make sense, but he delivers them with such confidence and conviction that only he can do it the way he does. Very interesting.
Anyway, Who Is It was released in Europe in 1992, but released in the US only in 1993. He performed a short acapella section of the song during the famous interview with Oprah Winfrey, and demand from fans led to it being rushed released to radio. It was more successful than previous single, Jam, hitting number 14 on the Hot 100.
This single below is the Japanese version, released in 1992 as well. It contains 4 mixes of Who Is It and one remix of Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough.
This version below is the maxi single version, containing an almost identical tracklisting as the Japanese version.
This is the US version and it contains the special acapella intro as performed during the Oprah interview. The intro is then edited to the original mix of the song. The acapella intro is truly fascinating stuff and it shows MJ's natural percussive instincts as he uses his voice as a rhytmic instrument as well. He should really do an Unplugged session so that everyone can hear how good his voice is. Really.
This single contains the Moby's Sub Mix (yet again) of Beat It instead of Don't Stop.