Friday, July 13, 2012

An Interview With Myself (Part 1)

I know it's a somewhat egotistical thing to "interview" myself, but I'm still going to do it anyway's my blog! I can do whatever I want, right? Hell yeah, but I believe it's also an opportunity to share a bit more about myself and my musical tastes and influences, and just why I'm such a big MJ fan after all these years. So here's Part 1 of my interview with myself:

Q: What is one album you've listened to more than any other?
A: (without hesitation) Michael Jackson's Dangerous! It's been 21 years since it was released, but every time I listen to it, it's still like a breath of fresh air. From the moment I hear the shattering glass at the beginning of Jam, I still get the same excitement as I did when I was a kid in school.

Dangerous is the first English cassette tape I ever owned. My classmates gave it to me as a birthday present in 1994, when I was primary 6. So I missed the whole MJ-mania of the Dangerous album from 1991 to 1993, and also when MJ himself came to Singapore and put on the two spectacular concerts in 1993. There was also the first child-molest allegations at the time, which I was quite oblivious to, because I wasn't a fan yet. Back then, I was still listening to Mandarin pop, idolising the "Heavenly Kings" of Hong Kong - Aaron Kwok, Jacky Cheung, Andy Lau and to a lesser extent, Leon Lai. So the Dangerous album was a turning point for me, and you could say it was the one that converted me to English pop music.

By 1995, I was totally hooked on the Dangerous album. That was the year I entered secondary school and joined the school band, playing percussion. As such, my interest in music grew tenfold and I started my musical education. I remember going home after school on Friday afternoons and slotting the Dangerous cassette tape into my dad's hi-fi set, turning the volume way up, blasting it very loudly so I could feel the bass and groove of the songs, especially on Jam and Why You Wanna Trip On Me. And I would dance along to it and sing at the top of my voice.

At that time, I didn't have MTV yet and of course, Internet was still in its infancy. So I immersed into the music of Dangerous fully, without being influenced by the music videos or legacy or scandals about MJ. That's probably the reason why I studied it in depth and loved it so much - because I was fully focused on the quality and intricacies of the music itself.

Later in 1995, my dad bought me my first CDs. Dangerous was one of the very first I owned, even though I already had it on cassette. The others were Bon Jovi's Cross Road, Michael Learns To Rock's Colours and Madonna's Bedtime Stories. Till this day, Cross Road is still one of my favourite albums as well.

I love everything about the Dangerous project. The cryptic album cover. Those mysterious eyes. The memorable and ground-breaking music videos. The jaw-dropping tour. The fact that nine singles were released, and every one of them were good. And of course, the songs themselves were solid.

I believe that Dangerous is MJ's most creative album. No two songs sound alike, and its New Jack Swing sound and vocal performance were such a departure from the Bad album. I would say that the songs were ahead of its time back then, and even today, they don't sound dated at all. They still sound fresh and contemporary.

MJ manipulates his voice brilliantly throughout the album, switching modes effortlessly between staccato rap in Jam, sexy and seductive on In The Closet, warm and uplifting on Heal The World, vulnerable and pleading in Will You Be There, raw and rock on Give In To Me, and sleek and mysterious on Dangerous.

It's a travesty Dangerous didn't get more recognition at the time. It was only nominated for four Grammys (none of them in the major categories), and only won one for Best Engineered Album - Non-Classical, for engineers Teddy Riley and Bruce Swedien.

Dangerous is my favourite album of all time, and definitely the album I've listened to more than any other. It is the first album I will save if my house caught fire.