the chimps, the Elephant Man bones, the hyperbaric chamber from his dancing and singing, which remain among the wonders of the performance world and, lest we forget, were the real reason we paid so much attention to Jackson in the first place. According to this plan, we must consider Dangerous
on its own terms and listen without images of llamas and Macaulay Culkin dancing in our heads.
But of course this polarity between Jackson's on- and offstage lives is exactly what makes him so fascinating, and the triumph of Dangerous is that it doesn't hide from the fears and contradictions of a lifetime spent under a spotlight. This edge of terror electrified Thriller's Jackson-penned break-through cuts "Billie Jean" and "Beat It" but was diverted into an unconvincing nastiness in 1987 on Bad. It also drove the "controversial" segment of the "Black or White" video, but this tension is presented much more effectively on the album itself.
Teddy Riley replaces. Quincy Jones as Jackson's primary collaborator on Dangerous, an inspired selection that is the key to the album's finest moments. Riley the producer of groundbreaking tracks by Bobby Brown, Keith Sweat and his own combo, Guy is the godfather of New Jack Swing, which merges hip-hop beats with soul crooning and has dominated the R&B charts in recent years. This choice clearly represents Jackson's pursuit of a more contemporary sound, an attempt to come to grips with the changes that have swept pop music since Bad most significantly, rap's successful attack on the mainstream. Riley's work on Dangerous is reminiscent of Jackson's solo album Off the Wall (1979) and that record's distillation of disco to its perfect pop essence. Riley's tracks don't offer the revolutionary genre-busting of Thriller, but they dramatically illustrate the versatility of his style. Instead of the cocksure strut of a New Jack classic like Bobby Brown's "My Prerogative," the stacked layers of keyboards on Dangerous shift and percolate, varying textures over insistent, thumping rhythm tracks.
The aggressive yet fluid dance grooves Riley helped construct and his emphasis is on writing grooves, not traditional songs prove a perfect match for Jackson's clipped, breathy uptempo voice. The fit is especially striking on the songs dealing with women. Exactly hal