Blood on the Dance Floor (song)

"Blood on the Dance Floor" is a song by American singer Michael Jackson. The song was released as the first single from the remix album Blood on the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix. Jackson and Teddy Riley created the track in time for the 1991 release of Dangerous. However, it did not appear on that record and was worked on further for its commercial release in 1997. The song is about a predatory woman by the name of Susie, who seduces Jackson before plotting to stab him with a knife. The composition explores a variety of genres ranging from funk and new jack swing.

"Blood on the Dance Floor"
MJ-BOTDF Single.jpg
Single by Michael Jackson
from the album Blood on the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix
B-side"Dangerous" (Roger's Dangerous Club Dance Mix)
ReleasedMarch 21, 1997
Format
RecordedMarch 1991 – January 1997
Genre
Length4:11
LabelEpic
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)
  • Michael Jackson
  • Teddy Riley
Michael Jackson singles chronology
"I Need You"
(1996)
"Blood on the Dance Floor"
(1997)
"Ghosts"
(1997)
Music video
"Blood on the Dance Floor" on YouTube
Audio sample

The single peaked at number 42 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and reached number one in Denmark, New Zealand, Spain and the United Kingdom. It also reached the top 10 several other countries, including Australia, Finland, Germany, Netherlands, Norway and Sweden. Commentators compared "Blood on the Dance Floor" to music from Dangerous. Others commented on the song's perceived aggressive tone and the vocal style, the broad genres heard and possible lyrical interpretations of the song. Reviews at the time of release were largely mixed, but contemporary reviews have been favorable. The song was promoted with a music video that premiered on Top of the Pops. It centered on Susie seducing Jackson in a courtship "dance", before opening a switchblade. "Blood on the Dance Floor" was the only track from the remix album performed on the HIStory World Tour.

Production and musicEdit

Teddy Riley came up with the song's title while Jackson recorded the piece for his Dangerous album in 1991—it failed to make the final track listing. Riley was reportedly upset that Jackson did not call him to "vacuum clean this old master" upon realizing it would be included on Blood on the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix. Riley wanted to update the musical composition before it appeared on the remix album.[1] In a Making Michael interview, Matt Forger mentioned that the original Teddy Riley DAT version (which Teddy Riley played to Jackson when he came to work on "Dangerous") to Montreux where Jackson cut his vocals when work began on the album.[2] Also, Brad Buxer added more instrumentation to the track during the sessions.

Instruments played in the song include a guitar and piano, the latter of which has an F2-Eb5 range in scientific pitch notation. Jackson's vocal range on the track is C3-Bb5 and aspects of the song are performed in the key F minor. Genres that have been attributed to the song are dance,[3] funk[3] and new jack swing.[4] Jackson incorporates many of the vocal traits associated with his work, such as hiccups and gasps.[3][4][5][6][7] Neil Strauss of The New York Times suggests that the predatory woman in the title track, "Susie", is a metaphor for AIDS.[8] However, in an interview with Adrian Grant, Jackson denied that the song was about AIDS.[citation needed]

Included throughout releases of the single are three remixes of the song "Dangerous" from Jackson's album of the same name. "Dangerous" was originally intended to be the tenth single from that album, and Roger Sanchez, who previously remixed Jam and Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough, was once again commissioned to create several remixes of the song in time for its release as a single in early 1994. However, the single was cancelled, and all of the remixes were shelved. It is likely that the reason some of these remixes were released as part of this single is due to its association with the Dangerous album, since it was originally created during its recording sessions. Regardless, the majority of Sanchez' original remixes remain unreleased, and are only available on a rare digital audio tape distributed among label executives.[9]

ReceptionEdit

The Dallas Morning News described "Blood on the Dance Floor" as an angry tale of a back-stabbing woman and Michael Saunders of The Boston Globe described it as "a middling dance-funk cut".[3][10] Anthony Violenti of The Buffalo News said of the single, "[it is] laced with Teddy Riley's new jack swing sound and a pounding techno beat", whereas The Cincinnati Post characterized the song as a "lackluster first release ... dated, played-out dance track", but gave the album an overall favorable review.[4][11] Jim Farber of New York Daily News, noted of the vocals and musical style, "[Jackson] coughs up a series of strangulated mutters and munchkin hiccups in lieu of a vocal, while its chilly, faux-industrial music proves as appealing as a migraine".[7]

William Ruhlman of AllMusic observed, "'Blood on the Dance Floor' is an uptempo Jackson song in the increasingly hysterical tradition of 'Billie Jean' and 'Smooth Criminal' with Jackson huffing, puffing, and yelping through some nonsense about a stabbing ... over a fairly generic electronic dance track". He was not complimentary of the B-sides that accompanied it.[6] Stephen Thomas Erlewine, also of AllMusic, had a negative reaction to the record. He described "Blood on the Dance Floor" as a "bleak reworking of 'Jam' and 'Scream'".[12]

Music commentator Nelson George, compared the song to material from Dangerous, such as the critically acclaimed tracks "Jam" and "Dangerous". He described it as a "pile driving" song that "explodes from radio speakers".[13] A longtime commentator on Jackson's public life, J. Randy Taraborrelli, gave a retrospective analysis of the album in the biography, The Magic & the Madness. Taraborrelli thought that "Blood on the Dance Floor" was one of Jackson's best songs, a song that US fans "don't even know exists".[14] In 2005, J T Griffith, of AllMusic, believed that in hindsight, "Blood on the Dance Floor" was actually a good song. He explained, "[it is] a second-rate mixture of 'Beat It' and 'Thriller' but Jackson's missteps are better than most pop music out there. This track showcases all the artist's trademarks: the ooohing, the grunts, and funky basslines. It is hard to hear 'Blood on the Dance Floor' and not want to moonwalk or dance like a ghoul".[15]

PromotionEdit

 
Jackson and Azur in the music video for "Blood on the Dance Floor".

"Blood on the Dance Floor" was the only track from Blood on the Dance Floor: History in the Mix to appear on the set list of the HIStory World Tour.[16] The music video for "Blood on the Dance Floor" was directed by Jackson and Vincent Paterson. Filming occurred in February 1997, when Jackson's first child Prince was born.[17] It premiered on Top of the Pops in the UK on March 28, 1997, several weeks ahead of its release as a single.[1] The video opens with a thrown switchblade impaling a spray painted image. The impaled image is that of a blood dripping love heart with "SUSIE + ME" scrawled across it. Jackson and a group of dancers then enter a salsa dance hall and he begins to dance with a woman, "Susie", while shaking a piece of percussion. The singer then appears seated while the woman dances seductively above him on a table top.

After the 1st verse and chorus, there is an a cappella moment, in which Jackson breathes to the drums and the bass, then the strings, then spins, drops down and claps, then the main song starts with the 2nd verse.

Throughout the video, Jackson shows a sexual attraction towards the dancing woman—played by Sybil Azur. Jackson caresses her ankle, calf, knee and thigh, and at one stage looks up her dress. The woman is then seen opening a flick knife as the pair engage in a final courtship dance. The video closes in the same manner it began, with the switchblade impaling the spray painted image. The music video won the Brazilian TVZ Video Award: Best International Music Video of the Year.[13][18] Interviewed on her experience during the video one of the dancers, Carmit Bachar (of The Pussycat Dolls) noted, "I was called in by Vincent Paterson for 'Blood on the Dance Floor'. It was to have a Latin feel, some sort of mambo. I arrived wearing a little salsa dress, fish nets, heels, and my hair was up in a kind of bun with a flower. I was 'camera ready'. I showed up with the whole outfit. It's not that producers can't see what they like, or the potential in somebody, but what I do helps them to see their vision more".[19]

A "Refugee Camp Mix" of "Blood on the Dance Floor" appeared on Jackson's video collection, HIStory on Film, Volume II and Michael Jackson's Vision. The original song would later appear on the Number Ones DVD, which contained previously unreleased scenes.[1] Furthermore, Paterson recorded an unreleased, alternate version of the music video, shot with an 8 mm camera. Writer David Noh, described it as, "grainy, overexposed, and sexy as shit". According to Paterson, "Michael loved it, but Sony hated it and refused to release it".[20] The New York Times described the United States promotional effort for the Blood on the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix campaign as "subdued", creating "hardly a sound" and "perplexing to many people in the industry". Jackson's label Epic Records, refuted allegations they were not promoting the album sufficiently, saying, "We are completely behind the album ... Michael is certainly one of our superstars and is treated as such ... We just went into this one with our global hats on". The New York Times acknowledged that promotion was stronger internationally, where Jackson had more commercial force and popularity.[21]

Live performancesEdit

Jackson performed the song only in the second leg of his HIStory World Tour in 1997. The song was also originally slated to be performed during the "This Is It" concerts, which was scheduled to run from July 2009 to March 2010, but was later removed from the set-list.

Chart performanceEdit

The song became a top ten hit in almost every European Union state. "Blood on the Dance Floor" peaked at number one in the UK, Spain and New Zealand, charting for 11 weeks in the latter two nations. In the UK it sold 85,000 copies in its first week, enough to take the number one spot from "I Believe I Can Fly" by collaborator R. Kelly. The song was Jackson's seventh (and currently final) UK chart topper as a solo artist, although it fell to number eight in its second week of release. The European country where "Blood on the Dance Floor" had the most longevity was Switzerland, where it spent 18 weeks in the chart.

The single peaked at number 42 on the US Billboard Hot 100. This relatively lower peak position has been attributed to the lack of US promotion and—according to J. Randy Taraborrelli and AllMusic writer William Ruhlman—the ongoing US public interest in the singer's private life over his music.[14][22] "Blood on the Dance Floor" was the 20th and last of Jackson's reissued singles from the Visionary campaign. Issued in 2006, it was re-released in Europe, where it reached number one in Spain and the top 20 in Ireland, Italy, and the UK.

Track listingsEdit

UK CD Single[23]
  1. "Blood on the Dance Floor" – 4:13
  2. "Blood on the Dance Floor (TM's Switchblade Mix)" – 8:38
  3. "Blood on the Dance Floor (Refugee Camp Mix)" – 5:26
  4. "Blood on the Dance Floor (Fire Island Vocal Mix)" – 8:55
  5. "Blood on the Dance Floor (Fire Island Dub)" – 8:55
US CD Single[24]
  1. "Blood on the Dance Floor" – 4:13
  2. "Blood on the Dance Floor (TM's Switchblade Edit)" – 3:22
  3. "Blood on the Dance Floor (Refugee Camp Edit)" – 3:20
  4. "Dangerous (Roger's Dangerous Edit)" – 4:41
Europe 12" Single[25]
  1. "Blood on the Dance Floor (TM's O-Positive Dub)" – 8:38
  2. "Blood on the Dance Floor (Fire Island Dub)" – 8:55
  3. "Dangerous (Roger's Dangerous Club Mix)" – 6:58
  4. "Dangerous (Roger's Rough Dub)" – 6:48

RemixesEdit

Tony Moran Mixes
  • "Blood on the Dance Floor (TM's Switchblade Mix)" – 8:38 / 8:53*
  • "Blood on the Dance Floor (TM's Switchblade Edit)" – 3:22
  • "Blood on the Dance Floor (TM's O-Positive Dub)" – 8:38
  • "Blood on the Dance Floor (T&G Pool of Blood Dub)" – 7:34
Fire Island Mixes
  • "Blood on the Dance Floor (Fire Island Vocal Mix)" – 8:55
  • "Blood on the Dance Floor (Fire Island Radio Edit)" – 3:50
  • "Blood on the Dance Floor (Fire Island Dub)" – 8:55
Wyclef Jean Mixes
  • "Blood on the Dance Floor (Refugee Camp Mix)" – 5:26
  • "Blood on the Dance Floor (Refugee Camp Edit)" – 3:20
  • "Blood on the Dance Floor (Refugee Camp Dub)" – 3:38


Note: There is an alternate, extended version of Tony Moran's "Switchblade Mix", available only on a singular UK 12" promo[26]. The main difference in this version is the inclusion of a new lyrical section at the 2:34 point, which was omitted in the original. The last sound effect at the end of the song is also remarkably different.

PersonnelEdit

  • Written, composed and produced by Michael Jackson and Teddy Riley
  • Solo and background vocals, vocal arrangement by Michael Jackson
  • Teddy Riley and Brad Buxer: Keyboards and synthesizers, drum programming
  • Guitar by Nile Rodgers
  • Matt Carpenter: Digital Systems programming
  • Engineered by Teddy Riley, Dave Way and Mick Guzauski
  • Mixed by Mick Guzauski

ChartsEdit

ReferencesEdit

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