Butterflies (Michael Jackson song)

"Butterflies" is a song by American singer, songwriter, and dancer Michael Jackson. It was written and composed by Andre Harris and Marsha Ambrosius, and produced by Jackson and Harris. The track appears on Jackson's tenth studio album, Invincible (2001), and is Jackson's final single from a studio album. The song also appeared in The Ultimate Collection (2004). "Butterflies" is a midtempo ballad. The single received generally positive reviews from music critics; some music reviewers described the song as being one of the best songs on Invincible while others felt that it was a "decent track".

Single by Michael Jackson
from the album Invincible
ReleasedNovember 27, 2001 (2001-11-27)
  • Michael Jackson
  • Andre Harris
Michael Jackson singles chronology
"You Rock My World"
Music video
"Butterflies (Audio)" on YouTube
Audio sample

The song was only released in the United States to radio airplay. It peaked at number fourteen on the Billboard Hot 100, and also charting at number two and thirty-six, respectively, on alternative Billboard charts in 2001 and 2002. There was no music video released for the song.

Background and developmentEdit

"Butterflies" was recorded by Michael Jackson in 2001 for his tenth studio album, Invincible, which was released the same year.[1] The song was written by Andre Harris and Marsha Ambrosius, who is one half of the London bred neo-soul act Floetry,[2] and was produced by Jackson and Harris.[1] Jackson first met Ambrosius and Natalie Stewart, who is also a member of Floetry, through John McClain, who is DreamWorks's senior urban executive and Jackson's manager.[2] Stewart said she was surprised that Jackson invited her and Ambrosius to a studio and asked for their input on the recording of the track.[2] She recalled in an interview with LAUNCH magazine, "It was incredible because he asked, he continually asked, 'Marsh, what's the next harmony? Girls, does this sound right? What do you think? Is this what you were looking for? He was so open".[2]

When Ambrosius first met Jackson, it took a few minutes to calm down.[2] She recalled to the same publication Stewart was interviewed by, "To begin with, I was kinda shook. Because you don't realize how you're going to feel until you're put in that situation. I had the tears in my eyes and got kinda nervous. But as I got into it, I realized it was work, it was a job. I had to vocally conduct a legend."[2] Harris commented on the single, "He's showing you, I'm still the Michael Jackson that did 'Billie Jean' and 'Rock With You' because 'Butterflies' really falls along those lines."[3] Unlike the previous single released from Invincible, a music video was not made to promote the song.[4]


"Butterflies" is a midtempo love ballad song with groove musical influences.[5][6][7] Vaughn Watson of the Providence Journal noted that the track is a "velvety old-school soul ballad" with "elegiac horn riffs" and "simple '70s-style David Ruffin soul."[8] Stephen Thomas Erlewine, a writer for AllMusic noted that "Butterflies" had "Bacharach-styled horns."[9] Lonell Broadnax, Jr., a contributing writer to the Daily Helmsman Online felt that "Butterflies" is a soulful song which takes Jackson back to his "rhythm and blues roots".[10] Ben Rayer of the Toronto Star felt that the song had a "oozy slow jam".[11] "Butterflies" is written in the time signature of common time.[12] Throughout the song Jackson's vocal range spans from E3 to F5.[12] The track is played in the key of A major.[12] "Butterflies" has a moderately slowly tempo and its metronome is ninety-two beats per minute.[12]

Critical responseEdit

The track received generally positive reviews from music critics. Ken Barnes of USA Today described the song as being a "hopelessly sappy ballad oozing with fuzzy sentiments. I'd say it's more like caterpillars."[13] Frank Kogan of The Village Voice, citing the lyrics, "I would give you anything baby, just make my dreams come true/Oh baby you give me butterflies" wrote "so, would he give her, like, caterpillars in exchange? birds?" and added that what grabs his attention about a song like "Butterflies" is not the "melody but the weirdly ringing wrench-against-faucet clang on the backbeat."[14] Christie Leo of the New Straits Times gave the track a more positive review, calling the song a "luxuriant" ballad.[6] Pop music critic Robert Hilburn, writing for the Los Angeles Times, described "Butterflies", and another song from Invincible ("Speechless"), as being "as woefully generic as their titles".[15] A journalist of the same publication felt that track was about romantic "jitters".[16] Darryl Frierson of University Wire felt that songs like "Butterflies" can set the "mood for any romantic interlude".[17] Joel Rubinoff of The Record said that "Butterflies" was one of the "only good songs" from Invincible,[18] while a writer for The Atlanta Journal cited the song as being a "decent track".[19]

A writer for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution viewed "Butterflies" as being "laid-back".[3] Mark Anthony Neal of PopMatters wrote in his music review for Jackson's 2002 album, entitled Love Songs, that in song's such as "Butterflies", it shows the "essence" of Jackson's "genius has been in the boy's uncanny ability to perform, even the mundane, outside of the box."[20] Elliot Sylvester of The Independent felt that ballads on Invincible such as "Speechless and "Butterflies" are "almost to a formulaic fault."[21] Chicago Tribune rock music critic Greg Kot said that Jackson is not "convincing as the vulnerable ladies' man on drippy ballads" such as "Butterflies".[22] Stephen Thomas Erlewine, a writer for Allmusic, commented that Invincible was "highlighted" by "lovely ballads" such as "Break of Dawn" and "Butterflies".[9] David Browne of Entertainment Weekly wrote in his review for Invincible that, "The ballads are a squishy bunch with glaringly banal lyrics, pleasantries like 'Butterflies' and 'Break of Dawn' that could emanate from just about" anyone.[23] A journalist for The Philadelphia Inquirer called the track "gorgeous"[24] and Bomani Jones of Salon.com called "Butterflies" a "sparkling" track.[25] Ben Rayer of the Toronto Star wrote that Jackson "fares best" on "Butterflies".[11]

Catherine Halaby of the Yale Daily News said that songs on the album like "Heaven Can Wait", "Butterflies", and "You Are My Life" "fulfill the quota for sugary ballads".[26] Jon Pareles, writing for The New York Times, said that tracks on Invincible like "Butterflies"' and "Don't Walk Away" are "melting love ballads".[7] Pareles noted in his review for the album that songs on it are recurring themes present on Jackson's albums, such as love ballads, as well as tracks pertaining to making the world a better place.[7] Tim Perzyk of the Duke Chronicle wrote, "By the time 'Butterflies' spins on track seven, it's unclear why Michael didn't record a collaborative boxed set with Mariah Carey, whose 'Heartbreaker,' 'Breakdown' and 'Butterfly' would fit quite nicely" into Jackson's Invincible album.[27] Pop music critic Craid Seymour of the Buffalo News wrote that "another winning tune" on the album is the "dreamy 'Butterflies,' which flows along at a groovy midtempo pace."[5] Kevin C. Johnson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch described "Butterflies" as being about the "feeling that special someone gives him."[28] Music critics writing for the South Florida Sun Sentinel said that the track shows the "shy, loving, gentle side" of Jackson.[29]

Chart performanceEdit

"Butterflies" entered the Billboard Hot 100 chart in early November 2001, at number sixty.[2] The single eventually peaked at number fourteen on the Billboard Hot 100 the week ending January 26, 2002. The track also charted within the top ten, peaking at number two, on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart on January 26, 2002;[30] the song was held from the top position from Ja Rule and Ashanti's "Always on Time" 2001 single.[31] In 2002, "Butterflies" also peaked at number thirty-six on the Billboard Top 40 Mainstream chart.[30] The track, which was released as a promotional single internationally, did not chart on any music charts outside of the United States.[32] The song was Jackson's last hit single in the United States in the final years of his career.

Track listingsEdit

Promo CD single (Epic ESK 54863)[32]
  1. "Butterflies" (album version) – 4:40
Michael Jackson - Butterflies (Track Masters Remix)[33]
  • A1. "Butterflies" (Master Mix) (featuring Eve) – 3:47
  • A2. "Butterflies" (Michael a cappella) – 2:13
  • B1. "Butterflies" (Eve a cappella) (featuring Eve) – 3:47
  • B2. "Butterflies" (Master Mix Instrumental) – 3:47

Credits and personnelEdit

  • Written and composed by Andre Harris, Michael Jackson and Marsha Ambrosius
  • Produced by Michael Jackson and Andre Harris
  • Lead vocal by Michael Jackson
  • Background vocals by Michael Jackson and Marsha Ambrosius
  • All musical instruments performed by Andre Harris
  • Horns by Norman Jeff Bradshaw and Matt Cappy
  • Recorded by Andre Harris and Bruce Swedien
  • Assistant engineering by Vidal Davis
  • Mixed by Bruce Rammkisoon



Release historyEdit

Release dates and formats for "Butterflies"
Region Date Format Label Ref.
United States November 27, 2001 Contemporary hit radio Epic [41]


  1. ^ a b Invincible liner notes Epic Records (2001)
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Johnson Jr., Billy (November 15, 2001). "Songwriter Gets The 'Butterflies'". Yahoo Music. Yahoo Inc. Retrieved May 8, 2010.
  3. ^ a b "With a new album, a popular single, and in demand as a hot commodity on television, Michael Jackson proves he's still.... A fan favorite". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Cox Enterprises. January 9, 2002. Retrieved May 8, 2010.
  4. ^ Phillips, Chuck (July 9, 2002). "Power, Money Behind Jackson's Attack on Sony, Insiders Say; Music: Some in the industry question the pop singer's motives in going after his longtime record company". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 8, 2010.
  5. ^ a b Seymour, Craig (October 26, 2001). "SAME OLD JACKO". Buffalo News. Berkshire Hathaway. Retrieved May 8, 2010.
  6. ^ a b Leo, Christie (December 2, 2001). "Article: Compelling Tori". New Straits Times. Media Prima. Archived from the original on November 4, 2012. Retrieved May 8, 2010.
  7. ^ a b c Pareles, Jon (October 28, 2001). "Music; To Regain Glory, The New Michael Imitates the Old (Page 2)". The New York Times. Retrieved May 8, 2010.
  8. ^ Watson, Vaughn (November 11, 2001). "Spears and Jackson: Mostly stuck in old grooves". Providence Journal. A. H. Belo.
  9. ^ a b Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "allmusic ((( Invincible > Overview )))". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Archived from the original on October 12, 2007. Retrieved May 8, 2010.
  10. ^ "In fans' eyes, Jackson still 'Invincible'". Daily Helmsman Online. October 31, 2010. Archived from the original on October 6, 2008. Retrieved May 8, 2010.
  11. ^ a b Rayner, Ben (October 31, 2001). "Invincible incredibly insipid ; New album is not the come-back Jackson has been hoping for". Toronto Star. Torstar.
  12. ^ a b c d "Butterflies – Michael Jackson Digital Sheet Music (Digital Download)". MusicNotes.com. Alfred Publishing Co. Inc. July 27, 2009. Retrieved September 3, 2018.
  13. ^ Barnes, Ken (December 21, 2001). "Singling out the year's high, low notes". USA Today. Gannett Co. Inc. Retrieved May 8, 2010.
  14. ^ Kogan, Frank (November 27, 2001). "The Man in the Distance". The Village Voice. Village Voice Media. Retrieved May 8, 2010.
  15. ^ Hilburn, Robert (October 28, 2001). "Michael Jackson's 'Invincible'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 8, 2010.
  16. ^ "Pop Music; Record Rack; All the King's Men Can't Help". Los Angeles Times. October 28, 2001. Retrieved May 8, 2010.
  17. ^ Frierson, Darryl (November 5, 2001). "Article: CD REVIEW: New album proves Michael Jackson is 'invincible'". University Wire. Retrieved May 8, 2010.[dead link]
  18. ^ Rubinoff, Joel (November 3, 2001). "What has Michael Jackson done to deserve this?". The Record. Retrieved May 8, 2010.
  19. ^ "He's been 'Dangerous', 'Bad,' now -- ho-hum -- 'Invincible'". The Atlanta Journal. Cox Enterprises. October 31, 2001.
  20. ^ Neal, Mark Anthony (January 15, 2002). "Michael Jackson: Love Songs". PopMatters. PopMatters Media, Inc. Retrieved May 8, 2010.
  21. ^ Sylvester, Elliot (January 14, 2002). "Invincible shows that Jackson is not". The Independent. Alexander Lebedev.
  22. ^ Kot, Greg (October 29, 2001). "Neither off-the-wall nor off-the-charts ; Michael Jackson's 'Invincible' a big disappointment". Chicago Tribune. Tribune Company. Retrieved May 8, 2010.
  23. ^ David Browne (November 9, 2001). "Invincible (2001)". Entertainment Weekly. Time Warner Inc. Retrieved May 8, 2010.
  24. ^ "King of Pop is back, with slick, soulless 'Invincible'". The Philadelphia Inquirer. November 4, 2001. Retrieved May 8, 2010.
  25. ^ Jones, Bomani (June 26, 2002). "Who's bad?". Salon.com. Salon Media Group, Inc. Archived from the original on June 24, 2010. Retrieved May 8, 2010.
  26. ^ Halaby, Catherine (November 2, 2001). "Jacko exposes mortality in Invincible". Yale Daily News. The Yale Daily News Publishing Company. Archived from the original on September 16, 2012. Retrieved May 8, 2010.
  27. ^ Perzyk, Tim (November 2, 2001). "Jackson sucks". Duke Chronicle. DSPC. Retrieved May 8, 2010.
  28. ^ Johnson, Kevin C. (November 2, 2001). "JACKSON'S "INVINCIBLE" ISN'T "BAD, "JUST "OLD"". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Lee Enterprises. Retrieved May 8, 2010.
  29. ^ "THE JACKSON LEGEND". South Florida Sun Sentinel. Tribune Company. November 30, 2001. Retrieved May 8, 2010.
  30. ^ a b "allmusic ((( Invincible > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles )))". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved February 13, 2010.
  31. ^ "Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs: Week of January 26, 2002". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. Retrieved May 8, 2010.
  32. ^ a b "MICHAEL JACKSON - BUTTERFLIES (CHANSON)". LesCharts.com. Hung Medien. Retrieved May 8, 2010.
  33. ^ "BBC Radio 1Xtra - Ace, Michael Jackson - Black History Month - R&B Hour (11am - 12 noon), Michael Jackson - R&B Hour - Black History Month Special 2017". BBC.
  34. ^ Liner notes of Invincible (2001).
  35. ^ "Michael Jackson Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved 2021-10-08.
  36. ^ "Michael Jackson Chart History (Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved 2021-10-08.
  37. ^ "Michael Jackson Chart History (Pop Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved 2021-10-08.
  38. ^ "Michael Jackson Chart History (Rhythmic)". Billboard. Retrieved 2021-10-08.
  39. ^ "Billboard Top 100 – 2002". Billboardtop100of.com. Retrieved March 26, 2020.
  40. ^ "Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs – Year-End 2002". Billboard. Retrieved October 8, 2021.
  41. ^ https://worldradiohistory.com/Archive-RandR/2000s/2001/RR-2001-11-23.pdf

External linksEdit