"Earth Song" is a song by American singer Michael Jackson from his ninth studio album HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I. It was released on November 27, 1995 as the third single from the album. It is a ballad that incorporates elements of blues, gospel and opera. Jackson had a long history of releasing socially conscious material such as "We Are the World", "Man in the Mirror" and "Heal the World". However, "Earth Song" was the first that overtly dealt with the environment and animal welfare. "Earth Song" was made for the Dangerous album but it failed to make the final cut. The song was written by Jackson and produced by Jackson, David Foster and Bill Bottrell.
|Single by Michael Jackson|
|from the album HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I|
|Released||November 27, 1995|
|Recorded||June 1989, August 1991 & September 1994 – March 1995|
|Length||6:46 (album version)|
5:02 (radio edit)
|Michael Jackson singles chronology|
|"Earth Song" on YouTube|
"Earth Song" was accompanied by a lavish music video shot in four geographical regions. The video centered on the destruction and rebirth of Earth and went on to receive a Grammy nomination in 1997. The song went number one in the United Kingdom, and was the nation's number-one Christmas single in 1995. It also topped the charts in Germany, Iceland, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland while peaking at number two in France, Ireland, and the Netherlands. Jackson went on to receive recognition from various animal and environmental organizations.
Jackson already had a history of charitable or socially conscious material. As a child, he recorded the song "In Our Small Way" for his first album Got to Be There in 1971. As an adult, he used his fame and wealth to promote various causes. In 1985, he co-wrote the charity single "We Are the World" with Lionel Richie, which was released worldwide to aid the poor in Africa and the US. The single became one of the best-selling singles of all time, with nearly 20 million copies sold and millions of dollars donated to famine relief. It was also the first time Jackson was seen as a humanitarian. All of the profits from his single "Man in the Mirror" went to charity. Jackson founded the "Heal the World Foundation" in 1992, inspired by his charity single of the same name.
Following the illness and death of Ryan White, Jackson helped draw public attention to HIV/AIDS, something that was still controversial at the time. He publicly pleaded with the Clinton Administration at Bill Clinton's Inaugural Gala to give more money to HIV/AIDS charities and research. He would go on to perform the song "Gone Too Soon" for White and other victims of the illness.
"Earth Song" was written by Jackson in the Hotel Imperial in Vienna, Austria under the working title "What About Us". An early version, which featured Jackson singing the ending in falsetto, was set to be released as part of a bonus disc for the remastered Dangerous album in 2001 but the release was cancelled; that version along with other tracks were leaked on the Internet.
"Earth Song" was produced by Jackson, David Foster and Bill Bottrell. Andrae Crouch's Choir and Jackson engage in a back and forth chant as the song reaches its climactic finale. Jackson's intent was to create a song that was lyrically deep yet melodically simple, so the whole world, particularly non-English-speaking fans, could sing along. He conceptualized a song that had an emotional message.
"Earth Song" is a ballad that incorporates elements of blues, gospel and opera. In the socially conscious track, Jackson issues a wakeup-call about the dire situations that mankind has caused and is facing, ranging from war to devastation to animals and earth itself. The song reveals itself to be highly spiritual at the end where Jackson calls on people to remember the earth is their inheritance from God via their ancestor Abraham. "What about death again" reminds all to think about eternal death, asking people to check their heart for repentance, or to see if they really cared at all. Having disfellowshipped himself from Jehovah's Witnesses, Jackson simplified his faith to focus on the Biblical Jesus Christ until his death. The song is written in the key of G♯ minor, but later modulates to B ♭ minor . "Earth Song" received mostly positive reviews from music critics. James Hunter of Rolling Stone stated, "The slow blues-operatic 'Earth Song' for all its noble sentiments, sounds primarily like a showpiece". A San Jose Mercury News review called it "flat" and "whiny", believing Jackson had already experimented with these concepts earlier in his career.
The Philadelphia Inquirer described the track as "a healing, rhythmic ballad that evokes religious imagery". A review in The Sacramento Bee was favorable, describing Jackson's vocal performance as "cool". Michael Mehle of Rocky Mountain News described the finale as "anthemic" and a "powerful gospel opus". A Ledger-Enquirer review observed of "Earth Song", "[it] enjoys the same kind of subtlety, building to a dramatic call-and-response finish with the Andrae Crouch Choir". Contra Costa Times's review called it "a bit sappy and overblown" but also acknowledged that it was "epic" and destined to be a "massive smash hit".
Jackson received the Genesis Award: 1995 Doris Day Music Award, given each year for animal sensitivity. In 2008, a writer for the Nigeria Exchange noted, "'Earth Song' drew the world's attention to the degradation and bastardization of the earth as a fall out of various human activities".
In the United Kingdom, "Earth Song" debuted at number one on the UK Singles Chart, where it remained for six weeks throughout December 1995 — beating the U2/Brian Eno project Passengers to win the Christmas number one spot — and into early 1996. During its stay at number one, "Earth Song" kept the first single released by the Beatles in 25 years, "Free as a Bird", off the number one position as well as other bookmaker favourites "Wonderwall" by Oasis and "It's Oh So Quiet" by Bjork. In early December, bookmakers correctly predicted that Jackson would keep the Beatles off the top position and go on to attain the Christmas number-one single. It went on to sell 1,210,297 copies in the nation as of September 2017.
The song also took the number one position in Iceland, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland, peaking within the top five in almost every European state. In Germany, it was Jackson's first single to reach No. 1 on the German Singles Chart and held the summit for 5 consecutive weeks.
The song was only released to radio in the US, appearing on the Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart. In 2006, "Earth Song" reached number 55 on the European Hot 100 Singles chart, following the Visionary: The Video Singles campaign, whereby 20 of Jackson's hit singles from the 1980s to the 1990s were reissued in several European countries.
The music video for "Earth Song", directed by fine art photographer Nick Brandt, was expensive and well-received; it gained a Le Film Fantastique: Best Video Award in 1996, the 1995 Doris Day Music Award at the Genesis Awards and a Grammy nomination for Best Music Video, Short Form in 1997. The production had an environmental theme, showing images of animal cruelty, deforestation, pollution, poaching, poverty and war. Jackson and the world's people unite in a spiritual chant—"Earth Song"—which summons a force that heals the world. Using special effects, time is reversed so that life returns, war ends and the forests regrow. The video closes with a request for donations to Jackson's Heal the World Foundation. The clip was shown infrequently in the United States.
The video was filmed in four geographic regions (Americas, Europe and Africa). The first location was the Amazon Rainforest, where a large part was destroyed a week after the video's completion. Natives of the region appeared in the video and were not actors. The second scene was a war zone in Karlovac, Croatia, with famous Serbian actor Slobodan Dimitrijević and the residents of the area. The third location was Tanzania, which incorporated scenes of illegal poaching and hunting into the video. No animals were harmed in the making of the "Earth Song", as the footage came from documentary archives. The final location was in Warwick, New York, where a safe forest fire was simulated in a corn field.
Earth Song was first performed on November 4, 1995 on the German TV station, Wetten, dass..?, along with Dangerous. The next performance of the song was at the Brit Awards on February 19, 1996. During the performance, singer Jarvis Cocker ran onto the stage while Jackson was dangling off the edge of the crane. He lifted his shirt, pretended to break wind and gave Jackson the V-sign. The 1996 World Music Awards was the next performance of the song on May 8, 1996. During the ending of the song, Jackson sang the line, "Tell me what about it", which was not heard in the song. On July 16, 1996, Jackson performed Earth Song at the Brunei Royal Concert at Jerudong Park Amphitheatre in Bandar Seri Begawan. Similar to the World Music Awards performance, Michael sang the line, "Tell me what about it". The song was also performed on Jackson's HIStory World Tour from September 1996 to October 1997. It was later performed at the MJ & Friends concerts in June 1999. During the Munich performance on June 27, 1999, the middle section of the bridge collapsed into the air and came falling down instead of pausing in mid-air. The fall caused severe back pain to Jackson. After the concert, Jackson was rushed to a hospital. The song was also planned for his This Is It concerts in 2009 but were cancelled due to Jackson's death. This was the last song Jackson ever performed, having rehearsed it on June 24, 2009, preparing for This Is It, hours before his death.
Brit Awards incidentEdit
On February 19, 1996, Jackson performed "Earth Song" at the Brit Awards in the United Kingdom; he was there to collect a special "Artist of a Generation" award. Jackson sang while dangling off the edge of a high rise crane elevator, which he had used the year before while performing it on the German TV show Wetten Dass. Below, a chorus of backing performers joined in and many began to embrace Jackson upon his descent.
During the performance, singer Jarvis Cocker ran onstage without permission, lifted his shirt and pretended to break wind, before giving Jackson the V-sign. Cocker was there with his band Pulp, who had been nominated for three Brit awards. He was questioned by police over claims he had assaulted some of the child performers, but he was released without charge. Cocker stated that he found the performance offensive, claiming that Jackson had portrayed himself as Christ-like and could do as he pleased because of his immense wealth and power. However, he clarified that his actions weren't personally against Jackson himself, just the performance. He stated that he admired Jackson as a performer, proclaiming that: "He can dance, [...] anybody who invents the moonwalk is alright by me". He even later claimed to be a Michael Jackson fan in 2010. Jackson condemned Cocker's behavior as "disgusting and cowardly". The incident is referred to in the book Politics and Popular Culture by John Street, Professor of Politics at the University of East Anglia. He says:
But to read popular culture as a straight-forward – or at least typical – political text is to take a very narrow view of its meaning, and hence of its political message(s). As we have noted, the text's meaning will depend on how it is heard and read. Michael Jackson may have intended his "Earth Song" as an exercise in compassion; others – like Jarvis Cocker – saw it quite differently. One reason these alternative readings emerge is because of the way the performance of popular culture engages more than a literal text, it employs gestures and symbols, tones of voice, looks and glances, all of which might tell a different story.
2010 Grammy Awards performanceEdit
The song, along with a 3-D short film that was to be featured in Jackson's series of comeback concerts This Is It was performed as a tribute to Jackson. Jennifer Hudson, Carrie Underwood, Smokey Robinson, Celine Dion and Usher all sang the song together, while the video played in the background. The film was shown in its original 3-D format during the broadcast.
Target provided free 3-D glasses to customers a week before the Grammy Awards. Paris and Prince Jackson, Jackson's oldest children, appeared shortly after the performance to accept Jackson's Lifetime Achievement Award, where they both gave a short speech. This was the first time the children had spoken publicly since the memorial service that was held for Jackson on July 7, 2009.
Earth Song (Hani Remixes)
|Austria (IFPI Austria)||Platinum||50,000*|
|Germany (BVMI)||2× Platinum||1,000,000^|
|Norway (IFPI Norway)||Gold||25,000*|
|Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)||Platinum||50,000^|
|United Kingdom (BPI)||Platinum||1,210,297|
|United States (RIAA)||Gold||500,000|
*sales figures based on certification alone
- Michael Jackson: lead vocals, backing vocals, keyboards, synthesizers, producer, vocal arrangements, rhythm arrangements
- Andraé Crouch, Sandra Crouch, and Andraé Crouch Choir: backing vocals
- David Foster: producer, keyboards, synthesizers, orchestral arrangements, vocal arrangements, rhythm arrangements
- David Paich: piano, keyboards, synthesizers
- Bill Bottrell: co-producer, guitar
- Michael Thompson: guitar
- Guy Pratt: bass guitar
- Steve Ferrone: drums
- Bruce Swedien: recording engineer, mixing
- Bill Ross: orchestration
- Steve Porcaro: synthesizer programming
- Co-performance by London Philharmonic Orchestra (Orchestral Mix only)
- Orchestral arrangement by James Horner (Orchestral Mix only)
- Kot, Greg (January 8, 1997). "Pumpkins A Smash With 7 Grammy Nominations". Chicago Tribune. p. 12. Retrieved January 14, 2018.
- Taraborrelli, p. 340–344
- "Blacks who give back". Ebony. March 1990. Retrieved July 23, 2008.
- Taraborrelli, p. 382
- George, p. 45–46
- Harrington, Richard (February 5, 1992). "Jackson to Tour Overseas". The Washington Post.
- "Stars line up for Clinton celebration". Daily News of Los Angeles. January 19, 1993.
- Smith, Patricia (January 20, 1992). "Facing the music and the masses at the presidential gala". The Boston Globe.
- Jackson, Michael. HIStory booklet. Sony BMG. p 36
- "Jackson disappoints with HIStory". Ledger Enquirer. June 23, 1995. Retrieved November 13, 2008.
- Grant, Adrian (1998). Michael Jackson : Making History. Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-7119-6723-7.
- Knopper, Steve (28 June 2016). MJ: The Genius of Michael Jackson. Simon and Schuster. pp. 233–. ISBN 978-1-4767-3038-7.
- Pareles, Jon (June 18, 1995). "Pop View; Michael Jackson Is Angry, Understand?". The New York Times. Retrieved December 5, 2008.
- Hunter, James (August 10, 1995). "Michael Jackson HIStory". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on June 22, 2008. Retrieved July 23, 2008.
- Mehle, Michael (June 20, 1995). "Can Michael Jackson make a comeback?". Rocky Mountain News. Retrieved November 13, 2008.
- "Jackson promises new CD in spring". The Philadelphia Inquirer. February 25, 1995. Retrieved 2008-08-18.
- "Unsupported Browser or Operating System". Musicnotes.com. Retrieved 2014-03-31.
- "Is Michael Jackson HIStory?". San Jose Mercury News. June 19, 1995. Retrieved December 5, 2008.
- "Michael Jackson back from Neverland..." The Sacramento Bee. June 20, 1995. Retrieved November 13, 2008.
- "HIStory's a Thriller". Contra Costa Times. June 18, 1995. Retrieved November 13, 2008.
- "The 19 greatest key changes in music history". ShortList. October 1, 2017. Retrieved January 13, 2018.
- George, p. 48–50
- Sylva, Ifedigbo (October 27, 2008). "Scammers New Anthem; "Mugu Don Pay !!!". Nigeria Exchange. Retrieved December 5, 2008.
- "MJ visionary". Sony BMG. Archived from the original on April 8, 2008. Retrieved November 5, 2008.
- Hinckley, Davis (December 5, 1995). "Extra! Extra!". New York Daily News. Retrieved November 15, 2008.[dead link]
- British Hit Singles and Albums. Guinness World Records. 2006. p. 49. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- Copsey, Rob (September 19, 2017). "The UK's Official Chart 'millionaires' revealed". Official Charts Company. Retrieved September 19, 2017.
- "M. Jackson - Earth Song (nummer)". www.ultratop.be. Retrieved November 9, 2008.
- "Die ganze Musik im Internet". musicline.de. Archived from the original on 2014-04-07. Retrieved 2014-03-31.
- "Artist Chart History - Michael Jackson". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media. Archived from the original on May 6, 2008. Retrieved November 11, 2008.
- "Michael Jackson - Chart history". Billboard. Retrieved 2014-03-31.
- Michael Jackson HIStory on Film volume II VHS/DVD
- "History on Film, Vol. 2". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media. Archived from the original on May 6, 2008. Retrieved September 15, 2008.
- Pinkerton, Lee (1997). The Many Faces of Michael Jackson. Music Sales Distribution. p. 55. ISBN 0-7119-6783-0.
- "Brits behaving badly". BBC. March 4, 2000. Retrieved December 5, 2008.
- McKie, John (February 21, 1996). "Brits brawl as Cocker 'pulps' Jackson chorus". The Independent. London. Retrieved May 1, 2010.
- Pryor, Fiona (February 14, 2007). "Bad behaviour at the Brit Awards". BBC News. Retrieved May 1, 2010.
- Jarvis Cocker press conference on Brit Awards and Michael Jackson, retrieved 2019-11-29
- Stephen Merchant interviews Jarvis Cocker, retrieved 2019-11-29
- "BBC Radio 4 - Chain Reaction, Series 6, Stephen Merchant interviews Jarvis Cocker". BBC. Retrieved 2019-11-29.
- Street, John (1997). Politics and Popular Culture. Temple University Press. p. 36. ISBN 1-56639-603-4.
- "Australian-charts.com – Michael Jackson – Earth Song". ARIA Top 50 Singles.
- "Austriancharts.at – Michael Jackson – Earth Song" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40.
- "Ultratop.be – Michael Jackson – Earth Song" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
- "Ultratop.be – Michael Jackson – Earth Song" (in French). Ultratop 50.
- "Top RPM Singles: Issue 2878." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved August 26, 2019.
- "Top RPM Adult Contemporary: Issue 2879." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved August 26, 2019.
- "Top National Sellers" (PDF). Music & Media. Vol. 13 no. 16. April 20, 1996. p. 20. Retrieved February 16, 2020.
- "Top National Sellers" (PDF). Music & Media. Vol. 12 no. 50. December 16, 1995. p. 17. Retrieved February 16, 2020.
- "Eurochart Hot 100 Singles Week 3/96" (PDF). Music & Media. Retrieved April 30, 2019.
- "Michael Jackson: Earth Song" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland.
- "Lescharts.com – Michael Jackson – Earth Song" (in French). Les classement single.
- "Offiziellecharts.de – Michael Jackson – Earth Song". GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved May 22, 2019.
- "Top National Sellers" (PDF). Music & Media. Vol. 13 no. 8. February 24, 1996. p. 18. Retrieved February 16, 2020.
- "Íslenski Listinn NR. 154 Vikan 27.1. - 2.2. '96" (PDF). Dagblaðið Vísir. January 27, 1996. p. 38. Retrieved April 10, 2018.
- "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Earth Song". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved August 26, 2019.
- "Top National Sellers" (PDF). Music & Media. Vol. 13 no. 5. February 3, 1996. p. 13. Retrieved November 26, 2019.
- "Dutchcharts.nl – Michael Jackson – Earth Song" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
- "Charts.nz – Michael Jackson – Earth Song". Top 40 Singles.
- "Norwegiancharts.com – Michael Jackson – Earth Song". VG-lista.
- "Notowanie nr726-727". Nowe Media, Polskie Radio S.A. LP3.polskieradio.pl. Retrieved July 18, 2018.
- "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
- Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2.
- "Swedishcharts.com – Michael Jackson – Earth Song". Singles Top 100.
- "Swiss Singles Chart Archives". hitparade.ch. Retrieved July 18, 2009.
- "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved May 27, 2017.
- "Michael Jackson Chart History (Dance Club Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved May 27, 2017.
- "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Earth Song". Irish Singles Chart.
- "Italiancharts.com – Michael Jackson – Earth Song". Top Digital Download.
- "Spanishcharts.com – Michael Jackson – Earth Song" Canciones Top 50.
- "Swisscharts.com – Michael Jackson – Earth Song". Swiss Singles Chart.
- "Michael Jackson". Official Charts Company.
- "Danishcharts.com – Michael Jackson – Earth Song". Tracklisten.
- "Michael Jackson - Chart history". Billboard. Retrieved 2014-03-31.
- "Download French Single Top 50". LesCharts.com. Hung Medien. Archived from the original on 2011-08-16. Retrieved 2010-05-17.
- "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
- "Michael Jackson - Earth Song (song)". SwedishCharts.com. Hung Medien. Retrieved 2010-05-17.
- "UK Singles Chart". The Official Charts Company. Archived from the original on July 30, 2008. Retrieved 2010-05-17.
- "Michael Jackson Chart History (Digital Song Sales)". Billboard.
- "Rapports annuels 1995" (in French). Ultratop. Retrieved August 26, 2019.
- "Classement Singles – année 1995" (in French). SNEP. Archived from the original on February 14, 2009. Retrieved August 26, 2019.
- "Top 100 Single–Jahrescharts 1995" (in German). GfK Entertainment. Retrieved October 30, 2018.
- "Jaaroverzichten – Single 1995" (in Dutch). MegaCharts. Retrieved August 26, 2019.
- "Årslista Singlar, 1995" (in Swedish). Sverigetopplistan. Retrieved May 30, 2020.
- "Top 100 Singles 1995". Music Week. January 13, 1996. p. 9.
- "Jahreshitparade Singles 1996" (in German). Retrieved August 26, 2019.
- "Jaaroverzichten 1996" (in Dutch). Ultratop. Retrieved August 26, 2019.
- "Rapports annuels 1996" (in French). Ultratop. Retrieved August 26, 2019.
- "Music & Media 1996 in Review – Year End Sales Charts" (PDF). Music & Media. Vol. 13 no. 51/52. December 21, 1996. p. 12. Retrieved February 4, 2020.
- "Classement Singles – année 1996" (in French). Archived from the original on September 13, 2012. Retrieved August 26, 2019.
- "Top 100 Single–Jahrescharts 1996" (in German). GfK Entertainment. Retrieved August 7, 2015.
- "Árslistinn 1996". Dagblaðið Vísir (in Icelandic). January 2, 1997. p. 25. Retrieved May 30, 2020.
- "Top 100–Jaaroverzicht van 1996". Dutch Top 40. Retrieved February 27, 2020.
- "Jaaroverzichten – Single 1996" (in Dutch). MegaCharts. Retrieved August 26, 2019.
- "Årslista Singlar, 1996" (in Swedish). Sverigetopplistan. Retrieved May 30, 2020.
- "Schweizer Jahreshitparade 1996" (in German). Retrieved August 26, 2019.
- "Top 100 Singles 1996". Music Week. January 18, 1997. p. 25.
- "Austrian single certifications – Michael Jackson – Earth Song" (in German). IFPI Austria. Retrieved 1 July 2017.
- "Ultratop − Goud en Platina – singles 1996". Ultratop. Hung Medien. Retrieved 4 September 2018.
- "French single certifications – Michael Jackson – Earth Song" (in French). Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique. Retrieved 1 July 2017.
- "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Michael Jackson; 'Earth Song')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. Retrieved 1 July 2017.
- "Trofeer > 1996" (in Norwegian). IFPI Norsk. Archived from the original on 5 November 2012. Retrieved 1 July 2017.
- "The Official Swiss Charts and Music Community: Awards (Michael Jackson; 'Earth Song')". IFPI Switzerland. Hung Medien. Retrieved 1 July 2017.
- "British single certifications – Michael Jackson – Earth Song". British Phonographic Industry. Select singles in the Format field. Select Platinum in the Certification field. Type Earth Song in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
- "American single certifications – Michael Jackson – Earth Song". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH.
- Lecocq, Richard; Allard, François (October 23, 2018). Michael Jackson All The Songs: The Story Behind Every Track. Cassell. pp. 467–468. ISBN 978-1788400572.