Leave Me Alone (Michael Jackson song)

"Leave Me Alone" is a song by American artist Michael Jackson from his seventh studio album, Bad (1987). In February 1989, it was released as the eighth single from the album, though only outside the United States and Canada. It only appears on the CD and 2001 cassette editions of Bad. It was written and composed by Jackson and produced by Jackson and Quincy Jones.

"Leave Me Alone"
Leave Me Alone (Micheal Jackson single) coverart.jpg
Single by Michael Jackson
from the album Bad
B-sideHuman Nature (album version)[1]
ReleasedFebruary 1989
StudioWestlake Recording Studios (studio D), Los Angeles[1]
Songwriter(s)Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson singles chronology
"Smooth Criminal"
"Leave Me Alone"
"Liberian Girl"
Music video
"Leave Me Alone" on YouTube
Audio sample
"Leave Me Alone"

"Leave Me Alone" peaked at number one and two in Ireland and the United Kingdom respectively and reached the top ten in Belgium, New Zealand and Spain. "Leave Me Alone" was generally well received by critics. In the music video, Jackson pokes fun at the rumors about him. The video was the recipient of a Grammy Award in 1990 for Best Music Video. The song was never performed on any of Jackson's tours.


"Leave Me Alone" was a response to negative rumors about Jackson that frequently appeared in the tabloids post-1985 after the success of Thriller.[2] Beginning in 1986, the tabloids began to publish rumors about Jackson, one of the first being a story claiming that Jackson slept in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber to slow the aging process. A picture leaked out to the media of him lying down in a hyberbaric chamber at a hospital he visited. An unknown person took the picture of Jackson while he was testing out the chamber out of curiosity.

When Jackson bought a pet chimpanzee named Bubbles, the tabloids viewed it as evidence of Jackson's increasing detachment from reality.[3] It was also reported that Jackson had offered to buy the bones of Joseph Merrick, the "Elephant Man"; Jackson stated that the story was "a complete lie."[3][4] These stories inspired the derogatory nickname "Wacko Jacko", which Jackson acquired the following year, and would come to despise. Another frequent response from the media was about Jackson's plastic surgery. Jackson's manager said of the media's criticism towards the topic, "So many terrible things have been written. Okay, so he had his nose fixed, and the cleft — big deal. I got news for you, my nose has broke five times. It's been fixed twice. Who gives a shit? Who cares? Elvis had his nose done. Marilyn Monroe had her nose done, had her breasts done? Everybody's had it done."[5]

The song has been viewed as having a "paranoia theme", a theme that Jackson had frequently used on previous studio albums.[6] The Atlantic felt that Jackson showed "obvious expressions of distrust" in the song and that the song was one of multiple songs where Jackson's "persistent loneliness in his music" was "prominent".[7] In 2009, J. Edward Keyes, of Rolling Stone, described "Leave Me Alone" as sounding like "vintage Michael" and the song works because of its music, "a batch of thick chords for Jackson to vamp over".[8] Keyes noted that the song was a "kind of darker inversion" of "The Way You Make Me Feel", and that "Leave Me Alone" was "worked-up and angry, and Jackson's aggressive scraping of the high notes makes plain his frustration."[8]


"Leave Me Alone" is a funk song[9] played with a synthesizer and a guitar.[10] According to MusicNotes.com, the song is set in the key of Eb minor with Jackson's voice range being sung from Bb3 to Ab5.[11] The song's tempo is moderate and its metronome is 112 beats per minute.[11]

Critical and commercial receptionEdit

"Leave Me Alone has the angry edge that is lacking in much of the song 'Bad'."

Richard Harrington, a writer for The Washington Post[12]

"Leave Me Alone" was generally well received by contemporary music critics. Stephen Thomas Erlewine, a writer for AllMusic, stated he felt that "Leave Me Alone" was the best track on Bad, commenting "why are all of his best songs paranoid anthems?"[6] Steve Morse, a writer for The Boston Globe, described "Leave Me Alone" as a "send-up" of Jackson's feuds with the "paparazzi-filled tabloids."[13] Jon Pareles, of The New York Times, commented that "Leave Me Alone" had an "unmistakable message".[14] After Jackson's death in June 2009, Rolling Stone listed "Leave Me Alone" as being one of Jackson's most monumental work, and the song's composition was generally praised.[8]

"Leave Me Alone" performed well on various charts. It was released as a single outside the United States and Canada. The song, similar to Bad's previous singles, proved to be a commercial success internationally. "Leave Me Alone"'s most successful territory was Ireland, where the song peaked at No. 1.[15] The song saw similar chart success on the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Norwegian and Switzerland charts, peaking within the top 10 at Nos. 2, 5, 6 and 10, respectively.[16][17] "Leave Me Alone" also peaked within the top 20 in Austria, France and Sweden, peaking at Nos. 15, 17 and 19, respectively.[16] The single was least successful in Australia, where the song peaked at number 37.[18]

Music videoEdit

A newspaper with the headline reading "Michael Sleeps In Hyperbaric Chamber". The headline is a reference to a frequent rumor (which Jackson said was false) that he slept in a hyperbaric chamber, with an identical photo shown to the one that was attached to the stories, which showed Jackson lying in a glass box. A male Indian peafowl is shown looking at the camera.

The music video for "Leave Me Alone" was directed by Jim Blashfield, produced by Jim Blashfield and Paul Diener and released on January 2, 1989. The video also appeared in the 1988 film Moonwalker.[19] In essence, the video is an amusement park consisting of stylistically crude images based around Jackson's successful career since 1982's Thriller. There is an emphasis on the tabloid view of Jackson's personal life and public image, referring to the nickname "Wacko Jacko" given to him by the press, and the various headlines associated with him in the 1980s.[20] Lampooning rumours that he tried to purchase Joseph Merrick's bones, Jackson dances with stop motion "Elephant Man" bones in the video.[20]

In the video, there are images of shrines to actress Elizabeth Taylor, a real life close friend of Jackson. Throughout the video newspaper headlines, published by "National Intruder", with bizarre titles are shown, such as "Michael's Space-Age Diet" and "Michael Proposes to Liz". Another notable scene in the music video was a nose being chased by a surgical scalpel, which was a reference to Jackson's plastic surgeries being scrutinized by the media. At the end of the video, it is revealed that a gigantic Jackson himself is the amusement park. He breaks free, tearing the park to pieces. That scene is somewhat reminiscent of Gulliver's Travels, where Gulliver eventually breaks free from the Lilliputians' bonds.[21]

"Leave Me Alone" was the recipient of multiple nominations for its music video. The video won a Grammy Award in 1990 for Best Short Form Music Video at the 32nd Grammy Awards.[22] Also "Leave Me Alone" video won the Cannes Gold Lion Award for Best Special Effects (http://www.blashfieldstudio.com/musicvideos.html) The video also received six nominations at the 1989 MTV Video Music Awards for Video of the Year, Viewers' Choice, Breakthrough Video, Best Editing and Best Art Direction; the video won Best Special Effects.[23] The video lost its six nominations to Neil Young's "This Note Is for You" ("Video of the Year"), Art of Noise ("Breakthrough Video"), Paula Abdul ("Best Editing"), and Madonna's "Express Yourself" ("Best Cinematography", "Best Art Direction") and "Like a Prayer" ("Viewers' Choice").[23] Erlewine described the music video as being "weirdly claustrophobic" and felt that, "not coincidentally," it was the "best video from the album."[6]

Track listingEdit



Credits adapted from Bad: Special Edition's liner notes:[10]

  • Written, composed, vocal synthesizer, solo and background vocals by Michael Jackson
  • Produced by Quincy Jones
  • Co-produced by Michael Jackson
  • Larry Williams: Drum programming, synthesizers
  • Paul Jackson, Jr.: Guitar
  • Casey Young: Synclavier, synthesizer programming
  • Greg Phillinganes: Synthesizer
  • Rhythm and vocal arrangements by Michael Jackson

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c Lecocq, Richard; Allard, François (2018). "Bad". Michael Jackson All the Songs: The Story Behind Every Track. London, England: Cassell. ISBN 9781788400572.
  2. ^ Rodman, Sarah (June 26, 2009). "Michael Jackson, pop's uneasy king, dead at 50". The Boston Globe. Retrieved February 8, 2010.
  3. ^ a b "Music's misunderstood superstar". BBC News Online. June 13, 2005. Retrieved January 26, 2010.
  4. ^ Tucker, Ken (June 25, 2009). "Beyond the Pale". Entertainment Weekly. Time Inc. Retrieved January 27, 2010.
  5. ^ "Cover Story: Is Michael Jackson for Real?". Archived from the original on July 3, 2009.. Rolling Stone.
  6. ^ a b c Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Michael Jackson – Bad". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved February 7, 2010.
  7. ^ Hsu, Hua (June 26, 2009). "MJ R.I.P." The Atlantic. Retrieved February 8, 2010.
  8. ^ a b c Keyes, J. Edwards (June 26, 2009). "Michael Jackson: The Essential Playlist". Rolling Stone. Retrieved February 9, 2010.
  9. ^ Lecocq, Richard (2011). Michael Jackson King: 1979-2009 : l'Oeuvre (in French). Publibook. p. 151. ISBN 978-2-7483-6358-6.
  10. ^ a b Bad: Special Edition (Media notes). Epic Records. 2001.
  11. ^ a b "Leave Me Alone By Michael Jackson – Digital Sheet Music". MusicNotes.com. Sony/ATV Music Publishing. Retrieved February 11, 2010.
  12. ^ Harrington, Richard (August 31, 1987). "Article: Jackson's `Bad': Looking Good; Not a `Thriller' but It's Full of Flash". The Washington Post. HighBeam Research. Archived from the original on November 3, 2012. Retrieved February 9, 2010.
  13. ^ Morse, Steve (January 10, 1989). "Michael's Magic Show Continues". The Boston Globe. NewsBank. Retrieved February 9, 2010.
  14. ^ Pareles, Jon (August 31, 1987). "Pop Review: Michael Jackson's 'Bad'; A Follow Up To A Blockbuster". The New York Times. Retrieved February 9, 2010.
  15. ^ a b "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Leave Me Alone". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved July 30, 2013.
  16. ^ a b c d e f g "Ultratop.be – Michael Jackson – Leave Me Alone" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved July 30, 2013.
  17. ^ a b "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved June 20, 2013.
  18. ^ a b "Australian-charts.com – Michael Jackson – Leave Me Alone". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Retrieved July 30, 2013.
  19. ^ "Moonwalker". Variety. January 1, 1988. Retrieved January 25, 2010.
  20. ^ a b Considine, J.D. (February 1, 1989). "Michael Jackson: The Man Inside 'Moonwalker' Video". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Retrieved April 6, 2010.
  21. ^ Harrington, Richard (January 10, 1989). "Videos; `Moonwalker': It's Baaad; Michael Jackson's Extravagant New Arrival". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on March 6, 2016. Retrieved April 6, 2010.
  22. ^ "Grammy Awards 1990". Rock On The Net. Retrieved February 8, 2010.
  23. ^ a b "1989 Video Music Awards". MTV. Viacom. Retrieved February 9, 2010.
  24. ^ "Austriancharts.at – Michael Jackson – Leave Me Alone" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved July 30, 2013.
  25. ^ a b "Lescharts.com – Michael Jackson – Leave Me Alone" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved July 30, 2013.
  26. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Michael Jackson - Leave Me Alone" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40. Retrieved July 30, 2013.
  27. ^ a b c "Dutchcharts.nl – Michael Jackson – Leave Me Alone" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved July 30, 2013.
  28. ^ "Charts.nz – Michael Jackson – Leave Me Alone". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved July 30, 2013.
  29. ^ "Norwegiancharts.com – Michael Jackson – Leave Me Alone". VG-lista. Retrieved July 30, 2013.
  30. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (in Spanish) (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2.
  31. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – Michael Jackson – Leave Me Alone". Singles Top 100. Retrieved July 30, 2013.
  32. ^ "Swisscharts.com – Michael Jackson – Leave Me Alone". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved July 30, 2013.
  33. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – Michael Jackson – Leave Me Alone". GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved March 13, 2019.
  34. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Leave Me Alone". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved July 30, 2013.
  35. ^ "Italiancharts.com – Michael Jackson – Leave Me Alone". Top Digital Download. Retrieved July 30, 2013.
  36. ^ "Spanishcharts.com – Michael Jackson – Leave Me Alone" Canciones Top 50. Retrieved July 30, 2013.
  37. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved July 30, 2013.
  38. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved July 30, 2013.

External linksEdit