Another kid? I thought it was Groundhog Day when I heard that shit. Another kid. Get the fuck out of here! That’s how much we love Michael. We love Michael so much, we let the first kid slide.Chris Rock, Never Scared, 2004
In retrospect, it defies belief that Michael Jackson’s career didn’t end after his 1993 child molestation scandal. He was already showing signs of commercial decline and the music scene had changed radically post-Nirvana, making acts like him look passé. And when he paid a then-astronomical $23 million to his accuser to settle a civil lawsuit and ensure his non-cooperation in the related criminal probe, it really should have been the nail in the coffin.
Instead, he weathered the scandal and even found some success during the mid-to-late 90s. HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I, his 1995 part-compilation/part-studio album, sold 22 million copies worldwide, and his 1997 remix album, Blood on the Dance Floor, became the best-selling remix album of all time.
But there was no question that his star had faded and that a large portion of the population, particularly in America, considered him to be a tabloid joke at best and a toxic, depraved predator at worst.
So he took advantage by staging two sold-out 30th anniversary concerts at Madison Square Garden that doubled as his big comeback. On September 7 and 10, 2001, big time pop stars like Usher, Whitney Houston, Marc Anthony, Britney Spears, Liza Minnelli, 98 Degrees, NSYNC, and others paid tribute by singing their versions of MJ’s songs, while Jackson performed with his brothers for the first time since the end of the disastrous Victory Tour in 1984.
He closed both shows with debut performances of “You Rock My World,” the lead single from his upcoming album, Invincible. The shows got mixed reviews (later on, there were rumors he was high during both concerts), but were, otherwise fairly well-received. Indeed, it seems like phase one of his comeback would be successful.
And then everything changed.(more…)