In Case You Missed It – Michael Jackson’s ‘Invincible’: A Legacy Revisited

Released on October 30, 2001, Michael Jackson’s Invincible stands as the final studio album from the King of Pop, an ambitious project that marked his return to the music scene after a six-year hiatus. Despite its rocky release and subsequent mixed reception, Invincible has since been reassessed as a critical part of Jackson’s legacy, illustrating both his enduring genius and the complexities of his late career.

The creation of Invincible was nothing short of a Herculean effort. Beginning in 1997, Jackson collaborated with over 100 musicians and ten producers, culminating in what is reported to be the most expensive album ever made, with a production cost of $30 million. The recording process, which spanned four years, was extensive and labor-intensive, reflecting Jackson’s meticulous approach to his craft.

Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins, one of the key producers, recounted Jackson’s desire to explore new musical directions, pushing the boundaries with an “edgier” sound. Jerkins and Jackson even resorted to unconventional methods, such as sourcing sounds from junkyards, to create unique auditory experiences. Jackson’s commitment to innovation was further evidenced by his decision to feature artists like Carlos Santana, the Notorious B.I.G., and Slash, blending genres and expanding his sonic palette. The productions from Jerkins on this album in my opinion are flawless.

Invincible is a tapestry of R&B, pop, and soul, infused with Jackson’s reflections on love, isolation, media scrutiny, and social issues. Opening with Unbreakable, Jackson’s resilience shines through with the line, “With all that I’ve been through, I’m still around.” The album oscillates between high-energy tracks and introspective ballads, demonstrating Jackson’s versatility. Speechless, inspired by a joyous water-balloon fight with children in Germany, encapsulates Jackson’s ability to find profound beauty in simple pleasures. Meanwhile, Privacy addresses the invasive nature of media, a theme that haunted Jackson throughout his life. The Lost Children offers a poignant look at the plight of vulnerable youth, and Cry calls for global healing, echoing the sentiments of his earlier hit Man in the Mirror.

Despite its promising debut at number one on the Billboard 200 and in ten other countries, Invincible faced significant challenges. Jackson’s refusal to tour, coupled with an acrimonious relationship with Sony Music Entertainment, stunted the album’s promotional efforts.

Commercially, Invincible achieved respectable sales, earning double platinum status in the US and selling over eight million copies worldwide. The lead single, You Rock My World, reached number ten on the Billboard Hot 100 and garnered a Grammy nomination, though subsequent singles Cry and Butterflies saw limited success. In 2009, a Billboard poll named Invincible the best album of the 2000s, reflecting a shift in public perception.

Among its many facets, Invincible is notable for its heartfelt dedication to Benjamin “Benny” Hermansen, a 15-year-old boy who was tragically murdered by neo-Nazis in Norway. This tribute underscores Jackson’s enduring commitment to fighting racial injustice and advocating for a world judged not by the color of one’s skin but by the content of one’s character.

Invincible may not have reached the commercial heights or universal acclaim of Michael Jackson’s earlier albums, but it remains a testament to his unyielding creative spirit and his desire to push musical boundaries. As the years pass, the album continues to find new audiences and greater appreciation, securing its place in the annals of pop music history. Through Invincible, Michael Jackson’s legacy as a transformative artist and a voice for change endures.

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