HIStory: Past, Present, Future, Book I
That can't be said for the second disc, called "HIStory Continues" and consisting entirely of new material -- which also happens to be the first material he released since being accused of child molestation. References to the scandal permeate almost every song, creating a thick atmosphere of paranoia. If Jackson 's music had been the equal of Thriller or Bad , the nervous, vindictive lyrics wouldn't have been quite as overbearing. Jackson certainly tries to stay contemporary, yet he has a tendency to smooth out all of his rougher musical edges with show-biz schmaltz. Occasionally, Jackson produces some well-crafted pop that ranks with his best material: R. Kelly 's "You Are Not Alone" is seductive, "Scream" improves on the slamming beats of his earlier single "Jam," and "Stranger in Moscow" is one of his most haunting ballads. Nevertheless, "HIStory Continues" stands as his weakest album since the mid-'70s.
A decade after Thriller and MTV transformed pop, Michael Jackson releases a collection that combines a classic greatest-hits anthology with a jarring and uneven new album. He still wants to be the King of Pop and to be left alone. When he bases his music in the bluntness of hip-hop, Jackson sketches funky scenarios denouncing greed, blanket unreliability and false accusation. Without Quincy Jones around to give HIStory the rich unity of Thriller and Bad or even a producer-composer like Teddy Riley to bestow his variations of ongoing style, the new album really jerks you around. With its silly heraldic cover painting and theme-park title piece, HIStory feels like the work of someone with a bad case of Thriller nostalgia. More often, this strategy backfires.
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Rather than release a standard new studio album to follow up 's Dangerous , The King of Pop issued a double album that began with a song summary of his greatest hits and finished with a second album of new material. As the first music released after Jackson's legal controversies had been made public, HIStory features a number of new songs that sound defensive, paranoid, and like a man in crisis. Even the nervous beats on "They Don't Care About Us" sound as jittery as the original lyrics, which had led to allegations of anti-Semitism and were removed at Jackson's expense.
It comprises two discs: HIStory Begins , a greatest hits compilation , and HIStory Continues , comprising new material written and produced by Jackson and collaborators. The themes include environmental awareness , isolation, greed, suicide, injustice, and Jackson's conflicts with the media. Though it received generally positive reviews, the lyrics of "They Don't Care About Us" drew accusations of antisemitism ; Jackson said the lines had been misinterpreted and replaced them on later pressings. By , it had been certified six times platinum in Europe, making it the year's best-selling album in the combined European market. Starting in the late s, Jackson and the tabloid press had a difficult relationship. In , tabloids claimed that Jackson slept in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber and had offered to buy the bones of Joseph Merrick the "Elephant Man" , both of which Jackson denied. He stopped leaking untruths to the press,  and the media began creating their own stories.