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Revisiting Invincible

invinciblecoverA friend of mine, Chris Kohler, passed along this fantastic review of Michael Jackson’s Invincible album. I thought I would feature it here on my blog to generate some discussion since a) the ten-year anniversary is approaching, and b) I will be discussing the album on BlogTalkRadio with Reverend Gross this Sunday, September 25 at 12:00pm. Is Invincible MJ’s best album? Feel free to chime in on the comments below.

INVINCIBLE GOOSEBUMPS

Chris Kohler

Have been soaking in the waters of Invincible again, such a wonderful place to be – and so many new things pop into my ears when I leave an album for a while and return to it again, the moth after the flame…

I’m actually going to go against the Maestro Michael Jackson on something in reference to this album though…

I know there’s good science behind the order of the tracks on any album, and that issue is decided after lengthy consideration and taken very seriously. Indeed it’s more art than science.

Curiously, I find that I prefer listening to Invincible on “random” or “shuffle” if you will, rather than in the order it was originally released in.

The first three tracks (Unbreakable/Heartbreaker/Invincible), all co-produced by Rodney Jerkins and co-written by MJ and members of the Jerkins team, are all very strong songs – not much time gap in between – sympathetic rhythms/tempos – sharing an almost monotonic sound in the verses not heard since In The Closet – sometimes it feels like they can be strung together as a unit, a megamix, experienced as all one song. It works.

But – I find them to be even more interesting individually.

So I now break them up whenever I listen to this album and I like it better.

Hope the Master doesn’t mind.

Look at how many people co-wrote songs with MJ on this album!

The order of the names indicates the importance in the contribution to the song.

Some of the lyrics that give me goosepimples from Invincible: (italics mine)

You can try to stop me, but it won’t do a thing

No matter what you do, I’m still gonna be here

Through all your lies and silly games

I’m a still remain the same, I’m unbreakable

(Unbreakable)

Now many times I’ve told you of all the things I would do

But I can’t seem to get through no matter how I try to

So tell me how does it seem that you ain’t checking for me

When I know that I could be more than you could ever dream

(Invincible)

The entire song of “Heaven Can Wait” gives me goosepimples.

Extraordinary song. Starts out like an R&Bish love song, then goes so much deeper, can’t box it in genres, MJ is shoutin’ the blues on the chorus, getting into spirit, from that point on (“You’re beautiful”) it is a song that ONLY Michael Jackson could do and his delivery and personal vocal touches are –well– heavenly. He just owns it.

I’d hate to see anyone else try this song.

“You Rock My World” – probably the most potential of wide appeal chart-topper on this album – I don’t recall its highest chart position but I bet somebody does – wonderful hoppin’ song, irresistible really, can’t understand why the fans didn’t choose it for TII…

I caress you, let you taste us, just so blissful… listen

I would give you anything baby, just to make my dreams come true

Oh baby you give me butterflies

(Butterflies)

I know he didn’t write those lyrics but his delivery of them is so intense (let you taste us, an unusual lyric in the first place, becomes palpable) that as usual he just owns it…

You gave me hope when all hope is lost

You opened my eyes when I couldn’t see

Love was always here waiting for me

(You Are My Life)

That last line a triumphant release vocally – this one’s for his kids – great significance here in the discovery of where he could concentrate all that love he’d been carrying around for so long, without worrying about the agendas of others…

“Don’t Walk Away” – oh my – could anyone else do better at verbalizing the end of a deep love?

This may be my favorite MJ ballad.

The agonizing conflict here between “When there’s nothing left to do but walk away” and “Can’t you see, I don’t wanna walk away”, which are rendered differently in musical terms too, perhaps hinting that his strongest emotion lay in the latter sentiment.

This one seems straight from his heart.

The final phrase “Don’t walk away”, unembellished, echoing, abruptly ending the song…

You hang there as he does. Nothing left to say. Done.

Nothing in the liner notes about the band or orchestration on this track but the guitar work is excellent.

But again he had co-writers. Teddy Riley, your contributions to MJ’s art probably can’t be quantified or diminished.

Whatever happens, don’t let go of my hand

(Whatever Happens)

Again collaboration with Teddy Riley and several others, and again a feeling I get that this came straight out of MJ’s life and I get a vivid mental picture of the time period and person involved.

To suddenly drop the listener immediately into his story, literally mid-conversation, and vividly share a moment in time, just a small moment that made a big impact on him and triggered a song… that’s the mark of a great storyteller. One of his many cinematic songs. With goosepimples… and premonitions.

Every time your lady speaks she speaks to ME, threatened

Half of me you’ll never be, so you should be threatened by me

(Threatened)

A more delightful bit of musical testosterone and bravado, I have yet to hear!

“Threatened”!

Oh my gosh.

Sardonic, sarcastic, caustic, powerful. Unique and breathtaking.

This, the most unusual in the “Michael as Monster” series begun with “Is It Scary”.

Every line is satiric and MJ almost spits them out, he feels the truth behind what he says and yet he makes it art instead of insult and delight wrapped inside defiance.

He flings his omnipresent/outcast status in your face, firing in staccato bursts.

It thrills me to hear what he can create out of the irony of his life and the ignorance embedded in human nature.

His personal torture becomes an inside joke, an intimate moment he can share with you the listener who is privy to the point he’s making because you’ve read the headlines…

The concept is amazing – and to top it off, who else would invest in a “rapped” intro and outro by Rod Serling??

What other performer had more time spent in the Twilight Zone and knew it?

(Remember the infamous Twilight Zone episode where a woman is having her face surgically altered to fit into the general population, who find her horrifying to gaze upon? The denouement that shows you that the crowd of doctors around her, unwrapping their latest attempt and again failing to change her to their satisfaction, are themselves incredibly ugly and she is beautiful?  I’m certain that its message about being different and what constitutes beauty to the mass mind was not missed by the ravenous mind of Michael Jackson.)

Goosebumps in that song from the first note to the last.

The other Invincible tracks I don’t quote here are also top-notch and cover an interesting emotional and creative spectrum:

  • • “Break of Dawn”, a gorgeous song brought to MJ by Dr. Freeze and I suspect totally Michaelized and energized by the singer, will make the sweat run down your body in anticipation…
  • • “Speechless” has the courage and simplicity of acapella bookends to balance the artist as he takes a broad brush to some complex emotional lyrics…
  • • “2000 Watts” has cheeky symbolism that may be an ode to electronics, a “guy song” like “Speed Demon” – or a hidden user’s manual for sexual satisfaction! Was that a wink between Jackson and Riley? Was that synthesized MJ or his real voice? (I think the latter)
  • • “Privacy”, with a sinister whisper perhaps belying the scream of frustration the artist truly felt at his lifelong disrespectful treatment and intrusion by media, a continuation of the wonderful and sassy “Tabloid Junkie” but now quietly more angry…
  • • “Cry” and “The Lost Children”: every Jackson album needs an anthem and these are them. Both are lovely. R. Kelly at his most obtuse, perhaps deliberately, but touching lightly upon the artist’s controversial hot buttons (“You can change the world…” “You’re the chosen one…” ) I visualize MJ reading a “Have You Seen Me” advert at his breakfast table, on a milk carton or cereal box, trying to explain the concept to one of his little ones and comfort them that children get lost.

What does Invincible feel like compared to its siblings?

Off the Wall was the “coming-of-age” album. Bright sunlight, springtime colors, hormones, first loves… I’m here, pay attention!

Thriller was the “In case you somehow missed Off The Wall, helloww, I really mean it this time, POW!” album. Think I’m just R&B? Think again.

Bad was the “Flexing my muscles, warming up the legs, testing the bars of my cell…” album.
Revving the engine. The buckles and belts are tight, the ‘tude is ready. Is the world?

Dangerous was the “Get-out-of-jail-free” album. The clutch pops. BAM – I’m jet-propelled.
Pick a single, any single, it’s all good. I can drive you wild just by standing here.

History was the “up yours, there’s a lot more to me, catch it if you’re capable of it” album. Think I’m just Top 40? Think yet again! I have shades and hues!

Blood On The Dance Floor was the down-shift, somewhat distracted album. Life was getting in the way of art. More art to give you though, and in ways you may not have heard me before. Remixes make the big-time – and the Ghosts soundtrack (almost invisible to American audiences, unfortunately) casts a small spell. Was it as scary as “Morphine”?

But then, in 2001, a quiet miracle emerges, in confident stride and five different collectible colors.

Invincible is the goosebumps album.

The colors of the artist’s palette become so much more complex, the images less distinct but more meaningful. Shadows appear and are embraced. Life has cuts and bruises and broken bones.

It might have been subtitled “Irresistible” because in it the artist once again showed his innate ability to combine joy and sorrow, fear and courage, humor and truth, passion and loathing — all the emotion and pain of his life into something that we can all share with him, at whatever level we choose.

Invincible, I love you so dearly.

You are the brilliant last child who somehow went wrong but oh… so right.

Happy Tenth Anniversary, Invincible!

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Qbee September 24, 2011, 11:38 am

    Thank you Joe
    You description of Invincible is so perfect and and I felt the goosebumps just reading along with Butterfly’s. I feel Invincible has some of Michaels finest work and most beautiful songs. I think the world is ready to appreciate it much more on its 10th Anniversary becuase they can now listen without the static of the biased media trying to throw shade on it as they did when it wasfirst released.
    Thank for such a beautiful tribute. Happy Anniversary Invincible 🙂

    I would also like to remind #MJfam that we dont have control over
    the outcome of the upcoming trial but we do have control over this.

    PLEASE MAKE IT HAPPEN !
    http://www.youtube.com/user/im4mj2

  • Qbee September 24, 2011, 11:44 am

    opps Sorry Joe
    I would like to correct my mistake. I see that you didn not write this article / Tribute to Invincible, but I thank you for presenting it and also Chris Kohler for his beautiful words in describing Michael’s music.

  • hicham September 24, 2011, 3:17 pm

    Thank you for this great article……..

    and for me this album speaks about the real MJ, and as Jermaine said once as i remember that “Unbreakable” was mj ‘s favorite song… and its my favorite too cause this songs tells you How The Unbreakable MJ Deals with things normal people can’t handle…

    Invincible is by far best MJ’s album…..Best album ever made 🙂

  • Seven September 24, 2011, 4:25 pm

    This is such a great review of Invincible that after reading it I just *had* to listen to it again. Thank you Joe for sharing it and thank you Chris for writing it!

    • Chris Kohler September 24, 2011, 10:37 pm

      The pleasure is totally mine, Seven – I’m also indebted to your constant level of passion and insight about Michael Jackson, whose subtlety as a musician and innovator never ceases to amaze me.

  • Chris Kohler September 24, 2011, 5:10 pm

    So honored to be a part of your blog, Joe – by doing what you do, you’re inspiring us to really think about Michael Jackson’s art and how clearly art and man mirror one another.

    Wanted to add one last comment about Invincible:
    Above all, MJ’s music reflects his deep connection to all genres and styles of music. His own listening tastes reached the world over and back into history, from African-American roots to classical to jazz to modern touches. Invincible is so beautifully eclectic in places – from the strong skiffle-band echoes in “Heartbreaker” to the eerie orchestration that underlays “Heaven Can Wait” to the Latin influence in “Whatever Happens” to the techno bleeps and squawks all over the place… the perfect example of how organic and intuitive his approach was and what it can teach about music in general. There are no rules about what makes music “work” and any self-styled critic who tries to imply otherwise is misleading you…

  • Claudia September 24, 2011, 5:14 pm

    Thank you Joe.
    Your splendid tribute to the work of Michael stupefancente. I also felt the goose bumps listening to these songs. TII When I saw Michael for a few minutes dancing Threatened I thought it was a vision. Music and dance were born from the same source divine….in my opinion

  • Bruce September 24, 2011, 5:38 pm

    So cool that you posted this as I’ve just been re-listening to ‘Invincible’ all week. I definitely see this as a woefully overlooked album. It’s full of power, tender emotion and great storytelling. At the time I remember it being criticized for not offering anything different from MJ. I beg to differ. This album is full of more R&B than any previous MJ album. Also MJ delivers some of his best vocals ever on songs like Speechless and even proves that he can toss out tight, breezy joyful music with You Rock My World.

    I agree with the author though that the track listing has always been a sticking point for me. Too often similar songs got lumped together. However, I do like how threatened nicely loops back into Unbreakable on repeat listenings. Anyway, below I offer my preferred tracklisting.

    Unbreakable
    You Rock My World
    Break of Dawn
    Heaven Can Wait
    Heartbreaker
    Butterflies
    Speechless
    Privacy
    You Are My Life
    2,000 Watts
    Don’t Walk Away
    Cry
    Invincible
    Whatever Happens
    The Lost Children
    Threatened

    • Denise September 24, 2011, 6:40 pm

      I believe that Don’t Walk Away and Whatever Happens is about Michael and Lisa Marie Presley. I love Don’t Walk Away, it’s so haunting. I can feel his pain, it breaks my heart!

    • Weffie September 25, 2011, 6:37 am

      I will try listening to it in that order.

  • Deborah Ffrench September 24, 2011, 7:49 pm

    ” But then, in 2001, a quiet miracle emerges, in confident stride and five different collectible colors. ”

    Adore this review. Emotional, insightful, deep and true.

    Thank you Chris and Joe for hosting it.

    • Chris Kohler September 24, 2011, 10:07 pm

      A compliment from Deborah Ffrench is a compliment indeed!
      Thank you so much for sharing my thoughts.

      • Deborah Ffrench September 25, 2011, 9:58 am

        Thank you Chris! That’s such a kind thing to say.

  • leitao September 24, 2011, 9:15 pm

    I really enjoyed reading Chris’s thoughts on Invincible! Especially his description of the feel of each of MJ’s solo albums . . . spot on. XD

  • Christina (@Iluvdepp) September 25, 2011, 4:05 am

    Fantastic take on this beautiful and personal favourite of mine.

  • Anna Leticia September 25, 2011, 5:15 am

    I have to say that it was such a pleasure to read this fantastic review about Invencible, my forever favorite MJ’s album! Mainly, the analyses about the great “Don’t Walk Away” is exactly the way I feel: his deep beg, his voice is dramatically beautiful… Stunning and wonderful! Invencible is an album to “savor” from the beggining to the end.
    The comparison with the other MJ’s albums is nice and perfect.
    I totally agree that Invencible is a goosebumps album and could be named “Irresistible” because this is it.
    Chris Kohler and Joe Vogel, thank you!

  • Weffie September 25, 2011, 6:34 am

    Thank you Joe, for posting this wonderful review. It gives a wonderful description of each song – which is difficult because the songs have such a huge emotional connection, they are hard to put into words.

    Invincible was the album that really got me hooked on Michael. I mean, I was before, but this knocked me into the deep end. I was stunned by the range of emotion and vocal ability. There are some songs that are so powerful, you have to stop whatever you’re doing, lean back, close your eyes, and just listen. Michael really put his heart and soul into this album. To this day, I regret that I didn’t listen to it when it came out — I could have enjoyed it for 10 years already!

  • Tania September 25, 2011, 12:14 pm

    This is a fantastic review!

    Unfortunately, I didn’t happen across the Invincible album until after Michael Jackson passed away but it has easily become one of my most loved MJ albums. On listening to it that very first time, I can only say that I was blown away by the eclectic mix of styles and genres, risks and surprises it contained. The melodies and lyrics are punching, poignant, simplistic, pure, purposeful, complex, sincere, challenging, breathtaking, romantic, sensual and spiritual. Michael Jackson was a constantly evolving artist of the highest calibre and always explored new ways of presenting his music and the treasures to be found in Invincible are no exception. I do believe it is one of his best works for the emotional depth and personal insights it affords the listener as well as showcasing Michael’s maturing voice at its finest.

    Invincible = Irresistible
    I agree. I keep going back for more time and time again! It’s charms and allures alone ensure that. And despite being 10 years old, it still sounds fresher than much of what is currently being released.

    Thank You Chris for sharing your insightful thoughts and passions about Invincible with us and to Joe for giving her the platform to do so. God Bless you both!

    • Chris Kohler September 25, 2011, 8:23 pm

      “The melodies and lyrics are punching, poignant, simplistic, pure, purposeful, complex, sincere, challenging, breathtaking, romantic, sensual and spiritual.”

      Tania, I love your alphabet! You speak my language.
      I hope that the current campaign to encourage music lovers to once again buy Invincible succeeds beyond anyone’s wildest dreams – this album is way too significant to gather dust on a Walmart shelf. Some say it was his favorite; if so, all the more reason it should chart again and follow his other albums into the ranks of music history. Thank you for commenting.

  • TheWayYouLoveMe September 25, 2011, 2:05 pm

    Awesome article, Joe! You pretty much summed up what I’ve always felt about Invincible. Oh, and the fans did pick You Rock My World (at least my friends and I did), but the rehearsal footage for it was never shown in This Is It.

    Butterflies is MY JAM!!! And Break of Dawn..*whew*..I could go on and on but you did it for me. I love this article and I shall pass it along. It’s fans like you that keep the music and legacy alive. Thank you so much for sharing.

    All my love..<3

  • J.Leone September 25, 2011, 3:54 pm

    I love this kind of review- you can feel the excitement and passion of Mr. Kohler, which makes his opinions not only informative, but exciting to read and makes the reader “feel” the joy of the music.

    I always shake my head when I remember the comments by some reviewers back in 2001 of “Invincible”. The complaint? The album was TOO LONG!! Unbelievable! How can there ever be too much of wonderful music? It reminded me of the great line in the movie, “Amadeus”, when the king/prince? listened to Mozart’s composition he had presented to him and said, “Too many notes.” Ridiculous!

    On the gearslutz website which is for those in the recording industry, there is a whole thread of those who worked with Michael on Dangerous and other projects. The stories are priceless- both the studio stories and those on a personal level. Here is a comment from one of them about his work with Michael on the HIStory album. He describes how painful it was for Michael to cut any of his music to make it fit on a CD:

    “The final days of that album were made interesting, by Bruce giving me the task to sequence the album and edit it down to a size that we could fit onto a CD. This was no small undertaking, as about 7 minutes needed to be trimmed somewhere. I laid this all out in Sound Tools and came to know every bar of every song very intimately. I found places where songs could be tightened up and came up with many suggestions. On the night of mastering, I was put in a room at Bernie Grundman’s with my Sound Tools rig, and in this room, I would have to “negotiate” with Michael about what to take out. I’ll never forget this night…Michael came in, and Bruce told MJ that we would have to remove either 1) one whole song or 2) edit the others to fit onto a CD. We chose the latter…I started with song one and played Michael my edits, “Oh no, we can’t take THAT out…it’s my favorite part of the album!”. OK. Let’s try another, “Oh no, we MUST keep those four bars”. OK…let’s go to the vamp, which carries on for two minutes…how about removing these eight bars, “Oh no, that’s my favorite part of the vamp!”. Well, you get the picture. Meanwhile, Jimmy Jam was in with us, telling Michael that all these edits were killer and actually make things better. And over the course of about 5 hours, we got it down.” The Resonator

    A couple more general ones:

    “Oh, and one more IMPORTANT thing. I have never worked with a nicer man than Michael. He was gracious, talented as all get-out, gentle, humble, a perfect gentleman, never swore, was healthy, punctual, and just the very sweetest person I could have ever hoped to work with. Oh, what a brilliant star he was! Absolutely, gone too soon.” The Resonator

    “One morning MJ came in with a new song he had written overnight. We called in a guitar player, and Michael sang every note of every chord to him. “here’s the first chord first note, second note, third note. Here’s the second chord first note, second note, third note”, etc., etc. We then witnessed him giving the most heartfelt and profound vocal performance, live in the control room through an SM57.”

    “He would sing us an entire string arrangement, every part. Steve Porcaro once told me he witnessed MJ doing that with the string section in the room. Had it all in his head, harmony and everything. Not just little eight bar loop ideas. he would actually sing the entire arrangement into a micro-cassette recorder complete with stops and fills. ”

    There will NEVER be another Michael Jackson. Keep up the good work guys!

    • Chris Kohler September 29, 2011, 6:20 am

      J. Leone: Thank you so much for your great comment and quotes from Gearslutz. I’ve browsed that website myself and there be treasures there.

      With all due respect, Joe Vogel’s upcoming book will delve into some of that great studio detail too and if we try really hard, we can persuade him into more monographs like the awesome one about Earth Song.

      Keep writing, Joe, we’re insatiable! 🙂

  • J Mason, New York, NY September 25, 2011, 6:02 pm

    Bravo, Ms. Kohler! Your Invincible analysis is deep, thoughtful — and fun, too. May I presume to say that Michael Jackson would have loved it?

    Jackson’s music and ‘way of being’ was, is and will be his definitive autobiography. True, not every bit of narrative (lyric and note) was written by him personally. Yet, the life and its telling are entirely Michael Jackson — and that’s what matters. Presidents Reagan and Clinton are known as Great Communicators – and both courted Jackson in their day.

    Michael Jackson goes farther. He communicates, connects, and bonds with people of all ages and situations. Vision, Music, and Movement are his story telling tools and he uses them with masterful elegance to first attract, dazzle, and beguile, and then to expose the human heart in all its complexity and beauty. His road trip is long — strewn with the rose petals and perfume of love; the sweat and pain of dedication; the brickbats and stones of hate and jealousy; and the broken glass of betrayal. He tells all – not the surface names, dates and places craved by tabloidists – but the deeper, seismic revelations of cause and effect that glorify, destroy, and redeem life.

    Ms. Kohler aptly lists his solo albums — almost as major chapters in the story. I personally think Jackson was trying hard to speak truth in his way even during the Motown years. We know something about the events that formed his initial outlook on the world.

    In any case, those who carefully listen will hear, see and KNOW Michael Jackson in his flesh and Invincible spirit.

    • Chris Kohler September 25, 2011, 8:15 pm

      Ms. Mason, thanks for your kind words – and you are so absolutely right about Michael Jackson’s earlier works showing clearly the truth he lived through his music and throughout his life. I had to work backwards through the Jacksons and J5 eras since his music found me at Off The Wall – and was really impressed with the consistency I found and the evolution of his high standards and immense talent. I focused on the time frame I know best but am constantly surprised by what I haven’t yet encountered. I love surprises!
      Thank you for being such a passionate advocate for such a great artist.

      • Elizabeth December 1, 2011, 12:33 am

        Michael’s truth…. yes. It is amazing to recognize that a study of his work (along with a review of his earliest interviews, many of which are available on YouTube) reveal that Michael was ALWAYS and ONLY himself. The man who seemed so odd and alien to so many, was right there in front of us all along… just being Michael. The lyrics tell his story, if you only read them…and when you do you find a human being with a incredible gift, not just for creativity, but for kindness, humility, and love.

  • Robin W. Smith September 26, 2011, 1:46 am

    Thank you. I can’t tear myself away from the mystical, magical Michael. I feel his love in Invincible…the love of Lisa, his children, humanity. He put everything he was into this album. It is L.O.V.E.

  • Nagla September 26, 2011, 10:15 pm

    Gosh, I absolutely loved reading every single word of this review! It was amazing how I’ve been thinking the same about the first point made there. Yes, the order of the tracks could have been better. Totally agree on this one. I call the three tracks at the beginning “the triplets”.. yeah, you can consider them as a series, but when you listen to them all together consecutively, they’re just much more than you can digest! I couldn’t have put it better: “are all very strong songs – not much time gap in between – sympathetic rhythms/tempos – sharing an almost monotonic sound in the verses not heard since In The Closet.” Reading this gave me a moment of “Wow!”

    Not exactly a musical expert, but I definitely agree, and I guess most of my generation of fans would, that Invincible is indeed the finest MJ album. Thriller had brilliant tracks, it’s true.. yet as an album it lacks the diversity, richness, (I would add sweetness) and maturity of Invincible.

    Great, great review! Huge thanks to Chris and Joe.

  • SandyK September 27, 2011, 11:02 am

    “The colors of the artist’s palette become so much more complex, the images less distinct but more meaningful. ”

    “Invincible, I love you so dearly.”

    Thank you Joe! Thank you Chris!

    Delightful read!!

  • BR September 27, 2011, 4:43 pm

    Thank you for this wonderful review. I have to say that Invincible grew on me but I also have to say that it never stops growing! I agree about the shuffling because, in any order, each song distinguishes itself and there’s an anticipation followed by a nice surprise when the music starts. There’s much variety in the album (maybe because of the different collaborators) but there is variety within any one song too. The more you listen the better it gets – there are lots of little things that can be overlooked at first, but it becomes, like, “Wow, how come I never noticed that before.” And I love the strength of the album’s title and the strength of the lyrics in the title track too. And “Butterflies”… I hear them in Michael’s voice, the butterflies I mean, especially at one point (it’s not the vibrato, I swear Michael is conveying that imagery, of a butterfly I mean, and… ahhh, I’ll stop now (need to listen to something). Thanks again for a great review.

  • george October 3, 2011, 10:03 pm

    great article guys, great article indeed…i somehow agree with Chris….”Invincible” to me ended up as the victim in Sony’s war against Michael…we all know the result…..zero promotion and voila u have an underated album. I dont know and i cannot guess how it would go sales wise had it been promoted as it should have been, but it’s true u can not always “measure” art with sales right? To me , more than album it was Mike’s ultimate MANIFESTO. I dont think he was that interested in composing hit singles. I think he NEEDED to tell HIS side of the story….

    I have the feeling that after Dangerous, mike went more “introvert” and at the same time sharper with his music and his lyrics…dancing and performing were ok but i think he felt it was time he shared even deeper thoughts and feelings with his fans….if “history” was the first chapter of a new (artistic) era, “invincible” was chapter number two….and i guess we will never know what/how chapter 3 would be…..sadly…

  • Trish October 17, 2011, 4:34 am

    Thank you for this review, Joseph, I loved every word. Invincible is my favorite MJ album!

    And I find it so interesting that so many of us had the same thought about the otherwise flawless album – that the order could have been better. I thought that from the start, and indeed created my own Invincible playlist which I now listen start-to-finish repeatedly without any need to skip around:

    “Side 1”:
    You Rock My World
    Heaven Can Wait
    Heartbreaker
    Break of Dawn
    2000 Watts
    Whatever Happens

    “Side 2”:
    Unbreakable
    Don’t Walk Away
    Butterflies
    Invincible
    Cry
    Threatened

    “Bonus Track”: Speechless

    Now, I love “The Lost Children” and “Privacy”, but I just felt that they go better in different albums so I left them out of this one. And I just couldn’t figure out a way to fit in “You are my Life” – maybe someone can help me out with that. 🙂

    It’s the 10th anniversary – Sony needs to re-release Invincible!!!

    • Norma November 11, 2011, 12:00 am

      You Are My Life is my favorite song on Invincible. I cry everytime I hear it, always have, especially at the end when he starts belting. Like the moon in the night time… i love you” . Ahhhh, sweet bliss. He has so much passion in his voice. I always felt Invincible was the “true” Mike. He answered the questions he never would touch in interviews, he just let all his emotions out. How he felt about love, children, when he was in love, when he was heartbroken, and even how he felt when in the mood (you know what I am saying…lol) Perfect album! I don’t care what the sales were…this was michael giving us what we always wanted…HIM.

  • nino October 30, 2011, 6:11 pm

    Happy 10th!!!
    Thank you for the eloquence and the respect with which you reviewed this exceptional piece of work; so unjustly underrated! (But then again, what’s new…)
    Miss the Man so profoundly!

  • Chris November 21, 2011, 8:12 pm

    Ok, here we go…

    MONTHS ago I stumbled upon an article written by Vogel showcasing MJ’s TOP songs and for the most part I couldn’t agree more with the list. I’d re-arrange a few here and there but it was the “concept” of the article that counts and it had my FULL respect as I have always thought he had superior work AFTER Thriller.
    Obviously, the first thing that crossed my mind was…when is this book coming out??? I need to buy it now! Something like this needs to be put out there for the public to read (even though I do believe that the millions of devoted MJ fans know just how miraculous of a lyricist and composer he truly was) because the critics and media just didn’t get the picture for the most part.

    Now just recently – and it seems like destiny for me to be here now – I was browsing MJ’s videos on youtube and someone there had a post that Vogel’s book is out and IMMEDIATELY I had to google for it. I KNEW it was the “book” that I was awaiting for so long. Instantly, the “excitement” peaked within me at feverish heights just like with anything that has to deal with Michael Jackson. Rest assured, I will be buying this at my local bookstore today if I can track it down. Will read NOTHING about it until it sits in my hands. 🙂

    Now, onto Invincible…

    First of all, I absolutely LOVE this discussion about the genius (MJ) at work here. I’ve always hated the fact that everyone dismissed some of the incredible songs that came out of him because they were not focusing on him as a musical artist anymore. Instead, focusing all their attention on his intricate personal life. Shame, really.

    To me, Billie Jean and Beat It were rightfully kick ass, mass-appealing songs that set the world on fire. Brilliant songs and yes, still one of his greatest works to date I’d say. But also, brilliant songs from an album that to me just wasn’t “all” there. Sure, it was set up to appeal to the likes of EVERYONE but I just didn’t quite understand The Girl Is Mine, Thriller and Baby Is Mine or even The Lady in My Life. All of them I’ve hardly paid any attention to and were always skipped. Thriller to me worked wondrously with the video but sot so well as a standalone track.

    I want to keep the rest here brief as it seems I always end up writing too much when MJ is concerned and my thought always become scattered.

    With Invincible, I do think it’s an incredible album but definitely not his finest work. No way!! Bad, HIStory and ESPECIALLY Dangerous are all superior for me. Dangerous will forever and always be the crowning jewel for me. That album reached a level of perfection (not only for MJ either) that I feel can never be topped. In my opinion, of course, it is simply the finest album I have ever heard.
    I am 29 years of age now and have been listening to it back in ’93 when I was a child and Dangerous is the album that introduced me to the greatness of this genius. Today, I still listen to the album everyday. It was MJ’s “dark” and “serious” album that made you think of the streets. It was sexy, cool, haunting, spiritual and just plain classy in its execution. Out of the 14 tracks I found that 2 were only skippable. In my mind, it is the closest to perfection an album has come to be and the order of the tracks is phenomenal. I only wish that Gone Too Soon and Keep The Faith were not included as it somehow always disrupted the flow of everything else that was so perfect.

    Invincible, as great as it is, is just nowhere near on the same level as Dangerous and I think so highly of EVERY album MJ has ever released. The fact to me is that Dangerous is just so EPIC and HUGE…Invincible just doesn’t have a Black or White, Who Is It (which I think is the GREATEST song he’s ever written), Give In To Me or an In The Closet. Some of the melodies on display here are just so memorable and have killer hooks and beats that are not present anywhere else. And to think the album has so much quality like this is overwhelming.

    I’ve always thought Invincible had some filler – and yes, I may get attacked for this – but I have to state my opinion. The FIRST half of the album is superior to the 2nd half. I would have completely left songs like Speechless, Cry, The Lost Children, Privacy and You Are My Life out of the picture. The songs just aren’t strong enough for me even though it can be said that he needs an anthem in there somewhere.
    My thought on the matter is you shouldn’t put an anthem in just for the sake of it being an anthem on the album. First and foremost it should be a STRONG song and let’s face it, Cry or The Lost Children are nowhere near the level of Earth Song, Will You Be There, Man in the Mirror, Heal The World or We Are The World in quality. They are both highly forgettable songs.

    I LOVE Unbreakable and You Rock My World and MOST of the tracks off Invincible. It IS a beautiful album and had the likes of his previous ones Bad, Dangerous and HIStory not existed it WOULD be one of the greatest pop albums of all time. Sure as hell beats out the pop that is currently popular today.

    Hope I didn’t come across in a way that will anger some fans. I wanted to express my thoughts on the album that is both positive and negative and hopefully it’s mostly positive as I do think it is.

    Michael Jackson forever!

  • Mary July 4, 2013, 1:48 am

    Yay, finally a critic who doesn’t talk about Invincible being too long! Honestly. One track more than HIStory and it’s too long? Anyway…

    Gosh, I have to agree with just about everything. Invincible is my favorite album, not just because it’s awesome (though it certainly is that) but also because it brings back memories. My parents got it for my older brother’s birthday when I was about five or six…gee…Unbreakable and Speechless stayed with me for years, even though I had no idea who was singing because at that age I never thought of asking. I found out who it was and what the songs were called two years ago and was sooo happy!

    Personally, I don’t have a problem with the track listing, although I don’t *mind* mixing it up some. Personally, I think if anything were to be changed, perhaps Heartbreaker and Invincible could be put farther away from each other…but no, I like ’em like that. 🙂

    Although I love all the songs, probably my favorites are “Unbreakable,” “Break of Dawn,” “You Rock My World,” “Speechless,” “Privacy,” “Cry,” and “The Lost Children.” I love them all for different reasons – though Privacy tends to make me upset. Tabloid Junkie does the same thing.

    And yes, I agree about Threatened as being sarcastic! I wondered if maybe anybody had the same idea, or whether it was just me…but yeah, Threatened is totally sarcasm to the max. “You’re fearing me, ’cause you know I’m a beast, watching you when you sleep, when you’re in bed I’m underneath…”

    Thanks for posting

    -Mary