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|Studio album by Michael Jackson|
|Released||October 30, 2001|
|Recorded||October 1997 – September 2001|
|Michael Jackson chronology|
|Singles from Invincible|
Invincible is the final studio album by American recording artist Michael Jackson, released on October 30, 2001, by Epic Records. Similar to Jackson's previous material, Invincible explores themes such as love, romance, isolation, media criticism, and social issues. It was Jackson's sixth studio album released through Epic, and his final studio album released before his death in 2009.
An extensive and laborious album to make, Jackson started the multi genre production in 1997, and did not finish until eight weeks before the album's October 2001 release. Jackson recorded in over 10 different studios, and the final cost was over thirty million dollars. Combined with twenty five million toward the cost of promoting the album, Invincible is the most expensive album ever made.
The album peaked at number one in eleven territories worldwide, including the United States (with first-week sales of 363,000 units), the United Kingdom, Australia, France and Switzerland. Invincible charted within the top ten in six other territories. Upon release, the album received mixed reviews from contemporary music critics.
Invincible was one of the best-selling of 2001, being ranked at #9 on the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry's (IFPI) Top 50 Global Best Selling Albums for 2001.
During Jackson's time as a member of The Jacksons, he frequently wrote material for the group and began working on projects as a solo artist, which eventually led to recording his own studio albums, notably Thriller (1982), Bad (1987), and Dangerous (1991). The success of Thriller, which still holds its place as the best selling album of all time with a reported 65 million units sold, often over-shadowed Jackson's other projects. Prior to the release of Invincible, Jackson had not released any new material since Blood on the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix in 1997, or a studio album since HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I in 1995. Invincible was thus looked at as Jackson's 'career come back'.
Invincible is dedicated to the fifteen-year-old Afro-Norwegian boy Benjamin "Benny" Hermansen who was stabbed to death by a group of neo-Nazis in Oslo, Norway, in January 2001. The reason for this tribute was partly due to the fact that another Oslo youth, Omer Bhatti, Jackson's friend, was also a good friend of Hermansen. The dedication in the album reads, "Michael Jackson gives 'special thanks': This album is dedicated to Benjamin 'Benny' Hermansen. May we continue to remember not to judge man by the color of his skin, but the content of his Character. Benjamin ... we love you ... may you rest in peace." The album is also dedicated to Nicholette Sottile and his parents Joseph and Katherine Jackson.
Jackson began recording new material for the album in October 1997, and finished with "You Are My Life" being recorded only eight weeks before the album's release in October 2001 - the most extensive recording of Jackson's career. The tracks with Rodney Jerkins were recorded at The Hit Factory in Miami, Florida. Jackson had shown interest in including a rapper on at least one song, and had noted that he did not want a 'known rapper'. Jackson's spokesperson suggested New Jersey rapper named Fats; after Jackson heard the finished product of the song, the two agreed to record another song together for the album. Rodney Jerkins stated that Jackson was looking to record material in a different musical direction than his previous work, describing the new direction as "edgier". Jackson received credit for both writing and producing a majority of the songs on Invincible. Aside from Jackson, the album features productions by Jerkins, Teddy Riley, Andre Harris, Andraeo "Fanatic" Heard, Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, R. Kelly and Dr. Freeze Bill Gray and writing credits from Kelly, Fred Jerkins III, LaShawn Daniels, Nora Payne and Robert Smith. The album is the third collaboration between Jackson and Riley, the other two being Dangerous and Blood on the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix. Invincible is Jackson's tenth and final studio album to have been recorded and released. It was reported that it cost thirty million dollars to make the album, making it the most expensive album ever made.
Invincible is composed of R&B, hip hop, dance-pop, adult contemporary and urban songs. The album's full length is seventy-seven minutes eight seconds, and it contains 16 songs - fifteen of which were written (or co-written) by Jackson. It was noted that the album shifts between aggressive songs and ballads. Invincible opens with "Unbreakable"; the last line in the first verse recites the lyrics, "With all that I've been through/I'm still around". In a 2002 interview with the magazine Vibe, Jackson commented on his inspiration for writing "Speechless", saying
You'll be surprised. I was with these kids in Germany, and we had a big water-balloon fight - I'm serious - and I was so happy after the fight that I ran upstairs in their house and wrote "Speechless". Fun inspires me. I hate to say that, because it's such a romantic song. But it was the fight that did it. I was happy, and I wrote it in it's [sic] entirety right there. I felt it would be good enough for the album. Out of the bliss comes magic, wonderment, and creativity.
"Privacy", a reflection on Jackson's own personal experiences, is about media invasions and tabloid inaccuracies. "The Lost Children" is about imperiled children. Jackson sings in a third person in "Whatever Happens". The song's lyrics, described by Rolling Stone magazine as having a "jagged intensity", narrate the story of two people involved in an unnamed threatening situation. Invincible features four ballads: "You Are My Life", "Butterflies", "Don't Walk Away" and "Cry". "Cry", similar to Jackson's "Man in the Mirror", is about healing the world together. The lyrics to "Butterflies" and "Break of Dawn" were viewed as "glaringly banal" and it was implied that they could have been written by anyone. "Threatened" was viewed as being a story teller. The song was viewed as a "Thriller redux". The song "You Are My Life" is about Jackson's two children at the time, Prince and Paris. The song features Jackson singing, "You are the sun, you make me shine, more like the stars."
It was reported that the album had a budget of twenty five million dollars set aside for promotion. Despite this, however, due to the conflicts between Jackson and his record label, little was done to promote the album. The album spawned three singles, although all were given limited releases. "You Rock My World" was only released to radio airplay in the United States, consequently only peaking at number ten on the Billboard Hot 100. Internationally, where it was released as a commercial single, it was more successful, peaking at number one in France, number two in Norway, Finland, Denmark, Belgium and the United Kingdom, number three in Italy, number four in Australia, and five in Sweden and Switzerland. The second single, "Cry", was not released in the United States. It was only moderately successful, with the song's most successful territories being Spain, Denmark, France and Belgium, charting at number six, sixteen, thirty and thirty one.
The album's third single, "Butterflies", was only released in the United States to radio airplay, consequently only peaking at number fourteen on the Billboard Hot 100 and at number two for five weeks on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles Chart. "Heaven Can Wait" also charted at the bottom of the R&B/Hip-Hop Charts, at number seventy two due to radio airplay without an official release; the song did not chart internationally. "Unbreakable" was originally supposed to be released as a single, but it was ultimately cancelled. It was however, later included on The Ultimate Collection box set.
Unlike with most of Jackson's adult studio albums, there was no world tour to promote the album (world tour was cancelled due to conflict between Jackson and his record label. It was also confirmed in This Is It, It was cancelled due to the September 11th Attacks, as well as many others artists cancelling their upcoming concerts in late 2001 and early 2002.). There was, however, a special 30th Anniversary celebration at Madison Square Garden in September 2001 to mark Jackson's 30th year as a solo artist. The singer performed a song from Invincible and marked his first appearance onstage alongside his brothers since The Jacksons' Victory Tour in 1984. The show also featured performances by Britney Spears, Mýa, Usher, Whitney Houston, Tamia, Backstreet Boys, 'N Sync, and Slash, among other artists. The show aired on CBS in November 2001 as a two-hour television special and garnered 29.8 million viewers.
The album's promotion was met with trouble due to internal conflicts going on between Sony Music Entertainment and Jackson due to issues with his ownership with the company and the contract to this deal with Sony that was originally signed back in 1991. The issue stemmed back during production of Invincible when Jackson learned that the rights to the masters of his past releases, which were to revert to him in the early 2000s, wouldn't actually revert to him until much later in the decade. When Jackson went to lawyer who worked with him in making the deal back in 1991, he learned that the same lawyer was also working for Sony, revealing a conflict of interest he was never aware of. Not wanting to sign away his ownership in Sony Music Entertainment, Jackson elected to leave the company shortly after the album's release. After the announcement, Sony halted promotion on the album, cancelling single releases, including a 9/11 charity single that was intended to be released before Invincible.
Following Sony's decision to abruptly end all promotion for the album, Jackson made allegations in July 2002 that Mottola was a "devil" and a "racist" who did not support his African-American artists, but merely used them for his own personal gain. The singer accused Sony and the record industry of racism, deliberately not promoting or actively working against promotion of his album. Sony disputed claims that they had failed to promote Invincible with sufficient energy, maintaining that Jackson refused to tour in the United States.