129. Michael Jackson featuring LTB – ‘Black Or White’ (1991)

“It’s not about races
Just places, faces, where your blood comes from
It’s where your space is
I’ve seen the bright get duller
I’m not gonna spend my life being a colour”

Taken from the album Dangerous

Also released on HIStory: Past, Present & Future – Book 1, Number Ones, The Ultimate Collection, The Essential Michael Jackson, Visionary: The Video Singles, King Of Pop, The Collection and This Is It

US #1, UK #1, AUS #1

There are about ten Michael Jackson singles that are his undisputed, absolute classics. It will be a very rare occasion indeed to find someone who disagrees. Depending on exactly which singles you consider to belong to that group, ‘Black Or White’ may be the final one. Going to number one in a ridiculous amount of countries around the world and remaining one of his best-known singles, it is also one of his very best.

Starting with that awesome father/son argument about the rock music playing too loud too late at night, and then kicking into that amazing guitar riff, ‘Black Or White’ is hard, fierce and in your face, but all with good intentions. Largely perceived as an anti-racism song even though the main hook of “If you’re thinking about my baby it don’t matter if you’re black or white” has little to do with prejudice, the verses do take a stance against stereotyping and race wars. The lines about not being scared of “no sheets” and “don’t tell me you agree with me, when I saw you kicking dirt in my eye” are two of Michael’s most powerful moments.

‘Black Or White’ was also accompanied possibly the biggest music video event ever. Wikipedia tells me it premiered simultaneously in 27 countries with 500 million people watching, which puts the Youtube premieres of the present day to shame. The video isn’t his best but it is fascinating to watch, especially the final sequence which was controversial for it’s apparent use of unneccesary crotch-grabbing and violence. It was an amazing breakdown and a classic dance sequence, all of which made ‘Black Or White’ even more awesome than it already was. As mega-commercial radio hit or anti-racism rant, I’m guessing this song will remain in the minds of the publics for a long time yet.

Music video:

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