“Stop fucking with me!”
Written by Michael Jackson/Janet Jackson/James Harris III/Terry Lewis
Produced by Jimmy Jam/Terry Lewis/Michael Jackson/Janet Jackson
Taken from the album HIStory: Past, Present & Future – Book 1
Also released on Blood On The Dance Floor: HIStory In The Mix, King Of Pop and The Best
AUS #2, UK #3, US #5
It’s awful to keep bringing up the allegations against Michael Jackson but they really were a catalyst for some of his best music. ‘Scream’ is the harsh, filthy, spitting, slamming kick at all of his critics and all of his detractors, with his sister Janet, by far the only Jackson to even come close to his level of success or acclaim, along to show her support. As Madonna’s crown slipped a little in the mid-nineties and Prince had driven himself to irrelevancy, you could argue that by 1995 Michael and Janet were the two biggest pop stars on the planet, brought together for this dance anthem that still amazes me today.
Taking inspiration from Michael’s 1991 hit ‘Jam’, which in turn took inspiration from Janet’s 1989 hit ‘Rhythm Nation’, ‘Scream’ takes that sound to it’s logical conclusion, making it so hard and frantic that you couldn’t possibly outdo it. And neither of them ever have – this isn’t the best example of this sound and it certainly isn’t the best song by either artist, but it is the most extreme, and neither Michael and Janet ever managed to replicate it. It helps that they both went in a softer direction on later albums, but still.
‘Scream’ was an EVENT, and it was accompanied by the most expensive music video ever made, and in a happy coincidence it also is one of the greatest of all time. Michael and Janet stomp around in a big spaceship, playing pong, sitting in the zen garden, dancing, smashing things – you know, exactly what Michael and Janet would do if they were to be shot into space. It helps that both of them look utterly alien, Janet with her industrial size breasts and fright wig hair, and Michael with his, well, Michael Jackson face. This is a very good thing in terms of the aesthetics in the video, and gives the whole thing, music included, a superhuman, dramatic feel. ‘Scream’ is what happens when two of the greatest artists in the whole world come together and make something worthy of their collective genius.
Scream Louder remix: