Dangerous (Michael Jackson song)

Dangerous (Michael Jackson song)
Song by Michael Jackson from the album Dangerous
Released 30 June 1993
Recorded September 1990 – February 1991[1]
Genre Dance-pop, new jack swing, R&B
Length 7:00 (album version)
6:40 (early version)
Label Epic Records
Writer Michael Jackson
Bill Bottrell
Teddy Riley
Producer Teddy Riley
Michael Jackson
Dangerous track listing
"Gone Too Soon"

"Dangerous" is an R&B-pop song by American recording artist Michael Jackson. The song appeared on Jackson's solo studio album of the same name, released in November 1991. Written and composed by Jackson, Bill Bottrell and Teddy Riley, the song was planned as the tenth single from the album. These plans were canceled due to allegations of child sexual abuse which were made against Jackson in August 1993, Jackson's health concerns, and the failure of previous single, "Gone Too Soon", to top the charts.

Prior to the planned release of the song, "Dangerous" received a positive reaction from contemporary critics in reviews of the track's parent album. Although the song has not been released as a single, "Dangerous" entered music charts in mid-2009 after Jackson's death in June. In 1994, songwriter Crystal Cartier alleged that Jackson, Bottrell and Riley had plagiarized "Dangerous". At the subsequent court hearing the judge ruled in favor of Jackson, Bottrell and Riley, due to lack of evidence; Cartier was refused the right to appeal her case.



"Dangerous" was developed from another song titled "Streetwalker", which Jackson wrote for his 1987 Bad album.[2] During recording sessions in September 1990 for Dangerous, Jackson recorded a 6:40 minute demo of "Dangerous", which he wrote with Bill Bottrell. Teddy Riley later added writing and produced it with Jackson in early 1991. According to music commentator Nelson George the demo is "very different to the final version. Here the keyboards are spacey, in strong contrast to the taunt, mechanical rhythm track. Throughout the song, Jackson keeps up a spoken word rap about the dangerous woman who is this song's subject. Overall it is much moodier". The demo was released in November 2004, on Michael Jackson: The Ultimate Collection.[3] A different, longer version also exists, with Jackson heard screaming at the beginning—after a sound protection wall fell on him as he was about to record.[2] "The genesis of the songs we co-wrote [for Dangerous]", said Bottrell, "consisted of Jackson humming melodies and grooves, and him then leaving the studio while I developed these ideas with a bunch of drum machines and samplers".[2] "Dangerous" is played in the key of D Minor with Jackson's vocal range being from A3 to A4.[4] The song's tempo is moderate at 112 beats per minute.[4] "Dangerous" is credited as being a dance-pop, new jack swing and R&B song.

In 1994, songwriter Crystal Cartier accused Jackson, Bottrell and Riley of plagiarizing the song. Cartier claimed she had written, copyrighted and recorded the song in 1985.[5] At a court hearing, Jackson testified that "Dangerous" grew out of the song "Streetwalker", which he co-wrote with Bottrell in 1985.[2] His original demo version of the song was played in court. The recordings were followed by acapella performances of "Dangerous" and "Billie Jean," giving a rare insight into his songwriting habits. As Cartier was unable to supply any original tapes to back up her suit, the judge found in Jackson's favor, and Cartier was refused the right to appeal.[2][5][6]

Live Performances

There were five live performance versions of Dangerous:

  • The first was performed on the final leg of the Dangerous Tour and at the 1993 American Music Awards. This version included Jackson singing the second verse, chorus, bridge, and third speaking interlude.
  • The second was performed from 1995 to 1997, on some presentations like the 1995 MTV Music Awards, and during the entire HIStory World Tour. It did not contain the second verse, bridge, or third speaking interlude. This version samples an extract from "Owner of a Lonely Heart" by Yes, Ennio Morricone's "The Good, The Bad & The Ugly" theme, "Smooth Criminal", Janet Jackson's "You Want This" and "Let's Dance," Judy Garland's "Get Happy", Monty Norman's "James Bond Theme", and a guitar intro from Duran Duran's "A View to a Kill".
  • The third was performed twice: during both Michael Jackson & Friends concerts. It contained different audio effects, and a short interlude with the dancers introducing themselves.
  • The fourth was performed twice on the 50th American Bandstand Special and President Clinton's presidential gala in 2002 and it's a variation of both the second and third version.
  • The fifth was being rehearsed for his This Is It concerts at in Staples Center and the Forum in L.A, but were cancelled because of his sudden death. Audio of this version leaked online in 2010. It features snippets of "Morphine," "2000 Watts," and a snippet of the song "This Place Hotel/Heartbreak Hotel". In January 2011, at "Carnival", the This Is It concerts dancers performed a snippet of Dangerous, as it would have been in the concerts, but without the leaked intro. This performance featured samples from "Smooth Criminal", "Stranger In Moscow", and the Psycho theme.

For the Michael Jackson and Friends concerts and the 50th American Bandstand, Jackson wore a red shirt instead of the original white shirt and tie, but the tie was kept in. For all of the performances but those in the year 2002, Michael would have an armband in his black jacket.

Planned release as a single and critical analysis

The album Dangerous was released in November 1991, and with shipments of seven million copies in the United States and 32 million copies sold worldwide, it stands as one of the world's best-selling records.[7][8][9] The album's appeal and commercial success prompted Jackson's record company to keep releasing singles throughout 1992 and 1993, especially as Jackson was still promoting the album with a worldwide concert tour. However August 1993 saw intensifying media scrutiny surrounding allegations of child sexual abuse on Jackson's part. The albums ninth single, "Gone Too Soon", did not perform well in the United Kingdom and Jackson's health deteriorated, which eventually led to the cancellation of the albums tenth single "Dangerous" but it was released, with Remember the Time and Black Or White on the box set Tour Souvenir Pack.[2][10][11][12] An alternative version and a remix, entitled "Roger's Rough Dub", were both to be included on the expanded edition of Dangerous–the bonus disc was later canceled.[2]

"Dangerous" was generally well received by contemporary music critics. Jon Pareles, a writer for The New York Times, called it "[Jackson's] latest song about a predatory lover" and highlighted the lyrics "I felt taken by lust's strange inhumanity", observing, "He is a great dancer, yet his songs proclaim a terror of the body and of fleshly pleasures".[13] Music critic Nelson George said of the song, "[it is] a pile driving track...that explodes from radio speakers. 'Dangerous' in fact, opens another window into Michael's artistic process".[3] Writer Barry Farber noted that the same lyrics "are an excellent representation of how sex can sometimes feel like a powerful biologically driven force".[14]

Chart performance

Although it has not been released as a single, "Dangerous" entered music charts in mid-2009 after Jackson's death in June. The track debuted at its peak position, number seventy eight, on the Swiss Singles Chart for the week of July 12, 2009.[15] The song also peaked at number ninety nine on the German Singles Chart for the week of July 13, 2009.[16] "Dangerous" only remained on the two countries chart for one week.[15][16]


  • Written and composed by Michael Jackson, Bill Bottrell and Teddy Riley
  • Produced by Teddy Riley and Michael Jackson
  • Recorded by Jean-Marie Horvat, Bruce Swedien, Teddy Riley and Thom Russo
  • Mixed by Bruce Swedien and Teddy Riley
  • Michael Jackson: Solo and background vocals
  • Vocal arrangement by Michael Jackson
  • Rhythm and synthesizer arrangements by Teddy Riley
  • Teddy Riley: Synthesizer
  • Brad Buxer, Rhett Lawrence: Synthesizers


Chart (2009) Peak
Swiss Singles Chart 78[15]
German Singles Chart 99[16]


  • Roger's Dangerous Club Mix - 6:58
  • Roger's Dangerous Edit - 4:40
  • Roger's Rough Dub - 6:48


  1. ^ "59 F3d 1046 Cartier v. Jackson". Open Jurist. http://openjurist.org/59/f3d/1046. Retrieved 2010-05-12. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Halstead, p. 78–80
  3. ^ a b George, p. 24
  4. ^ a b "Dangerous - Michael Jackson Digital Sheet Music (Digital Download)". MusicNotes.com. Alfred Publishing Co. Inc. http://www.musicnotes.com/sheetmusic/mtd.asp?ppn=MN0075746. Retrieved 2010-02-23. 
  5. ^ a b Jet Magazine (1994-03-07). "Jury rules that Michael did not steal the song 'Dangerous.'". FindArticles.com. CBS Interactive Inc. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1355/is_n18_v85/ai_14895598/. Retrieved 2010-02-10. 
  6. ^ Amador, p. 107–109
  7. ^ "Michael Jackson sulla sedia a rotelle". Affari Italiani. (August 11, 2008). Archived from the original on August 22, 2008. http://web.archive.org/web/20080822095924/http://www.affaritaliani.it/entertainment/micheal-jackson110708.html. Retrieved May 10, 2009. 
  8. ^ "Gold and Platinum". Recording Industry Association of America. http://www.riaa.com/goldandplatinumdata.php?table=SEARCH_RESULTS&artist=Michael%20Jackson&format=ALBUM&go=Search&perPage=100. Retrieved 2010-01-29. 
  9. ^ Carter, Kelley L. (August 11, 2008). "New jack swing". Chicago Tribune. http://www.chicagotribune.com/features/arts/chi-5-things-0810aug10,0,1329158.story. Retrieved June 2, 2009. 
  10. ^ George, p. 45
  11. ^ Campbell, p. 89–93
  12. ^ Pareles, Jon (June 18, 1995). "POP VIEW; Michael Jackson Is Angry, Understand?". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=990CE0DD123DF93BA25755C0A963958260&scp=4&sq=HIStory+album+michael+jackson+review&st=nyt. Retrieved 2010-02-10. 
  13. ^ Pareles, Jon (1991-11-24). "Michael Jackson in the Electronic Wilderness". The New York Times (The New York Times Company). http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9D0CE2D6143DF937A15752C1A967958260&n=Top%2fReference%2fTimes%20Topics%2fPeople%2fJ%2fJackson%2c%20Michael. Retrieved 2010-02-10. 
  14. ^ Farber, p. 57
  15. ^ a b c "Michael Jackson - Dangerous (song)". Swisscharts.com. Hung Medien. http://swisscharts.com/showitem.asp?interpret=Michael+Jackson&titel=Dangerous&cat=s. Retrieved 2010-06-17. 
  16. ^ a b c "Chartverfolgung / Jackson,Michael / Single". Musicline.de. http://www.musicline.de/de/chartverfolgung_summary/artist/Jackson%2CMichael/?type=single. Retrieved 2010-06-17. 


  • Amador, Vicente B (1998). Copyright under the Intellectual Property Code. Rex Bookstore, Inc. ISBN 9712325911. 
  • Campbell, Lisa (1993). Michael Jackson: The King of Pop. Branden. ISBN 082831957X. 
  • Campbell, Lisa (1995). Michael Jackson: The King of Pops Darkest Hour. Branden. ISBN 0828320039. 
  • Farber, Barry (2007). Rock 'n' roll wisdom. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 0275991644. 
  • Halstead, Craig (2007). Michael Jackson: For the Record. Authors OnLine. pp. 46–48. ISBN 978-0-7552-0267-6. 
  • George, Nelson (2004). Michael Jackson: The Ultimate Collection booklet. Sony BMG.

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