Beethoven gets Dangerous: Book reveals Michael Jackson’s use of classical music in hit songs

Author Anthony King says Michael Jackson used classical music pieces in hit songs and few people noticed. Above, the King of Pop performs in Vienna in 1997. (Reuters)
Updated 11 August 2018
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Beethoven gets Dangerous: Book reveals Michael Jackson’s use of classical music in hit songs

  • Author focuses particularly on two of Jackson’s best-selling albums, 1991’s Dangerous and 1995’s HIStory, both of which feature numerous classical-music samples
  • Jackson had the biggest-selling classical piece — using Beethoven’s ninth symphony on Dangerous

DUBAI: He’s often referred to as the King of Pop, but a new book suggests the late Michael Jackson may also have been history’s most-prolific seller of songs incorporating classical music.
London-based choreographer, author and professional Michael Jackson impersonator Anthony King is in the process of writing a six-book series on the pop legend. In “Michael Jackson and Classical Music,” released this week, King argues that the entertainer’s extensive use of classical music (which King told Arab News “literally no one on earth seems to have noticed”) likely means that MJ sold “more albums which incorporated classical music than any other person in history, as well as having the single biggest-selling album incorporating a classical composition.”
The book, King said, “is full of exclusives that have never been discussed publicly before. It’s shocking that this is not (widely) known.”

King focuses particularly on two of Jackson’s best-selling albums, 1991’s “Dangerous” and 1995’s “HIStory,” both of which feature numerous classical-music samples. “Will You Be There?” from “Dangerous,” for example, includes a segment of Beethoven’s “Symphony No.9,” while “Little Susie,” off “HIStory,” has “Pie Jesu” for an intro. King cites numerous other examples of Jackson’s use of classical tunes, mentioning composers including Carl Orff, Modest Mussorgsky, and Miklós Rózsa. King believes sales of the two albums, including downloads, would total around 76.6 million.
“Michael Jackson exposed more people to classical music, live, during his “HIStory” world tour — about 4.5 million — than five years’ worth of sold-out performances at (New York’s) Carnegie Hall,” King continued. “When you think of classical musicians, you think of Luciano Pavarotti or Andrea Bocelli. But Jackson really did have the biggest-selling classical piece — (by) using Beethoven’s ninth symphony on ‘Dangerous.’

He would put these classical pieces within the songs and no one really noticed them. It was shocking to me.”
King said his book series on Jackson is motivated by “setting the historical record straight.”
“I met Michael many times, so I can put the truth out there and it cannot really be disputed,” he said. “I can exclusively reveal that Michael played classical music through the speaker system in his Neverland estate. One of the pieces was (Carl) Bach’s ‘Sonata for Flute in A-minor.’
“I can state the facts and I can state the evidence clearly,” King continued. “(That) is essentially what I am doing with my books.”


What We Are Reading Today: Democracy and Prosperity by Torben Iversen and David Soskice

Updated 17 January 2019
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What We Are Reading Today: Democracy and Prosperity by Torben Iversen and David Soskice

It is a widespread view that democracy and the advanced nation-state are in crisis, weakened by globalization and undermined by global capitalism, in turn explaining rising inequality and mounting populism. 

This book, written by two of the world’s leading political economists, argues this view is wrong: Advanced democracies are resilient, and their enduring historical relationship with capitalism has been mutually beneficial, says a review on the Princeton University Press website.

For all the chaos and upheaval over the past century — major wars, economic crises, massive social change, and technological revolutions — Torben Iversen and David Soskice show how democratic states continuously reinvent their economies through massive public investment in research and education, by imposing competitive product markets and cooperation in the workplace, and by securing macroeconomic discipline as the preconditions for innovation and the promotion of the advanced sectors of the economy.