1988 Countdown #94: Michael Jackson, “Another Part of Me”

(There was actually one more ad in that last commercial break, a promo spot for MTV, featuring a guy tied up on the floor of an elevator, being forced to listen to the elevator operator sing along to a swelling orchestral melody.)

“Five of the top 100 videos of 1988 are Michael Jackson videos,” Kevin Seal tells us, “meaning that fully five percent of the top 100 videos this year are Michael Jackson videos.” He cracks himself up, he does. “Bad is the second widest-selling album of all time,” he says (which I’m pretty sure was not true, unless he was using “widest-selling” as code for some technical qualification that was not equal to “best-selling”), “only beaten by Thriller. Of course, Thriller clobbered it.”


The “Another Part of Me” video is a live recording “From The Bad Tour / Live From Kansas City,” according to the credits. The text block does not add “Trying to save a few bucks on the sixth single from Bad by repurposing some live footage we had in the can.”

“Ho! Ho! Hey!” Jackson says, to kick things off. The track is played by a live band, seen mostly in a closeup on a yellow guitar as the song begins, and then consigned to the background shadows. We never see the audience. Are they demographically unsuitable? Was somebody too cheap to hire an extra cameraman? Or is the vision of mere mortals deemed likely to sully the Glory of Michael?

The song is competent but uninspired R&B: a clunky groove that just chugs its way through the song for three and a half minutes. Jackson gives a commensurate performance, never really busting out the first-rate dance moves (or any backup dancers). He struts back and forth across the stage, and periodically bobs his head or swivels his hips or throws a few limbs around. He’s a magnetic enough performer that he gets away with it.

“This is my planet / You’re one of us,” Jackson sings, unintentionally echoing the Ramones’ “gabba gabba hey” sentiments. Back in 1988, I remember thinking that Jackson looked so freaky and mutilated by plastic surgery. I had no idea how much worse things would get. Now I see this footage and he seems relatively normal–his nose hasn’t collapsed yet, for example–although I worry about the military buckles up and down the sides of his pants.

“Another Part of Me” peaked at #11 on the pop charts, and reached #1 on the R&B charts. It had multiple videos; another one with a wider variety of footage (screaming fans pounding security barricades, high-stepping backup singers, Princess Di, etc.) was much more entertaining, and really, I don’t know why MTV chose the version that I wrote about for the countdown, but you can watch it here.

posted 12 June 2008 in 1988 and tagged , , . 2 comments

2 Comments on 1988 Countdown #94: Michael Jackson, “Another Part of Me”

  1. Chris M. Says:

    Few interesting tidbits…

    The reason for the “This is our planet” lyric wasn’t some sort of early environmental consciousness on Michael’s part. This song was originally from the short theme-park movie Captain EO, which (I just checked Wikipedia) debuted at Disney’s Epcot Center in 1986.

    Your mentioning of the single’s different and much better R&B chart results reminds me of how (again, this word) regimented label promotions were in the ’80s. The three leading pop/R&B crossover stars of the period were targeted very carefully by the labels single-by-single: Whitney Houston had at least one, maybe two R&B smashes (“Thinking About You” and “All at Once,” both ’86) that weren’t promoted to Top 40 radio at all and never appeared on the Hot 100. Michael’s sister Janet had the unusual distinction of scoring No. 1 R&B hits with every single from Control *except* the one that topped the Hot 100, “When I Think of You.” And as we see, Michael’s people started to throw a little special TLC in the direction of R&B radio when they perceived a need to shore up his cred there; “Dirty Diana,” the single just before “Another Part,” had underperformed at R&B after a string of Bad No. 1’s, and so I’m guessing that Epic didn’t mind so much when it did better at R&B than it did at pop radio. (On the Hot 100, Michael was just coming off five consecutive No. 1’s from Bad, which is still an unbeaten record.)

    Last question — I don’t have time to scour the whole video, but since you just watched it, and this is a late-’80s live MJ clip, I must ask: Can you see a big-haired Sheryl Crow singing backup?

  2. gavin Says:

    Lest we forget: Captain Eo was directed by Francis Ford Coppola.

    I can’t see Crow in the Kansas City version of the video that I wrote about, but I’m pretty sure I spotted her in the other version (with footage from Wembley and other locales): it sure looks like her throwing back a big mane of red hair at 1:21. (Good call!)

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