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Earth Song

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Title: Earth Song  
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Subject: HIStory World Tour, Michael Jackson, Number Ones (Michael Jackson album), They Don't Care About Us, Blood on the Dance Floor (song)
Collection: 1995 Singles, Anti-War Songs, Environmental Songs, European Hot 100 Singles Number-One Singles, Irish Singles Chart Number-One Singles, Michael Jackson Songs, Million-Selling Singles in the United Kingdom, Number-One Singles in Germany, Number-One Singles in Spain, Number-One Singles in Switzerland, Pop Ballads, Protest Songs, Rhythm and Blues Ballads, Singles Certified Gold by the Syndicat National De L'Édition Phonographique, Song Recordings Produced by Bill Bottrell, Song Recordings Produced by David Foster, Song Recordings Produced by Michael Jackson, Songs Written by Michael Jackson
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Earth Song

"Earth Song"
Single by Michael Jackson
from the album HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I
Released November 27, 1995
Format CD single, 12", 7"
Genre Blues, gospel, operatic pop
Length 6:45 (album version)
5:02 (radio edit)
Label Epic
Writer(s) Michael Jackson
Producer(s) Michael Jackson
David Foster
Bill Bottrell (co-producer)
Michael Jackson singles chronology
"You Are Not Alone"
"Earth Song"
"This Time Around"

"Earth Song" is the third single from Michael Jackson's album HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I. It is the fifth song on the second disc of the album. It is a ballad that incorporates elements of blues, gospel and opera. Jackson had a long-standing history of releasing socially conscious material such as "We Are the World", "Man in the Mirror" and "Heal the World". However, "Earth Song" was the first that overtly dealt with the environment and animal welfare. "Earth Song" was made for the "Dangerous" album but it failed to make the album. The song was written and composed by Jackson; the task of production was split between Jackson, David Foster and Bill Bottrell.

"Earth Song" was accompanied by a lavish music video shot in four geographical regions. It centered on the destruction and rebirth of Earth and went on to receive a Grammy nomination in 1997. The song was a top five hit in most European countries. In the United Kingdom, it remains Jackson's best-selling single, and was the country's number-one Christmas single in 1995. "Earth Song" was not released as a single in the United States. Jackson went on to receive recognition from various animal and environmental organizations.

In 2011 the song was paired-up with the poem "Planet Earth" (previously released on Michael Jackson's This Is It, in 2009) and released as a song in the remix album Immortal. The song was the last song to be rehearsed by Jackson, shortly after midnight on June 25, 2009, making it the final song ever performed by Michael Jackson.


  • Background 1
  • Production and music 2
  • Reception 3
    • Critical response 3.1
    • Commercial performance 3.2
    • Environmental recognition 3.3
  • Music video 4
  • BRIT Awards 5
  • Notable cover versions 6
  • 2010 Grammy Awards performance 7
  • Charts and certifications 8
    • Charts 8.1
    • Certifications 8.2
  • Track listing 9
  • Personnel 10
  • See Also 11
  • References 12
  • External links 13


Jackson already had a long-standing history of writing charitable or socially conscious material. As a child, he had recorded the song "In Our Small Way" for his first album Got to Be There. As an adult Jackson used his fame and wealth to promote various causes. In 1985, he co-wrote the charity single "We Are the World" with Lionel Richie, which was released worldwide to aid the poor in Africa and the US. The single became one of the best-selling singles of all time, with nearly 20 million copies sold and millions of dollars donated to famine relief. It was also the first time Jackson was seen as a humanitarian.[1] All of the profits from his single "Man in the Mirror" went to charity.[2][3] Jackson founded the "Heal the World Foundation" in 1992, inspired by his charity single of the same name.[4][5]

Following the illness and death of Ryan White, Jackson helped draw public attention to HIV/AIDS, something that was still controversial at the time. He publicly pleaded with the Clinton Administration at Bill Clinton's Inaugural Gala to give more money to HIV/AIDS charities and research. He would go on to perform the song "Gone Too Soon" for White and other victims of the illness.[6][7]

Production and music

"Earth Song" was originally written and composed by Jackson in the Hotel Imperial in Vienna, Austria under the title "What About Us". A demo, which featured Jackson singing the ending in falsetto, was to be released as part of a bonus disc for the remastered Dangerous album in 2001 but the release was cancelled; the song along with other tracks were leaked on the internet. Production of the song was a collaborative effort between Jackson, David Foster and Bill Bottrell.[8] Andrae Crouch's Choir and Jackson engage in a back and forth chant as the song reaches its climatic finale.[9] Jackson's intent was to create a song that was lyrically deep yet melodically simple, so the whole world, particularly non-English-speaking fans, could sing along. He conceptualized a song that had an emotional message.[10] "Earth Song" is a ballad that incorporates elements of blues, gospel and opera. In the socially conscious track, Jackson issues a plea to God about problems ranging from war to endangered animals.[11][12][13][14] The song is written in the key of Ab Dorian/Ab melodic minor.[15]


Critical response

Introduction to "Earth Song", penned by Jackson, it became the third single from HIStory. The singer mixes elements of blues, gospel and opera.

Problems playing this file? See .

Earth Song received generally mixed to positive reviews from music critics. James Hunter of Rolling Stone stated, "The slow blues-operatic 'Earth Song' for all its noble sentiments, sounds primarily like a showpiece".[12] A San Jose Mercury News review called it "flat" and "whiny", believing Jackson had already experimented with these concepts earlier in his career.[16]

The Philadelphia Inquirer described the track as "a healing, rhythmic ballad that evokes religious imagery".[14] A review in The Sacramento Bee was favorable, describing Jackson's vocal performance as "cool".[17] Michael Mehle of Rocky Mountain News described the finale as "anthemic" and a "powerful gospel opus".[13] A Ledger-Enquirer review observed of "Earth Song", "[it] enjoys the same kind of subtlety, building to a dramatic call-and-response finish with the Andrae Crouch Choir".[9] Contra Costa Times's review called it "a bit sappy and overblown" but also acknowledged that it was "epic" and destined to be a "massive smash hit".[18]

Commercial performance

"Earth Song" remains Jackson's best-selling single in the United Kingdom, where it sold 1.16 million copies as of November 2012.[19] It debuted at number one, where it remained for six weeks throughout December 1995—beating the [20][21] During its stay at number one, "Earth Song" kept the first single released by The Beatles in 25 years, "Free as a Bird", off the number one position. In early December, bookmakers correctly predicted that Jackson would keep The Beatles off the top position and go on to attain the Christmas number-one single.[22][23]

The song also took the number one position in Spain and Switzerland, peaking within the top five in almost every European state.[24] In Germany, it was Jackson's first single to reach No. 1 of the German Singles Chart and by staying on the pole position for 5 consecutive weeks, it's also his most successful single there.[25] Thanks to this, the song is the 10th most successful pop hymn ever in that country.[26]

The song was only released to radio in the U.S., appearing on the Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart.[27] In 2006, "Earth Song" reached number 55 on the European Hot 100 Singles chart, following the Visionary: The Video Singles campaign, whereby 20 of Jackson's hit singles from the 1980s–1990s were reissued in several European countries.[28]

Environmental recognition

Jackson received the [20] In 2008, a writer for the Nigeria Exchange noted, "'Earth Song' drew the world's attention to the degradation and bastardization of the earth as a fall out of various human activities".[29]

Music video

Jackson walking in a burnt down forest. This section of the music video was simulated in a corn field.

The [20][30] The clip was shown infrequently in the United States.[31]

The video was filmed in four geographic regions (Americas, Europe and Africa). The first location was the Amazon Rainforest, where a large part was destroyed a week after the video's completion. Natives of the region appeared in the video and were not actors. The second scene was a war zone in Karlovac, Croatia, with famous Croatian actor Slobodan Dimitrijević and the residents of the area. The third location was Tanzania, which incorporated scenes of illegal poaching and hunting into the video. No animals were harmed in the making of the "Earth Song", as the footage came from documentary archives. However, a poacher killed an elephant within a mile of the shoot. The final location was in Warwick, New York, where a safe forest fire was simulated in a corn field.[30]

The music video of the song also included on the video albums: HIStory on Film, Volume II, Number Ones and Michael Jackson's Vision.

BRIT Awards

Jackson during a performance of "Earth Song" at the HIStory Tour in 1997. The singer dangled from the edge of a crane in a similar manner at the Brit Awards.

In 1996, Jackson performed "Earth Song" at the [20][32][33] Jackson condemned Cocker's behavior as "disgusting and cowardly".[34] The incident is referred to in the book Politics and Popular Culture by John Street, Professor of Politics at the University of East Anglia. He says:

"But to read popular culture as a straight forward text is to take a very narrow view of its meaning, and hence of its political message. As we have noted, the text's meaning will depend on how it is heard and read. Michael Jackson may have intended his 'Earth Song' to be an exercise in compassion; others–like Jarvis Cocker–saw it quite differently. One reason these alternative readings emerge is because of the way the performance of popular culture engages more than a literal text, it employs gestures and symbols, tones of voice, looks and glances, all of which might tell a different story".[36]

Notable cover versions

The song has been covered by Russian singer Sergey Lazarev for his 2005 album Don't Be Fake.

On Earth Day 2006, the band Fossils covered "Earth Song" in Bengali exclusively for the news channel CNN IBN.[37]

The song was covered by Haley Reinhart in the tenth installement of American Idol.

Charice and Ne-Yo performed "Earth Song" during David Foster's Hitman Returns: David Foster and Friends Tour.

The Philippine Madrigal Singers made their chorale arrangement of the song.

Bastille covered "Earth Song" as a mashup with Pulp's Common People.

2010 Grammy Awards performance

The song, along with a 3-D short film that was to be featured in Jackson's series of comeback concerts This Is It, was performed as a tribute to Jackson. Jennifer Hudson, Carrie Underwood, Smokey Robinson, Celine Dion and Usher all sang the song together, while the video played in the background. The film was shown in its original 3-D format during the broadcast.

Target provided free 3-D glasses to customers a week before the Grammy Awards. Paris and Prince Jackson, Jackson's oldest children, appeared shortly after the performance to accept Jackson's Lifetime Achievement Award, where they both gave a short speech. This was the first time the children had spoken publicly since the memorial service that was held for Jackson on July 7, 2009.

Charts and certifications

Track listing


See Also


  1. ^ Taraborrelli, p. 340–344
  2. ^ "Blacks who give back".  
  3. ^ Taraborrelli, p. 382
  4. ^ George, p. 45–46
  5. ^ Harrington, Richard (February 5, 1992). "Jackson to Tour Overseas".  
  6. ^ "Stars line up for Clinton celebration".  
  7. ^ Smith, Patricia (January 20, 1992). "Facing the music and the masses at the presidential gala".  
  8. ^ Jackson, Michael. HIStory booklet. Sony BMG. p 36
  9. ^ a b "Jackson disappoints with HIStory". Ledger Enquirer. June 23, 1995. Retrieved November 13, 2008. 
  10. ^ Grant, Adrian (1998). Michael Jackson : Making History. Omnibus Press.  
  11. ^ Pareles, Jon (June 18, 1995). "Pop View; Michael Jackson Is Angry, Understand?". The New York Times. Retrieved December 5, 2008. 
  12. ^ a b Hunter, James (August 10, 1995). "Michael Jackson HIStory".  
  13. ^ a b Mehle, Michael (June 20, 1995). "Can Michael Jackson make a comeback?". Rocky Mountain News. Retrieved November 13, 2008. 
  14. ^ a b "Jackson promises new CD in spring". The Philadelphia Inquirer. February 25, 1995. Retrieved 2008-08-18. 
  15. ^ "Unsupported Browser or Operating System". Retrieved 2014-03-31. 
  16. ^ "Is Michael Jackson HIStory?". San Jose Mercury News. June 19, 1995. Retrieved December 5, 2008. 
  17. ^ "Michael Jackson back from Neverland...". The Sacramento Bee. June 20, 1995. Retrieved November 13, 2008. 
  18. ^ "HIStory's a Thriller". Contra Costa Times. June 18, 1995. Retrieved November 13, 2008. 
  19. ^ a b Ami Sedghi (4 November 2012). "UK's million-selling singles: the full list". Guardian. Retrieved 4 November 2012. 
  20. ^ a b c d e George, p. 48–50
  21. ^ "MJ visionary". Sony BMG. Archived from the original on April 8, 2008. Retrieved November 5, 2008. 
  22. ^ Hinckley, Davis (December 5, 1995). "Extra! Extra!". New York Daily News. Retrieved November 15, 2008. 
  23. ^ British Hit Singles and Albums.  
  24. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o "M. Jackson - Earth Song (nummer)". Retrieved November 9, 2008. 
  25. ^ "Die ganze Musik im Internet". Retrieved 2014-03-31. 
  26. ^ "RTL Fernsehprogramm von heute - aktuelles TV Programm". Retrieved 2014-03-31. 
  27. ^ a b "Artist Chart History - Michael Jackson".  
  28. ^ "Michael Jackson - Chart history". Billboard. Retrieved 2014-03-31. 
  29. ^ Sylva, Ifedigbo (October 27, 2008). "Scammers New Anthem; "Mugu Don Pay !!!". Nigeria Exchange. Retrieved December 5, 2008. 
  30. ^ a b Michael Jackson HIStory on Film volume II VHS/DVD
  31. ^ "History on Film, Vol. 2". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media. Retrieved September 15, 2008. 
  32. ^ a b Pinkerton, Lee (1997). The Many Faces of Michael Jackson. Music Sales Distribution. p. 55.  
  33. ^ a b "Brits behaving badly". BBC. March 4, 2003. Retrieved December 5, 2008. 
  34. ^ a b c McKie, John (February 21, 1996). "Brits brawl as Cocker 'pulps' Jackson chorus". The Independent (London). Retrieved May 1, 2010. 
  35. ^ Pryor, Fiona (February 14, 2007). "Bad behaviour at the Brit Awards". BBC News. Retrieved May 1, 2010. 
  36. ^ Street, John (1997). Politics and Popular Culture. Temple University Press. p. 36.  
  37. ^ "Special: A song for Mother Earth". 2007-06-18. Retrieved 2014-03-31. 
  38. ^ "Earth song in Canadian Adult Contemporary Chart". Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 11 June 2013. 
  39. ^ "Earth song in Canadian Top Singles Chart". Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 11 June 2013. 
  40. ^ a b "Michael Jackson - Chart history". Billboard. Retrieved 2014-03-31. 
  41. ^ a b "Swiss Singles Chart Archives". Retrieved July 18, 2009. 
  42. ^ "Download French Single Top 50". Hung Medien. Retrieved 2010-05-17. 
  43. ^ "Michael Jackson - Earth Song (song)". Hung Medien. Retrieved 2010-05-17. 
  44. ^ "UK Singles Chart".  
  45. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank ('Earth Song')" (in German).  
  46. ^ Steffen Hung. "Die Offizielle Schweizer Hitparade und Music Community". Retrieved 2014-03-31. 
  47. ^ [1]
  • Michael Jackson: The Ultimate Collection booklet. Sony BMG.

External links

Preceded by
"I Believe" / "Up on the Roof"
by Robson and Jerome
UK Singles Chart number-one single
9 November 1995
(six weeks)
Succeeded by
"Jesus to a Child"
by George Michael
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