Dangerous (Michael Jackson song)

Song by Michael Jackson from the album Dangerous
Released November 26, 1991 (song on album)
1994 (promo single)
Recorded September 1990 February 1991, August 22, 1991, October 29, 1991[1]
Genre New jack swing,[2][3] industrial,[2] pop
Length 7:00 (album version)
4:37 (radio edit)
Label Epic Records
Writer(s) Michael Jackson, Bill Bottrell, Teddy Riley
Producer(s) Michael Jackson, Teddy Riley
Dangerous track listing

"Gone Too Soon"
Music video
"Dangerous" (Audio) on YouTube

"Dangerous" is a pop song by American recording artist Michael Jackson. The song appeared as the fourteenth and final track 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, set for a January 1994 release. However, 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 the previous single, "Gone Too Soon".

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. Jackson also performed the song live. 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.

Near the end of Dangerous: The Short Films, the song is played over footage of various performances during his Dangerous World Tour.


"Dangerous" was developed from another song titled "Streetwalker", which Jackson wrote for his 1987 Bad album.[4] 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 The Ultimate Collection.[5] 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.[4] "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".[4] "Dangerous" is played in the key of D minor with Jackson's vocal range being from Ab2 to B5.[6] The song's tempo is moderate at 113 beats per minute.[6]

Court case

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.[7] At a court hearing, Jackson testified that "Dangerous" grew out of a song called "Streetwalker", which he co-wrote with Bottrell in 1985.[4] His original demo version of the song was played in court. The recordings were followed by a cappella 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 favour, and Cartier was refused the right to appeal.[4][7][8]

Live performances

Although the song was not released as a single, the live performances of "Dangerous" remained a staple of Jackson's concerts since the third leg of the Dangerous Tour. "Dangerous" was a song that involved group choreography, similar to "Smooth Criminal", which also appears as part of the mix in later performances. There were five live performance versions of "Dangerous", although Jackson nearly always lipsynced this song:

For the Michael Jackson and Friends concerts and on, 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 the American Bandstand one, 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.[9][10] 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.[4][11][12][13] 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.[4]

"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."[14] 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."[5] Writer Barry Farber noted that the same lyrics "are an excellent representation of how sex can sometimes feel like a powerful biologically driven force."[15]

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.[16] The song also peaked at number ninety nine on the German Singles Chart for the week of July 13, 2009.[17] "Dangerous" only remained on the two countries chart for one week.[16][17]


  • 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[16]
German Singles Chart 99[17]



  1. "59 F3d 1046 Cartier v. Jackson". Open Jurist. Retrieved 2010-05-12.
  2. 1 2 Vogel, Joe (September 27, 2011). "Michael Jackson, Dangerous, and the Reinvention of Pop". PopMatters. Retrieved August 4, 2016.
  3. Smith, Troy L. (June 25, 2014). "7 Michael Jackson songs that deserve more attention". Cleveland.com. Retrieved August 5, 2016.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Halstead, p. 78–80
  5. 1 2 George, p. 24
  6. 1 2 "Dangerous - Michael Jackson Digital Sheet Music (Digital Download)". MusicNotes.com. Alfred Publishing Co. Inc. Retrieved 2010-02-23.
  7. 1 2 Jet Magazine (1994-03-07). "Jury rules that Michael did not steal the song 'Dangerous.'". FindArticles.com. CBS Interactive Inc. Retrieved 2010-02-10.
  8. Amador, p. 107–109
  9. "Michael Jackson sulla sedia a rotelle". Affari Italiani. August 11, 2008. Archived from the original on August 22, 2008. Retrieved May 10, 2009.
  10. "Gold and Platinum". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 2010-01-29.
  11. George, p. 45
  12. Campbell, p. 89–93
  13. Pareles, Jon (June 18, 1995). "POP VIEW; Michael Jackson Is Angry, Understand?". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 2010-02-10.
  14. Pareles, Jon (1991-11-24). "Michael Jackson in the Electronic Wilderness". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved 2010-02-10.
  15. Farber, p. 57
  16. 1 2 3 "Michael Jackson - Dangerous (song)". Swisscharts.com. Hung Medien. Retrieved 2010-06-17.
  17. 1 2 3 "Chartverfolgung / Jackson,Michael / Single". Musicline.de. Retrieved 2010-06-17.


External links

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