'Dangerous’ is a must read for every Michael Jackson fan, non-fan, critic or music lover. Dr. Susan Fast meticulously researched Michael Jackson’s 1991 album in a way that has never been done before and in doing so she puts Jackson back where he belongs; in the spotlight as the highly talented black musician and artist he was… and he was dangerous too!
The book also makes readers want to re-listen to the music and re-watch the short-films again and again. ______________________________________________________________
Book Review Fast structures the book by dividing the songs on the Dangerous album into categories: ‘Noise’, ‘Desire’, ‘Utopia’, ‘Soul’ and ‘Coda: Dangerous’. Before she starts analyzing the songs, she places them in the context of the time addressing the problems that surrounded Jackson, to make clear this album is by no means the end of his career but foremost the start of his adulthood. Fast explores the use of noise in the Dangerous album, Jackson’s adaptation of hip-hop and classical music through his own interpretation and she integrates his short-films into the discourse.
Fast explores the use of noise in Dangerous, including Jackson’s adaptation of hip-hop and classical music through his own interpretation and she integrates his short-films into the discourse. On her way, Fast debunks the dominant narratives that surrounded Jackson’s life and explains in-depth how he fought against racism and other world problems, while maintaining his sense of self as a (hetero) sexual being. A closer look reveals that he is not at all the man-child that the critics persistently described him as. Counteracting these narratives is Fast’s representation of a mature intellectual man, artist and performer who knew exactly what he was doing and why he was doing it.
In the first two chapters, ‘Noise’ and ‘Desire’, Fast takes us along on a journey of the album’s first six songs. She dissects them, places them in context what Jackson meant and what critics made of them. At one points she has to ask herself if she watched the same short films that the critics did at that time. She describes in detail the sonic enhancements Jackson used as ‘non-musical’ sounds. She writes that on Dangerous, the noises are more than just a ‘cheap thrill,’ especially the breaking glass in the “Panther Dance” where Jackson ‘unleashes his profound rage against structural racism’.
In discussing the album cover art by Mark Ryden, where the globe is the central focus of the painting, Fast defines the fundamental idea at the heart of the Dangerous album as: ‘something is breaking, is broken.’ Jackson obviously used noise as a signifier for critique and he incorporated the hip-hop soundscapes, but he did it in his own way. From this album forward, he begins to use his voice more and more roughly, adding even more grittiness, “blackness”, machismo, noise and danger.