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Michael Jackson's Dangerous (33 1/3) Paperback – September 25, 2014

4.6 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“As a musicologist [Fast] is quite capable of writing about the complexity of Jackson's music, offering a clear insight into his process. By placing the work in a cultural context: racism, politics, gender and sexuality, she also offers the non-musician an excellent read and good critical insight. Mostly because she makes crystal clear that Jackson knew exactly what he was doing as a writer and performer, his versatile voice and body combining high and low art to convey a serious message. Fast's analysis also makes it clear that Jackson was able to ingeniously communicate his message through the compilation of the album itself. This book offers a much-needed in-depth analysis of Jackson's music and art…Highly recommended…” ―Karin Merx, Cultural Studies

“Susan Fast’s new monograph on Michael Jackson’s Dangerous album is an utterly compelling, utterly intelligent reassessment of Jackson’s oft-maligned record of 1991 and a challenge to anyone who thinks that they have a grasp on Jackson’s controversial art. Fast has an arsenal of literary theorists to help her support her claim (Gates, Foucault), but her writing style―like the Jackson album that is her subject―is dangerous. I can’t think of a 33 1/3 book that’s written with so much verve, so much life that the deployment of tough theory and philosophy is swept away in the author’s passionate prose.” ―Paul Gleason, Stereo Embers

“Virtually all of his creative moments were moments of transition, and Ms. Fast makes a strong argument that "Dangerous" was among his most disruptive. In this book, the 100th entry in Bloomsbury's 33 1/3 series, each one devoted to a single album, Ms. Fast employs close readings of lyrics, musical production choices and video presentations to underscore little discussed aspects of Jackson's creative output. So she breaks "Dangerous" into thematically rich sections: Jackson breaking with his old self, then switching to familiar modes to make bold political statements and then coming full circle.” ―Jon Caramanica, The New York Times

“Listed on Buzzfeed's '14 Books From 2014 Every Music Lover Needs To Read'” ―BuzzFeed

“Fast’s book focuses on the Dangerous album which was released in 1991. Admittedly, it is not my favourite album by Jackson and when listening to it I will often skip ahead to my favourite tracks … Yet it is all there. There are songs that are an expression of anger over events that have taken place and songs that almost scream at you for making snap and often wrong judgements. It is more than just an album. I can honestly say that after reading Michael Jackson’s Dangerous by Susan Fast I will never listen to the album in the same way ever again. This is a truly fascinating book for fans of Michael Jackson and social historians.” -LisaTalksAbout.com

About the Author

Susan Fast is Professor in the Department of English and Cultural Studies at McMaster University, Canada, where she teaches and writes about pop music and culture. She is author of In the Houses of the Holy: Led Zeppelin and the Power of Rock Music and co-editor of Music, Politics, and Violence.


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Product Details

  • Series: 33 1/3
  • Paperback: 168 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic (September 25, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1623566312
  • ISBN-13: 978-1623566319
  • Product Dimensions: 4.8 x 0.5 x 6.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #799,604 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Michael Jackson's 'Dangerous' - it's hard to believe we are headed for the quarter century anniversary (in 2016) of this incredible landmark in Michael's career, and one that author Susan Fast correctly (I believe) considers as MJ's 'coming of age' album.

Even before I received my copy of Ms. Fast's little book about the 'Dangerous' album - the 100th Volume in the 33-1/3 series from Bloomsbury - I had posted in blogs and social media that, with 'Dangerous', Michael had finally stepped away from the influence of his father figures - Joseph Jackson, Berry Gordy and Quincy Jones (Ms. Fast identifies the same influential individuals from Michael's early career) - and became an artist in control of his medium.

In his own excellent book 'The Man in the Music The Creative Life and Work of Michael Jackson', Joe Vogel has penned insightful and informed commentary on 'Dangerous' - the album and the memorable short films it spawned - so Ms. Fast is not the first or only voice crying in a wilderness of tabloid critics. Since (belatedly) becoming a Michael Jackson fan myself, I have been hoping for due acknowledgement of the genius of Michael's mature work: the music, the short films, live performances and subsequent world tours.

I had been awoken to the significance of 'Dangerous' by the first friend I ever made in MJ fandom. Amy and I met by chance at a Climate Change rally in Adelaide, Australia. I was wearing an MJ-t-shirt, and she came up and embraced me! When we subsequently explored our mutual love of Michael Jackson, Amy revealed that 'Dangerous' had been the first of his albums she had acquired as a young girl, and was an album that stood above the rest as 'pure MJ'.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a major contribution to the study of Michael Jackson, packed with fresh, innovative ideas about Jackson's art. She sees Jackson's "Dangerous" album as a concept album, analyzing the album as a whole and the individual songs musically, socially and artistically. It is a brilliant book that any serious fan or student of Michael Jackson must read. I wish that I could give it more than five stars.
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Michael Jackson's career is often reduced to his 80s albums in the mainstream media, but I always felt people who refuse to pay attention to his later work are missing out on some of his best work. Dangerous is one of my favourite albums, so I am very happy about this book. Yes, Thriller is great, yes Off The Wall is amazing, but so is Dangerous!

While I always instinctively loved and "felt" this album I was never really analytical about it why, so I was really curious about Susan Fast's take on it. Fast considers Dangerous a concept album. This may come as a surprise, because it's not obvious at first glance. In actuality, when the album was released many critics criticized if for its eclectic styles and (seemingly) eclectic themes, saying it was not coherent. Well, Susan Fast shows that this criticism is very superficial. Yes, there is R&B and there is rock and there is gospel and there is hip-hop on the same album (I always found it fascinating that MJ could do all that and more convincingly), but that does not make it incoherent. In the musical and thematical context of the album and what MJ wanted to express with it it all makes sense.

According to Fast Dangerous is MJ's "coming of age" album which may be another surprise considering he was 33-years-old at the time of its release, but I agree with her on it. By this time he left behind his artistic "father", Quincy Jones and he was the sole captain of his ship. As a result both musically and thematically he went to new territories and he explored landscapes he's never been to before. I think this is the album from which he opens up more about himself. His 80s albums are great but I think if you are curious about MJ the person you will learn about him more from his later work.
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By Diana on September 8, 2014
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I have always wondered how such songs as “Keep the Faith” and “Will You Be There” could fit into a theme that gave the "Dangerous" album its title. To me, they are deeply spiritual and more comforting than dangerous.
Along comes Susan Fast with her book in the 33 1/3 Series on the "Dangerous" album. Approaching it from a serious musicologist standpoint, she carefully dissects the album and explains for us non-musicologists what Jackson has done with the construction of each song, with the grouping of the songs, and with the themes that run through the album that support its title. She makes the case that the entire album is so constructed as to take us through the full range of human emotion while making a serious political statement, and believes that this album, rather than Off the Wall or even Thriller, is really his “coming of age” work. She shows how each song is perfectly placed within the album and related to the one that comes both before and after. This book is an outstanding work on this album; the author allows us to really hear the work through her ears…no easy feat.
Two small criticisms: She writes that the lyrics to the song, “Will You Be There” are reproduced in his book, “Dancing the Dream.” This statement is not entirely accurate, as the two versions are somewhat different, and the spoken closing of the song does not appear in the book. The other point is that she refers to a “motive” when I think she means “motif” and this became a bit distracting. But otherwise a most excellent book.
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