The 10 Michael Jackson Songs You Forgot

Robbie Daw | June 25, 2010 6:00 am

With today marking the one-year anniversary of Michael Jackson’s death, we’ll no doubt be hearing “Billie Jean” and “Beat It” blaring atop the multitude of tributes that flash across the TV. And if you flip on an adult contemporary station during any given day, you’re at least bound to be in for “Man In The Mirror,” “Human Nature” or “You Are Not Alone”—or probably all three, if you leave the radio on long enough. Just like it’s a given that “Thriller” is always playing somewhere on Halloween.

But what about those lesser known Jackson jams—the ones that were flashes in the pan? The ones that charted high then dropped quickly, or perhaps never charted at all? After the jump, we’ve gathered together a slew of the MJ tracks that may be forgotten—but they are definitely not gone. So grab your favorite (and strangest) memorabilia and jar your memory below!

“When We Grow Up” (with Roberta Flack) This charming tune was originally featured on the 1972 Marlo Thomas & Friends concept album Free To Be… You And Me with Diana Ross on vocals. But a spin-off ABC TV special aired two years later, and a 15-year-old Michael Jackson was paired up with Roberta Flack (who was 37 at the time) to take on “When We Grow Up.” The song ironically ends on the line “we don’t have to change at all.” If only MJ had believed such a notion when it came to his outward appearance.

“Blood On The Dance Floor” As with several of Jackson’s mid-to-late ’90s singles, this title track from his Blood On The Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix remix album was a hit pretty much everywhere but in the U.S. (where it just missed cracking the Top 40 in 1997). It’s a strange little dance number (co-produced by MJ and Teddy Riley) wherein Michael falls prey to dangerous, blade-wielding seductress “Susie.”

“One More Chance” By now many who’ve snatched up Jackson’s Number Ones collection might be familiar with this R. Kelly-penned ballad (though it’s tucked away at the very end, just before the final track—a live version of “Ben”). But in November 2003, when it was issued as a new single off the compilation, it charted at  #83 on the Billboard Hot 100. Overall all, one of the more forgettable snoozes from MJ’s catalog.

“Who Is It” Woefully underrated. Yeah, sure—the melody cops from “Billie Jean” pretty blatantly. And that might have worked against the song when it was originally issued as the fifth single off Michael’s ’91 album Dangerous. But as the dust has settled and people have begun re-examining Jackson’s output, “Who Is It” stands out as one of his least-dated dance-pop offerings from the 1990s. Only squeaking up to #14 on the Hot 100? A crime!

“We Are Here To Change The World” Michael kicks off this Captain EO track—one of two originals to be featured in the 1986 Francis Ford Coppola-directed Disney theme park flick—with some military dance steps and a trademark squeal. The very definition of “’80s cheese.”

“Another Part Of Me” We of course can’t mention “We Are Here To Change The World” without including Michael’s other Captain EO original, “Another Part Of Me.” A year after the 3-D sci fi movie hit Disneyland, a remixed version of the song appeard on Jackson’s Bad album and became a minor hit in the States (it peaked at #11 on the Hot 100) and UK (#15).

“Jam” This funky, uh, jam from Dangerous stiffed on the charts somewhat universally in 1992 (though it did go to #1 in Spain), likely because it lacks any real hook. The music video, however, garnered some frequent MTV play thanks to its inclusion of then Chicago Bulls champ Michael Jordan.

“The Lady In My Life” Alright, alright—so Thriller is the world’s best-selling album of all time, and with upwards of 100 million copies landing in the hands of record buyers over the past 28 years, it might be safe to assume many folks are familiar with this one. Still, the ballad, which closes out the album, has the distinction of being only one of two songs that weren’t released as singles off the phenomenally successful LP. (Young’uns who missed out on ’80s Jacko mania may recall Ne-Yo giving a tender performance of “The Lady In My Life” at last year’s BET Awards.)

“You Can’t Win” The Wiz was not so all-powerful at the box office in 1978, but who doesn’t know “Ease On Down The Road” at least? Below is Michael’s lesser known down-and-out disco number “You Can’t Win” from Motown’s big screen adaptation of the stage musical. Dig those crows!

“Butterflies” Aside from the fact that it’s now been a full year since the death of Michael Jackson, stranger is the realization that almost a decade has gone by since the release of his last actual studio album, Invincible. Alas, by 2001 years of scandal and what was perceived to be odd behavior had taken its toll on the singer’s commercial viability. And when the LP’s lead single “You Rock My World” arrived, not even red-hot producer Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins (here delivering some of his finest work) or the appearance of Rush Hour star Chris Tucker and Marlon Brando (!) in the music video could help it creep past the meager chart position of #10. Faring even worse was the follow-up single “Buttlerflies,” a sleepy ballad that would prove to be Jackson’s final appearance in the U.S. Top 40 (it fluttered to #14 before dropping off).