Michael Jackson’s “Do You Know Where Your Children Are?”: Listen

Carl Williott | May 9, 2014 11:20 am

The moment every Michael Jackson fan/critic has been dreading/waiting for: the infamous “song about sexual abuse” is here. Luckily, upon first listen, “Do You Know Where Your Children Are?” is not cloying or patronizing or off-putting, and is quite good! It turns out the song was written and produced by Jackson before he faced all those sexual abuse claims, and was recorded during the Bad sessions before being reworked during early Dangerous sessions and leaked in 2012.

Its title derives from a popular PSA that preceded nightly news broadcasts for a couple decades starting in the ’60s, and in a note made public by Jackson’s estate, MJ explained America’s problem with runaways inspired the song. “[It] is about kids being raised in a broken family where the father comes home drunk and the mother is out prostituting and the kids run away from home and they become victims of rape, prostitution and the hunter becomes the hunted,” he wrote. “Do you know where your children are? It’s twelve o’clock. They are somewhere out on the street. Just imagine how scared they are,” he added, which also serves as the chorus.

The song finds MJ in prime “hee-hee” mode over a vibrant yet slightly ominous synth rattle, and it’s certainly the most fully-formed and true-to-its-era composition of all the Xscape cuts we’ve heard. Stream it over at Radio.com.

For more on Xscape, watch LA Reid talk about the making of the album:

Get an eyeful of even more pop music coverage, from artist interviews to exclusive performances, on Idolator’s YouTube channel.