The first time I listened to Michael Jackson’s tenth and final studio album, it was obvious to me that Invincible, despite its punchy title, represented a significant departure from the music of Jackson’s Thriller, Bad, Dangerous, History, and Blood on the Dance Floor albums. Less showmanship, more song. Less flash and razzle dazzle; more simplicity. Maybe that’s why I really like the songs on this album.
Notwithstanding the presence of songs like “Privacy”, and “Threatened”, which pay homage to “Billie Jean”, and “Dirty Diana”, respectively, with their themes of groupies and paranoia, Invincible recalls the innocence-mixed-with-angst of his early solo singing career. The music reaffirms Jackson’s talents as balladeer. To be unadorned, and emotionally naked. To make the listener feel as if it is just Jackson singing for them in a small room.
The lack of promotion by Sony and a tour for this album made Invincible a comparatively small success next to Bad, Dangerous, and Thriller. Still, commercial hit or no, I believe Invincible stands on its own, and not as some critics have said, a retread of his greatest hits, despite comparisons to past songs. “Cry” (shades of Earth Song), the laudatory “You Are My Life” (a moving tribute to his children), the pleading “Don’t Walk Away” (the flip side of “She’s Out of My Life”), and my favourite, “Speechless”. I get chills when I hear Speechless; if there was ever a song that expressed the wonder of being in love with such adoration, this is that song.