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Single Review: Michael Jackson – ‘A Place With No Name’

1 min read

Michael Jackson may have been dead for five years but that has not stopped him from continuing to make history, with the second single, A Place With No Name, from the King of Pop’s posthumous album Xscape becoming the first music video to be premiered on the social networking website Twitter.

Michael Jackson - A Place With No NameThe video, which includes footage of a dancing Jackson, has a suitably retro feel, accompanying a track that is definitely reminiscent of the popstar’s Bad days. A Place With No Name is a quintessentially pop remake of America’s 1972 folk-rock hit A Horse With No Name, replacing the folky guitars and hushed vocals with keyboards, and Jackson’s characteristic energised and percussive voice. Initially reworking the track in 1998 with producer Dr. Freeze, the lyrics of the original were completely discarded, instead telling a tale of a man who, upon blowing a flat tyre on his Jeep, is seduced by a beautiful woman and her promises of sexual utopia.

If the track’s unsophisticated lyrics are its weakness, then its strength can be found in its innately groovy melodic introduction. The opening captures the spirit and energy of the singer, immortalised particularly in Jackson’s Bad and Dangerous periods. A Place With No Name is unknown and at the same time familiar, producing a sound that is retro and classic, rather than dated.

5 thoughts on “Single Review: Michael Jackson – ‘A Place With No Name’

  1. The lyrics were not changed from the 98 version (same lyrics). Both songs the original and reworked version have the same lyrics. of a beautiful woman who takes him to a place “Where kids are playin’ and people are laughin’ and smiling and No one’s in fear” “She said this is the place where no people have pain, And in love and happiness” Now There are some sexual overtones in the video couples dance, but the message is still the same. It wasn’t about a sexual uptopia , but in all ways a beautiful place for ALL.

    As she took me right through the fog
    I see a beautiful city appear
    Where kids are playin’ and people are laughin’ and smiling and
    No one’s in fear

    She said this is the place where no people have pain
    And in love and happiness
    She turned around looked down at my eyes and started cryin’
    She grabbed my hand, you got a friend

  2. Ms Morris,

    With all due respect, I’d like to comment/correct you on a few things:

    First of all, one should remember that the SONG came before the VIDEO, and that Michael had NOTHING to do with the latter. Thus, the video’s vision, made by current-day directors, was NOT MJ’s vision of the song.

    The original MICHAEL JACKSON version of A Place With No Name was written in 1998 by Dr Freeze and recorded by MJ, which makes it something from the INVINCIBLE album era, not the BAD era. The MJ footage in the video is taken from Michael’s IN THE CLOSET video, filmed in 1992, from the DANGEROUS album… which again, was the wrong era, if one was to keep with the chronological timing of the song’s creation… but since it was filmed in a desert location, it fit easily with the current-day director’s vision of the desert local.

    The LYRICS tell a story of a man who, yes, gets a flat tire on his jeep, while riding down the highway (not a stretch of desert, as in the video) who meets a beautiful mysterious woman, but that’s where your description gets skewed by the video.

    In the SONG version, there is no “SEXUAL utopia”… Rather, he finds a general Heavenly paradise of beauty, peace, love, and happiness. In the LYRICS, MJ sings of a woman who suddenly appears amidst the fog and takes him to a beautiful city where “kids are playin’ and people are laughin’ and they’re smilin’ where there’s nothing to fear.” A paradise…. where ” no people have pain… with love and happiness”; he sees “the grass and the skies and the birds, and the flowers surrounded by the trees”… A place where yes, the woman start kissing and hugging him, and she shows him places he’s s never seen and things he’s never done, but that’s the extent of any sexual activity. He goes for his wallet and sees “pictures of his family and girl” and wonders which place he’s meant to be in.

    Calling his lyrics “weak” seems uncalled for. Compared to many lyrics in songs these days, finding a heavenly utopia hardly seems “unsophisticated”!

    As for the video having a “retro feel”, well, I guess parts of it can be viewed that way (the use of black and white film and the ’60s swirling things), but everything else – the actual CONCEPT – is completely 21st century: using sex to sell the product, along with gratuitous usage of shameful product placement for commercial gain (the JEEP logo close-ups). While the latter is tolerable in this instance, since MJ himself mentions jeep in the lyrics, and MJ’s estate has a current deal with JEEP, using Love Never Felt So Good as their jingle, the sexualized vision of this song is, in my opinion, overdone, to the detriment of the original feel of the song Michael recorded. A real shame.

    That said, the youth of today, will undoubtedly lap this video up.

    1. Thank you so much, I couldn’t read this and not comment with everything you just said, you saved me a lot of trouble :D

  3. For crying out loud, how badly written?
    “From his BAD era” then mentions it was 1998.
    “Findin a sexual utopia” he found a “place where no people have pain, with love and happiness” and “kids are playing, people are laughing and smiling, and no one has fear”.
    The only “sexual” part was the woman started “kissin me and hugging me, didn’t want me to leave. She showed me places I’ve never seen and things I’ve never done” even then she showed him “The grass and the skies and the birds, and the flowers surrounded by the trees” and in “this place filled with love and happiness is a world I don’ wanna leave” he “went in my pocket took my wallet on out, with the pictures of my family and girl” and had to decide where to be.
    This leads the writer to call the lyrics “weak” due to her own lack of vision and actual understanding, her narrow view.
    A simplistic view for a simplistic video by a simplistic writer that completely misses the rest of the song, messes up the timeline of when it was first recorded and what influences might have been at play.

    1. As Editor of Renowned For Sound I have to say that Meggie’s review of the track is pretty spot on and well written and that it is rather disappointing that fans of Michael Jackson would go to great lengths (and time in some cases) to criticize a review that is essentially glowing of their idols latest song.

      The majority of the comments here are due to a misunderstanding of several points made in the review. This includes the mention of “a track that is definitely reminiscent of the popstar’s Bad days”. The review is clearly not saying the track is taken from the ‘Bad’ days, it is merely stating that the ‘sound’ of the track is similar to material from this era, hence the term ‘reminiscent’ being used. The criticism that it should be referencing the ‘Invinsible’ era is not appropriate as the review is not suggesting that the track was one that came from this era, but that it sounds like a song from a specific Jackson era.

      It seems silly to have to justify a review that is praising a song and it is disappointing that these few so-called fans would be so negative toward something that is praising an artists work instead of celebrating a positive article about a great new song.

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