Michael Jackson Man in the Mirror: What is Man in the Mirror about? Story behind song
Martin Bashir interviews Michael Jackson in 2002
Michael Jackson’s song Man in the Mirror was an instant hit when it came out in 1988. It went straight in at the top of the Billboard Hot 100, where it remained for two weeks. While it didn’t fare as well in the UK, it climbed up the rankings after Michael’s death in 2009 – but what is the story behind the lyrics?
Man in the Mirror became Michael Jackson’s tenth number-one single on the Billboard Hot 100 when it first came out on February 6, 1988.
The track was certified triple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and is still known today as one of Michael’s most famous songs.
While it only reached the Top 30 in the UK, it climbed to Number Two after his death on June 25, 2009, and it received a huge amount of radio play in the weeks that followed.
But what is the story of the lyrics of the song, and was it a song Michael wrote himself?
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While Michael was an incredible songwriter, who heard full songs in his head, he did not put pen to paper with Man in the Mirror.
Instead, Man in the Mirror was composed by Glen Ballard and Siedah Garrett, well-known songwriters who worked with him at the time.
Siedah, a singer in her own right, also sang with Michael on the song I Just Can’t Stop Loving You which, with Man in the Mirror, were released on his sixth studio album Bad.
The song was produced by Michael and his long term collaborator Quincy Jones and featured backing vocals from gospel groups such as The Winans and the Andraé Crouch Choir.
Siedah spoke about the song after its release, saying: “The song was deeper than just the visual of a man looking at himself in the mirror.
“To make a difference on the outside, you have to first start from within.
“So I think that Michael just got it… he got the meaning of the song right away.”
While the song may not have been about a particular man, but about humanity as a whole, there was a poignant dedication on the single sleeve which sent a powerful message.
In the single sleeve was a dedication to Yoshiaki Ogiwara, a five-year-old boy from Takasaki in Gunma, Japan who was kidnapped and murdered in September 1987.
At the time of the release of the single, Michael was touring Japan and dedicated concerts in Osaka and Yokohama to Yoshiaki’s memory.
The dedication read: “Dedicated to Yoshiaki Hagiwara. May such a terrible thing never happen again. I will always love you. Michael Jackson.
“A portion of Michael Jackson’s royalties from the sales of this record will be donated to Camp Ronald McDonald for Good Times, a camp for children with cancer.”
The song was released with a music video, which was a departure for Michael as he did not appear in it, sort of.
Instead of filming a specific video for the song, it instead showed a montage of him performing the song in different locations around the world.
As well as that, other clips were interspersed throughout his performances, such as images of children in Africa, Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King Jr.
The song regained prominence after Michael’s death in a way it had not when it first came out and is now considered one of his all-time classics.
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