“Book on the Dance Floor” continues the story of Michael Jackson at the peak of his independent creativity in the heady 1990s, specifically the creation and recording of the new material on King of Pop’s “remix” album “Blood on the Dance Floor”. This was the decade in which he laid his soul bare for all who cared to listen and attempt to understand what he thought, felt, and was experiencing in a world that, his fans aside, had started to treat him as toxic.
Brice Najar’s technique is to gather firsthand accounts of the artist’s creative process from those who collaborated with him. Where possible their memories and stories are presented as verbatim transcripts, and these are what make both of Brice’s volumes on this part of Jackson’s career invaluable. His integrity as a researcher and writer, and his respect for the material and the people who provide it, combine to make his contributions to the documentation of pop culture history superior to most others. He is primarily a fan who intends only to inform and enhance our understanding of his subject, not exploit it.
Academics and other observers of cultural phenomena can present similar material through the lens of their field of expertise, but too often they exhibit a lack of knowledge and understanding of Jackson that is essential for gaining the respect of readers who are fans. The latter have lived through the successes and dramas of Jackson’s life, or have ingested it since his passing. We expect those who write about him to have similarly absorbed the minutiae of his existence as far as it can reliably be known, without resorting to tabloid media fabrications and exaggerations. Too many times this turns out not to be the case, and money is wasted by fans and students alike, on purchasing tomes that fail to comprehend the nature of the artist they attempt to explain.
Whereas, when Brice expresses his personal assessment of something in one of his modest but incisive volumes, he does not hesitate to let the reader know that it is his opinion based on his own experience as a fan who has done the research. He is not interested in assembling factoids to fit a hypothesis or prove a theory; he wants to understand the artist by revealing as much as he can about the creation of his art. Michael Jackson made an indelible impact on popular culture in the 20th and 21st centuries, but his integrity has been under attack from exploiters or the ill-informed. For the sake of future inquirers into Jackson’s life, work and global influence, books like those of Brice Najar should be some of the first to be consulted to gain understanding of the artist.
To understand the man, we must study his art, seeking as many viewpoints as we can from those who were there. With some of Jackson’s colleagues already having passed on since his own demise, the urgency of this work cannot be understated. Bravo to Brice for his dedication and contributions to recording in print, the history of an incomparable artist and his art.
Review by Kerry Hennigan
“Book on the Dance Floor” is available from Amazon in both French and English editions.
Hennigan, Kerry. “Book Review: ‘Let’s Make HIStory. An Insight into the HIStory album’ by Brice Najar.” https://kerryhennigan.wordpress.com/2017/02/06/book-review-lets-make-history-an-insight-into-the-history-album-by-brice-najar/
Hennigan, Kerry. “MJ Studies Today XXXI (16-07-2018).” The Journal of Michael Jackson Academic Studies 5, no. 1 (2018). https://michaeljacksonstudies.org/mj-studies-today-xxxi/.
Hennigan, Kerry. “What is it about ‘Blood on the Dance Floor’? or: Michael Jackson as alpha male.” https://kerryhennigan.wordpress.com/2016/06/30/what-is-it-about-blood-on-the-dance-floor-or-michael-jackson-as-alpha-male/
Jax, Pez. “Bringing Blood On The Dance Floor to Life.” https://www.pezjax.com/bringing-blood-on-the-dance-floor-to-life/