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Many of the songs Jackson writes are very personal in nature, but this one (which he wrote himself) tells the fictional story of a particularly adept gangster, something far from his personal experience. Jackson takes the role of onlooker in the song, coming across the victim and asking her over and over - "Annie are you OK?" Apparently, Annie is not OK, as she's been struck by the smooth criminal.
This song was a highlight of Jackson's live shows, where he performed variations of the 45 degree lean popularized in the video, often leaving the crowd wondering how it was done. The routine grew more elaborate over time; on the Dangerous tour (1992-1993), he basically reenacted the video with four dancers. The HIStory tour (1996-1997) brought a more theatrical performance, with Jackson dressed like a 1930s Chicago gangster. He would appear on stage with a prop machine gun and blast away six or so rival gangsters, whose bodies were then dragged off stage to great applause.
There are four versions of the video, with the original being in the Moonwalker
film. The most famous aspect of the video is the forward lean where Michael and his dancers appear to defy gravity. In the video, ropes and magnets were used to achieve the special effect. On stage, the dancers wore special shoes that could be furtively inserted into pegs on the stage floor, then quickly removed to resume full motion. The technique was filed under United States Patent Law
by Jackson and two collaborators in 1993, although the patent expired in 2005. (thanks, Becca - Fort Collins, CO)
It was the recording engineer, Bruce Swedien, who was the voice of the police chief on Jackson's recording.
Alien Ant Farm's version was a hit in 2001, going to #23 in the US and #3 in the UK.
Supertramp founder Roger Hodgson
Roger tells the stories behind some of his biggest hits, including "Give a Little Bit," "Take the Long Way Home" and "The Logical Song."
Rupert crafted hits for Tina Turner, Howard Jones and The Fixx.
Greg Lake of Emerson, Lake & Palmer
Greg talks about writing songs of "universal truth" for King Crimson and ELP, and tells us about his most memorable stage moment (it involves fireworks).