On his 1991 DANGEROUS cover, Michael Jackson made a theme out of light and darkness, life and death. Not only on the cover Jackson showed opposites of day and night, of the sun and the moon. Jackson himself, as the Moonwalker, represented in his appearances and in his films, the symbol of both the moon and the sun. And on Jackson’s DANGEROUS cover as well, it seems a border separates life from death, day from night, and light from darkness. ENTRARE is separated from EXITUS, the beginning from the end.
Michael Jackson’s DANGEROUS album cover, 1991, SONY Music Entertainment. Painter Mark Ryden. The painting is called „King of Pop“, acrylic on wood 82″ x 74″, exhibited in Paul Kasmin gallery, New York. source
Incredible talent and opposites in his persona made Michael Jackson so fascinating. In THRILLER he personified everybody’s darling and simultaneously a monster, in Black or White he shocked the audience when he became a raging panther. Jackson dominated the stage and 80,000 spectators as the absolute King, but as soon as the show was over, he became shy. He was a calculating businessman and a wondering child. A potpourri of opposites were in his persona united and formed a fascinating Michael Jackson. How many traces of his persona are hidden in the DANGEROUS cover?
Light and Darkness on DANGEROUS by Michael Jackson or only opposites form a whole
On Michael Jackson’s DANGEROUS cover, a border separates the light from the darkness and the golden, sunny king in a dog’s figure from the silver, cold moonlight of the bird queen. As if by a barrier, the friendly, open dog king is distanced from the queen, whose machinery operates in secret. Playfulness versus precisely engineered machinery. The personalities on the cover are related to each other, but they reign as rulers over different domains.
„You and I were never separate. It’s just an illusion wrought by the magical lens of perception. There is only one wholeness only one mind. We are like ripples in the vast ocean of consciousness. Come, let us dance the Dance of Creation. Let us celebrate the joy of life …“Michael Jackson, 1992, „Heaven is here“ in „Dancing the Dream“
Picture: The opposites on the DANGEROUS cover.
On Michael Jackson’s DANGEROUS, the opposites of the characters were emphasized: the King faces the Queen on the other side. There is the man opposite the woman. The hunting dog and the bird. Rivals, it seems. The king is open, golden, seems playful and is as bright as the day. He stands in contrast to the seemingly reserved queen, who seems to represent the moon in the silvery, blue colors of the night. But only their contrasts make them both a whole. We would not have day if there were no night. The light exists only because there is the darkness. The sun stands opposite the moon.
The coronation of the two so contrary rulers on DANGEROUS seems to take place between heaven and hell. Both rulers are pillars of a force that has a lot of power. A global industry called MICHAEL JACKSON. A man full of opposites. Or so it seems.
On the DANGEROUS cover by Michael Jackson, opposites come together under his leadership: Light and darkness, man and woman, king and queen, day and night, life and death. Black or White? Song number 8 on the album.
Michael Jackson on DANGEROUS with light and darkness: ENTRARE, Sun, Gold, Smile versus EXITUS, Moon, Silver, Sadness
Michael Jackson told the history of opposites on DANGEROUS: the left side on the record cover appears magical. Here the clown at Michael’s side has a good laugh.
The right side of the painting is distanced. Here, the industry is represented under the Bird Queen. Here the clown in Jackson’s mask cries, and that is a tragedy. Here it is where the reserved Bird Queen reigns. Her silver colors in her crown, her jewelry and her collar are as cold as the moonlight. White silver on her body sparkles like the stars at night.
The Queen on DANGEROUS observed in the light of the moon
Opposites like light and darkness are omnipresent on the DANGEROUS cover of Michael Jackson. Thus, the King in the shape of a hunting dog, faces the Queen in the shape of a bird. The King on DANGEROUS, shown as the dog, has already been identified as „MJ“. But what about his female counterpart on Jackson’s cover? How much of the King of Pop, of Michael Jackson’s public persona is hidden in the Queen?
The Queen’s head is adorned with the British Imperial State Crown. Jackson had a copy of this crown made by his designers to celebrate his own crowning in 1990 as Artist of the Decade by U.S. President Bush. Since the British Monarch also wears this crown only on celebration days, the official enthronement of the King of Pop, Rock and Soul in 1990 by Elizabeth Taylor can certainly be seen as such a celebration day.
In her hands, the Bird Queen carries the symbols of power: the scepter represents her worldly power, while the Sovereign’s Orb symbolizes ecclesiastical power. But the Queen’s scepter on DANGEROUS breaks with tradition and presents the head of the Dog King as a connection.
„While it wasn’t a coronation, the Entertainer of the Decade Award was still an achievement, and one for which Michael would solicit our help to mark it, as he did many times and for many different reasons, both large and small. In this manner, he taught us that it was okay to celebrate ourselves, Michael was humble, but humility is not the antithesis of knowing the importance of commemorating milestones. Because as marvelous as accomplishments feel when they happen, those moments are fleeting. Michael caught the magic of his moments and the crown was one of his tricks in doing so.“Michael Lee Bush, The King’s designer. 1
l.: Michael Jackson’s Designer Denis Tompkins and Michael Lee Bush with the „Imperial State Crown“ they had created. 2
The Sun King on DANGEROUS versus the Moon Queen. Cold elegance versus warm gold
Like the Dog King, the Bird Queen turns her eyes away from us. The two opposing figures have only the opponent in mind. Her left hand is as dark as his. Her right hand can also be seen in that white glove which is the trademark of Moonwalker Michael Jackson. The Queen’s glove represents elegance, but what it lacks is the magical sparkle like fairy dust. The King’s glove, on the other hand, is surrounded by that magical, bright sparkle.
The proud, unapproachable Queen and the playful King on DANGEROUS have something in common, despite all their contradictions: the hermaphrodite. A hybrid. The Queen’s head is that of a bird and thus of an animal like the King’s head. The upper body of both figures, however, is human.
Two birds open the robe of their Queen and reveal what defines her status: The complicated mechanism of a precise machinery. A clockwork. A symbol of time.
Time is limited, but somehow – like the clockwork under the Queen- without a beginning and without an ending. Entrare. Exitus. Beginning. End. An eternal cycle.
Did Michael Jackson illustrate the cycle of life on the DANGEROUS cover?
Did Michael Jackson illustrate the cycle of life on the DANGEROUS cover?
The throne of the Queen on DANGEROUS is identical to the throne of the King. The circular backrest represents a halo, a subtle symbol found in many paintings of sovereigns.
The circular back of the Queen’s throne is also based on the columns that signified world domination in ancient paintings of kings.
The round back of a ruler’s throne represents a halo. The pillars on the throne indicate world supremacy.
„EXITUS“ or the death under the moonlight of the Queen
The Queen’s jewels sparkle, but her personality seems emotionless. She seems distant. As if she is dead. She is a majestic statue, and her color is not the warm, sunny gold from the Dog King, but silver. And white. Like the moonlight in a cold dark night. On DANGEROUS, the place for the Moon Queen is at the EXITUS. At the end. In death?
„Under the moonlight you see a sight that almost stops your heart …“Michael Jackson, 1982. THRILLER 3
picture: „Exitus“ under the Queen on DANGEROUS
The circle of life on DANGEROUS? „ENTRARE“ under the sun versus „EXITUS“ under the moon
On DANGEROUS, under the golden, bright King, who represents with his vibrancy the life and the bright day, the word „ENTRARE“ is carved in the stone. Entrare means „enter“, the entrance or the beginning of something. Every life begins with birth. Entrare is the entrance to life.
„EXITUS“ can be seen beneath the cold, lifeless Bird Queen. Exitus is departure. The end. The end of life? The death?
Under the vibrant King on DANGEROUS, the word „ENTRARE“ is set in stone. Entrare is a beginning. A birth? „EXITUS“ is written under the lifeless Queen. Exitus is the end. The end of life? The death?
ENTRARE under the Sun King, wo is full of life.
EXITUS under the Moon Queen, who seems lifeless as death.
On the DANGEROUS cover, „ENTRARE“ is facing „EXITUS“. These are two contraries, which only through their contrasts arise in a whole. Birth and life (Entrare) face death and the end (Exitus). But no life without death. Without the beginning no ending. Without Entrare no Exitus.
Alchemical wedding of the King and Queen on DANGEROUS?
Had Michael Jackson represented by the painter Mark Ryden in 1991 on the DANGEROUS album cover the „alchemical marriage of King and Queen“? A „hostility between opposites“ that ends in harmony?
„The alchemical marriage of King and Queen condenses a psychological process that begins with an initial hostility between opposites (Sol and Luna) and ends in harmonious union. Here we have the opposition of Sun and Moon as a human couple, as King and Queen. The encounter is at first still very distant. This is shown by the courtly dress. […] On the one hand […] a certain shyness, even secrecy, in the relationship, but on the other hand, it also indicates a certain driven nature. It is the proverbial attraction of opposites that acts on them. There are three living beings that make up the rose. King, queen and dove. These three are not to be considered ordinary human beings, but human representatives of the divine forces of Sun, Moon and Star; male, female and androgynous. The star represents the wholeness of the human being, which is beyond the separation of the sexes and can only be achieved by putting together and uniting male and female“The Archive For Research In Archetypal Symbolism. 4
„Since childhood I have reacted to the moon this way“ Michael Jackson
Not only does the Queen on DANGEROUS wear the colors silver, blue and white, which symbolize the night and the moon. Sparkling, cold silver of the stars and the blue of the moon are also the colors of the Moonwalker, who danced at night in his concerts on the moon.
The silver and blue of the Moon Queen are like the stars and the moon of the Moonwalker
„Moon, I’m here!“ I shout.In 1992 Michael Jackson called his poem „Dance of Life„
„Good,“ she replies. „Now give us a little dance.“
picture: Michael Jackson in 1999 showcased himself as the Moonwalker. 5 Here, the blue framed eye symbolizes the moon. The stars twinkle on the jacket of the Moonwalker. The Moonwalker who could walk on the moon. Michael Jackson is wrapped in a „jeweled robe that symbolizes the firmament.“
The Moonwalk. This is the walk made immortal by Michael Jackson. This is the walk on the moon. This is the darkness that Jackson is surrounded by on stage. The moonwalk is inseparable from Jackson’s pitch black jacket, sparkling like the firmament, covered with stars. There is Jackson’s black hat and his image on stage in absolute dark loneliness. His only companion at that point is the moon. This is symbolized by a spotlight. And then he give us a little dance. And he suspends all conventions: Michael Jackson glides backwards by walking forwards. Simultaneously. What a contradiction. Magic.
The moonwalker who was walking on the moon. source
„I cannot escape the moon. … I don’t have to see it – a cool blue energy falls across my bed and I am up. I race down the dark hall and swing open the door, not to leave home but to go back to it.Michael Jackson, 1991 in his poem: „Dance of Life“.6
„Moon, I’m here!“ I shout. „Good,“ she replies. „Now give us a little dance.“ … my body has always been moving. Since childhood I have reacted to the moon this way, as her favorite lunatic, and not just hers. The stars draw me near, close enough so that I see through their twinkling act. They’re dancing, too …“
Light and darkness on DANGEROUS, day and night in the Kingdom of Jackson 1991 and 1999
In 1999, almost a decade after DANGEROUS, Michael Jackson embodied again light and darkness in his persona. Again Jackson surrounded himself with the gold from the Sun King. The golden King on Dangerous, who is shining bright as day at the ENTRARE where everything begins. In 1991, Michael Jackson symbolized the sun, just as he did in 1999. And the Moonwalker also displays the stars and the blue moonlight on his body, symbolizing the night. Again, the Moonwalker, is „draped in the jeweled cape that symbolizes the sparkling firmament.“ 7
And then there might be … another rival reign? The Purple Reign (Rain)?
Her Majesty the Bird Queen carries white ermine on her robe. The color of her robe is the most majestic color in history: purple. The color of the highest rulers. On DANGEROUS, the Queen thus embodies something like the ‚Purple Reign‘. The „Purple Reign“, however, already belonged to another royal ruler: musician Prince, who held with „Purple Rain“ the purple reign at the same time as the King of Pop. Prince, whose name alone was already royal and is considered the eternal rival of the King of Pop. MJ and Prince reigned on the same level.
Maybe Prince is immortalized on the cover of the King of Pop? And how much of the 1984’s „Purple Rain“ is hidden in the „Purple Reign“ on Michael Jackson’s 1991 DANGEROUS album cover? Controversy … 😉 Sure.
- Bush, Michael Lee, Michael Jackson-King of Style – Die Fashion-Ikone, 2012/2013, Inside Edition/Seemann Henschel Verlag, Leipzig, page 145
- Bush, Michael Lee, Michael Jackson-King of Style – Die Fashion-Ikone, 2012/2013, Inside Edition/Seemann Henschel Verlag, Leipzig
- Jackson, Michael, THRILLER – Album: Michael Jackson’s Thriller, 30.11.1982, EPIC Records
- The Archive For Research In Archetypal Symbolism, Das Buch der Symbole – Betrachtungen Zu Archetypischen Bildern, Editor: Ami Ronnberg, Kathleen Martin;. 2010, König und Königin. (translated here in english), Taschen Verlag, Köln, page 470
- Picture from „Michael Jackson“ by Arno Bani, 2010, LE CHENE; Knesebeck Verlag, www.arnobani.fr/books.php
- Jackson, Michael, DANCING THE DREAM – DANCE OF LIFE, 1992, Doubleday an imprint of Transworld Publishers, London, page 14
- The Archive For Research In Archetypal Symbolism, Das Buch der Symbole – Betrachtungen Zu Archetypischen Bildern – König/Königin, Editor: Ami Ronnberg, Kathleen Martin; 2010, König/Königin. „The ruler holds the imperial orb and the scepter, which indicate his supremacy in the worldly realms, and he is wrapped in the jeweled cloak that symbolizes the sparkling firmament.“, Taschen Verlag, Köln, Seite 2470
- Prince, Roger Nelson, CONTROVERSY, 14.10.1981, Album CONTROVERSY, Warner Brother Records