HIStory: Past, Present, & Future, Book I

HIStory's 2 CDs (one hits, the other new) were Jackson's attempt to connect his glorious past to a dodgy present and–given it's commercial and artistic performance–cast a shadow on his future. Conceived as his formal coronation as the "King of Pop," HIStory's second disc instead presents Jackson as an epauletted, single-gloved Richard III. By turns paranoid, angry, bitter, sentimental, and, in one instance, possibly anti-Semitic, HIStory was less a collection of songs than a case history. A few tracks–mostly those produced by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis–are sleek, modern pop/soul, but too much of HIStory has the overblown vacuousness of a musician who knows his time is past, but is unsure as to how to react to the situation. –Steven Mirkin