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"You Are Not Alone" is the second single from Michael Jackson's album HIStory. The R&B ballad's composition has been attributed by R. Kelly in response to difficult times in his personal life. He then forwarded a bare demo tape to Jackson, who liked the song and decided to produce it with Kelly. Jackson's interest in the song was also linked to recent events in his personal life. However, the song has been faced with allegations of plagiarism by two Belgian songwriters. The song was later covered by R. Kelly himself as a hidden track on his tenth solo studio album Love Letter.

The vast majority of critical reaction to "You Are Not Alone" was positive, although it did not attain unanimous praise. The song was the recipient of Grammy and American Music Awardnominations. The corresponding music video, which featured Jackson and his then-wife Lisa Marie Presley was also notable for its scenes of semi-nudity.

Commercially, the song was a significant success. It holds a Guinness World Record as the first song in the 37-year history of the Billboard Hot 100 to debut at number one; it was later certified platinum by the RIAA. The song peaked highly in all major markets. "You Are Not Alone" was Michael Jackson's last number one hit song in the United States during his lifetime. It was also the 800th number one hit on the Billboard Hot 100 pop singles chart.

A clip of the song was remixed and released in 2011, as a song with "I Just Can't Stop Loving You", on the Immortal album.

ContentsEdit

 [hide*1 Production and music

Production and music[edit]Edit

"You Are Not Alone"MENU   0:00 Excerpt of the R. Kelly penned second single from HIStory. The excerpt shows the final product, after Jackson co-produced the bare demo.----
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"You Are Not Alone" is a R&B ballad about love and isolation.[2][3] The song was written by R. Kelly and produced by Kelly and Jackson.[2] Kelly wrote the song after the loss of close people in his life.[4] Kelly was delighted to be able to work with his idol, explaining "I was psyched ... I feel I could have done his whole album. Not being selfish. I was just that geeked about it. It was an experience out of this world ... It's amazing to know that five years ago I was writing songs in a basement in the ghetto and now I'm writing for Michael Jackson ... I'd be a fool not to say it's a dream come true."[5] Jackson contacted Kelly to see if he had any material available. Kelly forwarded a tape recording of the song and Jackson then agreed to work with Kelly on the piece.[5] On the tape sent to Jackson, Kelly sung "You Are Not Alone" mimicking Jackson's vocal style, explaining, "I think I am him. I become him. I want him to feel that as well." Jackson found the interpretation amusing.[6] They spent the last week of November 1994 together in the studio working on the track.[5]

Jackson explained that he instantly liked the song, but listened to it twice before making his final decision. Although the song was written by Kelly, Jackson was adamant that the production should be a collaborative effort amongst the two musicians.[4] The tape sent to him had no harmony or modulations, so Jackson added a choir in the final portion and added a sense of climax and structure to the final piece.[7] The song has a tempo of 60 beats per minute, making it one of Jackson's slowest songs.[8]

Critical reaction[edit]Edit

'You Are Not Alone' received positive views from music critics. James Hunter of Rolling Stone noted that, "the excellent current single 'Scream' or the first-rate R&B ballad 'You Are Not Alone' – manage to link the incidents of Jackson's infamous recent past to universal concepts like injustice or isolation. When he bases his music in the bluntness of hip-hop, Jackson sketches funky scenarios denouncing greed, blanket unreliability and false accusation".[3] Jon Pareles of The New York Times said that it was the only conventional love song on the new material on HIStory. He compared it to Mariah Carey's song "Hero" and said it "sounds like a surefire hit".[2] In more recent years, Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic expressed the opinion that "You Are Not Alone" was amongst some the best songs Jackson ever released, calling the song seductive.[9] The R&B critic and journalist Nelson George described the song as lovely and supple.[10]

Writer and journalist J. Randy Taraborrelli wrote of the song in 2004, "[it] remains among Michael's best songs ... On listening to 'You Are Not Alone', one wonders how many times Michael tried to tell himself, during his most desperate and anguished times, that he did have support in his life, from a higher power, or even friends and family, whether he actually believed it or not".[11] Fred Shuster of the Daily News of Los Angeles described it as the best song on the album.[12] Conversely, while Steve Holsey of Michigan Chronicle gave the album a positive review, he described the song as the worst on the album, calling the Kelly penned lyrics "trite" and below the standard set by Jackson's own lyrical skills.[13] "You Are Not Alone" received an American Music Award nomination and a Grammy nomination both for "Best Pop Vocal Performance".[14]

Chart performance[edit]Edit

Commercially, "You Are Not Alone" remains one of Jackson's best selling singles. It holds the Guinness World Record for the first song ever to debut at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.[15] First week sales were 120,000 copies, it was certified platinum by the RIAA for shipments of at least one million units within the US.[16][17][18] It broke the record set by his previous single "Scream/Childhood," which was the first song in the 37 year history of Billboardto debut at number five—where it peaked.[17] It peaked at number one in the UK after a debut at number three in the prior week.[17][19] The song also reached number one in Wallonia, France, New Zealand, Spain and Switzerland.[20]With the exception of Italy, it became a top ten hit in every major market.[17][20]

Music video[edit]Edit

[1][2]Presley leans down towards her husband in the temple scene of the music video.

The music video was directed by Wayne Isham on July 12, 1995 and begins with a large number of paparazzi taking photographs of Jackson. The plot then centers around two locations: a temple where Jackson appears in an affectionate semi-nude scene with his then-wife Lisa Marie Presley and a theater where Jackson performs the song to an empty hall. Jackson also appears alone in other locations such as deserts and along tide pools. The slightly extended version that appeared on HIStory on Film, Volume II was notable for a scene where special effects were used to give Jackson white, feathery, almost angelic wings. The other version of the video is included on Number Ones and Michael Jackson's Vision. The temple scenes were a homage to Maxfield Parrish's 1922 painting "Daybreak".[21]

In one scene, Jackson originally appeared in complete nudity, but just before the video aired a decision was made to use special effects to remove or cover these aspects.[22] Despite giving the song a positive review, Taraborrelli said of the video, "The only problem with 'You Are Not Alone' was the bizarre video for it, in which Michael and Lisa Marie frolic about semi-nude against an ethereal backdrop...The semi-nudity made no sense and was a bit disconcerting; one wished they would put their clothes back on".[11] Afterward, Presley expressed regret about doing the video, saying she was "sucked up in the moment. It was kind of cool being in a Michael Jackson video. Come on!".[11]

Live performances[edit]Edit

In live performances, You Are Not Alone was always lip-synced until the end, when the chorus is repeated in a capella and Jackson sings ad-libs live. Michael first performed "You Are Not Alone" at the 1995 Soul Train Music Awards, then at the 1995 MTV Video Music Awards. At the latter awards ceremony, the song was performed without the second verse. Jackson then performed the song at the Royal Brunei concert in 1996 where it was performed as a complete song. Jackson also performed it during the HIStory World Tour as a complete song, during which one lucky girl was allowed to dance with him on stage, similar to the Soul Train Music Awards performance. Michael's next performance of "You Are Not Alone", which also turned out to be the song's last performance by Jackson himself occurred in 1999 during the two MJ & Friends concerts in Seoul and Munich, the former performance bei ng ten years to the day of his death. The song was performed without the second verse, similar to the "1995 MTV Awards" performance. The song was also due to be performed at the This Is It concert series, however the shows were cancelled due to his untimely death.

Diana Ross recorded a version of this song on her international -only released album, "Voice of Love" produced by Nick Martinelli. Diana would also close her successful 2010-12 "More Today Than Yesterday: The Greatest Hits Tour with this song as a tribute to Jackson.

Plagiarism[edit]Edit

In 2007, a Belgian court ruled that R. Kelly had plagiarized the 1993 song "If We Can Start All Over" when composing "You Are Not Alone". The court transferred rights of Jackson's hit to the twin composer brothers, Eddy and Danny Van Passel. The judgment is only recognized in Belgium and airplay of the hit has been banned in that nation.[23][24][25]

Charts[edit]Edit

Peak positions[edit]Edit

Chart (1995) Peak

position

Australian ARIA Singles Chart[20] 7
Austrian Singles Chart[20] 2
Belgian (Flanders) Singles Chart[20] 3
Belgian (Wallonia) Singles Chart[20] 1
Canadian Singles Chart[26] 2
Dutch Singles Chart[20] 6
Finnish Singles Chart[20] 10
French Singles Chart[20] 1
Irish Singles Chart[27] 1
Italian Singles Chart[20] 14
New Zealand RIANZ Singles Chart[20] 1
Norwegian Singles Chart[20] 9
Spanish Singles Chart[20] 1
Swedish Singles Chart[20] 2
Swiss Singles Chart[28] 1
UK Singles Chart[17] 1
US BillboardHot 100[29] 1
Chart (2009) Peak

position

Danish Singles Chart[20] 33
French Digital Singles Chart[30] 19
New Zealand Singles Chart[31] 1
Swedish Singles Chart[32] 37
Swiss Singles Chart[28] 16
UK Singles Chart[33] 35
U.S. BillboardHot Digital Songs[34] 17

Year-end charts[edit]Edit

Chart (1995) Position
U.S. Billboard Hot 100[35] 21

Certifications[edit]Edit

Region Certification Sales/shipments
Australia (ARIA)[36] Platinum 70,000^
Austria (IFPI Austria)[37] Gold 15,000x
France (SNEP)[38] Gold 250,000
Germany (BVMI)[39] Gold 250,000^
New Zealand (RMNZ)[40] Gold 5,000
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[41] Gold 25,000x
United Kingdom (BPI)[42] Gold 400,000^
United States (RIAA)[43] Platinum 1,000,000^

  • sales figures based on certification alone ^shipments figures based on certification alone xunspecified figures based on certification alone

Preceded by

"Kiss from a Rose" by Seal

Billboard Hot 100 number-one single

(Michael Jackson version) September 2, 1995

Succeeded by

"Gangsta's Paradise" by Coolio featuring L.V.

Preceded by

"Country House" by Blur

UK Singles Chart number-one single

(Michael Jackson version) September 3, 1995 – September 17, 1995

Succeeded by

"Boombastic" by Shaggy

Preceded by

"Boombastic" by Shaggy

Billboard's Hot R&B Songs number-one single

(Michael Jackson version) September 2, 1995 – September 23, 1995

Succeeded by

"Fantasy" by Mariah Carey

Preceded by

"XXL" by Mylène Farmer

French number-one single

(Michael Jackson version) September 30, 1995 – October 7, 1995

Succeeded by

"Je sais pas" by Céline Dion

Preceded by

"Fight For This Love" by Cheryl Cole

Irish Singles Chart number-one single

(The X Factor Finalists 2009 version) November 19, 2009 – December 3, 2009

Succeeded by

"Bad Romance" by Lady Gaga

Preceded by

"Meet Me Halfway" by Black Eyed Peas

UK Singles Chart number-one single

(The X Factor Finalists 2009 version) November 22, 2009 – November 28, 2009

Succeeded by

"The Official BBC Children in Need Medley" by Peter Kay

UK Download Chart number-one download

(The X Factor Finalists 2009 version) November 22, 2009 – November 28, 2009

Succeeded by

"Whatcha Say" by Jason Derülo

Track listing[edit]Edit

Canadian/United States single
  1. "You Are Not Alone" – 4:56
  2. "You Are Not Alone" (radio edit) – 4:34
  3. "You Are Not Alone" (Franctified Club Mix) – 10:40
  4. "Scream Louder" (Flyte Tyme Remix) – 5:30
  5. "MJ Megaremix" – 10:33
Brazilian single
  1. "You Are Not Alone" (R. Kelly Remix Edit) – 4:30
  2. "You Are Not Alone" (Classic Club Edit) – 4:59
  3. "You Are Not Alone" (Jon B. Remix Edit) – 4:59
  4. "You Are Not Alone" (R. Kelly Remix) – 6:23
  5. "You Are Not Alone" (Jon B. Main Mix) – 6:55
  6. "Rock with You" (Frankie's Favorite Club Mix) – 7:45
Japanese single
  1. "You Are Not Alone" – 4:56
  2. "You Are Not Alone" (radio edit) – 4:34
  3. "You Are Not Alone" (Franctified Club Mix) – 10:40
  4. "You Are Not Alone" (R. Kelly Mix) – 6:23
  5. "You Are Not Alone" (Franctified Club Mix Edit) – 7:40
  6. "You Are Not Alone" (Jon B. Main Mix) – 6:55
  7. "You Are Not Alone" (Jon B. Padapella Mix) – 6:55
Cassette single
  1. "You Are Not Alone" – 4:56
  2. "Scream Louder" (Flyte Tyme Remix) – 5:30
German single
  1. "You Are Not Alone" – 4:56
  2. "You Are Not Alone" (radio edit) – 4:34
  3. "You Are Not Alone" (Franctified Club Mix) – 10:40
  4. "You Are Not Alone" (Classic Club Mix) – 7:40
  5. "You Are Not Alone" (Jon B. Main Mix) – 6:55
  6. "You Are Not Alone" (Jon B. Padapella Mix) – 6:55
  7. "MJ Medley Aus Dem Vivawettbewerb" – 5:00
Dutch single
  1. "You Are Not Alone" – 4:56
  2. "You Are Not Alone" (radio edit) – 4:34
  3. "You Are Not Alone" (Franctified Club Mix) – 10:40
  4. "You Are Not Alone" (Classic Club Mix) – 7:40
  5. "You Are Not Alone" (Jon B. Main Mix) – 6:55
  6. "You Are Not Alone" (Jon B. Padapella Mix) – 6:55
  7. "Magic Michael Jackson Mix" – 4:26
Visionary single
  • CD side
  1. "You Are Not Alone" (radio edit) – 4:34
  2. "You Are Not Alone" (Classic Club Mix) – 7:36
  • DVD side
  1. "You Are Not Alone" (music video) – 5:35

The X Factor UK 2009 finalists version[edit]Edit

"You Are Not Alone"
[3]
Single by The X Factor Finalists 2009
Released November 15, 2009
Format CD single, digital single
Genre Pop, R&B
Label Syco
Writer(s) R. Kelly
The X Factor finalists chronology
"Hero"

(2008)

"You Are Not Alone"

(2009)

"Heroes"

(2010)

The final twelve acts from the sixth series of TV talent show The X Factor in the United Kingdom released a cover version of the song on November 15, 2009 in aid of Great Ormond Street Hospital.[44] The finalists premiered the song live on the November 15 edition of the programme; the single was available for digital download that day and a physical release followed the day after.[44] The release of the song follows a similar occurrence a year earlier, when the final twelve acts from the fifth series released a cover version of Mariah Carey's "Hero" in aid of Help for Heroes and raised over £1 million.[45] It has been confirmed to have sold over 400,000 copies, therefore achieving a Gold single certification.

Music video[edit]Edit

The video is very similar to the video of the cover version of the charity single of the year before. It shows various contestants performing their part in front of a plain black background, then shows the 12 finalists together performing the song in front of a screen of photos. Photos and video footage of the finalists at the Great Ormond Street Hospital are shown throughout the video.

Charts[edit]Edit

Chart (2009) Peak

position

Irish Singles Chart[46] 1
UK Singles Chart[47] 1
Eurochart Hot 100[48] 10

End-of-year charts[edit]Edit

Chart (2009) Position
UK Singles Chart[49] 28
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