MICHAEL JACKSON – “One More Chance”

clearly irony is lost on michael jackson. we know it’s wasted on r. kelly, the song’s writer, who, on “step in the name of love,” declared himself the “pied piper of r&b,” i.e. creepy old guy who absconds with a town’s children for purposes unknown but very likely unseemly.

or perhaps it’s not. michael jackson essentially began his career asking for “one more chance” on the jackson five’s “i want you back.” and want you back he does, if the “you” in question is the pop audience. so, in his time of need, he turns to r. kelly, the man who wrote his last number one hit. it’s a pleasant, airy number with a leaden chorus: in his hey day it would have been an album track; during his lean years, maybe a third single. it quotes past triumphs, in particular “human nature,” itself a beautiful song that wasn’t fit to make it onto history, his first collection of hits, and one he’d die to get a chance to record today. “one more chance” is meant to help sell another hit compilation, number ones; if the single gets over by references to his past, the album will have to do the same because “one more chance” is rather charmless when taken on its own merits. he turned to kelly for another “you are not alone”; instead, he got a “gotham city.” does jackson really deserve another chance? based on a string of recent failures, professional and personal, that question becomes more and more secondary to another: will the public and, moreover, radio programmers give him one?