Jackson isn’t the first recording artist to explore the controversial subject of abortion in song. It has also surfaced in the work of Neil Young, Madonna, Sinead O’Connor, and Lauryn Hill, among others. In “Abortion Papers,” Jackson approaches the matter carefully (and ambiguously): rather than presenting a dogmatic political perspective, he personalizes it through the story of a conflicted girl raised in a deeply religious home and her Bible-admonishing father. In his notes for the track, Jackson wrote, “I have to do it in a way so I don’t offend girls who have gotten abortions or bring back guilt trips so it has to be done carefully…. I have to really think about it.”
Jackson narrates the track with a strong, passionate vocal. Ironically, the main drawback of the track is its catchiness. It feels a bit strange wanting to dance and sing along to a song about abortion, but that’s exactly what the addictive groove inspires.
Kudos to Jackson for attempting to tackle a sensitive issue in a thoughtful manner, though it appears even he wasn’t quite sure about how it would play to listeners.
~ Joseph Vogel reviewing a previously unreleased Michael Jackson demo titled “Abortion Papers”. This and other demos are featured in the soon-to-be-released Bad 25 box set, via The Atlantic, September 11
BONUS! The Abortioneers weigh in with their own Abortion Playlist.
[Photo via Urban Music HQ]