Being that Michael does not celebrate his birthday, it can be pretty hard for me to not celebrate it. He has become lenient over the years, however, but a full-on surprise party is a definite no-no. He tells me all the time, I'm lucky he lets me get him a gift on the day he was born because even that is hard for him. This year, I was able to find him the Galaga '88 arcade game. If there's one thing my husband loves, it's video games. He loves computers, gadgets, electronics, art, but most importantly video games. And boy, was he happy to get that. I couldn't get him off of the game the entire night. The scores were pretty even, but in all, I let him win because it was his birthday. Every year he says, "this is the best gift I've ever gotten," which is probably why it's so hard for me to top the previous years' gift. But who's counting? It's August thirtieth. The day before Michael drops the Bad album. He hasn't dropped an album since eighty-two. This is going to be big. When Michael dropped Thriller, we had lost contact and I watched him shoot to superstardom from the outside. While it was amazing, I really wished I had been there to celebrate with him in some way shape or form. Luckily, this time around, I get to be right by his side and I can't wait to celebrate with him on the album release day. Michael just knows this album is going to go number one. I know it will too. After he dropped Thriller, who could say that any other album after that would flop? No one. Michael set a standard for himself and for the rest of the music world. My husband is making history.
"Babe, tomorrow we're going to the release party at Epic. That starts at seven, I think. MTV is premiering a TV special in my honor, so we're definitely watching that. We've got to get something to wear," Michael looked through his notes.
"I can find something upstairs... I've got stuff I haven't even worn yet," I reminded him.
"No," he shook his head. "Those won't do. We've got to get you something new. Something specifically for the release party. We'll go shopping today. You know this album is going number one, right? We've got to dress the part."
I laughed, "dress the part?"
"Yes," he looked me dead in the eye. He was serious. "Album release parties are big, babe."
"What's it like?"
"Well, everyone at Epic has already heard it. This is just celebrating it finally being released to the public. My family will be there. More of my friends... Plus, the fact that MTV is airing a premiere only makes it better. It's going to be pretty awesome watching it with everyone."
"What happened at the Thriller release party?"
"We had the album on a loop. Watched the short film a couple of times. It was really fun. Pretty much a mixer. I signed a couple of copies. The same thing will probably happen tomorrow night."
"With you being so quiet these past couple of years, now you're dropping an album, I know the world will be excited."
"Which is why I can't wait!" he smiled. "I've been silent this long and now the world will finally hear what I've got to offer after all these years. New look. New album. New me. I can't wait! Imagine the records I'm about to break with this album. I'm trying to sell more with Bad than I did with Thriller. I'm pretty sure that's going to happen. I mean, I wrote eighty percent of the songs on the album. How will it not beat Thriller?"
"I don't know, baby. Thriller was quite the album," I shrugged. "You really did your thing on that. Not to say you didn't do your thing on Bad. Bad is a masterpiece in its own right. I almost feel like it's more personal than Thriller."
"Me too. Majority of the lyrics are my own. I know my fans will enjoy that. There's a mix of genres in this one just like in the last album. I'm just excited that this album will break barriers once again."
"And I just know you're going to accomplish every goal you had for this album. Take home the same number of Grammys you did for Thriller. Every song will make the charts. And of course, more sales than Thriller."
"You know I'm mostly excited for the Grammys. No one has taken home as many Grammys as I have. Ever. I'm going to make sure the same thing happens this time around. I can't lose. There's no way. I'm coming for all eight of those Grammys once again." I watched in awe at the excitement Michael exuded. This time around I'm actually in his circle watching all of this unfold. I've watched my husband work relentlessly on this album. He made sure everything was perfect. From the instruments to the choreography in short films to the photoshoots. I could only imagine how hard he had worked for Thriller. But that's neither here nor there because I wasn't there. But being here now witnessing this magic for the first time, had me absolutely awestruck. I feel like the girl I was when I first met him when he was finishing up Off the Wall. Now, he's about to release his seventh most anticipated album. Seven is his favorite number. It's the number of perfection. And this album was perfect in every single way possible.
August 31, 1987
Bad album release
I had Bill go out and get me every newspaper that he could possibly find. I want to know what the media has to say about my album. The New York Times had me as their cover story. I expected nothing less of the author of the article to compare Bad to Thriller. It was almost a given. There are a couple of things I don't like about the article though. He didn't have to mention the fact that I got plastic surgery. Who cares about that? That has absolutely nothing to do with the music. And of course, the Elephant Man story I had planted in the media a while back. While I wanted the story to drum up excitement, I don't think it should be mentioned in an article about the album either. It's not important. But I guess they felt the need to add that in there, no matter how unimportant I think it is. I'm glad he thinks the album will be in the Top 10. That's a plus, but did he really have to mention my face again? "And for a little while its smooth surface – sculpted no less carefully than the singer's face..." That wasn't needed. He could have kept that to himself. Just congratulate me and say that my album will top the charts and go. I don't need the negative commentary on my appearance. If only they knew what I was going through. I'm sure they would be more sympathetic. In discussing the album, the author also made mention of me lightening my skin, saying although I do that, I haven't turned away from black music. I crumpled up the article. If it's not one thing, it's another. Why couldn't this journalist just critique the album? Why did he have to bring up my appearance? Trash. Just trash. I picked up the LA Times. This article was no different. In fact, it was worse. "Man-child." Apparently, I "struggled" for a follow-up album. "I Just Can't Stop Lovin' You" is allegedly a "crashing dud." He talks about the intro saying that it comes off creepy. I'm sure he wouldn't say that if he knew that this was said to my wife. This article is trash too. What happened to all the good journalists? The people who actually wrote articles about the music that the article is actually supposed to be about? Instead, I have nutcases like these thinking they can judge me?
"What are the newspapers saying?" Shayla walked in the living room dressed in the skirt set I bought her for the release party. The event is a big deal, but it's like a casual elegant vibe. She wore a hunter green dressy high low skirt with pinned fabric with a black bodysuit. The green accented her skin so perfectly. That's the main reason I got it. Green looked so good against my wife's caramel skin. Her hair was flat twisted on each side to form a big puffy 4b ponytail to the back. I guess she sprayed water or something in her hair because the curls and coils in her head were certainly coming through with a force. Her ears were adorned with gold and emerald green dangle earrings. My wife looked so good and I'm so lucky to be able to stand beside her. "Earth to Michael," she giggled, snapping in my face. "What did the newspapers have to say about your album?"
I cleared my throat, "let's get one thing out the way. Babe, you look amazing. Everyone is going to be wondering who I've got on my arm tonight. My God."
"Thank you," she blushed. "You don't look too bad yourself in that suit. Karen did a good job on your hair, baby," she ran her fingers through my curls.
"You think so? I think she could have made this part a little better. Can you fix it for me?"
"Yep," she made her way to the bathroom to obtain a comb. She looked so good walking away. The click-clack of her heels were like music to my ears. It's rare when she wears heels, but when she does, it was a sight to see. She hurried back with a comb and a spray bottle in her hand.
"What's the spray bottle for?"
"Water. Gotta make sure those curls stay intact," she started on my hair. "I'm sure the media had something good to say about the album."
I sighed, "nope. They actually found it more important to talk about my appearance than the album."
She scoffed, "are you serious?"
"New York had more good to say than bad. But when they talked about a song, they felt it necessary to comment on my appearance in connection with the song. LA was the worse one of the two. They called me creepy, a man-child and that I was struggling for a follow up after Thriller."
"Oh, LA is tripping big time. Haven't they commented on you enough? It's about the music right now. Nothing else."
"They're just being their normal cruel selves. It won't sell if they don't take a couple of jabs here and there, I guess. But whatever. I'm sure there is some positive press out there somewhere. I won't dwell on these two."
"Yeah, forget them. We're about to go to Tokyo. I bet you in Japan they have nothing bad to say."
"I can't read Japanese, babe," I laughed.
"We'll get a translator," she shrugged. "Finished. Go look in the mirror." I got up to head to the nearest mirror. She made it look so much better. My part was fixed. My curls were more hydrated than before. Karen did great, but it's just something when my wife does my hair. She just makes it ten times better. Someone honked twice outside.
"I think that's Bill and Roland, babe. You ready?" I went back over to her.
"Yeah, let me just get my clutch," she picked it up from the couch and hurried over to me. I opened the door to find Roland dressed to the nines. I'm glad I got him and Bill new suits. Can't have my security looking dusty while my wife and I look like we just walked off of a movie set.
"Good evening, Mr. Jackson and Mrs. Jackson. You guys ready?" He looked between me and Shayla. I noticed he looked at Shayla a bit too long though.
I put my hand on the small of her back, "we're ready." He nodded and made his way back downstairs to open the car door for us. I locked the front door and led Shayla down the stairs. "Be careful," I teased. "Wouldn't want you to slip."
"Quit it, Michael," she blushed, walking down the stairs ever so carefully. She still hasn't mastered walking down the stairs in heels without help yet. I keep telling her to wear heels more often, so she'll get used to it, but she insists she doesn't need to. I guess I'll be helping her down the stairs for the rest of our lives then. "Hey, Roland. You clean up nice," she smiled.
"Thank you, Mrs. Jackson," he offered a slight smile. I helped Shayla in the car and got in behind her.
"I'm going to have to keep you close, girl. I saw the way Roland was looking at you," I teased.
"Oh, stop it, Michael," she giggled.
"Seriously. If he's looking at you like that, I can only imagine how everyone else is going to look at you."
"You'll be alright. This is the most public I'll be with you. You realize that, right?"
"Yep," I nodded. "I dang near had to pull an arm and a leg with Frank in order for him to understand where I was coming from."
"Well, if you had to do all that for this, I can only imagine what you'll have to do for the Grammys," she shot me a look. Right. The Grammys is going to be tough. That's more public than anything. I'm going to try my best, but nine times out of ten, she can't even come as my date...
We arrived at Westlake where the release party was held. The parking lot had been transformed into a star-studded arrival area. Everyone that was invited had already signed NDA's in the past, so there was no need to sign another. Roland helped Shayla out of the vehicle and followed behind us as we walked into the building. Bill took care of valet and followed us in too. Once we entered the building and made it to the recreation room, we were met with applause. Shayla didn't know what to do. She looked at me and started clapping as well. I playfully rolled my eyes and pulled her back into me. I needed everyone to see that we're together and I needed her to know she had a part in this as well. They weren't just clapping for me.
"Thank you, everyone," I smiled. "This album wouldn't have happened without everyone in this room. You guys are the reason this album is going to go number one." The room erupted in cheers and applause again. "Seriously. Martin, Walter, Rod, David, Stevie, Greg, The Winans, Siedah, Andrae... You guys are simply amazing. Thank you," I bowed before them. Without them, this album wouldn't have been the most anticipated album this past couple of months. "Oh, and you guys," I took Shayla's hand in mine. "Without this woman, this album wouldn't be as magical as it is either. I love you, baby," I pulled her in for a kiss.
"Oh, Michael," she blushed. Her face was red with embarrassment. "This was all you. This had nothing to do with me."
"You inspired plenty of the songs on this album. In my heart, I dedicate this album to you." The album was dedicated to Mother at the advice of Frank since we still want to keep my marriage as private as possible. But in my heart of hearts, this album was dedicated to Shayla. No doubt.
"Thank you, baby," she smiled. I took her hand in mine as we went to mingle around the room. This party was filled with so much positive energy. For once, Frank had a smile on his face when I talked about Shayla. Probably because I had already introduced her to everyone in here before. But hey. A cake with the album cover printed on it sat in the middle of the room. It looks so perfect, I almost don't want to eat it. Shayla basked in the ambiance of the release party. I'm so happy to have her here this time around. We lost contact when Thriller dropped, so I didn't have anyone to share my success with, aside from friends and family. This time around, it feels so good to have her here to share my success with. Frank tapped me on the shoulder and pulled me to the side.
"What's going on?" I asked. He handed me a card with Tatiana's name written on it. I opened it. Congratulations on another album that I knowwill go number one. Continue to let your star shine. I can't wait to see you in September ♥ I put the card in my pocket. Mostly for good luck. But most importantly, to keep it out of Shayla's sight.
The articles mentioned in this chapter are real and were not created or written by me at all. All quotes are from these two articles.
The New York Times article: "Pop: Michael Jackson's 'Bad,' Follow-Up To A Blockbuster" by Jon Pareles - August 31, 1987 - Interesting article. Kinda got irritated reading it, but it was okay.
Los Angeles Times article: "Michael Jackson has a good thing in 'Bad'" by Richard Cromelin - August 31, 1987 - This article was shady af. I couldn't even finish it because the disrespect was astounding... Ugh...