From The Vault: Michael Jackson – ‘In The Closet (Starring Naomi Campbell)’

Published: Sunday 13th Jul 2014 by Sam

As the reigning King of Pop, Michael Jackson has hits of the major, moderate, and minor persuasions. The common theme? He has H-I-T-S!

This week’s From The Vault pick pays homage to one of the late singer’s more muted chart successes – 1991’s ‘In The Closet’.

Produced by Teddy Riley, the sensually-charged track served as the third single to be lifted from MJ’s mega-selling ‘Dangerous’ album. Beyond boasting an edgy title, the said LP houses some of Jackson’s most progressive and provocative material  – with ‘Closet’ standing as one of the most prominent examples.

Previous releases such as ‘Thriller’, ‘Smooth Criminal’, and ‘Bad’ saw Michael become renown for his left-field approach to songwriting; an approach which saw him largely deviate from the well-treaded music narratives of “love” and “sex” in favour of more wholesome/all-encompassing themes. However, with ‘In The Closet’ the King through a curveball and drew on those exact topics. Put simply, he embraced the racy.

And while modern times have seen artists push the envelope with adult themes, MJ’s move – at the time – was seen as relatively revolutionary. Indeed, here stood the world’s biggest and most mass appealing act belting the lyrics “there’s something about you baby that makes me want to give it to you”. It excited many, yet unnerved others. A polarizing response that was amplified once its accompanying video debuted.

Unlike the elaborate mini-movies that have come to define much of Jackson’s career, the visual for ‘Closet’ was a fairly simple affair. Aptly set in the Salton Sea desert in California, the clip wasn’t without titillation and served up heat aplenty. A then-rising Naomi Campbell was tapped to star opposite MJ – with the supermodel assuming the role of his love interest. By no means a timid affair, the pair danced up a storm and sent temperatures into fever-pitch with the intimate nature of their choreography.

A triangulation of the song, its video, and the hype both generated helped the single peak at #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 (and #1 on the Billboard R&B Chart). The track was also a global success, achieving top ten status in the UK, France, Australia, and many other countries. Still, in following the two super smashes that preceded it (‘Black Or White’ and ‘Remember The Time’), ‘Closet’ is often treated as a “lesser hit” and is routinely forgotten in retrospectives on MJ’s iconic discography.

Yet, like the impact of Jackson himself, we here at That Grape Juice will never forget. Ever.

Fun Fact: Did you know that ‘In The Closet’ was initially conceived as a collaboration between Michael and…Madonna?! The legendary pair began working on concepts for the song, however MJ vetoed the idea after feeling like Madge’s vision for the track was too provocative. We can only imagine.


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  1. lilylvehna July 13, 2014

    When you truly love someone, age, distance, height, and weight are just numbers.
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  2. whut July 13, 2014

    According to his biographer, Michael didn’t do the duet with Madonna because, after meeting her, he didn’t like her as a person. He felt that she was secretly trying to make a fool out of him because she wanted him to dress up in drag for the video.

  3. MC!! July 13, 2014

    Dare me!!

  4. Suicide Blonde July 13, 2014

    “Dangerous” is my favorite album of him, i loved the whole era, videos and his looks, however he did make a big mistake refusing Madonna’s idea, after all later in his life he was accused of worst things, maybe her ideas were a little controversial but most of the same are now considered avant-garde, game-changed and influential, the duet would have been legendary, if their appearance at the Oscars is iconic, imagine a duet between these two, The Clash of the Titans, such a wasted opportunity for both artists, what a big ego, jealousy and arrogance can do, they should have done this for their fans and leave apart their differences, i bet they didn’t think for a second that people wanted them to be King and Queen, they were to busy trying to outdo one another, a dream collaboration for almost every music lover, fans of Pop Music deserved to witness that event, anyway, Michael will always be King of Pop, he earned that.

  5. Dossome July 13, 2014

    Cute song…but Will You Be There is my all time favorite from that album

  6. The truth July 13, 2014

    Mike was the man!!!

  7. Dossome July 13, 2014

    Ugh,will these songs ever be released
    1.Colors of My Soul – (Michael Jackson)
    Written in 2000.
    Possibly recorded in 2006 with Whitney Houston background vocals.

    2.Love – (Michael Jackson)
    Written in 2000
    Recorded in 2006 featuring Celine Dion

    3.We Are The Kings – (Michael Jackson)
    Written and recorded in 2004.
    Recorded by Jackson featuring Madonna, Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake.

    4.Satisfy – (Terry Lewis, Jimmy Jam, James Harris)
    Mariah Carey song featuring Jackson on backing vocals
    Failed to make Mariah Carey’s 2002 Charmbracelet album

    5.Pictures – (Michael Jackson)
    Recorded in 2009 With Lady Gaga
    It Was to open This Is It.

    6.Make Or Break – (Michael Jackson)
    Written in 1997
    Recorded in 2003 with Mariah Carey for an album but was never released

    • Suicide Blonde July 13, 2014

      “We Are the Kings” should be interesting, he might have changed his mind on Madge, and this confirms that he considered Justin and Britney, the Prince and Princess of Pop, poor Usher.

      • Dossome July 13, 2014

        What about this,is there a possibilty this was gonna happen?

        ATG OST & A Song WithMadonna!!
        “Mariahwas interviewed on “Extra.” On the interview, she spoke about thecollaborations she hopes to do on the “All That Glitters” Sndtrk. “There are certain songs I remember listening to growing up that make me relive moments in my childhood. It’s like that moment in my life is trapped within the melody of the song. So I plan to work with those artists and hopefully be able to recreate the feeling as best I can. It’s crucal that I try and be as true to that moment of my life as possible,” says a nostalgic MC. The list of artists and collaborators she spoke of are as follows:
        Chaka Khan
        Donna Summer
        Cindy Lauper (She spoke of doing a remake of Lauper’s “Time After Time.”)
        Narada Michael Walden
        Madonna/Patrick Leonard
        Janet Jackson / Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis*****
        “Those are the ones I remember vividly along with some gospel artists I was fond of listening to growing up as a child. Gospel music is what I used to listen to whenever times got hard so don’t be surprised if this sndtrk turns out to be completely gospel (she laughs). But again, those are just a few names I can recall. But of course, because of political recording industry stuff, I’m not sure who will be able to collaborate on this one with me so don’t go printing anything “Globe” or “Enquierer” (she laughs again).One song is already done so I can speak of this one. It’s a song I worked on withMadonna, William Orbit, and Patrick Leonard. It’s called “Angel Fire.”It’s a very powerful ballad infused with William’s signature techno flare. But I haven’t decided if it will be placed on the sndtrk because it’s so incredibly personal. I’m not sure If I’m ready to share that part of my life yet but I guess only time will tell.” saysMariah. Well it sounds cool so far. I’ll try to keep you updated on the progress of the “ATG” Soundtrack

      • Suicide Blonde July 13, 2014

        Yep, that is also very interesting, Mariah & Madonna, lord have mercy!, i would also see how a Janet/Mariah collab. would be.

  8. Beyoncitis July 13, 2014

    Sure it was a cute song, but now Beyonce took his place, she is the KING and QUEEN supreme, if MJ were alive, he would have to bow dow and hail Kingonce, so you all should do the same, BOW DOW to the real KING, Mj was an opening act until the real deal came.

  9. Sandra July 13, 2014

    I love that song and video!Classic <3

  10. Thando July 14, 2014

    I am angered that this evil p******** of a mammal died such a peaceful death in his sleep when he deserved so much worse. I hope the punishment he so duly deserved for raping those children haunts all that is attached to his name and memory for as long as humanity lasts.

    • Sandra July 14, 2014

      F*** off idiot

      • Thando July 15, 2014

        If only abortion were retroactive…

  11. Sandra July 14, 2014

    King of pop forever!

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