Earth Song Live at the World Music Awards 1996, Michael Jackson live in Monte Carlo

Michael Jackson performed “Earth Song” at the World Music Awards in Monte Carlo on May 8th 1996. Michael had just performed the same song at the Brit awards a couple of weeks earlier which had caused a world wide media storm. “Earth Song”, at the time had just been number 1 and one of the biggest songs in Europe. Today we are going to take a closer look at the performance.

World Music Awards Performance Monaco

Michael Jackson was at the world music awards to collect his 5 awards including “Best selling male pop” and “Best R&B artist”. Michael was also there to support his good friend Diana Ross who collected the “Legend Award” and performed an extended medley (in which she would go into the audience and sit on Michael’s lap!) An edited version was broadcast in the United States a month later and in the UK within days of the live show.

Michael Jackson performed the song TWICE that night!

If you watch the live show and look really carefully, you may notice a couple of peculiar things!

1) In the opening crane shot over the crowd to the stage we clearly see everybody sitting down. Quite formal … BUT at later parts of the song we see Michael Jackson fans right at the stage going crazy and screaming and having to be held back by security.

2) Michael Jackson looks slighlty different in the edit, at different points.

3) The audience level is very up and down

4) The first chorus “ah ahhh ahhhhh” has drums in it, which quickly come in and then it quickly goes back to normal …. the first chorus of “Earth Song” does not have drums.

Why is this?

This is because Michael Jackson performed the song TWICE that night! The primary reason was because the FANS failed (not the MJ fans … the air machine fans that is!), for the chorus’s.

Secondly, the atmosphere was too formal and a not as exciting as it could be so Michael had them bring fans forward and fix the fans and do the whole thing again.

The Television edit

Consequently, the actual aired version is a mix of the two performances, some with fans at the front, some without, some with fans working, some not. They then picked different parts of the audio track, with high levels of audience and added that in at the appropriate monents (as they saw), ie, the first chorus … which is odd because if you listen it doesn’t sound quite right at times.

Albert II, Sovereign Prince of Monaco

Michael Jackson was great friends with Prince Albert of Monaco (and his sister even featured as “Mystery girl” on the Dangerous albums “In the closet”!). When the Prince gives Michael award, if you listen very very carefully you will see and hear Michael say. “Thank you for letting me perform again” and the Prince replying “That’s quite all right”. This is not unprecedented. Michael performed his song “Dangerous” twice at the American Bandstand special because he was unhappy.

“Earth Song”: The Performance

Michael Jackson performed this song live at it’s premier in Germany on the show “Wetten Daz”, at the “Brit Awards”, at the “World Music Awards” at the two “Michael Jackson and Friends” shows and on his “History Tour“. So in total, outside a tour setting he performed the song 3 times. The performance in Monte Carlo, obviously didn’t involve a crane like all of the others (I presume this is because of space restrictions – it is Monaco). The world media were very interested in this performance and expectant of another stage intruder/protest like the Brit Awards a couple of months earlier.

If any performance of Michael Jackson’s gives you goose pimples this is it!

He obviously mimed the song but sang the outro live without a microphone. His voice is very powerful and you can see the audience and even the children on stage in awe. It was a weird performance in that sense. There are certainly religious overtones to this performance. An amazing performance – one of his best!

Jermaine Jackson and the Jackson 5 reunion

Jermaine Jackson, Michael’s brother was in town for the rehearsals and told the media of a forthcoming tour and album with Michael. “The last time we performed together was 12 years ago …We’ve been writing a lot of songs and we thought we should get out and do it one more time.” Although this did not happen, a reunion did happen (for the last time) 5 years later.

You can watch Michael Jackson perform at the 1996 Monaco World Music Awards HERE!

By Anthony King (c)


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