Michael Jackson and Carlos Santana – Whatever Happens

The legendary guitarist, composer and musician Carlos Santana joined Michael Jackson on his 2001 Invincible album. The 15th track, called “Whatever happens”, happens to be one of the best songs on the album. Michael Jackson’s “Invincible” is an interesting album and certainly very different from Michael’s previous releases.

Although the album was not well received (critically), it certainly wasn’t that bad. The problem with great artists, is that you expect the best every time. I have never connected with this album. I feel that “Break of Dawn”, “Heaven can wait” and “Butterflies” are good but they are so different from “2,000 Watts, “Heartbreaker” and the other futuristic electronic songs that their seems to be a disconnect somewhere thematically.

In addition to this, songs like “Speechless” and “You are my life” (which I wish was just a piano and Michael singing) are so different from the R & B spirit AND the futuristic electronic thing he has going on. For me though, this is of less importance than two important things.

Michael Jackson’s voice on Invincible

As human beings, we change and so do our voices. Michael Jackson’s voice is very different on this album. The King of Pop at 10% is better than most at 200% but for the first time on an album, we hear Michael straining to hit the high notes. In fact, very much so.

In addition to this we hear Michael articulate words in a different way. I’ll put it another way: Freddie Mercury would talk about not having his teeth worked on and “done” because he was afraid that it would affect his voice.

The same with Michael Jackson: his surgical procedures DID have an affect on his voice, mainly with articulation of the words … some words are slightly mumbled and a little less clear than they previously were, say on History, when the words were crisp and clean. The change happened at the end of 1999 beginning of 2000.

I think that the issue is compounded because it sounds like the mastering and recording of Michael’s vocals changed or was done by different people – not Michael’s “usual” people. A lot of new faces.

His voice still sounds amazing. His voice certainly sounds different. I prefer it before because it is a little too noticeable for me (in comparison to previous albums)

Dancing to Invincible

I will say that this is a very good album to DANCE to! Song’s that don’t work for me as “songs”, as such, certainly do work as “Beats” to dance to! Great Michael Jackson dance down beats on this album.

Mastering and Production on Invincible album

This album certainly missed a producer like Quincy Jones to steer the ship. For the first time ever, I feel that a Michael Jackson album lacked production quality on certain songs. For example, when we listen to the song “You are not alone”, from Michael Jackson’s “History” album, we hear a very long high note at the end of the song.

The production and recording of this is second to none! It “sounds” like it is not one take but a couple put together … although you can’t “hear” this … it is masterfully done!

Let’s move to “Speechless” on Invincible. We hear a similar long note at the end of the song but technique is extremely poor … you hear the joints and it is very odd indeed. I always feel like somebody should have stopped that and redid it.

Michael spoke about the “sonic” production quality of the album of the album in his radio interview with Steve Harvey back in 2001 … for me, a few mistakes got through on this one. I think this is a pity. Fortunately, some songs are produced very well and this included “Whatever Happens”.

Whatever Happens – One of the best on Invincible!

“Whatever Happens” is, without doubt one of the best songs on Invincible.

The production is very good, the instruments and strings, and the alto sax (or whatever it is called … actually it doesn’t sound like an alto sax … I will find out and report back! 🙂 ) sounds great. Obviously Carlos Santana has a spiritual force which he brings to the piece. I wish Michael would have recorded this a few years earlier!

Michael Jackson didn’t write the song originally …

Although, the song is credited to Michael Jackson (and others) the song (originally) was written by Gil Cang and Geoffry Williams in 1997. They even recorded a demo and uploaded it on youtube. You can listen to the original version here.

Whatever Happens original Demo recording by Gil Cang and Geoffry Williams (1997)

What is for sure, is that they wrote a good song. With Michael Jackson’s and Carlos Santana’s additions the song became great – so they certainly deserved their credits (although Santana wasn’t actually credited).

The story of how “Whatever Happens” became a Michael Jackson song!

It is certainly an amazing achivement to get a song on a Michael Jackson album and the story apparently goes like this: An artist called Mario Vazquez recorded a version of the song by the original writers. Michael’s producer Teddly Riley heard this recording and took it to Michael who would record it and add his flavour and his thing.

Mario Vazquez – Backing vocals on the song

Mario Vazquez was actually used on the backing vocals of the Michael Jackson version of the song – he must have been so happy! He comes across as a genuinely nice guy and is obviously very talented. You can see him credited on the Invincible album but you might also notice him from the Television series “American Idol” in the United States!

He actually entered the competition and quit the show just as he was entering the top 10. He wanted control of his own destiny, he said and good for him. You can actually watch him perform “Whatever Happens” from Invincible on “American Idol” in the audition here!

Whatever Happens Live (video)

A very good performance – this is why Michael used his vocals on the album!

Michael Jackson and Carlos Santana!

Carlos Santana is one of those musicians who touch the soul. He is a gentle softly spoken person who is a serious artist. His album “Supernatural” sold 28 millions albums!

He has often spoke about Michael and this is what he said at the time of the recording: “I was very honored that he called on me to work with him, and I love the song,”. Speaking with MTV, he continued, “He gave me a call last week, and he was really happy with it.”

Supernatural – 9 Grammy awards!

Michael Jackson’s Thriller album held the record for most Grammy awards, which was 8 awards. It was actually Carlos Santana’s album “Supernatural” which took this record off Michael with 9 grammy awards in one year.

The album certainly did deserve it’s Grammy’s and so did Carlos. For me, the 3 top guitarists share a same spiritual quality – Carlos Sanata, David Gilmour and Mike Oldfield. Now it was Carlo’s turn to bring the magic to Michael – who has enough of it already! Michael and Santana, were on the same level.

This what Carlos also said, referencing Michael (apparently, they spoke often on the phone and just before Michael passed away … it’s comforting to think that Carlos was a friend of Michael’s):

“Santana has entered that kind of center stage where Hebrew, Apache, Japanese, Palestinian, Mexican, they’re all connected to Santana in a way that is pretty phenomenal. To introduce all these lines of colors, shoes and music — it’s all to create, like a spider, to create this web and not let people fall through the cracks. I’m not alone. Everybody I talk to — musicians, Michael Jackson, everybody — we all want the same thing: we want to heal this planet.”

Carlos Santana calls Michael Jackson “Archangel”

Carlos, speaking with the Bankok Post said, “A lot of singers today try to sound like Michael Jackson,” Santana continued. “But Michael was unique, he was number one in making everyone feel childlike, in making us feel the innocence and purity. He gives everybody supreme entertainment, and he gives everybody hope. To me, he’s number one is making people feel happy.”

He also, in tribute to Michael called him an Archangel. He was and is obviously a big supporter of Michael Jackson. He has performed several Michael songs in his concerts, back in 1988 he added “Smooth Criminal” and he has even played “She’s out of my life“, dedicated to Michael:

She’s out of My Life – Carlos Santana Live

Whatever Happens – Lyrics

He gives another smile, tries to understand her side
To show that he cares
She’s consumed with everything that’s been goin’ on
She says

Whatever happens, don’t let go of my hand

Everything will be alright, he assures her
But she doesn’t hear a word that he says
Preoccupied, she’s afraid
Afraid that what they’re doing is not right
He doesn’t know what to say, so he prays
Whatever, whatever, whatever

Whatever happens, don’t let go of my hand
Whatever happens, don’t let go of my hand
Whatever happens, don’t you let go of my hand

Don’t let go of my hand
Don’t let go of my hand

He’s working day and night, thinks he’ll make her happy
Forgetting all the dreams that he had
He doesn’t realize it’s not the end of the world
It doesn’t have to be that bad
She tries to explain, “It’s you that makes me happy,”
Whatever, whatever, whatever

Whatever happens, don’t let go of my hand
Whatever happens, don’t let go of my hand
Whatever happens, don’t let go of my hand
Whatever happens, don’t you let go of my hand

Whatever happens, don’t let go of my hand
Whatever happens, don’t let go of my hand
Whatever happens, don’t you let go of my hand

Whatever happens, don’t let go of my hand

Carlos: “Thank you, Man”. Michael: “Thank you, Carlos”

This is certainly a great song and the two legends bring their magic to the piece. One of the nicest touches to this album, which happens right at the end of the song, and is a great way for me to end today is the last line they say to each other:

“Carlos: Thank you, Man”. Michael: “Thank you, Carlos”

Thank you both.

By Anthony King


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