Revisiting Mick Jagger’s ‘State of Shock’ Collaboration With Michael Jackson
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In 1984, there was no figure on the pop landscape larger than Michael Jackson. Although his monster hit Thriller was released two years earlier, he was still riding high off that album’s singles. Videos for “Billie Jean,” “Beat It” and the title track remained in constant rotation on MTV.
Nonetheless, he returned for a final family recording with his siblings, helping complete the Jacksons’ Victory in the summer of 1984. The album — which was followed by a stadium tour — would become the group’s last platinum effort, and its highest-selling non-Motown recording. Michael and company, then known as the Jackson 5, had begun their career in 1969 on that iconic R&B label, selling 13 million copies over their initial three 1969-70 album releases alone. That Victory ultimately emerged as a half-baked effort, made up of tracks worked out by the Jackson brothers in solo settings, meant little to a fan base hungry for any new product from Michael.
As such, it’s of little surprise that the best-known track from Victory remains “State of Shock,” one that Michael Jackson penned with Jacksons guitarist Randy Hansen. He upped the ante, however, by inviting a famous rock star along for the sessions. Initially, the duet was scheduled with Queen vocalist Freddie Mercury but, when that recording couldn’t be completed, Jackson called on the Rolling Stones vocalist Mick Jagger to step in.
Jagger certainly had nothing to prove as a member of the Stones, having remained relevant into a new decade via massive tours and the great critical reception for 1981’s Tattoo You. But with the future of the Stones in doubt by this time, Jagger was looking to establish himself as a solo artist — he was working on She’s the Boss when “State of Shock” came out — and hitching a ride on Jackson’s rocket-like trajectory was a perfect place for him to start.
The plan worked as well as expected when “State of Shock” was released in June 1984. Critics may have panned it for being a manufactured event, simply noteworthy for the duo singing on it, but the public saw things differently. The song reached No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100, Jagger’s highest-ever charting Billboard Hot 100 solo song. For the Jacksons, it became their final single to be certified gold.
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