On this day in music history: December 7, 1991…

On this day in music history: December 7, 1991 – “Black Or White” by Michael Jackson hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 7 weeks, also peaking at #3 on the R&B singles chart on the same date. Written by Michael Jackson and Bill Bottrell, it is the twelfth solo chart topper (sixteenth overall) for “The King Of Pop”. Issued as the first single from Jackson’s eighth album “Dangerous” on November 11, 1991, the single is premiered on radio just days before its arrival in stores. The track is supported by an elaborate eleven minute long short film directed by John Landis (“Thriller”), also starring actors Macaulay Culkin (“Home Alone”), George Wendt (“Cheers”) and Tess Harper (“Tender Mercies”, “Breaking Bad”). The video also breaks new ground visually for the face morphing sequence created by Pacific Data Images, digitally morphing the actors lip synching the song seamlessly into each other. Among the people seen during the sequence include model Tyra Banks and actors Khrystyne Haje, Cree Summer and Jeffrey Anderson-Gunter. The clip has its broadcast debut simultaneously on MTV, BET, VH1, and the Fox television network on November 14, 1991, drawing a record breaking viewing audience. However, the extended dance sequence of the film draws controversy due to several scenes of Jackson rubbing and grabbing his crotch as well as destroying a car and breaking windows. The singer issues a statement the next day apologizing, stating that “the violent and suggestive behavior was an interpretation of the black panther’s animal instincts”. The controversy does not hurt the songs’ airplay or sales. It becomes the fastest rising single on the Hot 100 since The Beatles “Get Back” in 1969. Entering the Hot 100 at #35 on November 23, 1991, it pole vaults to the top of the chart two weeks later. Jackson also becomes the first artist in history to have number one singles in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. On the UK singles chart, it is the first single to enter the chart at number one since Elvis Presley’s “It’s Now Or Never” in 1960. “Black Or White” also tops the charts in seventeen other countries, and is ranked the top single of 1991 by Billboard Magazine. “Black Or White” is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.