Five years after his death, Michael Jackson is back with a posthumous video that breaks new ground with its premiere on Twitter.
The late King of Pop – who pioneered music videos in the 1980s with the advent of MTV – had written the song “A Place With No Name” with loose inspiration from the 1972 folk rock classic “A Horse With No Name” by the band America.
Released in May on his posthumous album “XSCAPE,” Michael Jackson’s estate and Epic Records decided to premiere an accompanying video on Twitter late Wednesday in a move they said was a first for the social media site. The video was also broadcast on an overhead screen in New York’s Times Square in coordination with the Twitter debut.
— Michael Jackson (@michaeljackson) August 14, 2014
The video features archival footage of a mid-career Jackson, dancing in a tight tank top against a black and white backdrop, along with a couple sensuously intertwining in the desert heat.
The song tells the story of a motorist whose Jeep suffers a flat tire on the highway and meets a woman who, in Jackson’s words, explains, “Don’t you worry, my friend, I’ll take care.”
“Take me to a place without no name,” Jackson sings, rhythmically if ungrammatically, to a heavy bass line. Jackson explains the couple’s onward journey and discovery of a “beautiful city” where “kids are playing and people are laughing and smiling, and no one’s in fear.”
“A Place With No Name” was directed by Samuel Bayer, whose previous work includes Nirvana’s breakthrough single “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, which featured a video of a raucous school concert.
Michael Jackson was an early enthusiast of matching videos to his songs, at a time that many musicians resented the commercial pressures created by MTV as cable television became widespread. Jackson’s 1983 video “Thriller” was a landmark as it was virtually a miniature horror movie which ran nearly 14 minutes long.
Jackson died on June 25, 2009 of an overdose of the clinical anesthetic propofol, administered by his doctor to help treat insomnia as the 50-year-old singer prepared for a series of concerts in London.