“Man In The Mirror” is a pop song that was released with the ‘Bad’ album on January 9, 1988 (Michael Jackson). The song reached number one on the billboard charts (Michael Jackson), and Time Magazine stated that it is “one of the most powerful vocals and accessible social statements, not to mention the best-ever use of a gospel choir in a pop song” (Michael Jackson). The lyrics emphasize that to make a change in the world, you need to start with yourself. The song delivers an important message about making a difference in the world to attain world peace. Still relevant in today’s society, “Man In The Mirror” is a worldwide sensation that spreads awareness on the issue of poverty and motivates people to make a change.
The artist who recorded “Man In The Mirror” is no other than the brilliant, legendary performer, Michael Jackson. This was one of the rare songs that Michael Jackson did not write himself; it was written by Siedah Garrett and Glen Ballard. The message that the song spreads is significant to me because of its powerful lyrics and influence on society. I love how it brings light to the global, unfortunate issue of poverty. What I find so special about this song is that it has a beautiful melody that we normally hear in love songs, yet, it is about an important topic of poverty and world peace, and how we can all help make a difference. Michael Jackson is one of my favourite artists, and I believe that he is the only singer who could pull off “Man In The Mirror” the way he did; “It was Michael’s song” (Zollo). Michael Jackson, better known as the ‘King of Pop’, “was the most popular entertainer in the world in the early and mid-1980s” (Vincent). Jackson and his five brothers formed a band called the Jackson 5, which instantly got them signed to a record label (Vincent). The band produced some great hits, and Jackson began to gain recognition for his solo performances with songs such as “Rockin Robin” and “Ben” (Vincent). He eventually ventured off into his solo career, where he gained global success with songs such as “Thriller” and “Don’t Stop ’til You Get Enough”. “Thriller” won Jackson eight Grammys (Vincent), and he sold more than forty million copies making it “the best-selling album in history” (Vincent). After this accomplishment, Jackson continued to produce outstanding music that was loved by people from all around the world.
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The instruments used for “Man In The Mirror” compliment the lyrics very well. The beginning of the song is a sweet, slow tune, but gradually becomes louder, specifically at the chorus. The volume of the instruments increasing throughout the song supports the lyrics because it begins by telling a story, which explains the sad situation of poverty, and includes an example of hungry children in the street. The song then becomes loud and fierce, as it encourages listeners to make a change with themselves. The change in tone urges listeners to pay attention to important issues and motivates them to take immediate action. The music creates an influential and optimistic tone for people, with its peaceful introduction which then explodes into a loud chorus. The sound effects and instruments used were snapping, guitars and keyboards; which together created a beautiful rhythm and a sense of unity. I think the guitars were used to provide the song with more sound and power. The snapping creates rhythm and a sense of unity, because it suggests many people working in concert. The keyboards give the song a good flow that makes listeners want to continue listening. Jackson’s “Man In The Mirror” is a fine example of poetry in music.
“Man In The Mirror” has numerous poetic devices used throughout the lyrics of the song. An anaphora is present in lines four to five, as both verses start with “Gonna make” (Jackson), which emphasizes the message of the song. In line 8, “A washed out dream” (Jackson), is one of two hyperboles used in the song. The writer uses this image to exhibit how a person’s dream fades, which does not literally happen. In line 31 the song discusses “A willow deeply scarred” and “somebody’s broken heart” (Jackson), comparing two unalike things, establishing that it is a metaphor. Rhyme is used a few times during the song; one case being in line fifteen as it ends with the word “know”, followed by line sixteen ending with “go” (Jackson). In line 8 Jackson sings, “This wind is blowing my mind” (Jackson). The wind is given a human attribute, referred to as personification. From verses thirty-nine to fifty-three, repetition is used in the chorus as it is repeated three times beginning with, “I’m starting with the man in the mirror” (Jackson), and ending with, “Take a look at yourself and then make a change” (Jackson). Repetition is used to allow listeners to fully comprehend the message that “Man In The Mirror” is trying to convey. The literary devices used in this song assist in motivating and inspiring the audience, by highlighting the message and allowing them to connect.
“Man In The Mirror” may not initially come across as a song with a strong meaning, however in reality it contains a powerful message. In the chorus of the song, Jackson sings about looking at yourself in the mirror, which could be mistaken to be about image, yet the deeper meaning quickly emerges regarding poverty and world peace. Once the audience takes the time to think about, and reflect upon the lyrics, it should be evident that to make a change in the world, every individual needs to get involved. “Man In The Mirror” stresses that wishing and doing nothing will not make an impact. The goal of creating this song was to motivate and encourage individuals to take action in uplifting the Earth, rather than being a bystander. “Man In The Mirror” tells a story at the beginning of the song about Jackson putting on his jacket and walking down the street. He sings that as he is walking he notices children with nothing to eat, and turns a blind eye to them. His recollection of ignoring the children urges him to look in the mirror and come to the realization that he needs to help build a better world. The lyrics then encourage the audience to do the same; transferring emotion to the audience because of the inspiration that is generated. The song is uplifting as it gives listeners hope that the world can be better as long as individuals involve themselves in the change.
“Man In The Mirror” manifests a global problem of poverty and in turn encourages people to make a difference. The songwriters made the perfect decision to choose the sensational Michael Jackson to be the artist of the song. The ‘King of Pop’ was an outstanding performer who perfected the beautiful written lyrics of Siedah Garrett and Glen Ballard with his remarkable voice and overall talent. The instruments and lyrics combined gave the song an incredible melody, which continues to influence individuals to this day, to make a change. As well, the literary devices used helped to spotlight the overall message of “Man In The Mirror”, while also encouraging people to understand the notion of world peace. The song has a significant message of acknowledging that making a difference in the world begins with each individual. “Man In The Mirror” shines light on having compassion for others, and on each of us being able to make a positive difference in the world.
"Man in the Mirror." Michael Jackson, www.michaeljackson.com/track/man-mirror/.
Vincent, Rickey. "Michael Jackson." Encyclopædia Britannica. Britannica Concise Encyclopedia, www.britannica.com/biography/Michael-Jackson. Accessed 15 July 2020.
Zollo, Paul. "Behind the Song: Michael Jackson's 'Man In The Mirror,' written by Siedah Garrett & Glen Ballard." American Songwriter, 10 Mar. 2020, americansongwriter.com/behind-the-song-man-in-the-mirror/?nab=0&utm_referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2F. Accessed 15 July 2020.
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