Written and Composed by Michael Jackson, Teddy Riley and Bernard Belle
Produced by Teddy Riley and Michael Jackson for MJJ Productions, Inc.
Executive Producer: Michael Jackson
From the album Dangerous, released November 28, 1991
Released as a single January 14, 1992
THE SHORT FILM
Director: John Singleton
Primary Production Location: Los Angeles, California
Michael Jackson’s short film for “Remember the Time” was the second of nine short films produced for recordings from Dangerous, Michael’s fourth album as an adult solo performer. As a single, “Remember the Time” reached the Top 5 in nine countries, including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Ireland and New Zealand (where it reached No. 1).
“Remember the Time” was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America on March 16, 1992. In 1993, the single won an American Music Award for Favorite Soul Single and a Soul Train Award for Best Single (Male). Both “Remember the Time” and its predecessor “Black or White” received a BMI Urban Award in 1993 for being two of the most performed songs of the year.
Once again, Michael pushed the boundaries of the music video medium with “Remember the Time,” crafting a star-studded, nine-minute epic set in ancient Egypt. A pharaoh (Eddie Murphy) and his queen (Iman) seek new entertainment for the court. After a palace guard (Magic Johnson) presents jugglers and fire-eaters to no interest from the royals, a black-robed wizard shocks the court by disintegrating before reforming as a gold-clad Michael Jackson, whose romantic song and dance directed at the queen angers the pharaoh. Michael is chased throughout the kingdom by the pharaoh’s guards, pausing to briefly romance the queen and lead a hip-hop dance breakdown before spinning and turning to sand, evading the guards once and for all.
For the “Remember the Time” short film, Michael collaborated with director John Singleton, who in 1991 became the youngest (and the first black) filmmaker to receive an Academy Award nomination for his debut Boyz N The Hood. Singleton, who counted “Remember the Time” as his favorite track from Dangerous, recalled a positive filming experience to Rolling Stone in 2014. “It was really a great vibe,” Singleton said. “Just seeing how he would get every little move, bit by bit by bit, the whole routine, like we were putting on a Broadway show.
“He was a very visual guy,” Singleton continued. “They weren’t videos to him. They were short films – visualizing the funkiness of what he was trying to accomplish in the music. He was always trying to set the bar higher.”
Like “Black or White” before it, “Remember the Time” enjoyed an event premiere, simultaneously broadcasting on MTV, BET and FOX on February 2, 1992. Critics praised its visuals and storytelling, with Entertainment Weekly hailing it as a “gorgeous ancient Egyptian extravaganza” in 1995. In 2014, Rolling Stone named “Remember the Time” No. 18 on a list of Michael’s greatest short films. A year later, the short film became VEVO Certified for more than 100 million views worldwide.