By Daniel Ross, 17th June 2016, 15:16
Michael Jackson’s ‘Man In The Mirror’ features one of the most satisfyingly epic key changes in all music. This is why it’s so good.
Michael Jackson key change-
So we’re looking specifically at this moment here:
Let’s just celebrate for a moment the audacity of this key change. For a start, it occurs on the word ‘Change’. Not only that, it occurs on the word ‘Change’ during a song ACTUALLY ABOUT change. Key change, changing person, on the word ‘Change’. It’s change central.
‘Man In The Mirror’ begins in humble, plain, unassuming G major. The harmony is sweet, fairly unadventurous, but functional. Jackson, a keen improviser (‘HEE-EE!’), clearly enjoys rattling around G major and exploiting that killer 7th degree of the scale for maximum impact. Fine. We expect this.
But then, at about 2:50, it happens. Change happens. In a stroke of genius, the key change itself is pre-figured with a moment’s silence, which completely removes the rug from under the listener’s ears (if that’s physically possible), and establishes a new reality of A flat major (or G sharp major, which looks more impressive) without so much as a cursory consultation period.