Song Critique: "Man in The Mirror" by Michael Jackson

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 1676 |

Pages: 3|

9 min read

Published: Oct 4, 2018

Words: 1676|Pages: 3|9 min read

Published: Oct 4, 2018

Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Man in the Mirror: song critique
  3. Conclusion
  4. Works Cited


For the song critique I have selected one of Jackson’s most popular songs. Although Michael has been dead for quite some years now, his legacy still continues. Even today, every time I hear this song play on the radio, I get excited. Many of his songs are timeless and still as valuable as they were several years ago. In this video of “Man in the Mirror”, there are several explanations behind its deeper meaning. Several messages were given to audiences by his choice of video. Both his words and the videos alike depicted some of these ideas Michael was trying to convey.

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Man in the Mirror: song critique

Man in the Mirror by Michael Jackson is a song about making a change in the world, but by making a change starting with yourself. In the song Man in the Mirror by Michael Jackson, it says “I’m starting with the man in the mirror I’m asking him to change his ways And no message could have been any clearer If you want to make the world a better place Take a look at yourself, and then make a change.” These words mean that if you want the world society to change their negative ways, you have to start with yourself; that doesn’t mean change everything about you, just the negative things. The first stanza of the song says, “I’m gonna make a change, For once I’m my life, It’s gonna feel real good, Gonna make a difference, Gonna make it right.” This first few lyrics explain that if you change your ways and do good for your society, it can make a difference.

This song appears to be a transformation. Of the singer before and after tragic events. It’s like two different stories that are being told. Jackson was alive during the black rights movements. To an extent this song portrays that reality. As many people know, Michael changed his skin color from black to white. This was done so that he could be more successful during these racist times. In this song, he shows us how he has transformed and how the world has also, but certainly not in a good sense. In his first set of lyrics he states: I”’m gonna make a change

For once in my life It’s gonna feel real good Gonna make a difference Gonna make it right”. Some sort of transformation is being placed in his mind and in his song.

This transformation that is occurring, is most likely a change in the singer. From the very beginning of this video, we see a series of depressing images. Of young children who are starving and sick, who are living in unreasonable conditions. Michael says: “As I, turn up the collar on My favorite winter coat, This wind is blowing my mind I see the kids in the streets

With not enough to eat, who am I to be blind? Pretending not to see their needs”. This quote is very powerful because understanding these initial concepts allows someone to understand deeper messages within the song. The first of these revelations, is that Michael realizes how the world is. He stated that he was adjusting his collar on his jacket, while he sees children without coats, without even food. In his mind, he sees injustices. He is successful, which could be partly attributed to his change of skin colors. All the children within this music video are black, so Jackson might be thinking that he could most likely be in the same situation. That is if he did not change his skin and become a professional and wealthy celebrity.

We also see these points when Michael says:” I’ve been a victim of a selfish kind of love It’s time that I realize, that there are some with no home, not a nickel to loan, could it be really me, pretending that they’re not alone?” Firstly, he brings up the topic of children in bad situations. It can be concluded that this is a worldwide problem not simply a territorial one. Michael is realizing how cruel the world really is, but also how cruel he is as well.

This is understood in the passage above when he said: “With not enough to eat, who am I to be blind? Pretending not to see their needs”. And reinstated when Michael said: “could it be really me, pretending that they’re not alone?”. We see that Michael realizes these bad situations, but rather than helping, he tries to just act as if he didn’t see it. He is literally having a hard time deciding what is the proper action to take. This is true, because he feels guilty, if he didn’t he wouldn’t reinstate these ideas so many times. In a sense, Michael is like most of us. He sees the problems, but realizes they aren’t easy to fix, or simply cannot be fixed.

In the song, during certain segments of the song, Michael’s tone gains much enthusiasm. He does this to grab listener’s ears to important words. The most obvious in this song, would certainly be the word “mirror”. One who is familiar with this song, can automatically hear the way Jackson says it. With such enthusiasm and oomph. We find ourselves even imitating this distinct pronunciation when singing along. So why would Michael do this? That is make this word stand out so frequently. It certainly serves its purpose as the singer intended. This word, mirror, makes us realize he is proclaiming ideas that he has personally had. He’s literally standing in the mirror looking at himself. He almost forces listeners to look deeply into themselves and think about these rough situations occurring in our world today. Without emphasizing this word, we wouldn’t understand how internalized it is.

Even though Michael does nothing in the video in the beginning. He then realizes that if no one else is changing these situations, that he should. And he realizes the change starts with him. This lyric is very key in understanding these hidden messages. Michael claims: “I’m starting with the man in the mirror, I’m asking him to change his ways, And no message could have been any clearer, If you want to make the world a better place, Take a look at yourself, and then make a change.” Change within oneself must first be done before actual changes can occur. Michael is showing us that we must be fully well before we can do much for someone else. This is actually highly true. For instance, if you see someone in the street that has no food, you cannot feed them if you also have food. We must have the ability to help ourselves and then go onto helping others. Michaels thoughts are quite complex and beautiful. He really makes audiences interested in unveiling his truths and beliefs. This is certainly one of the several reasons why the world fell in love with him.

This song is meant to be inspiring and thoughtful. Michael realized and revealed that if everyone stopped worrying about themselves and greed, that the world could change on its own. Sadly, I feel he realized that this most likely would not occur. And it certainly didn’t on his life on earth. But that doesn’t mean it couldn’t. Although it would take effort from millions of people. He emphasizes towards the end that he encourages all of us to make changes that start with ourselves first. This can be concluded because at the end of the song, he keeps repeating the words “you” and “stand up”, making it obvious that he wants us to move towards this enlightening and purifying movement of a better world.

These hidden messages are just some of the most important that are located within his song. This is also not the only song that he does this in. Michael was and always will be one of the world’s favorite musical artists. He is able to create wonderful meaning into his songs, which is popular for those who love good music. He challenges his audiences to capture the same views as he has in this song, he motivates us to become better people.


I feel that so many people have horrible ideas about Michael, but they are wrong. Michael certainly has a conscious and knows right from wrong. In the beginning of his song he tried to fight feeling sympathy, but he knew that he couldn’t. He thought more about why others weren’t acting on these issues of poverty, starvation, and corrupt governments. But then realizes that these changes can start with him. There is a sort of connection aspect of the song and video. Michael wanted people to join together to help solve problems together. The world has become speechless, with many people uninvolved in bettering the planet. If we all joined together, the amount of change that could occur would be mind boggling.

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Michael encountered several negative people in his life that constantly made him feel bad. In my opinion, Michael is certainly not a bad guy. He was simply misunderstood because people did not take the time or action to understand. The song I have selected showed his true character, and I feel his performance is most passionate in this song alike. Audiences can feel the positive energy, even when sad issues are at hand. Michael balances this song to such a high degree, and fellow Michael lovers can agree upon. It is quite unfortunate that his life was cut short. I can’t even image the masterpieces he would have crafted in recent times. I desire to share these positive visions of Michael, because after this analyzation, I feel differently about him. I use to simply appreciate his music, however, now I appreciate his charter as well. I certainly can attest to believing his ideas in this song to be true and I can also relate to his feelings. Often people enjoy listening to music that has some similarities to their own lives and struggles, which is another reason I love him so much!

Works Cited

  1. Bronson, F. (2003). The Billboard book of number 1 hits. Billboard Books.
  2. Campbell, L., & Huijbens, E. H. (2009). On Michael Jackson. University Press of Mississippi.
  3. Christgau, R. (1988). Michael Jackson's little life of horrors. Village Voice, 33(44), 35-38.
  4. Dyer, R. (1997). White. Routledge.
  5. George, N. (2018). Michael Jackson: Man in the Mirror. Canongate Books.
  6. Halstead, C., & Cadman, C. (2007). Michael Jackson the solo years. Authors On Line Ltd.
  7. Jackson, M. (1988). Man in the Mirror [Recorded by Michael Jackson]. On Bad [CD]. Epic Records.
  8. Perone, J. E. (2012). The words and music of Michael Jackson. ABC-CLIO.
  9. Taraborrelli, J. R. (2004). The magic and the madness. Headline Book Publishing.
  10. Vogel, J. (2012). Man in the Music: The Creative Life and Work of Michael Jackson. Sterling Publishing.
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This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

Cite this Essay

A Critique of Man in the Mirror, a Song by Michael Jackson. (2022, February 13). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 30, 2024, from
“A Critique of Man in the Mirror, a Song by Michael Jackson.” GradesFixer, 13 Feb. 2022,
A Critique of Man in the Mirror, a Song by Michael Jackson. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 30 May 2024].
A Critique of Man in the Mirror, a Song by Michael Jackson [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2022 Feb 13 [cited 2024 May 30]. Available from:
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