''Dangerous'' is not the hit Sony had hoped for -- Michael Jackson's new album is under performing for the label

It isn’t easy being the ”King of Pop.” Just ask Michael Jackson, who gave himself that title following the release of Dangerous last November. Sony, which distributes Epic, Jackson’s label, is claiming sales of almost 5 million copies in the U.S. and 8 million abroad. But the album is already slinking down the charts, eclipsed by other fall albums like Garth Brooks’ Ropin’ the Wind (7 million copies) and the latest releases from Def Leppard, Wynonna Judd, Ugly Kid Joe, and Kris Kross. In fact, Dangerous commanded the No. 1 spot on the Billboard album chart for only one week. (It has since fallen out of the top 20.)

Dangerous has sold ”modestly well, but it’s not a blowout hit,” says Tom Cochran, the operational manager of Tower Records’ Atlanta store. Sony maintains a just-wait-and-see attitude. ”Blockbusters grow over time,” says Glen Brunman, vice president of media relations at Epic.

Other bad news: The third video from Dangerous, ”In the Closet,” premiered last month to public indifference. The same week, the Cleveland Orchestra filed a $7 million lawsuit against the King and Sony for using an uncredited portion of its recording of Beethoven’s Ninth on the album. (Ironically, Sony released the classical recording, too.) Thomas W. Morris, the orchestra’s executive director, says an ”amicable” solution could not be reached so ”we felt we had no alternative.” Sony has said it will compensate for licensing fees.

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