"Scream"/"Childhood" is the lead single from Michael Jackson's ninth studio album, HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I. The A-side of the single, "Scream", is a duet with his younger sister Janet Jackson, while the corresponding B-side, "Childhood", is a solo piece. The single was released on May 31, 1995.
"Scream" is cited primarily as an aggressive, retaliatory song directed at the tabloid media and their coverage of the child sexual abuse accusations made against Michael Jackson in 1993. "Scream" was written, composed and produced by Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis, Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson; Michael played many of the instruments. It incorporates elements of pop, electrorock, new jack swing, dance-pop, and funk. Recording for Scream took place at the Hit Factory in New York City in October 1994 and at Flyte Tyme Studios in Edina, Minnesota in December 1994. The song was leaked to radio stations early, despite Epic Records' attempt to keep it off air until the official release date.
Generally well received amongst critics, it has been compared favorably to other accomplished pieces by Michael Jackson. It went on to be nominated for a Grammy Award and an American Music Award. The corresponding music video remains one of his most critically acclaimed pieces; it won numerous MTV Video Music Awards and a Grammy. At a cost of $7 million, it was listed in the Guinness World Records as the most expensive music video ever made; however, director Mark Romanek has refuted the claim, saying that there were two other music videos from the same era which cost "millions more" than the video for "Scream". The imagery in "Scream" has been replicated in several contemporary pieces, including "No Scrubs" (1999) by TLC, "Shawty Get Loose" (2008) by Lil Mama, "Stay the Night" (1999) by IMx, "Walkin' on the Moon" (2009) by The-Dream, and "I'm Out" by Ciara featuring Nicki Minaj (2013).
"Childhood" is an auto-biographical song written and composed by Michael Jackson. The theme of the track centers around his difficult childhood experiences. It would become the main theme song for Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home, continuing his association with the Free Willy series. The track appeared on several compilation albums, but was met with a mixed reception amongst critics. The song's music video, which had little in common with the supporting film, has been critically praised. "Scream"/"Childhood" would become the first single in the 37-year history of Billboard to debut at number five on the Billboard Hot 100, where it peaked. It was a worldwide hit, reaching the top five in the vast majority of major music markets. Michael performed "Scream" on his 1996-97 HIStory World Tour. Janet performed the song on her 2011 Number Ones: Up Close and Personal World Tour as a tribute to her late brother.