"D.S." is an album track by Michael Jackson from his 1995 double disc record HIStory. It is track six on the second disc, one of the three songs from that disc whose lyrics are printed in the album booklet, and is four minutes and forty-nine seconds in length. The song is often cited as a derogatory reference to District Attorney Tom Sneddon, whose name is similar to the subject of the song, Dom Sheldon.
When Jackson was accused of child sexual abuse in 1993, the investigation was controlled by Sneddon, who also ordered that Jackson be strip searched. The criminal investigation was subsequently closed due to lack of evidence and Jackson was not charged with a crime. Jackson was angered by the allegations, his perception of being mistreated by the police and media, and the negative effect on his health.
Shortly afterwards, he began work on HIStory. The track "D.S." is written, composed and produced by Jackson and includes a guitar solo by Slash. It is a rock song that conveys themes such as bitterness, isolation and paranoia much like the rest of the album. There was no major critical analysis of the song from mainstream reviews when HIStory was issued, but the song's connection to Tom Sneddon was widely reported in the media. Jackson was subsequently involved in projects that made coded references to Sneddon and the 1993 investigation.
Jackson was the subject of another child sexual abuse allegation in 2003, with the investigation and 2005 trial prosecution again lead by Sneddon. These repeated investigations and derogatory comments made against Jackson have lead to allegations that Sneddon has, or appears to have, a "vendetta" against the singer. Fans of the entertainer sang "D.S." outside the court house of Jackson's 2005 trial every day.
The media coverage of the allegations was criticized for using sensational headlines to draw in readers and viewers when the content itself did not support the headline, for accepting stories of Jackson's alleged criminal activity in return for money, for accepting confidential leaked material from the police investigation in return for money, for deliberately using pictures of Jackson's appearance at its worst, for a lack of objectivity and for using headlines that strongly implied Jackson's guilt. At the time, Jackson said of the media reaction, "I will say I am particularly upset by the handling of the matter by the incredible, terrible mass media. At every opportunity, the media has dissected and manipulated these allegations to reach their own conclusions".
The entertainer began taking painkillers, Valium, Xanax and Ativan to deal with the stress of the allegations made against him. A few months after the allegations became news, Jackson had lost approximately 10 pounds in weight and had stopped eating. Jackson's health had deteriorated to the extent that he canceled the remainder of his tour and went into rehabilitation. Jackson booked the whole fourth floor of the clinic, and was put on Valium IV to wean him from painkillers. The singer's spokesperson told reporters that Jackson was "barely able to function adequately on an intellectual level". While in the clinic, Jackson took part in group and one-on-one therapy sessions.
Jackson was not charged with a crime and the police closed their criminal investigation citing lack of evidence. With his health improving, Jackson then began work on a new album called HIStory, and commenced recording in 1994. The song "D.S." included in the album contains lyrics about a cold man called Dom S. Sheldon, which, when sung, sounds similar to Thomas Sneddon. Some media sources, and Sneddon himself, believe the song is directed at him.
The song has a distinct rock feel to it, with a guitar solo performed by former Guns N' Roses guitarist Slash, who had previously worked with Jackson on his Dangerous album. Jackson screams the name "Slash!" immediately before Slash's part in the song. Jackson has previously made a number of successful rock songs, including; "Beat It", "Dirty Diana", "Give In to Me" and "Scream".
The vast majority of mainstream music reviewers did not provide a critical analysis of "D.S." in their reviews of HIStory and any analysis only covered the connection to Tom Sneddon and the song's genre. This can be seen in reviews by TIME, Allmusic, Rolling Stone and The New York Times.
Many news organizations reviewed the piece in connection to Sneddon. Fox News Channel and CNN expressed the opinion that the "cold man" of this song's lyrics is Sneddon, as when sung, "Dom S. Sheldon" sounds very close to "Thomas Sneddon". The BBC suggested that the lyric's reference to a "B.S.T.A." sounds similar to "S.B.D.A.", meaning "Santa Barbara District Attorney". The Guardian and The New York Times expressed the view that Jackson suggests "Sheldon" has links to the CIA and the Ku Klux Klan and he just "wants your vote". Sneddon's own work website indicates that he believes he is the subject of the song, stating, "He's the only DA in the nation to have an angry song written about him by pop megastar Michael Jackson". Of the song, he said, "I have not—shall we say—done him the honor of listening to it".
The child sexual abuse allegations of 2003 resulted in a long trial two years later. Sneddon was the led investigator again, as well as the trial prosecutor. The trial ended with Jackson being acquitted on all counts. The two investigations being controlled by Sneddon have led to complaints that he was motivated by a "vendetta" against Jackson. Evidence to support these claims include Sneddon joking about Jackson's greatest hits album being released on the same day as his arrest and saying, "Like the sheriff and I really are into that kind of music". He then preceded to call Jackson "Wacko Jacko" and shouting "we got him, we finally got him" to the media when he had only just began an investigation and had gathered limited information or evidence. "D.S." was sung outside the courtroom by a group of Jackson's fans every day the trial took place.