The first four Invincible collaborations with Dangerous producer Teddy Riley, “Heaven can wait” is every bit as smooth as “Break of Dawn”, but explores a different emotion. With its tight, textured harmonies, and classic R&B feel, it feels like an updated variation of the BeeGees. Many critics praised the song as one of the album’s best offerings. While Invincible’s rhythm tracks convey a mechanical minimalism, the feel here is warm and rich. Jackson’s passionate pleadings ride a stuttering beat in the verses before dissolving like air into the chorus. Mark Anthony Neal described it as “one of Jackson’s best vocal perfromances since Thriller’s ‘Lady in my life’.” It is a song that undoubtedly had the potential to be a big R&B hit, had Sony released it a single.
Jackson was introduced to an early demo of the track by producer Teddy Riley. “When I did that song with him,” he recalls, “he held his heart and he said ‘Teddy, is this mine?’ I said, ‘It’s yours if you want it, Michael.’ He’s like: ‘I want it, let’s go get it!’ He was so excited…. He said, ‘I want that song. I need that song in my life.” Jackson subsequently tweaked the structure, sound and lyrics.
The song is about the desire to elude death. The singer has finally found love and joy, but now dreads it will be taken from him. “Tell the angels no,” he sings, “I don’t want to leave my baby alone.” This fear is in some ways perfectly consistent with Jackson’s earlier work. Yet when previous tracks conveyed isolation (“Leave me alone,” “Billie jean is not my lover”), Jackson now speaks for a collective “us.” “Just leave us alone,” he pleads at the end. “Please leave us alone” (interestingly, however, in the final gasps he returns back to “leave me alone”). The painful emotion conveyed in these final lines is genuine. The fear isn’t so much death itself as it is separation and a return to loneliness. The track is a supplication for time, to love and be loved without interference or intrusion.