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Music / Bad

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"I'm gonna make a change for once in my life."

And the whole world has to answer right now
Just to tell you once again
Who's bad?

Bad is the seventh studio album recorded by Michael Jackson. It was released through Epic Records on August 31, 1987.

His third and last collaboration with Quincy Jones, it was the long anticipated Tough Act to Follow after his previous effort Thriller had become the best-selling music album in history.

Bad never reached the same universal critical and commercial success of Thriller in terms of album sales, but was still a colossal bestseller, with many Top 10 hits, including the title track, "The Way You Make Me Feel", "Liberian Girl", "The Man In The Mirror", "I Just Can't Stop Loving You", "Dirty Diana", "Smooth Criminal" and "Leave Me Alone". As Time Marches On the initial controversy about Jackson's public image has died out somewhat and Bad has now been Vindicated by History as one of Jackson's best albums.


In a case of What Could Have Been, "Bad" was intended as a duet between Jackson and Prince, but Prince didn't like the opening line "your butt is mine" and thus the idea was thrown in the dumpster. The track "Streetwalker" was intended for the album, but eventually kept off the album in favour of "Another Part Of Me", which according to Frank Dileo, Jackson's manager, felt more danceable. It has now become a gem among Jackson fans who feel it is one of his best unreleased songs.

The album was followed by the direct-to-video film, Moonwalker, where the music videos are far more interesting than the actual story. Especially the video for "Smooth Criminal", which brought a new iconic dance move to Michael's repertoire: the "anti-gravity lean".

Bad was listed at #203 in Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.



Side One

  1. "Bad" (4:07)
  2. "The Way You Make Me Feel" (4:59)
  3. "Speed Demon" (4:01)
  4. "Liberian Girl" (3:53)
  5. "Just Good Friends" (4:08)

Side Two

  1. "Another Part Of Me" (3:54)
  2. "Man In The Mirror" (5:19)
  3. "I Just Can't Stop Loving You" (4:14)
  4. "Dirty Diana" (4:41)
  5. "Smooth Criminal" (4:19)
  6. "Leave Me Alone" (4:40) note 

Annie, are you troping?

  • '80s Hair: Jackson sports a Jheri curl on the cover.
  • Alliterative Title: "Dirty Diana".
  • Badass Boast: "Bad", from the first until the last line, is Jackson trying to prove he is just as cool as the bad boys.
  • Bilingual Bonus: "Liberian Girl" has lines in Swahili.
  • The Cameo:
  • Car Song: "Speed Demon"
    I'm speedin' on the midway, I gotta really burn this road
  • Changing Clothes Is a Free Action: The music video of "Bad" does this. After Michael gets bullied by his friends for not being bad enough and a "sissy", he yells back at them and suddenly in a blink of a second he is no longer wearing a casual sweater, but stands there in a leather suit with a whole bunch of dancing buddies who also seem to have come up from nowhere.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • "Man In The Mirror" has mirror imagery, a Call-Back to "I Can't Help It" from Off the Wall (1979).
    • "Bad" is basically the same concept as "Beat It", only with Michael now joining the street gangs in being "bad" instead of telling them not to be that way. "Smooth Criminal" also shows Jackson in a criminal environment.
    • "Dirty Diana" is just like "Billie Jean" about a dangerous woman, only this time not a stalker, but a groupie.
    • "Just Good Friends" is just like "The Girl Is Mine" a duet with a celebrity pop star in which both men quarrel over the same girl. Only here the tone is more playful and less teasing.
    • "Dirty Diana" is just like "Beat It" accompanied by a hard rock guitar solo.
    • Both "The Way You Make It Feel" and "Speed Demon" start off with a motor purring.
  • Concept Video: All hit singles were accompanied by a music video.
  • Concert Film: The 25th anniversary release features film of a Wembley Stadium concert from the Bad tour, with Princess Diana and Prince Charles in attendance.
  • Crossover: Jackson and Stevie Wonder perform together on "Just Good Friends".
    • Also, along with the aforementioned Prince appearance, Run–D.M.C. was supposed to appear on the album with a song called "Crack Kills", but it never got completed. Check the Trivia page for the lowdown on what happened.
  • Cut Song: The several year writing period led to a lot of these: "Streetwalker", "Fly Away", "We Are Here To Change The World", "Cheater", "Loving You", "Do You Know Where Your Children Are?", "Don't Be Messin' Round", "I'm So Blue", "Abortion Papers", "Price Of Fame", "Free", to name those that were released. The sessions also produced "Leave Me Alone" (which was used as a CD bonus track) and "Dangerous" (which was used on the album of the same name).
  • Dance Battler: He does so in the music video of "Bad".
  • Dancing Is Serious Business: In the music video of "Bad" Michael shows off his dancing skills to a rival gang, while in the music video of "The Way You Make Me Feel" he uses them to woo a woman. In "Smooth Criminal" his moves fence off other gangsters.
  • Darker and Edgier: Jackson tried changing his gentle image by appearing a streetwise "badass" guy in the music video of "Bad". He also shook off his Chaste Hero image by grabbing his crotch in that same video and appearing in a more romantic boy-meets-girl music video in "The Way You Make me Feel".
  • Deliberately Monochrome: The Talky Bookends of the "Bad" music video were shot in black-and-white.
  • Deranged Animation: The music video of "Leave Me Alone".
  • Drives Like Crazy: "Speed Demon" about driving too fast and getting a speeding ticket as a result.
  • Face on the Cover: Michael striking a badass pose in leather.
  • Femme Fatale: "Dirty Diana" about a girl who winds every man around her finger.
  • Gospel Choirs Are Just Better: The music video for "Man in the Mirror" features a choir helmed by Andrae Crouch as well as the Winans singing in the background.
  • Gravity Master: Jackson's iconic 45 degree angle lean in the music video of "Smooth Criminal". note 
  • Hell-Bent for Leather: Jackson in the music video and album cover of "Bad".
  • Just Friends: "Just Good Friends".
    Baby loves me, but she never shows
    She cares (no, you won't see her kiss and hug me)
    Baby loves me (no, she acts like I'm not there)
    That doesn't mean she doesn't love me
    If they ask her
    Tell 'em that we're just good friends
  • Leave Me Alone!: "Leave Me Alone", which Jackson wrote in reaction to being hounded by the tabloids.
  • Let's Duet: "Just Good Friends" with Stevie Wonder and "I Just Can't Stop Loving You" with Siedah Garrett (although Garrett was not credited on the single sleeve, and the two vocalists sounded so similar some listeners weren't even aware the song was a duet).
    • Siedah Garrett later recalled she didn't know she would be singing a duet with Jackson until the day of the recording session. She had assumed she would be working on her own solo album and was surprised to see Jackson at the studio until Quincy Jones informed her the two would be singing "I Just Can't Stop Loving You" (which she had already learned, assuming it was meant for her own album) as a duet.
    • Barbra Streisand had initially been considered as a duet partner for "I Just Can't Stop Loving You," but turned it down because she disliked the song.
  • Mr Fan Service: Jackson takes off his shirt in the music video of "Dirty Diana".
  • Mondegreen: Michael's yell "shamone"! is actually the word "come on!".
  • Moonwalk Dance: In the music video of "Smooth Criminal".
  • Mundane Made Awesome: "Speed Demon" is the most awesome song about getting a speeding ticket ever.
  • Murder Ballad: "Smooth Criminal", where a girl named Annie was struck down by a criminal.
  • Mythology Gag: The music video of "Leave Me Alone" has Jackson satirizing the media frenzy around his own persona. For instance, we see him dancing with the skeleton of the Elephant Man, in reference to the press rumour that he was interested in buying the bones of said person.
  • New Sound Album: The album was less dominated by funk than his previous output and moved more toward pop music.
  • Obsession Song: "I Just Can't Stop Loving You", where Jackson wonders what he'll do without her, and "Dirty Diana", where he feels threatened by a woman who is known to be a seductress.
  • One-Word Title: "Bad".
  • One-Woman Song: "Dirty Diana" and "Liberian Girl".
  • Pop-Cultural Osmosis: Bad and The Man In The Mirror cemented the idea that Jackson shouts "shamone!" when he sings.
  • The Power of Love: "The Way You Make Me Feel", "Liberian Girl", "I Just Can't Stop Loving You" and "Just Another Part Of Me".
  • Properly Paranoid: "Dirty Diana", about a dangerous Femme Fatale, and "Leave Me Alone", about Jackson's feelings about the tabloid press attacking him. In "Speed Demon" Jackson also feels as if he is being followed while driving on the highway.
  • Record Producer: Quincy Jones.
  • Refuge in Audacity: In the music video of "Bad" Jackson caused controversy for grabbing his crotch while dancing.
  • Repurposed Pop Song: "Another Part Of Me" was originally featured in the film Captain EO.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: The framing story for the "Bad" music video was loosely based on the 1985 death of black Exeter prep student Edmund Perry, who was fatally shot while attempting to mug an undercover cop.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The music video of "Bad" was inspired by West Side Story, while "Smooth Criminal"s 1930's and 1940's gangster look came about after Michael watched The Third Man. His outfit in the latter video was inspired by Fred Astaire in The Band Wagon.
    • "Weird Al" Yankovic spoofed the music video and single of "Bad" as "Fat", and the album art as Even Worse, depicting himself in a similar pose and leather jacket to Michael, just much more zipperiffic and with too many belts.
    • The line "Annie, are you OK?" in "Smooth Criminal" is a reference to a phrase used in CPR training courses. Resusci Anne, otherwise known as "Annie" in English-speaking countries, is the name of a mannequin commonly used in CPR training. As part of the training, trainees are taught to say "Annie, are you OK?" to the dummy in order to check that the patient is conscious and responsive. A paramedic in the field is supposed to address the patient by her actual name, but many have been known to say "Annie" out of habit. Michael Jackson once took a CPR course.
    • The music video of "Leave Me Alone" has shout-outs to Elizabeth Taylor, The Elephant Man and to Gulliver's Travels when gigantic Jackson breaks free from the ropes that pulled him down to the ground all the time.
  • Silly Rabbit, Cynicism Is for Losers!: "The Man In The Mirror" tells us the world can be changed.
  • Special Guest:
    • The music video of "Bad" was directed by Martin Scorsese. Wesley Snipes plays one of the street hoodlums.
    • The celebrity cameos in the music video of "Liberian Girl".
    • Stevie Wonder sings along in "Just Good Friends".
    • Siedah Garrett has a duet with Jackson in "I Just Can't Stop Loving You".
    • The guitar soloist on "Dirty Diana" is Steve Stevens, otherwise known as the sideman of Billy Idol and the guitarist playing the Top Gun theme.
  • Spoken Word in Music:
    • "I Just Can't Stop Loving You" originally has a spoken intro by Michael, but it has been removed of all compilations and re-issues of the album.
    • "O.K., I want everybody to clear the area right now!" - "Smooth Criminal".
  • Stalker with a Crush: Jackson comes across as one in "The Way You Make Me Feel", but eventually he wins the girl over. What a Broken Aesop!
  • Stock Sound Effects: A car can be heard humming at the start of "The Way You Make Me Feel" and "Speed Demon".
  • Super Speed: "Speed Demon", about someone who drives too fast on the highway.
  • Take That!: "Leave Me Alone", directed at the tabloid press.
  • Title Track: "Bad"
    Because I'm bad, bad, really really bad!
  • The Trouble with Tickets: "Speed Demon".
    Pull over boy and get your ticket right
  • Updated Re-release: Four times. First in 2001 as a part of promotion for Invincible; then in 2009 for the box set titled The Collection; again in 2012 for it's 25th anniversary. Both releases included unreleased tracks, and the anniversary release included a concert DVD and audio CD where Michael performed at Wembley Stadium during the Bad Tour, with Princess Diana in attendance. It was then re-released with its original tracklist (including "Leave Me Alone") in 2013 as part of iTunes' exclusive box set The Indispensable Collection.
  • White Void Room: Michael on the album cover.


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