Saturday, September 26, 1987

Michael Jackson debuted at #1 with Bad

First posted 3/21/2008; updated 12/1/2020.

Bad

Michael Jackson


Released: August 31, 1987


Peak: 16 US, 118 RB, 11 UK, 11 CN, 2 AU


Sales (in millions): 10.0 US, 3.9 UK, 35.0 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: pop/R&B


Tracks:

Song Title (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Bad (9/19/87, 1 US, 3 UK, 1 RB, 33 AC)
  2. The Way You Make Me Feel (11/21/87, 1 US, 3 UK, 1 RB, 9 AC)
  3. Speed Demon
  4. Liberian Girl (7/15/89, 13 UK)
  5. Just Good Friends (with Stevie Wonder)
  6. Another Part of Me (7/23/88, 10a US, 15 UK, 1 RB, 44 AC)
  7. Man in the Mirror (2/6/88, 1 US, 21 UK, 1 RB, 2 AC)
  8. I Just Can’t Stop Loving You (with Siedah Garrett) (8/8/87, 1 US, 1 UK, 1 RB, 1 AC, sales: ½ million)
  9. Dirty Diana (5/7/88, 1 US, 4 UK, 2a RB)
  10. Smooth Criminal (11/12/88, 7 US, 8 UK, 2 RB)
  11. Leave Me Alone (2/25/89, 2 UK) *


Total Running Time: 48:40

Rating:

4.200 out of 5.00 (average of 24 ratings)


Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

How does one follow the most successful album of all time? Michael Jackson’s approach was to “take the basic formula of the predecessor, expand it slightly, and move it outward. This meant that he moved deeper into hard rock, deeper into schmaltzy adult contemporary, deeper into hard dance – essentially taking each portion of Thriller to an extreme, while increasing the quotient of immaculate studiocraft.” STE

Once again, Jackson turns to Quincy Jones as a producer but this time Jackson co-produced, as well as composing all but two of the tracks. He did move away from “his trademark groove sound and high-pitched vocals” WK and integrated modern technology such as digital synthesizers and drum machines. The result was a more aggressive, but “sleeker, slicker Thriller, which isn’t a bad thing, but it’s not a rousing success, either.” STE

“I Just Can’t Stop Loving You”

Jackson followed a similar template with the single releases as he had with Thriller. The lead single was a duet ballad, but unlike the superstar pairing of him and Paul McCartney for “The Girl Is Mine,” this time it was with the virtually unknown Siedah Garrett on I Just Can’t Stop Loving You. The song did do better on the charts, peaking at #1 – a notch higher than “The Girl Is Mine.”

“Bad”

Rather than waiting the usual three months between singles, Jackson again employed a technique from Thriller by getting a new song to radio even before the predecessor had cooled. Much like his title track for Thriller the Bad single was promoted with a mini-movie video. It became the album’s second #1 hit.

Lyrically, the song was about boastfulness and musically it was sort of a revision of Ray Charles’ “Hit the Road Jack.” It was initially intended as a duet between Jackson and Prince. WK

“The Way You Make Me Feel”

Another upbeat song with a flashy video came next. With The Way You Make Me Feel, Jackson managed a feat he hadn’t with Thriller: a third #1 song. He wasn’t done, though. Jackson would, in fact, land a whopping five chart-topping songs from the album – a feat never before accomplished in pop music.

“Man in the Mirror”

Next up was “the saccharine Man in the Mirror,” STE Jackson’s own personal version of “We Are the World,” the superstar artist collection from two years earlier which was penned by Jackson and Lionel Richie. Once again, Jackson writes from an ego-driven “I can change the world” perspective, although it’s hard to fault him for the sentiment of wanting the man in the mirror to “change his ways.”

“Dirty Diana”

Dirty Diana was Bad’s closest equivalent to “Beat It” in terms of the hard-driving guitar sound. It was lyrically similar to “Billie Jean” in its description of a sexual predator, but while “Billie Jean” evoked a paranoia of a woman out to trap Jackson, “Dirty Diana” had Jacksons “sounding equally intrigued by and apprehensive of a sexual challenge.” WK The song does lose something because of its “misogynistic” STE nature.

“Another Part of Me”

After five #1 songs, the sixth single not only missed the top of the charts, but the top ten. That was significant in that it was the first single out of seventeen released from his last three studio albums to not hit the top ten.

In the context of the album, it also represented “a near-fatal dead spot on the record – songs three through six, from Speed Demon to ‘Another Part of Me,’ a sequence that’s utterly faceless, lacking memorable hooks and melodies, even when Stevie Wonder steps in for Just Good Friends.” STE Unlike the “tremendous songs, performances, and fresh, vivacious beats” STE found on Off the Wall and Thriller, these are songs which are “mechanical,” STE “relying on nothing but studiocraft.” STE

“Smooth Criminal”

Once again, Jackson followed the template of Thriller here by releasing seven singles. The seventh and final single put Jackson back in the top ten with a song characterized by All Music Guide’s Stephen Thomas Erlewine as “simply OK.” AMG The song was supported, a la “Thriller,” with a big-budget story video, this time with Jackson envisioning himself as a gangster.

“Leave Me Alone”

While it wasn’t a single or even part of the original album (it was a CD-only release), “Leave Me Alone” was significant. Erlewine called it “the best song on the album,” STE while also asking “why are all of his best songs paranoid anthems?” STE It was accompanied by a video that saw Jackson poking fun at himself and the tabloid fodder he had become since Thriller. Erlewine asserts that “not coincidentally, [it] was the best video from the album.” STE


Notes:
“Leave Me Alone” was a bonus track on the CD version of the album only.

A reissue in 2001 added the songs “Streetwalker,” “Todo Mi Amor Eres Tu,” and “Fly Away” as well as interviews with album producer Quincy Jones. A 25th anniversary edition in 2012 added an second disc of unreleased songs and remixes.

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