Michael Jackson’s “Bad.”

Released: August 31, 1987

Genre: Pop ・rock ・funk ・ R&B ・dance ・soul ・hard rock

Label: Epic ・CBS

Producer: Quincy Jones


By 1987, Michael Jackson was a bonafide superstar and icon. The King of Pop’s sixth studio solo album Thriller was released in late 1982, and is the best selling album to this date. Michael was one of the most powerful Black people in history, whom I feel is bigger than Elvis & The Beatles. Period.

Michael released his follow up record, Bad on August 31, 1987, nearly five years after Thriller. Musically, Bad was totally different from Thriller, with a sound that was more assertive & grittier than we’ve ever heard from the king.

Bad is an album with elements of pop, rock, funk, R&B, soul & hard rock, a sound that made him truly a force to be reckoned with. The album was heavily anticipated, and lived up to expectations as Bad truly redefined pop music in the late 80s.

Bad’s lyrical content was based on media bias, romance, paranoia, racial profiling, self-improvement and world peace. The album debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 & Billboard Top R&B Albums charts respectively, selling two million copies in its first week. Named as one of the greatest albums of all time, the album recently was certified 11x platinum by the RIAA.

Bad broke records for being one of only two albums where five singles off of the album topped the Billboard Hot 100, and for remaining in the top 5 on the Billboard 200 album chart for a whopping thirty-eight weeks. The album has sold over 35 million copies worldwide, being one of the best selling albums of all time.

While Bad’s sales did not match the success of Thriller, like I mentioned above: the album truly redefined pop music in the late 80s. The influence of Bad in Michael’s peers work was truly undeniable. The beautiful thing about this album is that is 34 years old (at the time this post was written,) & out of the albums released in 1987…this album still could be released in 2021 & still be a hit on the charts and with music lovers. & that is legendary.

Ladies & Gentlemen, I present to you Michael Jackson’s Bad.


Written by Michael Jackson

Who’s bad?

-Michael Jackson, 1987

The album kicks off with the title track. Bad gave Michael a more edgier sound & image. Michael stated that the song was inspired by a real life story of a young man who tried to leave a life of poverty behind and comes home from private school & the kids from his old neighborhood gives him a lot of flack for changing as we saw in the music video. Michael’s biographers have stated that the video was inspired by the tragic story of Edmund Perry, who was killed by a racist cop in 1985.

The music video was a 18-minute short film that featured a then unknown Wesley Snipes. Fun music fact: Prince was supposed to be featured on the song and in the video as Wesley’s character!! Prince declined the duet. Bad was a success on the charts, becoming Michael’s eighth number one single on the Billboard Hot 100 & the second number one from the album respectively. The song was sampled by artists like Trina & MC Lyte.

The Way You Make Me Feel

Written by Michael Jackson

The third single released from the album is the amazing The Way You Make Me Feel. From a lyrical perspective, the song is about letting a potential lover knows about how she makes him feel on the inside. The song shows Michael as flirtatious and willing to go above and beyond to keep his love interest happy by all means.

The song became the third consecutive single to reach number one on the Hot 100 chart from the album. The song has been sampled/interoplated by artists like Jon Bellion, Lizzo, Rihanna & Kierra Sheard.

Speed Demon

Written by Michael Jackson

Speed Demon is a funk rock song that speaks to driving at an accelerated speed. I love the music video to this song, which was a promotional video and is a segment from the 1988 anthology film Moonwalker.

Liberian Girl

Written by Michael Jackson

I think it is pretty safe to say that Liberian Girl is my favorite Michael Jackson song. I love everything about this song. From Michael’s vocals, the production, the homage to the women in Liberia. One thing about this song, is that Liberian girls were amazed that someone as huge as Michael Jackson made a song in mind of them & made them feel apart of the world.

The R&B & calypso inspired empowerment record wasn’t released as a single, but peaked in the top twenty in the UK at number 13 in 1989. I love the music video for this song as well. It featured many of Michael’s celebrity friends and he appeared at the end of it as the director. The song has been sampled by Tupac & MC Lyte & Xscape.

Just Good Friends with Stevie Wonder

Written by Terry Britten ・Graham Lyle

You never thought you needed a duet with the King of Pop and the legendary & incomparable Stevie Wonder until you heard Just Good Friends. A friendly quarrel over a girl they both have feelings for, the song is a synth-funk, cheerful pop record that is very nice.

Another Part of Me

Written by Michael Jackson

Another Part of Me is a SONG! The funk influenced song was originally featured in Michael’s 3D film Captain EO. From a lyrical perspective, Another Part of Me discusses how the world needs to stress the importance of global unity, love and outreach.

The song was a hit on the charts, peaking at number one on the Billboard R&B singles and number eleven on the Hot 100 charts respectively.

Man in the Mirror

Written by Glen Ballard ・Siedah Garrett

If you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and then make a change.

-Michael Jackson, 1987.

Man in the Mirror is one of Michael’s most important songs. From a lyrical standpoint, the song speaks about change starts from within. We can’t possibly want the world to change without looking at ourselves in the mirror and starting with us.

Man in the Mirror is truly one of the best pop songs ever released. The utilization of a gospel choir in a pop song was extremely genius. His vocals were powerful and amazing.

Man in the Mirror was the 4th consecutive song on the album to go number one on the Hot 100 chart, where it remained for two weeks. The song was also certified 3x platinum by the RIAA. The song was covered by Keke Palmer and sampled by rapper Papoose.

I Just Can’t Stop Loving You with Siedah Garrett

Written by Michael Jackson

One of my favorite Michael ballads has to be I Just Can’t Stop Loving You. Featuring Siedah Garrett, the song is a smooth and soulful ballad that expresses how strong the attraction and inflation two people have is. It was the lead single from the album, and the first single from the album to go number one. The song was covered by the Glee cast.

Dirty Diana

Written by Michael Jackson

Dirty Diana is like Billie Jean or Beat It 2.0, with more aggression and more rock.. Written by Michael, Dirty Diana is a pop/hard rock record with heavy metal influences. The song is written in mind of groupies, and you can tell Michael was fed up with them chile! The song was the fifth consective number one record on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Dirty Diana was covered by The Weeknd & sampled by artists like Whitney Houston, NBA Youngboy & Three Six Mafia.

Smooth Criminal

Smooth Criminal is definitely one of the smoothest songs I’ve ever heard in life. Originally evolved from an earlier song titled Al Capone. If you listen to the record, you can notice the similarites in the production and Michael’s tone throughout the record. While the record wasn’t released on the original pressing of the album, Al Capone was released on the reissue of the album’s 25th anniversary.

The video for Smooth Criminal made me fall more in love with the song because 1. Michael’s suit was SMOOTH AS HELL! The video gives a 1930s gangster vibe and is truly iconic from Michael performing the anti-gravity lean.

The song peaked at number seven on the Billboard Hot 100 & number two on the Billboard R&B charts respectively, and was certified 2x platinum by the RIAA. The song has been sampled by artists like Kendrick Lamar, Three 6 Mafia, Ashanti, Ice Cube, Naughty By Nature & Master P

Leave Me Alone

Written by Michael Jackson

Bad ends with the funk influenced record Leave Me Alone. Leave Me Alone is a response to the negative rumors that came out about Michael after the success of Thriller. There were tons of rumors about Jackson being very bizzare, being coined the name “wacko Jacko.”

Also, when he bought a pet chimpanzee named Bubbles, tabloids said he was becoming detached from reality, and many more stories like him sleeping in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber to slow down his body from aging, plastic surgery, to Michael offering to buy the bones of Joseph “Elephant Man” Merrick.

While the rumors were truly false, Michael was fed up with the rumors and was truly frustrated with the negativity. The song continues the theme of paranoia, that has become frequent with previous albums from Michael. Leave Me Alone was a hit for Michael overseas, peaking at number two on the UK charts.

Bad was truly a pop masterpiece and has since continued to be one of the most celebrated & important albums from the 80s. Out of Michael’s albums, Bad stands out for being bold, innovative and timeless. There will never be another Michael Jackson. -MW.

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