Michael Jackson followed up the biggest album of all time with the tougher, leaner, electronic funk of this superslick pop sensation. He began working on demos after the Victory Tour with the Jacksons in 1984 and continued to develop material over the next two and a half years, eventually coming up with over sixty songs and an ambitious idea for a triple album. Quincy Jones convinced him to edit it down to a single album. Jackson wrote nine of the eleven songs that eventually went on the album.
'Bad' was the third (after 'Off the Wall' and 'Thriller') and last of Jackson's albums that Quincy produced. This time around, Jackson got credit as co-producer. The sessions took place at Westlake Recording Studios in West Hollywood, where a stage was built so that Jackson could dance while recording with an extensive cast of musical characters: Nathan East on bass; Jimmy Smith on Hammond B-3 organ; Greg Phillinganes on synthesizer; Larry Williams on Midi saxophone; John Robinson, Miko Brando, Ollie E. Brown, N'dugu Chancler, Bill Bottrell, Bruce Swedien on drums; Douglas Getschal on drum programming; David Williams, Bill Bottrell, Eric Gale, Danny Hull, Steve Stevens, Dann Huff, Michael Landau, Paul Jackson, Jr. on guitar; Gary Grant and Jerry Hey on trumpet; Paulinho Da Costa and Ollie E. Brown on percussion; Stefan Stefanovic on keyboards; Kim Hutchcroft and Larry Williams on saxophone; Christopher Currell on Synclavier keyboards, digital guitar, and rubboard; John Barnes, Michael Boddicker, Greg Phillinganes, Christopher Currell, Rhett Lawrence, David Paich on synthesizer; and John Barnes on piano; with rhythm arrangement by Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones, and Christopher Currell; sounds engineered by Ken Caillat and Tom Jones; horn arrangement by Jerry Hey; synthesizer programming by Larry Williams, Eric Persing, and Steve Porcaro; and background vocals by Siedah Garrett, the Winans, and the Andrae Crouch Choir.
When it came out, Jackson confessed: "I feel rejuvinated kind of because after working on it so long – it’s so much work – alot of people they’re used to umm just seeing the outcome of work, they never see the side of the work that you do to produce the outcome and I feel rejuvinated and happy. It’s a jubilation really, that’s what it is. It’s like a celebration 'we’re done!'...I don’t even count the hours or anything. Every song is different. Sometimes it happens quickly, sometimes it happens slowly. No one can quite say what the creative process is because I have nothing to do with it almost because it’s created in space, it’s God’s work not mine."
Nine singles were released from the album, seven of which charted at number one. In the US, he became the first artist to have five number one singles from one album. 'Bad' went to number thirteen in Mexico, three in Brazil and Czechoslovakia; two in Australia; and number one in Austria, Canada, the Netherlands, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK, and the US. It garnished six Grammy nominations, winning two for Best Engineered Recording and Best Music Video. It has sold over forty-five million copies worldwide.
The single for "Bad" was released one week after the album.
Jackson said: "It is quite different than anything I have ever recorded before or ever written. It’s a bold statement to say but I mean it in all good will you know don’t take it too seriously. Yeah I’m saying, it’s like a way of saying “you’re cool, you’re alright, you’re tough” I’m not saying I’m criminally bad, of course that’s how people would take it. It’s a bold statement to make." About the video he said: "It wasn’t really my idea it’s actually part of a true story where this kid...this kid who went to school upstate, in the country whatever, who is from the ghetto and he tried to make something of his life and he would leave his old friends behind and when he came back ummm on Spring break or Thanksgiving break his friends became so envious, jealous of him they killed him but in the film I don’t die of course so it’s a true story that we had taken from Time or Newsweek Magazine. Me as a black kid, it’s a sad story...Something like that is very sad because it’s all negative, it’s wrong. I think that’s life, to want to grow and become more, like you plant a seed and it grows into something beautiful and it never dies really. I think people should be that way." It went to thirty-seven in Denmark; nine in Austria; five in Canada; four in Australia, France, and Sweden; three in Switzerland and the UK; two in New Zealand and Norway; and number one in Europe, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and three US charts (Hot 100, black singles, and dance club play).
"The Way You Make Me Feel" went to twenty-nine in France; twenty-four in Sweden; twenty in Denmark; fifteen in Austria; thirteen in Australia; eight in Switzerland; seven in Italy; six in the Netherlands; three in the UK; two in New Zealand; and number one in Spain and on three US charts (Hot 100, R&B/hip-hop, and dance club).
"Man in the Mirror" was not written by Jackson; but he identified with the message: "It’s my philosophy too that if you want to make the world a better place take a look at yourself and make a change...People don’t look at themselves honestly. They don’t look at themselves and point the finger at themselves, it’s always the other guy’s fault or somebody else’s but you should change yourself, look at yourself, make better of yourself...I’m never totally satisfied. I always wish the world could be a better place…Hopefully that’s what I do with my music – bring happiness to people and to bring joy and bring peace in their lives...I pray a lot, yeah. I see a beautiful sunset and say “God, that’s beautiful, thank you” or a baby’s smile or butterfles wings or anything like that you know?" It went to thirty-nine in Australia; twenty-three in Germany; twenty-one in the UK; thirteen in the Netherlands; ten in Austria; four in New Zealand; three in Canada and Ireland; and number one in the US. After his death in 2009, the song re-entered the charts and did even better in some countries, entering the top ten in Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, the UK, and the US.
"I Just Can't Stop Loving You" features Siedah Garrett. Jackson revealed: "I was in a bed when I was doing that...I was laying in the bed with a cover and everything when I did that whole rap thing in the dark...I say 'a lot of people misunderstand me, because they don’t know me.' I guess thats true people believe alot of crazy stories they read, some is true, some is not." It was Jackson's first single since 'We Are the World'. Released more than a month before the album, it generated excitement all over the world, going to number twelve in France; ten in Australia; five in Austria; four in Sweden; three in Japan and New Zealand; two in Canada, Germany, and Switzerland; and number one in Belgium, Denmark, Europe, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, the UK, and three US charts (Hot 100, black singles, and adult contemporary).
Jackson called "Dirty Diana" "a life story of a groupie. I hate to say the word groupie but that’s what it is and it’s something that I’ve experienced and alot of people who grew up on the road experienced. Like me, I don’t remember not performing". The single went to thirty in Australia; twenty-nine in Sweden; seventeen in Norway; nine in France; seven in Austria; six in Italy; five in New Zealand; four in the UK; three in the Netherlands and Switzerland; two in Denmark; and number one in Spain and the US.
"Smooth Criminal" went to number twenty-nine in Australia and New Zealand; nine in Germany; seven on the US pop chart; six in Canada and Italy; five in Switzerland; four in France; three in the UK; two on the Eurochart and the US R&B/hip-hop chart; and number one in Belgium, Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands, and Spain.
"Leave Me Alone" was a bonus track that was released as a single outside of the US, going to number thirty-seven in Australia; nineteen in Sweden; seventeen in France; fifteen in Austria; ten in Switzerland; eight in Italy; six in Norway; five in the Netherlands; two in the UK; and number one in Spain.
0:00 - Bad (Michael Jackson)
4:07 - The Way You Make Me Feel (Michael Jackson)
9:05 - Speed Demon (Michael Jackson)
13:07 - Liberian Girl (Michael Jackson)
17:00 - Just Good Friends (Terry Britten, Graham Lyle)
21:06 - Another Part Of Me (Michael Jackson)
25:02 - Man In The Mirror (Siedah Garrett, Glen Ballard)
30:21 - I Just Can't Stop Loving You (Michael Jackson)
34:34 - Dirty Diana (Michael Jackson)
39:16 - Smooth Criminal (Michael Jackson)
43:33 - Leave Me Alone (Michael Jackson)