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A man in his late twenties stands and looks forward. His hair is curly and black. He is wearing a black jacket that has several buckles and pants. The background is white and beside him are the words "Michael Jackson" in black capital letter, and over them, "Bad" in red.
Studio album by
ReleasedAugust 31, 1987
RecordedJanuary 1985 – July 1987[1]
StudioWestlake, Los Angeles, California[2]
ProducerQuincy Jones
Michael Jackson chronology
The Original Soul of Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson studio album chronology
Singles from Bad
  1. "I Just Can't Stop Loving You"
    Released: July 20, 1987
  2. "Bad"
    Released: September 7, 1987
  3. "The Way You Make Me Feel"
    Released: November 9, 1987
  4. "Man in the Mirror"
    Released: February 6, 1988[3]
  5. "Dirty Diana"
    Released: April 18, 1988
  6. "Another Part of Me"
    Released: July 11, 1988
  7. "Smooth Criminal"
    Released: November 14, 1988
  8. "Leave Me Alone"
    Released: February 13, 1989
  9. "Liberian Girl"
    Released: July 4, 1989

Bad is the seventh studio album by American singer Michael Jackson. It was released on August 31, 1987 by Epic Records, nearly five years after Jackson's previous album, Thriller. Bad was written and recorded in nearly a year, and was the final collaboration between Jackson and producer Quincy Jones. Jackson co-produced it and composed all but two tracks. The album features appearances from Siedah Garrett and Stevie Wonder. Incorporating pop, rock, funk, R&B, dance, soul and hard rock, Jackson experimented with modern technology, including digital synthesizers, drum machines and digital guitars, resulting in a sleeker and more aggressive sound on Bad. The lyrical themes include media bias, paranoia, racial profiling, romance, self-improvement and world peace.

Described as "the most anticipated album in history", Bad debuted at number one on the Billboard Top Pop Albums chart and also reached number one in a then record-breaking 24 other countries. It sold over 2 million copies in its first week in the US, and 500,000 in its first five days in the UK. Nine songs were released as official singles, and one as a promotional single. Seven charted in the top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100, including a record-breaking five number ones: "I Just Can't Stop Loving You", "Bad", "The Way You Make Me Feel", "Man in the Mirror" and "Dirty Diana". The album remained in the top five on the Billboard 200 for 38 weeks, setting a record for the longest run in the top five by an album from a male solo artist. By 1989, it had become the second-best-selling album of all time at the time, behind Thriller, having sold 22 million copies worldwide. It was also the best-selling album worldwide of 1988 and 1989.

Bad was promoted with the film, Moonwalker (1988), which included the music videos of songs from the album, including "Speed Demon", "Leave Me Alone", "Man in the Mirror" and "Smooth Criminal". The film became the best-selling home video of all time. The Bad tour, which was Jackson's first solo world tour, grossed $125 million (equivalent to $254 million in 2019) making it the highest-grossing solo concert tour of the 1980s. Jackson performed 132 concerts in 15 countries to an audience of 4.4 million including a record seven sold-out shows at Wembley Stadium. The third concert on July 16, 1988, was attended by Diana, Princess of Wales and Prince Charles. It was also his last tour where he performed in the United States.

Bad is one of the best-selling albums of all time, with 35 million copies sold worldwide. In 2017, it was certified Diamond by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). The album has been credited for redefining the sound of pop music and named by several publications as one of the greatest albums of all time. It was nominated for six Grammy Awards, winning Best Engineered Recording – Non Classical and Best Music Video (for "Leave Me Alone"). "Bad" won an American Music Award for Favorite Soul/R&B Song at the 1988 American Music Awards. At the 1989 Billboard Music Awards, Jackson received the first Spotlight Award in recognition for being the first artist to have five number one singles from one album on the Billboard Hot 100, and Bad was awarded Album of the Year. Following the appraisal of the music videos for the singles from the album, along with his previous music videos throughout the 1980s, Jackson was awarded the MTV Video Vanguard Artist of the Decade Award.


A Jackson jacket during the Bad era[4]
A Jackson jacket during the Bad era[4]

Jackson's sixth solo album, Thriller, was released in 1982, and by 1984 it was certified 20x Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for sales of 20 million copies in the United States alone.[5] Through his record-breaking commercial success and his status as the biggest recording artist in the music industry, Jackson was widely considered to be the most powerful African American in the history of the entertainment industry,[6] and only the popularity of Elvis Presley and the Beatles during the 1950s and 1960s, respectively, were considered to be comparable to his.[7] Additionally, Jackson retained full ownership of his master recordings and acquired publishing rights for the ATV catalog, which most notably included songs by the Beatles.[6]

The four years following Thriller were marred by Jackson's rifts with his family and the Jehovah's Witnesses, broken friendships with celebrities, and the pressure of celebrity. While he was the most publicized figure in popular culture, he became significantly more reclusive in 1985 compared to previous years, which was a strategic move to increase anticipation and mystique surrounding him and his follow up to Thriller. Gerri Hirshey of Rolling Stone wrote that "The year 1985 has been a black hole for Jackson watchers, who witnessed the most spectacular disappearing act since Halley's Comet headed for the far side of the Solar System in 1910."[6]

Due to the huge commercial success of Thriller and the expectations of its follow up, Jackson aimed to sell 100 million copies with his next album.[6] According to some associates, Jackson was nervous about completing his next album: "He's reminded that everyone is waiting for this record and he goes into a shell. He is frightened."[2] Jackson wanted to go in a different direction artistically to his previous albums, with his desire for his follow up to Thriller to have a harder edge and fiercer sound.[8] According to guitarist Steve Stevens, who featured on Bad, Jackson "kept asking [Stevens] about rock bands" and queried "Do you [Stevens] know Mötley Crüe?".[8] After Jackson had written a handful of the tracks on Off the Wall and Thriller, producer Quincy Jones encouraged him to write more for his follow up, Bad. Jones recalled: "All the turmoil [in Jackson's life] was starting to mount up, so I said I thought it was time for him to do a very honest album."[9]

During 1986, reports spread of Jackson's more "chiselled face", including a fairer skin complexion, a perkier nose, and a cleft in his chin.[8] Reports also included his alleged eccentric behavior. In 1987, Spin wrote that "in record time, [Jackson] has gone from being one of the most admired of celebrities to one of the most absurd. And the pressure to restore himself in the public eye is paralyzing him."[2] Jackson new look for the Bad era saw him often wearing black outfits that were decorated with zippers and buckles—similar to his outfit on the Bad album cover.[10] Stevens recalled that when he met Jackson, "I was wearing patent leather, he [Jackson] was wearing penny loafers. I turned him [Jackson] onto the guy who did my clothes."[8] Jackson also grew out his jheri curl over shoulder-length and began wearing eye liner.[8]


Bad was Jackson's final collaboration with co-producer Quincy Jones, who had produced Off the Wall and Thriller.[11] Jackson began recording demos for the anticipated follow-up to Thriller in November 1983 while recording Victory with the Jacksons.[1] Work was disrupted in July 1984, when Jackson embarked on the Victory Tour with his brothers.[1] Work resumed after the tour ended and after recording We Are the World, and recording officially began in January 1985.[1] In early 1985, work was disrupted again so Jackson could prepare for Disney's 4D film experience Captain EO, which featured an early pre-album extended cut of "Another Part of Me."[1] Work in the studio resumed in August of that year and continued until November 1986, when Jackson filmed the "Bad" music video.[1] Recording resumed in January 1987 and the album was completed in July.[1]

Jackson spent much of 1985 to 1987 out of the public eye, writing and recording at his home studio in Encino, Los Angeles, with a group of musicians and engineers including Bill Bottrell known as the "B team".[6] The demos were brought to Westlake Studio to be finished by the "A team", with Jones and engineer Bruce Swedien.[6] Jones said the team would stay up for days on end when they "were on a roll": "They were carrying second engineers out on stretchers. I was smoking 180 cigarettes a day."[9]

Jackson was eager to find innovative sounds and was interested in new musical technology.[6] The team made extensive use of new digital synthesizers, including FM synthesis and the Fairlight CMI and Synclavier PSMT synthesizers. They sometimes combined synthesizers to create new sounds.[6] Jackson hired Synclavier expert and sound designer Denny Jaeger to create sounds used on "Dirty Diana" and "Smooth Criminal".[6] Drum programming also resulted in a sleeker and a more aggressive, sinister sound on Bad,[6] while digital guitars were also used.[12] The album also makes use of a range of instruments, including guitars, organs, drums, bass, trumpets, percussion, keyboards, saxophones and pianos.[12]

Jackson wrote a reported 60 songs, and recorded 30, wanting to use them all on a 3-disc set.[4] Jones suggested that the album be cut down to a ten-track single LP.[4] When the album was released on CD, an 11th track, "Leave Me Alone", was included.[11] It was later released as a single. Later reissues of the LP also include this song. Jackson is credited for writing all but three songs on the album.[4] Other writing credits included Terry Britten and Graham Lyle for "Just Good Friends" and Siedah Garrett and Glen Ballard for "Man in the Mirror".[11]

Composition and lyrics

Bad is musically a heavier and more "aggressive" record than Thriller, with Jackson moving away from the heavy-groove sound and high-pitched vocals which featured on both Off the Wall and Thriller.[6] Bad primarily incorporates pop, rock, funk and R&B,[13][14] but also explores other genres such as soul[15] and hard rock.[16] Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic noted that Bad moved Jackson "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."[16]

The album's song lyrics relate to romance and paranoia, the latter being a recurring theme in Jackson's albums.[16] "Bad" was originally intended as a duet between Jackson and Prince.[4] Jackson also planned duets with Diana Ross, Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin and Barbra Streisand.[4] The song was viewed as a revived "Hit the Road Jack" progression with lyrics that pertain to boasting.[17] "Dirty Diana" was viewed by AllMusic's Stephen Thomas Erlewine as misogynistic[16] and its lyrics, describing a sexual predator, do not aim for the "darkness" of "Billie Jean", instead sounding equally intrigued by and apprehensive of a sexual challenge, while having the opportunity to accept or resist it.[17] "Leave Me Alone" was described as being a "paranoid anthem".[16] "Man in the Mirror" was seen as Jackson going "a step further" and offering "a straightforward homily of personal commitment", which can be seen in the lyrics, "I'm starting with the man in the mirror / I'm asking him to change his ways / And no message could have been any clearer / If you wanna make the world a better place / Take a look at yourself and then make a change."[17]

"Liberian Girl"'s lyrics were viewed as "glistening" with "gratitude" for the "existence of a loved one".[17] "Smooth Criminal"'s recalled "the popcorn-chomping manner" of "Thriller".[17] The track was thought of as an example of "Jackson's free-form language" that keeps people "aware that we are on the edge of several realities: the film, the dream it inspires, the waking world it illuminates".[17] The music in "I Just Can't Stop Loving You", a duet with Siedah Garrett, consisted mainly of finger snaps and timpani.[17] "Just Good Friends", a duet with Stevie Wonder, was viewed by critics as sounding good at the beginning of the song, ending with a "chin-bobbing cheerfulness".[17] However, Jones said later: "I made a mistake with ['Just Good Friends']. That didn't work."[9]

"The Way You Make Me Feel" consists of blues harmonies.[18] The lyrics of "Another Part of Me" deal with being united, as "we".[18] Critics Richard Cromelin (from the Los Angeles Times)[19] and Richard Harrington (from The Washington Post) associated the song's lyrics with the Harmonic Convergence phenomenon that occurred around the time of the album's release, with Harrington highlighting the verse: "The planets are lining up / We're bringing brighter days / They're all in line / Waiting for you / Can't you see? / You're just another part of me".[20]


Bad was described as "the most anticipated album in history".[21] Regarding the album, Michael Goldberg and David Handelman wrote for Rolling Stone that the release of the album was a "major event" and that "If Bad sells "only" 10 million copies, that will be more than virtually any other record but could be viewed as a failure for Michael Jackson."[10]

Bad was released on August 31, 1987.[18][22] It debuted at number one on the Billboard 200[23] and remained there for six consecutive weeks.[24] It remained in the top five on the Billboard 200 for 38 weeks, setting a record for the longest run in the top five by an album from a male solo artist.[25] It was certified Diamond for shipping ten million copies in the US alone.[26] Though Jackson furthered his stance as a global pop superstar, in the US, Bad failed to match the sales of Thriller, causing some in the media to label the album a "disappointment".[4][27]

In the UK, Bad debuted at number one on the UK Albums Chart, selling 500,000 copies in its first five days.[28] Bad peaked at number one in 25 countries in total[29] including Austria,[30] Canada,[31] Japan,[32] New Zealand,[33] Norway,[34] Sweden,[35] Switzerland[36] and the UK.[37] It also charted at No. 13 in Mexico[38] and at No. 22 in Portugal.[39] Bad has received various certifications worldwide. In the UK, the album is certified 13 times platinum with sales of 3.9 million, making it Jackson's second best-selling album there.[28] Bad was certified seven times platinum for the shipment of over 700,000 copies in Canada by the Canadian Recording Industry Association.[40] In Europe, the 2001 reissue was certified platinum by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) for the sales of one million units.[41] The album was also certified platinum by the IFPI for the shipment of over 20,000 copies in Hong Kong.[42]

Bad sold 7 million copies worldwide in its first week.[43] After a year, it had increased to 18 million copies.[44] By 1989, it had become the world's second-best-selling album, behind Thriller, having sold 22 million copies worldwide.[45] It was also the best-selling album worldwide of 1988 and 1989.[46] Globally, Bad is Jackson's second best-selling album behind Thriller, with sales of 35 million copies.[47][48]


Fans in Berlin lining up for the Bad tour concert on June 19, 1988
Fans in Berlin lining up for the Bad tour concert on June 19, 1988

The marketing strategy for Bad was modeled on that for Thriller.[49] Similarly to the first Thriller single, "The Girl Is Mine", the first Bad single, "I Just Can't Stop Loving You", was a ballad duet, followed by two "more obvious modern pop knockouts" backed by music videos.[49]

A commemorative special on Jackson's life, The Magic Returns, aired on CBS during prime time on the day of the release of Bad. At the end of the documentary, the channel debuted the short film for "Bad", directed by Martin Scorsese and featuring Wesley Snipes.[18] The marketing strategy, mastered by Frank DiLeo among others, also included Jackson producing another mini-movie around the time of the Bad world tour. That film, Moonwalker (1988), included performances of songs from Bad, including "Speed Demon", "Leave Me Alone", "Man in the Mirror" and "Smooth Criminal", the latter two released as sole videos at the end of the film.[50][51] The film also included the music video for "Come Together", with the song featuring seven years later on HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I. It became the best-selling home video of all time.[45]

Sponsored by Pepsi, the Bad tour began in Japan, marking Jackson's first performances there since 1972 with the Jackson 5.[52][53] Attendance figures for the first 14 dates in Japan totalled a record-breaking 450,000.[54] Jackson performed seven sold out shows at Wembley Stadium, beating the previous record held by Madonna, Bruce Springsteen and Genesis. The third concert on July 16, 1988 was attended by Diana, Princess of Wales and Prince Charles.[55] Jackson was entered into the Guinness World Records three times from the tour alone. The Bad tour was a major financial success, grossing $125 million.[56][57] He performed 132 concerts in 15 countries to an audience of 4.4 million.[58]


A male with black hair singing into a microphone. The male is wearing a blue jacket and a white shirt with black pants and a white belt.
Jackson performing "The Way You Make Me Feel" during the Bad tour in 1988

"I Just Can't Stop Loving You", a duet with Siedah Garrett, was the lead single. It peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and also reached number one in Belgium, Canada, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, the UK and Zimbabwe.

"Bad" reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100, and remained there for two weeks, becoming the album's second number-one single, and Jackson's eighth number one entry on the chart. It also peaked at number one on the Hot R&B Singles, Hot Dance Club Play and Rhythmic chart. Internationally, the song was also commercially successful, charting at the top of the charts in seven other countries including Ireland, Italy, Norway, Spain, and the Netherlands. The song was noted for introducing Jackson's edgy image.[59]

"The Way You Make Me Feel" was the third consecutive Billboard Hot 100 number one hit and also hit number one in Ireland and Spain. Jackson performed the song at the 1988 Grammy Awards.[60] The last performance of the song was at the Michael Jackson: 30th Anniversary Special in at Madison Square Garden on September 7 and 10, 2001, where he performed the song with Britney Spears.

"Man in the Mirror" charted at number one on Billboard's Hot 100. It hit number one in Canada and Italy too. Jackson also performed the song at the 1988 Grammy Awards.[60] It was nominated for Record of the Year at the next year's Grammy Awards.

"Dirty Diana" was the record-breaking fifth Billboard Hot 100 number-one single from Bad.[61] Before the start of the Wembley Stadium show during the Bad tour in 1988, Diana, Princess of Wales, who was in attendance, informed Jackson that it was one of her personal favorite songs[62]

"Another Part of Me" achieved less success, reaching number 11 on the Billboard Hot 100, but topped the R&B Singles Chart.[63][64] Like Jackson's earlier songs in his career such as "Can You Feel It" and "We Are the World", the lyrics of the song emphasize global unity, love and outreach.

"Smooth Criminal" became the sixth top 10 single on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at number seven.[63] The song reached number one in Belgium, Iceland, the Netherlands and Spain.[65] Though it was not one of the Billboard Hot 100 number-one singles, in retrospective reviews it has been regarded as one of the best songs on Bad and one of Jackson's signature songs.[66]

Released outside the United States and Canada, "Leave Me Alone" topped the Irish charts[67] and reached the top ten in five other countries.[68] "Leave Me Alone" was Jackson's response to negative and exaggerated rumors about Jackson that frequently appeared in the tabloids post-1985 after the success of Thriller.[69] The music video was the recipient of Best Music Video at the 1990 Grammy Awards.

The album's final single, "Liberian Girl", did not chart on the Billboard Hot 100, but reached the top 20 in various countries and reached number one in Ireland.[70] The song has been sampled and covered by various artists including Chico Freeman, 2Pac and MC Lyte.[71]

Bad became the first album to have five consecutive singles peak at number one on the Billboard Hot 100. In 2011, the record was tied by American singer Katy Perry's Teenage Dream.[72] In the UK, seven of the Bad singles reached the UK top ten which was a record for any studio album for over 20 years.[73]


In 1988, "Weird Al" Yankovic recorded "Fat", a parody of "Bad", which won a Grammy Award for Best Concept Music Video.[74]

Critical reception

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Album of the Year84/100[75]
Review scores
AllMusic4.5/5 stars[16]
Blender4/5 stars[76]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music3/5 stars[77]
Entertainment WeeklyB+[78]
Los Angeles Times3/4 stars[19]
MusicHound R&B3.5/5[79]
The Philadelphia Inquirer4/4 stars[80]
Rolling Stone4/5 stars[17]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide3.5/5 stars[81]
The Village VoiceB+[82]

Davitt Sigerson from Rolling Stone wrote that "even without a milestone recording like 'Billie Jean', Bad is still a better record than Thriller." He believed the filler, such as "Speed Demon", "Dirty Diana" and "Liberian Girl", made Bad "richer, sexier and better than Thriller's forgettables."[17] In a contemporary review for The New York Times, Jon Pareles called Bad "a well-made, catchy dance record by an enigmatic pop star". He said while nothing on the record compared to "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'", the music's "concocted synthesizer-driven arrangements" were "clear" and carried "a solid kick".[18] In USA Today, Edna Gundersen called it Jackson's "most polished effort to date," that is "calculated but not sterile."[83]

Robert Christgau was also critical in The Village Voice. He said its "studio mastery", along with Jackson's "rhythmic and vocal power", had made for "the strongest and most consistent black pop album in years", but lamented its lack of "genius" in the vein of "Beat It" or "Billie Jean" and panned the underlying themes in Jackson's lyrics. "He's against burglary, speeding, and sex ('Dirty Diana' is as misogynistic as any piece of metal suck-my-cock), in favor of harmonic convergence and changing the world by changing the man in the mirror. His ideal African comes from Liberia. And he claims moonwalking makes him a righteous brother. Like shit."

The Daily Telegraph commented that while Bad was another worldwide commercial success, the album "inevitably failed to match the success of Thriller despite Jackson's massive and grueling world tour",[84] though Rolling Stone commented that "the best way to view" Bad was not as "the sequel to Thriller.[17] Richard Harrington of The Washington Post felt that while the album could not live up to post-Thriller expectations, it would be "considerably fairer to compare" Bad with Off the Wall. His overall opinion on Bad was that it was "a very good record" that is "immaculately produced and with some scintillating vocal performances from Jackson".[85] Richard Cromelin of the Los Angeles Times called Bad "a fair-to-strong array of soul and rock blends", commenting that the record was "not bad" and was more "reminiscent of Off the Wall's uniform strength than Thriller's peaks and valleys". Cromelin felt that it would be "disappointing" if this album's "creative level" is where Jackson wants to stay.[15]

In 1988, Bad was nominated for Grammy Awards for Album of the Year, Best Pop Vocal Performance – Male, Best R&B Vocal Performance – Male, and won for Best Engineered Recording – Non Classical.[86] The following year, it was nominated for Record of the Year for "Man in the Mirror",[87] and in 1990 won for Best Music Video – Short Form (for "Leave Me Alone").[88] "Bad" won an American Music Award for Favorite Soul/R&B Song at the 1988 American Music Awards.[89] At the 1988 Soul Train Music Awards, the album won Best R&B/Soul Album – Male and "Bad" won Best R&B/Soul Single – Male. The following year, "Man in the Mirror" also won Best R&B/Soul Single – Male. At the 1989 Brit Awards, "Smooth Criminal" won British Video of the Year. At the 1989 Billboard Music Awards, Bad won Album of the Year.[90] Following the appraisal of the music videos of the singles from Bad, along with his previous music videos throughout the 1980s, Jackson was awarded the MTV Video Vanguard Artist of the Decade Award.[91]

Legacy and influence


Jackson and President George H. W. Bush at the White House on April 5, 1990, where he was honored as the  "Artist of the Decade".
Jackson and President George H. W. Bush at the White House on April 5, 1990, where he was honored as the "Artist of the Decade".

Bad has been credited as defining the sound of "late-80s' pop"[92] and redefining the sound of pop music.[93] It also further set the standard for innovation in music videos following the success of the music videos for "Bad", "Smooth Criminal", "The Way You Make Me Feel" and "Leave Me Alone".[6] A writer for the Miami Herald reflected back on the anticipation for Bad, describing the album's release as being the "most hotly anticipated album in history".[21] In a retrospective review for BBC Music, Mike Diver regarded Bad as a landmark factor of 1980s pop culture: "A multi-million-unit-shifter, Bad was (and remains) as important to 1980s pop culture as the rise of the Walkman, the Back to the Future movies, and the shooting of JR. Like 1982’s Thriller, it’s an album that appeared to easily find a home within the record collection of rockers and poppers, punks and poets alike." Diver also praised the album for being the "best of the best [of its time]" and an "essential pop masterpiece".[94] Writing for Billboard, Gail Mitchell wrote that Bad is "one of the most important pop albums of the late '80s, and one of the most successful albums in Billboard chart history".[95]

In 2009, VH1 said of the album:

Understandably, the expectations for the album were ridiculously high, and grew even higher after Jackson planned duets with the likes of Prince (on the title track) and Whitney Houston (and Aretha Franklin and Barbra Streisand). None of those collaborations ended up happening, but they only increased the hype for the album. Bad was a deeply personal project for Jackson – he wrote nine of the 11 songs – one that saw him gain further independence and debut a harder-edged look and sound.[4]

In 2009, Jim Farber of the Daily News wrote that Bad "streamlined the quirks" of Jackson's two previous albums to "create his most smooth work of pop to date."[96] Writing for The Root, Matthew Allen claimed that Bad was the start of Jackson's three-year "prime" in his "vocals, songwriting, producing, performing and video output". Allen also regarded the album as "[doubling] down on the edge" of Thriller in both subject matter and instrumental arrangement.[97] Writing for Albumism, Chris Lacy considered Bad possibly being superior to Off the Wall and Thriller: "Comparisons with Off the Wall and Thriller are unimportant, except for this one: Bad is a pure pop masterpiece that stands parallel with—and, at times, eclipses—its classic predecessors." Lacy also stated that Bad set a "new gold standard for pop music and entertainment".[98] Chaz Lipp of The Morton Report described Bad as a "classic collection of sterling pop songs with enough hits that it almost plays like a "best of" collection" and also regarded the album as Jackson's peak in songwriting. Lipp further praised Bad and Jackson for their "unforgettable hooks" and "jaw-dropping" vocals respectively.[99]

Joseph Vogel was also enthusiastic about the record. "On Bad, Jackson's music is largely about creating moods, visceral emotions, and fantastical scenarios....[with] each song work[ing] as a dream capsule, inviting the listener into a vivid new sound, story, space." He called Bad "a compelling, phantasmagorical album, which a handful of critics recognized from the beginning."[100] According to Jayson Rodriguez of MTV, "following the twin cannons that were Off the Wall and Thriller wouldn't be an easy task for most, but Jackson's follow-up, 1987's Bad, was formidable by all accounts."[27] Rodriguez also felt that Bad was "wrongfully dismissed by critics because it wasn't the sales blockbuster that Thriller was" and that during the Bad era, Jackson's vocal hiccups and stammered "shamone" would become staples in his music that were "heightening and highlighting the emotion of his lyrics."[27] Erika Ramirez of Billboard highlighted "Another Part of Me" and "Man in the Mirror" for showcasing Jackson as a "caring humanitarian" and emphasizing world unity. According to Edward M. Litwin of The Harvard Crimson, Bad is a "far more exciting album than [Thriller] because it’s not only a cohesive album, but it also represents Jackson's greatest and most experimental foray into rock". Litwin also found that the album is Jackson's "boldest, riskiest and most experimental work".[101]

A Bad era wax figure of Jackson at Madame Tussauds
A Bad era wax figure of Jackson at Madame Tussauds

21st century appeal

25 years after its release, film director Spike Lee claimed that Bad sounds the 'freshest' today compared to other Billboard 200 number-one albums which were released in 1987, such as U2's The Joshua Tree, Bruce Springsteen's Tunnel of Love and Whitney Houston's Whitney: "Go to the charts ... and see what were the top albums 25 years ago, play those albums now and then play Bad, and then see which one still sounds fresh and doesn't sound dated."[102] Following the 30th anniversary of the album's release, Kendall Fisher of E! Online regarded it as having an impact on contemporary artists; "Essentially, [Bad] epitomized the massive influence [Jackson] had on many of today's biggest artists."[103]

Kanye West claimed that Jackson's outfit in the "Bad" video is "far more influential" than Jackson's outfit in the "Thriller" video. West also said "I almost dress like that [Jackson's outfit in the "Bad" video] today."[104] Justin Bieber also cited "The Way You Make Me Feel" video as the "basis" for his "Baby" music video.[105] Ludacris, who was featured on Bieber's "Baby", said that the video is "like a 2010 version" of "The Way You Make Me Feel".[106] After the video was released in 2010, MTV regarded the video as "the new version" of "The Way You Make Me Feel" and also noted that the choreography "uses a few of Jackson's less-suggestive moves."[107]


In 2003, Bad was ranked number 202 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time,[108] and 203 in a 2012 revised list.[109] In NME's The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list, Bad was ranked number 204.[110] It was also included in the book titled 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[111] In 2009, VH1 listed Bad at number 43 on their list of 100 Greatest Albums of All Time of the MTV Generation.[112] In 2012, Slant Magazine ranked the album at number 48 on its list of The 100 Best Albums of the 1980s.[113] Billboard ranked Bad at number 138 on its list of the Greatest of All Time Billboard 200 Albums.[114] It was ranked number 30 in Billboard's list of the Greatest of All Time R&B/Hip-Hop Albums, out of 100 albums.[115] On Billboard's list of All 92 Diamond-Certified Albums Ranked From Worst to Best: Critic's Take, it was ranked number 41.[116]


Organization Country Accolade Year Source
Grammy Awards United States Best Engineered Recording – Non-Classical for Bruce Swedien (1988) and Best Music Video for Leave Me Alone (1990) 1988/90 [86][88]
American Music Awards United States Best soul/R&B song for Bad 1988 [89]
Billboard Music Awards United States Album of the Year and Spotlight Award 1989 [90]
Quintessence Editions United Kingdom 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die 2003 [111]
VH1 United States 100 Greatest Albums of All Time of the MTV Generation (Ranked No. 43) 2009 [112]
Rolling Stone United States 500 Greatest Albums of All Time (Ranked No. 203) 2012 [108][109]
NME United Kingdom The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time (Ranked No. 204) 2013 [110]
Billboard United States Greatest of All Time Billboard 200 Albums (Ranked No. 138) 2015 [114]

Bad 25

It was announced on May 3, 2012, that the Estate of Michael Jackson and Epic Records would be releasing a 25th anniversary album of Bad. The album was named Bad 25 and was released on September 18, 2012.[117] Since the release of Bad 25, there has been a discontinuation of the 2001 special edition.

Track listing

All tracks written by Michael Jackson, except where noted; all tracks produced by Quincy Jones and co-produced by Jackson.

2."The Way You Make Me Feel"4:59
3."Speed Demon"4:03
4."Liberian Girl"3:55
5."Just Good Friends" (with Stevie Wonder; writers: Terry Britten, Graham Lyle)4:09
6."Another Part of Me"3:55
7."Man in the Mirror" (writers: Siedah Garrett, Glen Ballard)5:21
8."I Just Can't Stop Loving You" (with Siedah Garrett)4:27
9."Dirty Diana"4:42
10."Smooth Criminal"4:20
11."Leave Me Alone"4:41
Total length:48:00
2001 special edition bonus tracks
12."Quincy Jones Interview #1"4:04
14."Quincy Jones Interview #2"2:54
15."Todo Mi Amor Eres Tú" (with Garrett; writers: Jackson, Rubén Blades)4:05
16."Quincy Jones Interview #3"2:31
17."Spoken Intro to Fly Away"0:09
18."Fly Away"3:27

Re-issues of Bad feature a number of changes when compared to the original 1987 release:

  • "Bad" – The original mix was replaced with the 7" single mix. The most notable difference is the lack of horns in all the choruses except for the last two. Horns are also missing from the second and third pre-choruses. The rhythm guitar during the choruses is also turned up along with the hi-hats.
  • "The Way You Make Me Feel" – The full-length remix used for the single with louder vocals and ad libs added to the end replaced the original album mix.
  • "I Just Can't Stop Loving You" omits Michael Jackson's spoken intro.
  • "Dirty Diana" is replaced with the single edit of the song.
  • "Smooth Criminal" went through two changes on the album. It was remixed to make the kick drum heavier and the bass synth fatter. The quick-sequenced synclavier behind the bass has been rendered mono as well. The first version of this mix left the breathing intact, but was later removed after some time.
  • "Leave Me Alone" was not included on the original vinyl nor cassette releases but was included on the CD release and now is included in all releases.


Personnel as listed in the album's liner notes are:[11]



Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[141] 6× Platinum 420,000^
Austria (IFPI Austria)[142] 4× Platinum 200,000*
Canada (Music Canada)[143] 7× Platinum 700,000^
Denmark (IFPI Denmark)[145] Platinum 100,000[144]
Finland (Musiikkituottajat)[146] Gold 51,287[146]
France (SNEP)[147] Diamond 1,000,000*
Germany (BVMI)[148] 4× Platinum 2,000,000^
Hong Kong (IFPI Hong Kong)[149] Platinum 20,000*
India 200,000[150]
Israel[151] Gold 20,000
Italy (FIMI)[153] Diamond 1,000,000[152]
Japan (RIAJ)[155] Diamond 1,000,000[154]
Latvia (LaMPA)[156] 14× Platinum 126,000*
Mexico (AMPROFON)[157] Platinum 350,000^
Netherlands (NVPI)[159] Platinum 500,000[158]
New Zealand (RMNZ)[160] 9× Platinum 135,000^
Norway (IFPI Norway)[161] Platinum 100,000*
Portugal (AFP)[161] Gold 20,000^
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[162] 3× Platinum 300,000^
Sweden (GLF)[163] 2× Platinum 200,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[161] 2× Platinum 100,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[165] 13× Platinum 4,140,000[164]
United States (RIAA)[166] Diamond 10,000,000^
Europe (IFPI)[167]
For sales in 2009
1× Platinum 1,000,000*

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

See also


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