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"Dirty Diana"
Michael Jackson - Dirty Diana.png
Single by Michael Jackson
from the album Bad
B-side"Bad" (Extended Dance Mix)
ReleasedApril 18, 1988 (1988-04-18)
StudioWestlake Recording Studios (studio D), Los Angeles
  • 4:52 (original version)
  • 4:40 (single version)
  • 5:02 (video version)
Songwriter(s)Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson singles chronology
"Man in the Mirror"
"Dirty Diana"
"Another Part of Me"
Music video
"Dirty Diana" on YouTube
Audio sample
"Dirty Diana"

"Dirty Diana" is a song by American artist Michael Jackson. It is the ninth track on Jackson's seventh studio album, Bad. The song was released by Epic Records on April 18, 1988 as the fifth single from the album. It presents a harder rock sound similar to "Beat It" from Thriller (1982) and a guitar solo played by Steve Stevens. "Dirty Diana" was written and co-produced by Jackson, and produced by Quincy Jones. The song's lyrics pertain to groupies. "Dirty Diana" has a moderate tempo and is played in the key of G minor.

"Dirty Diana" received mixed reviews from contemporary music critics, but was a commercial success worldwide in 1988, charting at No. 1 on the United States Billboard Hot 100. The song also charted within the top ten in multiple countries, including the United Kingdom, France, Italy, and New Zealand. In 2009, after Jackson's death in June, the song re-entered charts, mainly due to digital download sales. A music video for "Dirty Diana" was filmed in front of a live audience and released in 1988.


"Dirty Diana" was written by Michael Jackson. It was produced by Quincy Jones and Michael Jackson. It appeared on Jackson's seventh studio album, Bad. The song was released by Epic Records on April 18, 1988 as the fifth single from Bad. After "Beat It", "Dirty Diana" was the second hard rock song of his solo career, with lyrics about a persistent groupie.[2] Jackson hired Billy Idol's guitarist Steve Stevens to back him on the track.[3] Initial reports at the time suggested the song was a poke at his close friend Diana Ross, however it was later denied.[4] In fact, Ross started using the song as an overture at her concerts shortly before appearing on stage. In an interview from the special edition of Bad, Jones later confirmed that the song's lyrics were about groupies. Jackson also confirmed the same during an interview with Barbara Walters, adding that it was not about Diana, Princess of Wales, though he was told personally by the Princess that it was her favorite among his songs.[5]


Musically, "Dirty Diana" is a pop rock[6] and hard rock song[2] similar to "Beat It",[7] with elements of heavy metal.[8][9] TriniTrent of The Lava Lizard, when talking about Michael and Janet Jackson's "Scream", evokes "Dirty Diana" along with Jackson's "pop/rock musical direction" he has previously experimented with.[6] John Tatlock of The Quietus regards the song as an attempt to recreate "the pop-rock alchemy of 'Beat It'."[7] In his Bad review, Los Angeles Times' Richard Cromelin describes "Dirty Diana" as a hard rock song, writing, "'Dirty Diana' is trying to be this year's 'Beat It' — a hard-rock song about a tenacious groupie that's sent into orbit by a Steve Stevens guitar solo."[2]

Jon Pareles, a writer for The New York Times, viewed "Dirty Diana" as a song about a "groupie who latches onto the narrator, mixes the sexual fears of 'Billie Jean' with the hard-rock lead guitar of 'Beat It'."[10] In his Bad review, Thom Duffy, music critic for the Orlando Sentinel, wrote that "Dirty Diana, a tale of a maliciously seductive fan, finds Jackson doing credible heavy-metal rock wailing," which, the critic said, was "accompanied by a solo from Steve Stevens, the guitarist from Billy Idol's band."[8] Jonathan Takiff of The Philadelphia Inquirer also noted elements of heavy metal in "Dirty Diana", writing, "Plus, to tap the rock crowd (in the style of the 'Thriller' crossover smash 'Beat It' with Eddie Van Halen), Michael cut a heavy metal-tinged 'Dirty Diana' featuring Billy Idol's guitar sizzler Stevie Stevens."[9] "Dirty Diana" is written in common time[11] and moves at a moderate tempo of 131 beats per minute.[12] Jackson's vocals are sung on a range of B3 to G5.[11] The instrumentation consists of guitar and piano and is played in the key of G minor.[11]


Critical response

"Dirty Diana" received mixed reviews by contemporary music critics. Stephen Thomas Erlewine felt that "Dirty Diana" and "Man in the Mirror" were "showcasing Jackson at his worst" on Bad.[13] Music critic Robert Christgau viewed "Dirty Diana" as "misogynistic as any piece of metal suck-my-cock."[14] Jon Pareles described "Dirty Diana" as 'reducing' Jackson to a "terrified whimper,"[10] while John Tatlock considered "Dirty Diana" as a "confused lumbering slog of a song," thinking that "Jackson was never convincing in this kind of role, a boy-child trying to write a song about the kind of woman he never meets in the kind of places he's certainly never been to."[7] Davitt Sigerson of Rolling Stone gave the song a more positive review; though calling it a "filler," she still commented that the song, along with "Speed Demon," is what makes Bad "richer, sexier, better than Thriller's forgettables."[15] Sigerson noted that "Dirty Diana" was a "substantial recording" because of its "insubstantial melody."[15] Jennifer Clay of Yahoo! Music commented that while Jackson's edgier image was a "little hard to swallow," the image, musically, worked on the songs "Bad", "Man in the Mirror", and "Dirty Diana", but was not "to the degree of Thriller."[16]

Chart performance

"Dirty Diana", similar to Bad's previous singles, charted within the top twenty and top ten worldwide. It peaked at No. 1 on the United States Billboard Hot 100 on July 2, 1988, after nine weeks on the chart.[17][18] Internationally, "Dirty Diana" charted within the top thirty positions on several music charts.[19] It charted within the top five in the Netherlands, Germany, and New Zealand, peaking at Nos. 2, 3 and 5, respectively.[19] It entered the United Kingdom charts on July 16, 1988 at No. 14 and the following week went to No. 4,[20] where it stayed for two weeks.

"Dirty Diana" peaked at No. 3 in Ireland,[21] No. 7 in Austria[22] and No. 9 in France.[23] It peaked at No. 30 in Australia.[24] Following Jackson's death in June 2009, his music experienced a surge in popularity.[25] In July 2009, "Dirty Diana" saw a strong chart surge, mainly due to digital download sales. The song charted at No. 18 on the French Digital Singles Chart on July 4, 2009.[26] On July 12, the song peaked at No. 13 on the Swiss Singles Chart.[27] "Dirty Diana" re-entered the United Kingdom charts on July 4, 2009 at No. 50 and the following week peaked at No. 26.[28]

Music video

Jackson in the music video for "Dirty Diana".
Jackson in the music video for "Dirty Diana".

The five-minute music video for the song was directed by Joe Pytka.[29] It won the "Number-One Video in the World" at the second World Music Awards held on April 14, 1989.[30] It is featured on the DVD albums Number Ones, Michael Jackson's Vision, and the Target version DVD of Bad 25.

The woman who appears in the video is model Lisa Dean, chosen over hundreds of girls who auditioned for the role.[31]

Live performance video

A second seven-minute long accompanying video of a live performance (which should not be confused with the actual music video) was filmed in early 1988 in front of a live audience during Jackson's show in Madison Square Garden (Steve Stevens playing guitar). The video starts with the screen saying "Pepsi Presents Michael Jackson Tour 1988" in front of a white background for forty seconds. After showing a black screen, Jackson can be seen from a distance performing in front of an audience with the only source of light being blue lights. During Jackson's performance he is dressed in a white button down shirt, black pants and has metal and leather belts on his pants while singing and dancing. In between Jackson's performance from a distance, there are clips of him performing up-close while singing into a microphone, as well as clips of his guitarist Jennifer Batten performing behind him. Jackson then begins dancing and singing to the woman before walking down a cat-walk and dancing near guitarist Steve Stevens. Jackson's performance is then shown from a distance again and the video ends with Jackson finishing his performance and the lights turning blue.

Live performances

"Dirty Diana" was performed during Jackson's Bad World Tour concert series from 1987 to 1989, but only in the second leg, as the 10th song in the setlist. According to Jackson in an interview with Barbara Walters, "Dirty Diana" was scheduled for a live 1988 performance at Wembley Stadium during the Bad World Tour; however, Jackson felt the song would be an insult to Diana, Princess of Wales, who was in attendance, so he had it removed.[5] After Diana informed him the song was actually one of her personal favorites, Jackson re-added the song to the set list.[5] This performance can be seen on the DVD Michael Jackson: Live at Wembley July 16, 1988. This Is It concert series choreographer, Kenny Ortega, stated in an interview that "Dirty Diana" was going to be performed by Jackson for the concerts from 2009 to 2010.[32] Ortega said that Jackson had planned to rehearse the song before he died. The set up for the song would include an expert pole dancer who would lure Jackson onto a giant steel bed on which she performed acrobatic feats.[32][33]

Track listing

Credits and personnel


Weekly charts

Year-end charts

Chart (1988) Rank
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[54] 9
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[55] 9
France (SNEP)[56] 52
Germany (Official German Charts)[57] 15
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[58] 33
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[59] 31
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[60] 6
US Billboard Hot 100[61] 61
US Cash Box[62] 18


Region Certification Certified units/Sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[63] Silver 200,000double-dagger
United States (RIAA)[64] Platinum 1,000,000double-dagger

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

See also


  1. ^ Lecocq, Richard; Allard, François (2018). "Bad". Michael Jackson All the Songs: The Story Behind Every Track. London, England: Cassell. ISBN 9781788400572.
  2. ^ a b c Cromelin, Richard (August 31, 1987). "Michael Jackson has a good thing in 'Bad'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 9, 2009.
  3. ^ a b Bad: Special Edition (Media notes). Epic Records. 2001.
  4. ^ Levine, Nick (July 7, 2009). "Michael Jackson's Top 20 Singles: Part Two". Digital Spy. Retrieved January 31, 2014.
  5. ^ a b c Jones 2005, p. 226.
  6. ^ a b "Dynamic Duos: 10 Greatest Pop Music Duets". Archived from the original on March 3, 2016.. The Lava Lizard.
  7. ^ a b c Tatlock, John (October 14, 2008). "Michael Jackson". The Quietus. Retrieved June 30, 2013.
  8. ^ a b Duffy, Thom (September 1, 1987). "Jackson Re-emerges, Still Thrills With 'Bad'". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved May 15, 2016.
  9. ^ a b Takiff, Jonathan (September 1, 1987). "So, Was It Worth The Wait? Some Hits, But The "Thriller" Is Gone For Most Tracks". Archived from the original on December 21, 2015.. The Philadelphia Inquirer.
  10. ^ a b Pareles, Jon (August 31, 1987). "Pop: Michael Jackson's 'Bad,' Follow-Up To A Blockbuster". The New York Times. Retrieved February 7, 2010.
  11. ^ a b c "Dirty Diana By Michael Jackson – Digital Sheet Music". Sony/ATV Music Publishing. Retrieved February 23, 2010.
  12. ^ "BPM for 'dirty diana' by michael jackson". Songbpm. Retrieved December 8, 2016.
  13. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Michael Jackson – Bad". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved October 9, 2009.
  14. ^ Christgau, Robert. "Consumer Guide Album – Michael Jackson: Bad". Retrieved February 19, 2010.
  15. ^ a b Sigerson, Davitt (2001). "Album Reviews: Michael Jackson – Bad". Archived from the original on February 5, 2007.. Rolling Stone.
  16. ^ "Album Reviews: Michael Jackson – Bad". Archived from the original on August 6, 2009.. Yahoo! Music. January 1, 1987.
  17. ^ "July 2, 1988 – The Hot 100". Billboard. Retrieved February 19, 2010.
  18. ^ a b c d e "Bad – Awards". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved June 20, 2013.
  19. ^ a b c d e f g " – Michael Jackson – Dirty Diana" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved June 20, 2013.
  20. ^ a b "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved June 20, 2013.
  21. ^ a b c "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Dirty Diana". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved June 20, 2013.
  22. ^ a b " – Michael Jackson – Dirty Diana" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved June 20, 2013.
  23. ^ a b " – Michael Jackson – Dirty Diana" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved June 20, 2013.
  24. ^ a b " – Michael Jackson – Dirty Diana". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Retrieved June 20, 2013.
  25. ^ Christman, Ed; Bruno, Antony (July 2, 2009). "Michael Jackson Music Sales Surge Could Last For Months". Billboard. Retrieved February 19, 2010.
  26. ^ a b " – Français" (in French). Les classement de telechargement single. Retrieved February 19, 2009.
  27. ^ a b c " – Michael Jackson – Dirty Diana". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved June 20, 2013.
  28. ^ a b "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved June 20, 2013.
  29. ^ Halstead & Cadman 2007, p. 85.
  30. ^ Halstead & Cadman 2003, p. 76.
  31. ^ Sims, Tammy (July 3, 1988). "The Woman Above the Legs". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 20, 2018.
  32. ^ a b Jones, Chris (October 19, 2009). "Director of Michael Jackson's 'This is It' says singer was ready to triumph in London". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved February 17, 2010.
  33. ^ Michael Jackson's This Is It (DVD). Sony Music. 2010.
  34. ^ "Michael Jackson – Dirty Diana (CD)". Discogs. Retrieved January 23, 2013.
  35. ^ "Top RPM Adult Contemporary: Issue 8649." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved June 20, 2013.
  36. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 8732." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved June 20, 2013.
  37. ^ " – UK, Eurochart, Billboard & Cashbox No.1 Hits". Archived from the original on June 14, 2006..
  38. ^ " – Michael Jackson – Dirty Diana". GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved June 20, 2013.
  39. ^ "Indice per Interprete: J" (in Italian). Hit Parade Italia. Creative Commons. Retrieved June 20, 2013.
  40. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Michael Jackson - Dirty Diana" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40. Retrieved June 20, 2013.
  41. ^ a b c " – Michael Jackson – Dirty Diana" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved June 20, 2013.
  42. ^ " – Michael Jackson – Dirty Diana". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved June 20, 2013.
  43. ^ "CASH BOX Top 100 Singles – Week ending JULY 2, 1988". Archived from the original on October 7, 2012.. Cash Box magazine.
  44. ^ "Forum – ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts – CHART POSITIONS PRE 1989". Hung Medien. Archived from the original on October 20, 2013.
  45. ^ " – Michael Jackson – Dirty Diana" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved June 20, 2013.
  46. ^ " – Michael Jackson – Dirty Diana". Top Digital Download. Retrieved June 20, 2013.
  47. ^ " – Michael Jackson – Dirty Diana" Canciones Top 50. Retrieved June 20, 2013.
  48. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved June 20, 2013.
  49. ^ " – Michael Jackson – Dirty Diana" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved June 20, 2013.
  50. ^ "50 Back Catalogue Singles – 04/07/2009". Ultratop. Hung Medien. Retrieved January 31, 2014.
  51. ^ " – Michael Jackson – Dirty Diana". Tracklisten. Retrieved June 20, 2013.
  52. ^ " – Michael Jackson – Dirty Diana". VG-lista. Retrieved June 20, 2013.
  53. ^ " – Michael Jackson – Dirty Diana". Singles Top 100. Retrieved June 20, 2013.
  54. ^ "Jahreshitparade 1988" (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved January 31, 2014.
  55. ^ "Jaaroverzichten 1988" (in Dutch). Ultratop. Hung Medien. Retrieved January 31, 2014.
  56. ^ "TOP – 1988" (in French). Retrieved January 31, 2014.
  57. ^ "Jahrescharts – 1988". (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Archived from the original on May 9, 2015.
  58. ^ "Top 100-Jaaroverzicht van 1988" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40. Retrieved May 15, 2016.
  59. ^ "Jaaroverzichten – Single 1988" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Hung Medien. Retrieved January 31, 2014.
  60. ^ "Schweizer Jahreshitparade 1988" (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved January 31, 2014.
  61. ^ "Top 100 Hits for 1988". The Longbored Surfer. Retrieved January 31, 2014.
  62. ^ "The CASH BOX Year-End Charts: 1988". Archived from the original on October 7, 2012.. Cash Box magazine.
  63. ^ "British single  certifications – Michael Jackson – Dirty Diana". British Phonographic Industry. Select singles in the Format field. Select Silver in the Certification field. Type Dirty Diana in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  64. ^ "American single  certifications – Michael Jackson – Dirty Diana". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH. 


  • Halstead, Craig; Cadman, Chris (2003). Michael Jackson the Solo Years. Authors OnLine. ISBN 978-0-7552-0091-7.
  • Halstead, Craig; Cadman, Chris (2007). Michael Jackson: For the Record. Authors OnLine. ISBN 978-0-7552-0267-6.
  • Jones, Jel D. Lewis (2005). Michael Jackson, The King of Pop: The Big Picture : The Music! The Man! The Legend! The Interviews : An Anthology. Amber Books Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9749779-0-4.
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