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Smooth Criminal

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"Smooth Criminal"
Smooth Criminal.jpg
Single by Michael Jackson
from the album Bad
B-side"Smooth Criminal" (instrumental)
ReleasedOctober 24, 1988 (1988-10-24)[1]
RecordedNovember 1986 - April 1987[2]
StudioWestlake Recording Studios (studio D), Los Angeles
Songwriter(s)Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson singles chronology
"Another Part of Me"
"Smooth Criminal"
"Leave Me Alone"
Audio sample

"Smooth Criminal" is a song by American recording artist Michael Jackson, released on his seventh studio album Bad (1987). It was written and composed by Jackson and produced by Jackson and Quincy Jones. Its music video was first broadcast in early October 1988, followed by a single release on October 21, the seventh from the album.

"Smooth Criminal" is one of Jackson's signature songs, and has appeared on numerous greatest hits albums. It was performed on all his solo tours. It features a fast beat with lyrics about a woman who has been attacked in her apartment by a "smooth criminal".

"Smooth Criminal" peaked at number seven on the US Billboard Hot 100.[3] The song reached number one in Belgium, Iceland, the Netherlands and Spain. It was rereleased in 2006 as a single as a part of Jackson's Visionary: The Video Singles boxset. In 2001, the American rock band Alien Ant Farm released a cover of "Smooth Criminal", topping the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart.

YouTube Encyclopedic

  • 1/5
    70 339 234
    32 147 379
    1 473 319
    4 754 491
    30 367 312
  • Michael Jackson - Smooth Criminal Lyrics
  • Michael Jackson - Smooth Criminal - Live Munich 1997- HD
  • ◤Nightcore◢ ↬ Smooth Criminal [Switching Vocals]
  • Michael Jackson - Smooth Criminal (Official Video)
  • 2CELLOS - Smooth Criminal [OFFICIAL VIDEO]




"Smooth Criminal" is in the key of A minor.[4] Jackson's vocal spans from G3 to E5.[4] It has a moderate tempo of 118 beats per minute.[4] The lyrics describe a narrator who finds a bloodstained carpet and an unconscious body.[5] The chorus refrain, "Annie, are you OK?", was inspired by Resusci Anne, a dummy used in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training courses. CPR trainees learn to say "Annie, are you OK?" while practicing resuscitation on the dummy.[6]

Jackson wrote an early version of "Smooth Criminal", in 1985, titled "Al Capone", later released on the 2012 reissue Bad 25.

Critical response

Jason Elias of AllMusic called the song one of Jackson's best: "Despite the content 'Smooth Criminal' is a gorgeous and exhilarating record."[7] Rolling Stone's Davitt Sigerson wrote: "Smooth Criminal" may be the result of retiring too soon after a Brian de Palma picture."[8]

Music video

Jackson originally wanted to make the music video in the western genre, but decided after watching The Godfather with director Colin Chilvers to change it to a 1930s gangster style.[9] Film was shot between mid-February and April 1987.[10] The video premiered on MTV on October 13, 1988.

Jeffrey Daniel of the soul music group Shalamar co-choreographed the "Smooth Criminal" video with Jackson and Vincent Paterson, who was a back-up dancer in "Beat It" and "Thriller". It was directed by special effects coordinator Colin Chilvers. The dance sequence of the video in the 1930s style lounge (and Michael's white suit and fedora) pays tribute to the Fred Astaire musical comedy film The Band Wagon.

The video won Best Music Video at the 1989 Brit Awards and the Critic's Choice awarded Jackson the "Best Video" award and the People's Choice Awards for "Favorite Music Video" for that same year.

The style of clothing as well as mannerisms Jackson portrayed were reused in the numerous adaptations of the video game Michael Jackson's Moonwalker. The song itself serves as the background music for the "Club 30s" stage, the nightclub seen in the music video, that appears in the game.[11]

The video is the centerpiece of the 1988 film Moonwalker.[citation needed]

Anti-gravity lean

Jackson performs an anti-gravity lean in the "Smooth Criminal" music video.
Jackson performs an anti-gravity lean in the "Smooth Criminal" music video.

In the music video, Michael Jackson and the dancers immediately around him perform a seemingly impossible forward lean; this illusion was created using strings and wires in the music video.[12][13] To accomplish this maneuver in live shows, a hitching mechanism which Jackson co-patented was built into the floor of the stage and the performers' shoes, thereby allowing performers to lean without needing to keep their centers of mass directly over their feet.[14] The system consists of pegs that rise from the stage at the appropriate moment and special shoes with ankle supports and cutouts in the heels which can slide over the pegs and be temporarily attached to the stage.[15] In the patent, it is stated that the illusion in the music video was achieved by means of harnesses and cables which had to be connected to and disconnected from the floor by stagehands.[15]


  • Written, composed, clap, solo and background vocals by Michael Jackson
  • Produced by Quincy Jones
  • Co-produced by Michael Jackson, Bill Bottrell
  • John Robinson: Drums
  • Bruce Swedien: Recording Engineer
  • David Williams: Guitar, Bass guitar
  • Kim Hutchcroft, Larry Williams: Saxophones
  • Gary Grant, Jerry Hey: Trumpets
  • Kevin Maloney: Muted Steinway piano
  • Christopher Currell: Synclavier
    • Certain synclavier effects by Denny Jaeger and Michael Rubini
  • John Barnes, Michael Boddicker: Synthesizers
  • Chief of police announcement by Bruce Swedien
  • Michael Jackson's heartbeat recording by Dr. Eric Chevlen; digitally processed in the Synclavier
  • Rhythm arrangement by Michael Jackson and John Barnes
  • Vocal arrangement by Michael Jackson
  • Horn arrangement by Jerry Hey
  • Video directed by Colin Chilvers

Chart performance


Region Certification Certified units/Sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[37] Platinum 614,000[38]
United States (RIAA)[39] 2× Platinum 2,000,000double-dagger

^shipments figures based on certification alone
double-daggersales+streaming figures based on certification alone

Track listing

Alien Ant Farm version

"Smooth Criminal"
Alien ant farm smooth criminal.png
Single by Alien Ant Farm
from the album Anthology
ReleasedJuly 24, 2001 (2001-07-24)
FormatCD single
Songwriter(s)Michael Jackson
Producer(s)Jay Baumgardner
Alien Ant Farm singles chronology
"Smooth Criminal"
"Movies (re-release)"

In 2001, Alien Ant Farm released a cover version of "Smooth Criminal" as their debut single from their album Anthology. According to the band members, they would play a few riffs of the Jackson song while warming up before gigs and audience members would request them to play the entire song. This positive feedback encouraged them to record their own rendition of "Smooth Criminal" and include it on Anthology. It became a number one hit on Billboard's Modern Rock Tracks chart and was also a number one in Australia. The music video was directed by Marc Klasfeld, and features multiple references to Michael Jackson music videos, including the "Smooth Criminal" video itself. The song was featured in the 2001 film American Pie 2 and the TV spot for Horrible Bosses 2. This version was featured in several video games including Karaoke Revolution, Guitar Hero On Tour: Decades and as downloadable content for the Rock Band series.

The album Greatest Hits (1999) includes a hidden track named "Slick Thief", which is an early version of "Smooth Criminal".


Weekly charts

Chart (2001) Peak
Australia (ARIA)[43] 1
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[44] 6
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[45] 3
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Wallonia)[46] 4
Denmark (Tracklisten)[47] 3
Finland (Suomen virallinen lista)[48] 2
France (SNEP)[49] 27
Germany (Official German Charts)[50] 5
Ireland (IRMA)[22] 2
Italy (FIMI)[51] 11
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[52] 4
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[53] 4
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[54] 4
Norway (VG-lista)[55] 7
Scotland (Official Charts Company)[56] 3
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[57] 5
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[58] 4
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[59] 3
UK Rock and Metal (Official Charts Company)[60] 1
US Billboard Hot 100[61] 23
US Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks (Billboard)[61] 18
US Modern Rock Tracks(Billboard)[61] 1
US Top 40 Mainstream(Billboard)[61] 12
US Top 40 Tracks(Billboard)[61] 24

Year-end charts

Chart (2001) Position
Australia (ARIA)[62] 8
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[63] 61
Belgium (Ultratop Flanders)[64] 24
Belgium (Ultratop Wallonia)[65] 55
Germany (Official German Charts)[66] 43
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[67] 42
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[68] 48
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[69] 39
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[70] 32
Chart (2002) Position
Australia (ARIA)[71] 60

Decade-end charts

Chart (2000–2009) Position
Australia (ARIA)[72] 48


Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Australia (ARIA)[73] 2× Platinum 140,000^
Germany (BVMI)[74] Gold 250,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[75] Gold 400,000double-dagger

^shipments figures based on certification alone
double-daggersales+streaming figures based on certification alone

Glee version

In January 2012, Naya Rivera (as her character Santana Lopez) and Grant Gustin (as Sebastian Smythe) performed "Smooth Criminal" as a duet in the season three episode "Michael" of the American musical television show Glee, backed by musical duo 2Cellos. The song was filmed in a similar environment as the 2Cellos music video, in a room surrounded by empty chairs as the two musicians play. This cover debuted and peaked at number 26 at Billboard Hot 100, number 10 at Billboard Digital Songs, and number 28 at Billboard Canadian Hot 100 chart at the week of February 18, 2012.[76]


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External links

This page was last edited on 2 December 2018, at 15:48
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