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Bad (Michael Jackson song)

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Single by Michael Jackson
from the album Bad
B-side "I Can't Help It!"
Released September 7, 1987 (1987-09-07)
Format CD single, 7" single, 12" single
Recorded January – July 1987
Length 8:22
Label Epic
Writer(s) Michael Jackson
Producer(s) Quincy Jones
Michael Jackson (co-producer)
Michael Jackson singles chronology
"I Just Can't Stop Loving You"
"The Way You Make Me Feel"
Bad track listing
"The Way You Make Me Feel"
HIStory Begins track listing
"She's Out of My Life"
"I Just Can't Stop Loving You"
Number Ones (international) track listing
"I Just Can't Stop Loving You"
"The Way You Make Me Feel"
Number Ones (American) track listing
"I Just Can't Stop Loving You"
"Smooth Criminal"
Music video
"Bad" on YouTube

"Bad" is a song by an American singer Michael Jackson. "Bad" was released by Epic Records in September 7, 1987, as the second single from Jackson's third major-label and seventh overall studio album of the same name. The song was written, composed, and co-produced by Jackson and produced by Quincy Jones. Jackson stated that the song was influenced by a real-life story he had read about.

"Bad" was generally well received by contemporary music critics, with some critics noting that "Bad" helped Jackson's image become edgier during the Bad-era. The song peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, and remained at the top position of the chart for two weeks, becoming Jackson's Bad album's second number one single, and Jackson's seventh number one entry on the chart. Internationally, the song was also commercially successful, charting within the top ten in eleven countries as well as charting within the top five in the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Norwegian, Switzerland and Swedish charts. The song peaked at number one on the Netherlands and European charts.

A music video for "Bad", directed by Martin Scorsese and co-starring one of the first appearances of yet-undiscovered Wesley Snipes, was released in late 1987. In the video, Jackson and a group of background dancers are shown doing dance routines throughout a subway station. The music video's choreographer stated that the plot and video of the background was strongly influenced by the "Cool" scene in West Side Story. The music video received one nomination at the Video Music Awards in 1988. "Bad" has been covered and parodied by multiple artists since its release as well as becoming a frequent song used during tributes to Jackson after his death in June 2009.

The song is featured in the 2010 animated film Megamind.

It is also featured in the first theatrical trailer for the upcoming 2016 animated film The Angry Birds Movie.

Background and inspiration[edit]

"Bad" is a song that was written (in 1986) and recorded by Michael Jackson in January 1987 for his seventh studio album of the same name and produced by Quincy Jones (with Jackson serving as co-producer). "Bad" was originally intended to be a duet between Jackson and musician Prince; although the plans were not fruitful.[1] In Jackson's 1988 autobiography Moonwalk, Jackson discussed the concept of "Bad", elaborating that,

"'Bad' is a song about the street. It's about this kid from a bad neighborhood who gets to go away to a private school. He comes back to the old neighborhood when he's on a break from school and the kids from the neighborhood start giving him trouble. He sings, 'I'm bad, you're bad, who's bad, who's the best?' He's saying when you're strong and good, then you're bad."[2]

In a 1988 interview with Ebony and Jet magazines (which was released on Hulu shortly after his death), Jackson said that he had gotten the idea for the song from a true story that he had read about in Time or Newsweek magazine.[3] Jackson stated that the story said that a student that went to school in upstate New York, who was "from the ghetto", had tried to make something of his life and planned to leave all of his friends behind when he returned from Thanksgiving break.[3] He added that the student's friends' jealousy resulted in them killing the student; Jackson stated that the student's death was not included in the music video.[3] The case was that of Edmund Perry[4][5]


A 25-second sample of Jackson's "Bad" song where the chorus is played. The song's lyrics pertain to boasting, which was viewed by some music critics as Jackson referring to his stardom.

Problems playing this file? See media help.

The song is written in the key of A Minor with a time signature in common time.[6] Jackson's vocal range spans from G3 to C6.[6] The track has a tempo of 114 beats per minute.[6] "Bad" was viewed as a rived "Hit the Road, Jack" progression.[7] Davitt Sigerson, a writer for Rolling Stone magazine, commented on the track's lyrical content while reviewing Bad, "When Jackson declares that 'the whole world has to answer right now,' he is not boasting but making a statement of fact regarding his extraordinary stardom. If anything, he is scorning the self-coronation of lesser funk royals and inviting his fickle public to spurn him if it dare."[7] Sigerson compared the track to material by James Brown, whose "It's a Man's Man's Man's World" is openly referenced by the four chromatic note brass introduction to the song.[7] Lyrically, "Bad" pertains to proving to people that you are tough boasting, with Jackson asking "who's bad?"[7] in a repeating lyric in the song's chorus.

Critical reception[edit]

"Bad" was generally well received by contemporary music critics. Some critics noted that the song helped Jackson's image become more edgy during the Bad-era. Davitt Sigerson, a writer for Rolling Stone magazine, commented that the track" needs no "defense" and he generally praised Jackson's vocal performance in the song.[7] Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic listed "Bad", along with two other songs from the album, as being top picks from the album's eleven tracks.[8] In separate review of the song, Erlewine commented that Jackson's vocals "sounded like [he was] the love child of James Brown and Mavis Staples" and added that "musically speaking, in this case, 'Bad' is very good".[9] He also noted that the track's "authority and boasting helped to humanize" Jackson and "changed his image", remarking that it was "fun hearing him talking trash and being his own bigger booster".[9] Jennifer Clay of Yahoo Music noted that while Jackson's new edgier image was a "little hard to swallow", the image worked musically on the album's songs "Bad", "Man in the Mirror", and "Dirty Diana".[10]

Chart performance[edit]

"Bad" charted within the top ten, at number eight, on the Billboard Hot 100 on October 10, 1987[11] and peaked at number one on October 24, 1987.[12] "Bad" stayed at the top position for two consecutive weeks.[13] "Bad" was Jackson's Bad album's second number one single on the Billboard Hot 100, and Jackson's seventh number one entry on the chart. The track also charted on the Billboard Hot R&B Singles and Billboard Hot Dance Club Play at number one.[14] "Bad" was commercially successful internationally, generally charting within the top ten, as well as reaching the top position, on music charts. "Bad" debuted at number five on the United Kingdom charts on September 26, 1987. The following week, the song charted at its peak position of number three, where it remained for two consecutive weeks. "Bad" remained within the chart's top ten positions for four weeks, and charted within the top 100 for a total of eleven weeks in 1987. "Bad" peaked at number five on Canadian music charts on November 7, 1987. "Bad" peaked at number four in Sweden on October 14, 1987. The song spent four weeks within the chart's top ten. On October 3, "Bad" debuted at number nine in France, and after six weeks of charting within the top ten, the song peaked at number four on November 14.[15] "Bad" debuted on New Zealand music charts at number four on October 18, and the following week moved to its peak position of number two. The song then stayed within the top ten for the next five weeks. The track charted within the top fifty positions for fifteen weeks in 1987 and 1988.

The song also charted at number two in Norway in the thirty-ninth week of 1987, and charted within the top ten positions for eight weeks in 1987.[15] The song was also very successful on the Australian music charts, peaking within the Top Five at number four.[15] "Bad" debuted on Austrian charts at number ten on November 1, 1987. The following week the song charted out of the top ten and the next week returned to the top ten at number nine, which was its peak position. The song debuted at number eighty-seven in Dutch on September 9, 1987. The following week, the song moved up to number eleven, which was seventy-three positions higher than its previous week. The song peaked at number one, and remained at the top position for two consecutive weeks. In 2006, Jackson's music re-entered charts following his music being re-issued for his Visionary album. The track entered Spanish charts for the first time on April 4, 2006, and debuted at the top position. "Bad" remained within the top twenty positions for nine consecutive weeks. The song debuted at its peak position at number five in Italy on April 6. After Jackson's death in June 2009, his music re-entered charts again worldwide. In July, the track peaked at number eleven in Italy, number twenty in Spain, number twenty-five in Sweden, number thirty-seven in Denmark[15] and number forty in the United Kingdom.

Music video[edit]

Jackson and background dancers in "Bad"'s music video. The music video was heavily influenced by the 1961 film West Side Story.

The full music video for "Bad" is an 18-minute short film written by novelist and screenwriter Richard Price and directed by Martin Scorsese. The video has many references to the 1961 film West Side Story, especially the "Cool" sequence.[16] Not only does it show a street gang dancing in an urban setting, but there are also some parts of the choreography that were influenced by it. The choreographer Gregg Burge confirmed the influence, although they intended to do a more contemporary version of it.[16] Assistant choreographer Jeffrey Daniel commented, "It's like a train coming across the screen [...] and that's the effect I was looking for and it worked".[16]

In the video, Jackson plays a teenager named Daryl, who has just completed a successful term at an expensive private school. He returns to the city by subway, arriving in a derelict neighborhood. Daryl arrives to find his house empty (his mother is played by Roberta Flack, albeit in voiceover), but is greeted by his old friends, led by Mini Max (an emerging Wesley Snipes) and spends an evening with them. At first relations are friendly, if slightly awkward, but the situation deteriorates once the rest of the gang realize how much Daryl has changed, and in particular how uncomfortable he has become with their tendencies towards petty crime. In an attempt to show his friends he is still "bad", Daryl takes the gang to a subway station (The Hoyt Schermerhorn Station in Brooklyn)[17] where he attempts to mug an elderly man but changes his mind at the last minute. Mini Max berates Daryl and tells him that he's no longer bad. After more abuse from Mini Max, the video jumps from black and white to color and Daryl, now dressed head to foot in black leather and joined by a crowd of dancing punks, sings "Bad" and dances his moves. His insistences that Max is headed for a fall are nearly Daryl's undoing, but eventually his friend accepts that, and, after a final handshake, heads off leaving Daryl. The scene shifts back to black and white as Daryl, alone and back in his tracksuit, watches them leave.

The music video to the song used an audio track different from the original album recording, using another instrumental organ solo in the middle of the song. This version has not been commercially released.

The video premiered on primetime on the CBS Television Network, on August 31, 1987, on the primetime special Michael Jackson: The Magic Returns.[18]

The music video was included on the video albums: Video Greatest Hits - HIStory (long version on DVD and short version in VHS), Number Ones (short version), Michael Jackson's Vision (long version) and the Target version DVD of Bad 25 (short version).

The music video received one nomination at the 1988 MTV Video Music Awards Ceremony.[19] The video, alongside Jackson's "The Way You Make Me Feel" video, was nominated for Best Choreography, but lost to Jackson's younger sister Janet's video "The Pleasure Principle".[19] After Jackson's death in June 2009, City Councilwoman Letitia James began trying to convince the agency to rename or co-name the station or to hang a plaque at the station in Jackson's honor, but her request was denied by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority of New York in September 2009.[17] James commented, "Having Michael Jackson visit and moonwalk at this station was a huge deal not only for Brooklyn, but all of New York in the '80s [...] And renaming this station in his honor would put it on the map and help ensure that people don't forget."[17] A source from the MTA commented that no subway stations in the MTA system are named or co-named after individuals, mostly because it could confuse riders.[17]

Live performances[edit]

"Bad" was performed during Jackson's Bad world tour concert series from 1987 to 1989, in both the first and second leg, as the final song in the first leg and sixteenth song in the second leg in the setlist. The song was also included on the first leg only of Jackson's Dangerous World Tour. A small snippet of the song was sung during his performance of They Don't Care About Us during his This Is It concerts which never occurred due to his death. It was rumored that Jackson had plans to perform the song during certain dates of the This Is It tour. A live version of the song is available on the DVD Live at Wembley July 16, 1988.

Cover versions[edit]

Track listings and formats[edit]

Official versions[edit]

  • Album version – 4:06
  • 7" single mix (new album version) – 4:06
  • Dance extended mix includes "false fade" – 8:23
  • Dance remix radio edit – 4:56
  • Dub version – 4:06
  • A cappella – 3:49
  • Afrojack Club Mix – 7:36
  • Afrojack remix featuring Pitbull DJ Buddha Edit – 4:31
  • "Remember the Time"/"Bad" (Immortal version) – 4:39



Chart (1987–2011) Peak
Australia (ARIA)[24] 4
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[25] 38
Canadian Adult Contemporary (RPM)[26] 1
Canadian Digital Singles Chart (Billboard)[14] 30
Canadian Top Singles (RPM)[27] 5
Denmark (Tracklisten)[28] 37
France (SNEP)[29] 4
Germany (Official German Charts)[30] 4
Hungary (MAHASZ)[31] 5
Ireland (IRMA)[32] 1
Italy (FIMI)[33] 1
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[34] 1
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[35] 27
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[36] 2
Norway (VG-lista)[37] 1
South Africa (EMA)[38] 1
Spain (AFYVE)[39] 1
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[40] 1
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[41] 3
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[42] 3
US Billboard Hot 100[14] 1
US Hot Dance Club Play (Billboard)[14] 1
US Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales (Billboard)[14] 1
US Hot Digital Songs (Billboard)[14] 23
US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles (Billboard)[14] 1

2012 reissue[edit]

"Bad (Afrojack Remix) (DJ Buddha Edit)"
Single by Michael Jackson featuring Pitbull
from the album Bad 25
Released August 14, 2012
Format Digital download, CD
Recorded 1987-2012
Length 4:29
Label Epic
Writer(s) Michael Jackson
Armando Pérez

Quincy Jones
Michael Jackson (co-producer)

Michael Jackson singles chronology
"Don't Be Messin' 'Round"
"Bad (Afrojack Remix) (DJ Buddha Edit)"
"I'm So Blue"
Pitbull singles chronology
"Feel Alive"
"Bad (Afrojack Remix) (DJ Buddha Edit)"
"Don't Stop the Party"
Bad 25 Disc 2 track listing
"Je Ne Veux Pas La Fin De Nous"
"Bad (Afrojack Remix) (DJ Buddha Edit)"
"Speed Demon (Nero Remix)"

On August 14, 2012, the remix was released as a digital single via iTunes[43] and[44] It is a new remix of the 1987 hit "Bad" worked on as a collaboration between Afrojack, DJ Buddha and Pitbull.[45]

Track listing[edit]

  • Digital Single[43]
  1. Bad (Afrojack Remix) [feat. Pitbull] [DJ Buddha Edit] - Single - 4:29
  • HMV Exclusive CD Single (HMV Bad 25 pre-order only bonus CD)[46]
  1. Bad [Remix By Afrojack Featuring Pitbull - The Derry Mix] - 3:54

Chart performance[edit]

As a digital single prior to the album release, the single appeared on several country's music charts. It debuted at Number 52 on Billboard Japan Hot 100 chart as the title "Bad 2012" on the week of September 15, 2012,[47] and peaked at Number 6 several weeks later. It also appeared on US Billboard Dance/Electronic Digital Songs Chart with Number 45 for one week on September 1, 2012.[48] On the week of September 29, 2012, it debuted on Hot Dance Club Songs chart at Number 42,[49] and peaked at Number 18.

Critical reception[edit]

This remix received overwhelmingly negative reviews from the music criticism. Randall Roberts from Los Angeles Times Pop Music Critic said, the song is "an insult" to Jackson memory, and the remix is "so ungracefully"[50] Evan Sawdey from PopMatters said, the version "with two guest verses from Pitbull, is just outright trash"[51] MisterCharlie from reviews this single extremely negative.[52] The single's review from The Guardian said it was "a clubbed-up remix featuring the world's worst rapper".[53]


Chart (2012) Peak
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[54] 45
Japan Hot 100 Singles[47] 6
US Billboard Hot Dance Club Play[49] 18


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  4. ^ Dyson, Michael Eric. The Michael Eric Dyson Reader. New York: Basic Civitas Books, 2004
  5. ^ Taraborrelli, J. Randy. Michael Jackson: The Magic, The Madness, The Whole Story, 1958-2009. New York: Hachette Book Group, 2009.
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    5. Bad - Michael Jackson [#1, 1987/88]
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External links[edit]