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Speed Demon (song)

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"Speed Demon"
Promotional single by Michael Jackson
from the album Bad
B-side"Speed Demon" (single edit)[1]
ReleasedSeptember 4, 1989 (1989-09-04) (France only)[1]
StudioWestlake Recording Studios (studio D), Los Angeles[1]
GenreFunk rock
Songwriter(s)Michael Jackson
Music video
"Speed Demon" on YouTube

"Speed Demon" is a song by American singer and recording artist Michael Jackson from his seventh studio album, Bad. It was written, composed and co-produced by Jackson, and produced by Quincy Jones. "Speed Demon" is a funk rock song whose lyrics pertain to driving fast. The song was released on September 4, 1989, as a promotional single[1] for both the album and the 1988 film Moonwalker. The song received mixed reviews from contemporary critics.


"Speed Demon" was written and co-produced by Michael Jackson, and produced by Quincy Jones. It appears on Jackson's album, Bad. Reportedly the song was originally planned to be released as an official single, but it was instead released as a promotional single.[2] A 7" single was produced to promote the single release of "Speed Demon", as the song had become popular because of its use in the Moonwalker movie (as with "Leave Me Alone"), but the single release of "Speed Demon" was subsequently cancelled.[2] The song's lyrics are about driving fast.[3] According to Jones, Jackson wrote the song after he received a traffic ticket, which caused him to arrive late to the recording studio. Jones told him to write about how he felt, which he did, thereby turning it into a song. Although "Speed Demon" was part of Jackson's Bad album, Jackson did not perform the song during his Bad World Tour, nor any of his other tours. The song was remixed by dubstep group Nero for the 25th anniversary of Bad.

Critical reception[edit]

"Speed Demon" received mixed reviews from contemporary critics. Davitt Sigerson of Rolling Stone stated that the "filler" content in Bad—including songs such as "Speed Demon", "Dirty Diana" and "Liberian Girl"—made Bad "richer, sexier, and better than Thriller's forgettables".[4] Sigerson described "Speed Demon" as being "the car song"..."a fun little power tale in which Jackson's superego gives his id a ticket".[4] On the other hand, Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic commented that the "near-fatal dead spot[s] on the record" of "Speed Demon" and "Another Part of Me" represented "a sequence that's utterly faceless, lacking memorable hooks and melodies".[5]

Richard Cromelin of the Los Angeles Times gave Bad a good review. He remarked that the song "Speed Demon" would "zero" audiophiles on the "race car intro-dimensional recording".[6] Eric Snider of the St. Petersburg Times described "Speed Demon" as "churning along relentlessly".[7] Jay Cocks of Time noted that Jackson did great "vocal stunts" on Bad's tracks; such as "Speed Demon" and "Dirty Diana" and described the two songs as "nimble and fanciful as any of his dance steps".[8] In his Bad 25 review, BBC Music's Mike Diver wrote that "Speed Demon" was "fun funk-rock that'd sit happily on a Prince album of the period, compositionally if not lyrically."[9]

Music video[edit]

Jackson filmed a promotional video for the song in March 1988 at Warner Bros. Studios, Burbank.[1] It is seen first as a segment in the anthology film Moonwalker (1988).[10][11] Directed by Will Vinton,[12] the video was produced by Vinton, Jerry Kramer, Jackson and Frank DiLeo.[13]

As the video begins, Jackson tries to evade overzealous fans and interviewers (including the Noid from Domino's Pizza commercials), disguising himself as a rabbit named Spike. However, as his alter ego, he goads the fans into chasing him. During the chase, he morphs into other celebrities, including Sylvester Stallone, Tina Turner and Pee-wee Herman. After finally losing the mob, he removes the costume, which comes to life and challenges him to a dance-off. As the two finish dancing, a police officer (portrayed by Clancy Brown) approaches and indicates a "No Dancing" sign. Jackson tries to explain the situation, but Spike has vanished. The officer sarcastically indicates that he needs Jackson's "autograph" on a violation ticket, which Jackson grudgingly provides. The officer departs and, as Jackson prepares to do the same, a rocky crag in the distance morphs into Spike's head; Jackson and the rock formation smile at each other.

In his review of Moonwalker, Dennis Hunt of The Los Angeles Times commented that the video (along with those for "Bad" and "Leave Me Alone") was "slick, well-crafted and expensive-looking." He nevertheless felt that the segments were collectively "still just music videos", further stating that they were "not even strung together in any particularly imaginative fashion".[11] In 2010, the long version of the music video was released in the box set Michael Jackson's Vision and again in 2012 in the Target exclusive version DVD of Bad 25, along with eight other music videos, from the Bad era.[11]

Credits and personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from the liner notes of Bad.[14]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Lecocq, Richard; Allard, François (2018). "Bad". Michael Jackson All the Songs: The Story Behind Every Track. London, England: Cassell. pp. 456–58. ISBN 9781788400572.
  2. ^ a b "Michael Jackson – Speed Demon". Discogs. Retrieved January 25, 2010.
  3. ^ Pareles, Jon (September 3, 1987). "Critic's Notebook; How Good Is Jackson's 'Bad'?". The New York Times. Retrieved January 25, 2010.
  4. ^ a b Sigerson, Davitt (October 22, 1987). "Michael Jackson: Bad". Rolling Stone. Retrieved January 25, 2010.
  5. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Michael Jackson – Bad". AllMusic. Retrieved January 25, 2010.
  6. ^ Cromelin, Richard (August 31, 1987). "Michael Jackson has a good thing in 'Bad'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 25, 2010.
  7. ^ Snider, Eric (September 4, 1987). "A 'Bad' growl with a tender musical bite". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved January 25, 2010.
  8. ^ Cocks, Jay (September 4, 1987). "Music: The Badder They Come". Time. Archived from the original on June 4, 2011.
  9. ^ Diver, Mike (2012). "Michael Jackson Bad 25 Review". BBC Music. Retrieved March 23, 2014.
  10. ^ "Review: 'Moonwalker'". Variety. December 31, 1987. Retrieved January 25, 2010.
  11. ^ a b c Hunt, Dennis (January 10, 1989). "VIDEO REVIEW : 'Moonwalker': A Stroll Through a Super Ego". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 25, 2010.
  12. ^ Beckett, Jamie (August 13, 1989). "Michael Jackson will debut as a raisin". Star-Banner. Retrieved January 26, 2010.
  13. ^ "Speed Demon". Pp.vk.me. Retrieved June 26, 2016.
  14. ^ Bad: Special Edition (booklet). Epic Records. 2001.