More mature, rough and aggressive. In one word: bad. The Michael Jackson with a menacing gaze and a leather jacket immortalized on the cover of “Bad” he is a thousand light years away from the white and dapper young man of the times of “Thriller”. On the other hand, it was necessary to make a drastic and shocking change to complete the not easy task of following up an epochal album that, to date, has sold some seventy million copies worldwide.
“Bad”, which also broke several commercial records, is not even comparable to its unattainable predecessor. However, it remains an excellent and in many ways revolutionary work; the worthy conclusion of the long and successful collaboration with a producer of the caliber of Quincy Jones.
Written, arranged and recorded in the company of an army of formidable authors and musicians, the eleven tracks contained in “Bad” represent the creative peak of the Michael Jackson of the golden age. An artist who, forced to grow up too quickly and swallowed up by the inhuman machine of success, does not in any way hide his nature as a character that is too over the top.
In this record, in fact, all the excesses of the American performer are on display; it almost seems like listening to a musical translation of Jacksonian oddities, set in a pop context so rich and full of elements that it gives you a headache. Considerations to be understood in an absolutely positive sense because, despite the understandable exaggerations of a work born to be colossal, “Bad” remains and will always remain a bottomless pit of powerful and innovative ideas.
Especially as regards the technological side, with the use of an immeasurable quantity of digital instruments and latest generation synthesizers capable of making even songs extremely exciting, even in very slightly different forms, probably would have been much less engaging.
This is the case of “Speed Demon”, with its irresistible dense and “sobbing” bass line, and “Just Good Friends”, a duet with Stevie Wonder little loved by fans and critics but actually very incisive; an ultra-glossy soul track that enjoys a full and rounded sound, capable of bringing to mind Written Politti of the masterpiece “Cupid & Psyche 85”.
For better or for worse, the best-known songs on the album, or the nine single extracts (a huge amount), perfectly symbolize a fertile and unfortunately unrepeatable era of pop music, in which professionalism, creativity and courage still counted for something and everything could be questioned. Because they are precisely the contrasts and sound contradictions – also the result of the generational clash between Jackson and Quincy Jones – to make an old and worn album like “Bad” so exciting.
Between sweet but incredibly suggestive ballads (“I Just Can’t Stop Loving You”, “Liberian Girl”, “Man In The Mirror”) and danceable chunks built on solid funk bases (“Another Part Of Me”, “Leave Me Alone “And” Smooth Criminal “, also well known in the cover proposed by Alien Ant Farm at the beginning of the millennium), we remember with particular pleasure the hard rock with the glitter of “Dirty Diana” (a song on the theme of groupies, not without reason accused of misogyny), the fast-paced shuffle rhythm of “The Way You Make Me Feel ”And the raw, bastard groove of the title track.
The latter, made legendary by the video clip directed by Martin Scorsese and the overweight parody produced by Weird Al Yankovic (“Fat”), has some of the dirtiest lines ever played by Michael Jackson (see the famous Your butt is mine which blew up the chances of a historic duet with Prince, strangely scandalized by the small vulgarity). A fine example of malice on the part of the King of Pop, published only a few years before being touched by the real monstrosities that today cloud his memory.
Publication date: August 31, 1987
Manufacturers: Quincy Jones, Michael Jackson
2. The Way You Make Me Feel
3. Speed Demon
4. Liberian Girl
5. Just Good Friends
6. Another Part Of Me
7. Man In The Mirror
8. I Just Can’t Stop Loving You
9. Dirty Diana
10. Smooth Criminal
11. Leave Me Alone