BAD by Michael Jackson

If every singer wanted to be in Michael Jackson’s place when he recorded the biggest-selling album of all time, 1982’s Thriller, none of them wanted to be in his place when he was faced with the task of trying to follow-up on that album. In 1987 Michael did just that, with BAD, released on Epic Records. Once again Michael enlisted Quincy Jones although this time Michael co-produced the entire album with them. And this time Michael wrote all but two of the eleven songs himself, pretty much eschewing R&B and totally embracing Pop (which, around this time, he started proclaiming himself The King of).

1/BAD
Got a little bit of a funky beat, I like the way the bridge builds to the chorus

2/THE WAY YOU MAKE ME FEEL
A nice mellow song with a catchy chorus.

3/SPEED DEMON
An uptempo track about driving fast.

4/LIBERIAN GIRL
A midtempo song with a nice melody.

5/JUST GOOD FRIENDS
Written by Terry Britten and Graham Lyle, Michael sings this duet with Stevie Wonder. It’s a good uptempo song, but just doesn’t feel quite as special as it should. This is MICHAEL JACKSON AND STEVIE WONDER, to global icons, who both began their careers as young children, singing at Motown. Any duet of them should be an instant classic. But this just isn’t.

6/ANOTHER PART OF ME
Written for Michael’s Disney short film, Captain Eo, this never quite like it fit on this album, to me.

7/MAN IN THE MIRROR
This power-ballad was written by Siedah Garrett & Glen Ballard. It is fantastic, especially as it builds up to the crescendo at the end of the song.

8/I JUST CAN’T STOP LOVING YOU
A midtempo duet with Siedah Garrett. Her and Michael’s vocals compliment each other well here.

9/DIRTY DIANA
Another rock song, this time with Steve Stevens on guitar. Michael singing about a persistent groupie. This is a favorite of mine.

10/SMOOTH CRIMINAL
An uptempo dance song about a woman getting brutally murdered. That’s not easy to pull off, but Michael made it work.

11/LEAVE ME ALONE
Because of the chorus, and especially the video, this song is often described as being about Michael’s paranoia and distrust of the media for the way they reported about him. But listen to the lyrics, it’s actually about an ex-love whom he dumped for being deceitful, and who tries to get him back, but he doesn’t want anything to do with her, and demands that just leave him alone.

Overall, I think this album is a little too slick. It feels over-produced. Too much reliance on drum machines and synthesizers to get that pop sound. Songs like The Way You Make Me Feel, Another Part of Me, and Leave Me Alone could have been better if the music was a little more R&B-ish, than pop. Also I think it would have been better in some of those songs if Michael had used separate background vocalists, to balance-out his lead, instead of doing the background vocals himself. And while Michael was becoming more accomplished as a songwriter, I can’t help but feel this album was missing the contributions of Rod Temperton, who wrote some of the best songs on the two previous albums. I would have liked to have heard what he could have come up with for Michael next. As such, this album did not live up to its anticipation, in my opinion.

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