Wednesday, June 6, 2012

202 Bad. Possibly Very Bad

Album: Bad
Artist: Michael Jackson
Year: 1987
Genre: Pop


1. Bad
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

There are few things in modern music more creepy than Michael Jackson trying to be romantic. When he sings a slow ballad declaring his love it's genuinely shiver inducing. I'm not just saying that because there's a real chance that the people who aroused feelings of affection weren't old enough to see Die Hard without an accompanying adult, it's something about the way he sings. It's an attempt to be romantic and slightly sleazy from a guy who doesn't really understand romance or sleaze. He sounds like someone whose heard about love and listened to Sinatra trying to woo someone but doesn't really understand what's behind it. Jackson does romance the way my niece does knock knock jokes- she understands the mechanics behind what's going on but she doesn't actually know how to do the funny bit. Unlike my niece's attempts at door-related hilarity however, Jackson is deeply unsettling when he tries to touch genuine human emotion.

Thankfully Bad isn't a collection of Jackson's love songs. In amongst his attempts to mimic humanity he gets angry, which is something that people from his planet do very well. Ire is an emotion that Jackson pulls off with a lot of success. The title track and Smooth Criminal show off what a compelling guy the King of Pop could be when he had a reason to shout and go "Woo" and "Shamon" and make other noises that expressed mild irritation. A tetchy Jackson makes for a much more engaging artist than an infatuated one. Interesting then that throughout his numerous trials and legal issues, when you'd think he'd have a legitimate reason to get stroppy,  his music was at his least successful.

Bad hasn't dated well at all. The eighties instrumentation and its creator's legal issues have conspired to take away something of its edge. It's a dance album written for the type of discotheque that doesn't exist anymore and while it was a perfect snapshot of the time,s it's not something modern audiences can connect with in an era when dance music has lost its innocence and so has Michael Jackson.

Influenced by: Stevie Wonder
Influenced: Alien Ant Farm (whatever happened to them?)

Highlight: Smooth Criminal
Lowlight: I just can't stop loving you

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "Jackson has been dead for a couple months now right? Why is he still in the paper? What about Ted Kennedy? He was a senator for decades and nobody gives a damn. what the hell is wrong with this picture?"

-Interesting social commentary but is an Amazon review really the time and place?

So is this Bad or not? Let me know below.


  1. You're right: it has dated horribly since nineteen-eighty-goshdarn-seven!

  2. Can you please learn the difference between it's and its ? I think your prose will be easier to read and understand that way... Thanks...

    1. A fair point. I've made some corrections and hopefully removed all errant it's. Thanks for reading.