#200: Bad by Michael Jackson


Bad by Michael Jackson (1987)

Favorite Tracks: All of them, naturally.

Thoughts: (Be ye warned!  Swear words used in this post!  Why?  I felt like it.)

It's no secret that when it comes to Michael Jackson, I'm pretty ambivalent.  I can really take him or leave him.  You know, he had a few good songs here and there, but in general I don't really think of him when it comes to artists who really made an impact on music and pop culture.

I mean, sure, after he died I did a 32 part blog series about my Favorite Michael Moments, in part to grieve his passing and to help myself deal with a harrowing medical experience.  And yeah, in high school I dressed up as him for Halloween and carried around a full, highlighted transcript of the 9,268 word article from a 1994 issue of GQ titled "Was Michael Jackson Framed?" to show to classmates when they criticized my supposed devotion to an alleged pedophile. I suppose I've also created a 5 part, 95 song playlist of what I consider to be the best Michael Jackson songs, including songs from the Jackson 5, his childhood solo career, and The Jacksons era. It could also be pointed out that I have a Jackson 5 song as one of the 7 songs I would want with me on a deserted island for the rest of my life.  And I guess if pressed, I would say that my top three male artists of all time are The Beatles (they come together (get it?  Michael covered that song) as a combo), Bruce Springsteen, and Michael Jackson.  But still, would that really classify me as a fan, or more a casual observer of the pop genre in general?  You decide.

So I think you can be confident in my unbiased opinion when I say that Bad is actually not the 200th greatest album of all time, but more like the 20th?  And that it's FUCKING RIDICULOUS that it's ranked this far from #1?  Glad we cleared that up.

Are we ready for this album?  I don't think any of us ever really could prepare for an album this good.  But let's go easy on ourselves.  Nobody's perfect.  I mean, Michael is pretty close to Jesus Christ himself in this area, but we can't hold ourselves to that standard.  No one expects that of us.  So let's just jump in, shall we?

"Bad."  For a full review of this song, and I mean a FULL REVIEW, you can check out my 2,851 word breakdown/live-blog of the 18 minute short film music video that Martin Scorsese made for the song.  Also, I need to tell two anecdotes that I'm not sure I told in that review.  First is the immortal tale of Prince saying Michael asked him to be in the video as his nemesis, and Prince refusing because the first line in the song is 'your butt is mine' and he basically says that he wasn't going to have any guy sing that to him.  Nice homophobia, Prince!  Just kidding.  I guess that's a valid reason.  Also, Prince doesn't really like to share the limelight.  In general.

The other anecdote is that I distinctly remember being a child on one of our family vacations with another family, and the older son playing "Fat", the Weird Al Yankovic "Bad" parody, on his cassette player.  So there's that.  Bottom line: this song kicks serious ass.  (Ass that belongs to Michael.  Get it?)  If you can listen to this song and not dance or sing along, you're dead to me. UNH!  CHAMON! (Which I've always thought was actually 'jamon', but apparently it's chamon.)

"The Way You Make Me Feel."  Again, for a full breakdown/live-blog of this song and (full length 9 minute) video, head to this blog post I wrote in 2009.  Here's a choice line from the music video dialog: "You know, reach down inside and pull a little of you out."  You're welcome.  All in all, this song is a pop masterpiece and I loooove it.

"Speed Demon."  The song is fun, the video is more fun.  Why?  Because it used Claymation!  And I went to elementary school with a guy whose dad worked for Claymation.  Plus, Michael's suuuuper adorable in it.  And that's the end of that story.

"Liberian Girl."  This song is a blast to sing along to, especially if you're like me and completely butcher the opening spoken bit that's in Swahili. The video is a veritable who's-who of 80s stars--some of whom are still stars, and many who are not.  I have fond memories of listening to this song with my dad on a road trip (we probably listened to the whole album, but for some reason this song sticks out--maybe we talked about it a lot?)

"Just Good Friends."  I have a whole blog post dedicated to this song too!  A duet with Stevie Wonder, what more could you want?  It's pure divinity.

"Another Part of Me."  If you ever visited Disneyworld in the 80s (or in my case, 90s), then you know this song, because you've seen the greatest 3D movie ever made: Captain EO.  What's that you say?  You wish I'd done a whole post about Captain EO?  MERRY CHRISTMAS, MOTHERFUCKER.

"Man in the Mirror."  Look, we all know this song is the shit.  In fact, if you feel claims of someone's character are dubious, ask them if they like this song.  If they don't, you know you have a creep on your hands.  It's basically been notarized.

"I Just Can't Stop Loving You."  Have you ever wondered which Michael Jackson song is suuuuuper sexy?  There isn't one.  And um, I definitely didn't write a whole post about it.  Nope.

"Dirty Diana."  Have you ever asked yourself, 'do I find late 80s Michael Jackson sexy (because it goes without saying that everyone finds early 80s Michael irresistible)?'  Watch the video for this song, and you will need never ask again.  I may or may not have written a post about it.  But don't try to talk to me about it.  I will get too flustered.  I mean, when he grinds with the guitarist?  I can't.  I CAN'T.  I have lost the ability to can.

"Smooth Criminal."  If you want my thoughts on the video, you can read my full post/review of Moonwalker, the film/video compilation I owned on VHS, which is probably in its entirety on Youtube.  Basically, the song and video are in a class all their own.  A sweet, brilliant, kick-ass class.  Definitely Advanced Placement.

"Leave Me Alone."  Now, any Michael Jackson from the 80s is, to me, good if not great Michael Jackson.  But I have to be honest.  If I had to pick my least favorite song on the album, it would be this one.  Why?  I mean, it's got a cute beat, and it's not annoying to listen to, but I will be the first to say that one of my greatest Michael peeves (I don't have many, as you might imagine), is that he let his anger about intrusive paparazzi and negative media attention seep into his music.  I stand by the idea that if people are listening to your music, they are a fan.  They like you.  They support you.  But I feel bad for liking and supporting you, if your songs start being about how much people suck and you wish they'd stop bothering you.  Because then I feel like you're talking about me!  Over-sensitive, I know.  By all means, talk about how much you need respite from that kind of harassment.  But please don't sing about it.  It's not only a downer, I think it ostracizes your audience.  Or at least this audience.

Overall, this album is Mary Poppins (practically perfect in every way, and, if you read that GQ article, probably OK to leave alone with your kids).  I love it so much.

And we are now in the last 200--the TOP 200--albums.  The level of quality needs to be life changing.

Is This Better Than The River?:  Yes, and Bad is now my new arbiter of unjustified ranking.  Boom!


Kelley Brown said...

GREAT way to start my day! Both the music and your review = awesome.

Maryann said...

Kelley! That is so great to hear. I had fun writing it! :)