25 Amazing Facts From Michael Jackson’s ‘Bad’

From the Prince duet that never was to the Pitbull remix, we recall the album 25 years later.

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    It’s now been a quarter century since Michael Jackson released 1987’s Bad, the follow-up to the tough act (and international event) known as Thriller. At the time, the album was judged harshly against the monumental achievements of its predecessor; now, with hindsight, it is clear that Bad also earned its fair share of accolades and milestones.

    Fans can get a chance to revisit the songs when the album gets a special re-release on Sept. 18. (The deluxe edition includes a Bad-themed case (complete with buckles), three CDs and a concert DVD, an exclusive T-shirt design and a “Bad Tour souvenir package.”) To celebrate the album’s 25th anniversary, The Root presents 25 facts you may have overlooked about Bad.

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    Tiziana Fabi/AFP/Getty Images; Getty Images/Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic

    Bad: The Mini-Film

    Martin Scorsese, the famed Hollywood director of such classic films as Taxi Driver, Raging Bull and Mean Streets, directed the music video for “Bad,” which stars a young Wesley Snipes as Jackson’s antagonist. But like John Landis’ groundbreaking video for “Thriller,” this video takes on a longer form, and at nearly 18 minutes lands in short-film territory. In a subway battle reminiscent of West Side Story, many viewers were scandalized by Jackson’s now-famous crotch grab.

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    MJ Kim; Getty Images Entertainment

    MJ vs. Prince

    “Bad” was originally conceived as a duet between Jackson and Prince, but Prince didn’t want to say the opening line, “Your butt is mine”; nor did he want the line said to him. In retrospect, he was also glad that he didn’t end up in the music video. “The Wesley Snipes character? That would have been me,” Prince told Chris Rock in a 1997 interview. “Now, you run that video in your mind!”

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    Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images Entertainment

    A Spike Lee Joint

    Bad 25, a documentary by Spike Lee that explores the making of the Bad album, premiered at the 2012 Venice Film Festival and will make its American broadcast debut this Thanksgiving on ABC. Among its revelations: The mysterious “Annie” mentioned on “Smooth Criminal” refers to the name given to CPR dummies, and its oft-repeated word, “shamon,” is actually a tribute to singer Mavis Staples.

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    Paul Warner/Getty Images

    Fat Boys

    “Bad” was famously parodied by Weird Al Yankovic, who had previously struck comedy gold when he changed Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” to “Eat It.” Following Jackson’s lead, Yankovic returned with an album and song, both called “Fat,” which included an accompanying video featuring Yankovic dressed like an overweight Jackson engaging in a similar subway battle as depicted in the “Bad” video. His plan worked: Yankovic took home a Grammy in 1988 for best concept music video.

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    Alien Ant Farm (Dave J. Hogan/Getty Images)

    Post-Punk Punch

    Alien Ant Farm, a rock band from Riverside, Calif., released a high-energy cover of Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal” and took the single back to the top of the charts in a fresh way. The new version went No. 1 on the pop charts in Australia and New Zealand as well as No. 1 on the now-defunct Billboard Modern Rock Charts.

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    Glen Ballard (Earl Gibson III/WireImage/Getty Images); Siedah Garrett (Mike Coppola/Getty Images)

    Studio Geniuses

    Jackson wrote nine of the album’s 11 songs. “Man in the Mirror” was penned by Siedah Garrett, who duets with Jackson on “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You,” and Glen Ballard, who later co-wrote Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill. “Just Good Friends,” a duet with Stevie Wonder, was written by Terry Britten and Graham Lyle, the songwriting duo behind hits like Tina Turner’s “What’s Love Got to Do With It?”


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    Mike Coppola/Getty Images

    The More the Merrier

    One of three guest stars on the album, South African jazz singer Letta Mbulu introduces “Liberian Girl” with a Swahili chant. The music video features a motley assortment of star cameos, including Whoopi Goldberg, Don King, Lou Ferrigno, Olivia Newton-John, David Copperfield, Jackie Collins, Carl Weathers, Sherman Hemsley and many more.

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    Album Sales Stats

    Bad was Michael Jackson’s seventh studio album. It debuted at the top of the charts at No. 1, where it stayed for six weeks and earned five No. 1 singles, a feat that set a Billboard record that wasn’t equaled until Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream album in 2010. The album has been certified for sales in excess of $8 million in the United States; worldwide estimates put total sales between $30 million and $45 million.

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    ABC Photo Archives/Getty Images; Popperfoto/Getty Images

    Music Video Box

    Ten of the 11 songs on Bad were accompanied by an elaborate music video. The only one not given the visual treatment? “Just Good Friends,” a collaboration with friend Stevie Wonder.

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    "Leave Me Alone" video (MJJ Productions Inc./via YouTube)

    MJ's Paparazzi Pushback

    An adorably animated music video for “Leave Me Alone” pokes fun at Jackson’s tabloid troubles. He goes on a wild ride being chased by paparazzi, dances with the bones of the Elephant Man and dodges the shocking claims of newspaper headlines like, “Michael Weds Alien,” “Jackson’s 3rd Eye Starts Sunglasses Fad,” “Michael and Diana Same Person” and “Bubbles the Chimp Bares All About Michael.”

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    Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

    Back on the Block

    Producer Quincy Jones signed on to produce Bad, just as he had with Thriller and Off the Wall before that. The album would be the last one he’d produce for Jackson, a fact that wasn’t made explicit at the time and something that wasn’t necessarily planned.

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    The Weeknd (Christie Goodwin/Redferns/Getty Images)

    '80s Baby

    Toronto artist the Weeknd (aka Abel Tesfaye) has been known to cover “Dirty Diana” in his live shows, introducing the song to a whole new generation of listeners. The track is also on his 2011 mixtape Echoes of Silence, where it is simply called “D.D.” Tesfaye himself was born just three years after the release of the Bad album.

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    AFP/Getty Images; Chris Jackson/Getty Images

    Who's Diana?

    There was rampant speculation that the song “Dirty Diana” was about either Diana Ross or Princess Diana, who were both known to be friends of the artist. Jackson said that that the song was actually about groupies, but Ross used the song to preface several of her onstage appearances, and Princess Diana reportedly told Jackson that she loved the song.

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    Dave Hogan/Getty Images; Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images; Ryan Pierse/Getty Images Entertainment

    Lil Sister's Award Grab

    When “Bad” lost the award for best choreography at the MTV Video Music Awards in 1988, at least it was kept in the family. Prince was thought to be his stiffest competition in the category, but sister Janet Jackson won the honor for her “Pleasure Principle” video. It was the second year that she swept the category.

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    Via WalesOnline.co.uk

    On the Road Again

    The “Bad World Tour,” which took place between September 1987 and December 1988, earned Jackson two (more) spots in the Guinness Book of World Records. Gross revenue of more than $124 million broke the record for the highest-grossing concert tour, and the tour also earned the record of most successful concert series for selling out seven nights at London’s Wembley Stadium, where Jackson performed to a combined estimate of 504,000 people. A live album and DVD are currently being released to commemorate the 25th anniversary.

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    Taste of a Generation

    Pepsi has released 1 billion cans of soda emblazoned with an iconic image of Jackson to commemorate the Bad anniversary. The special 16-ounce cans of cola are twice the size of a normal Pepsi can and feature a classic pose of Jackson from his “Smooth Criminal” music video.

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    Grammy Awards

    Dancing Machine

    Bad earned six Grammy nominations in 1988 and ultimately won one award for best music video, short form, for “Leave Me Alone.” A 10-plus-minute live performance on the awards broadcast included the songs “The Way You Make Me Feel” and “Man in the Mirror,” the latter with the assistance of a live gospel choir.

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    Video-Vixen Drama

    Model Tatiana Thumbtzen appeared in the music video for “The Way You Make Me Feel” and became the first person to publicly kiss Jackson in an onstage performance of the song. Thumbtzen claimed she had an affair with Jackson but later retracted the claim in a tellall book and admitted in a European documentary that she took the initiative to kiss him onstage and never got to see or speak to him ever again.

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    Walt Disney

    Pop Superhero

    “Another Part of Me” was featured in Captain EO, Jackson’s 1986 Disney 3-D film directed by Hollywood heavyweight Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather, Apocalypse Now) and executive-produced by Star Wars creator George Lucas. While not originally slotted to be on Bad, it ended up being a replacement for a song calledStreetwalker.”

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    Warner Bros.

    Video Built the Radio Star

    A 1988 film anthology called Moonwalker includes live performances and videos of four songs from Bad: “Leave Me Alone,” “Speed Demon,” “Man in the Mirror” and “Smooth Criminal.” Moonwalker also features a video of a song called “Badder,” which is another “Bad” parody — this time featuring kids (rather than Weird Al Yankovic).

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    Mark Davis/Getty Images; Isaac Brekken/Getty Images; Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

    Who Invented the Remix?

    The new Bad 25 album features Jackson rarities (including a Spanish version of “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You”), unreleased songs and remixes by Nero and Afrojack featuring Pitbull. The album was celebrated live in New York on Aug. 30 with a tribute featuring covers by the likes of Ne-Yo.

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    Commercial Appeal

    A 1987 CBS special on Jackson’s life called The Magic Returns offered the world premiere of the “Bad” video to 85 million viewers. A new Pepsi commercial also aired with the broadcast, featuring a slight remix of “Bad,” with Jackson singing, “You know I’m bad, I’m bad, you know it — and Pepsi’s cool … “

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    Bebe and Cece Winans (AFP); Andre Crouch (L. Cohen/WireImage/Getty Images)

    Gospel Roots

    Backing vocals on the album are handled by Siedah Garrett (who duets with Jackson on “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You,” which she co-wrote), the Winans and the Andre Crouch Choir. Other backing harmonies heard on Bad come from Jackson himself.

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    Style Wars

    While Bad wasn’t the fashion influencer that its predecessor Thriller still manages to be to this day, some distinctive looks did emerge from this era. Among them: the fedora and armband pairing popularized in “Smooth Criminal,” the flowing shirts and white tees of “The Way You Make Me Feel” and the buckled, black-leather military look from the title track.

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    Ron Galella/Getty Images; Ron Galella/Getty Images; Al Pereira/Michael Ochs/Getty Images; David Redfern/Getty Images

    Who's Kicking Themselves Still?

    Jackson hoped that a legendary singer would perform in a duet with him on Bad. Whitney Houston, Barbra Streisand, Aretha Franklin and ABBA’s Agnetha Fältskog all reportedly had reasons that they couldnt record, so the duet for “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You” was eventually recorded by the song’s co-writer Siedah Garrett.

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