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Michael Jackson's 'Bad' at 25: Classic track-by-track review
Michael Jackson on is Bad Tour in 1988
 / AP Photo / Mark Elias

Erika Ramirez
Billboard

Released exactly 25 years ago today (Aug. 31), "Bad" -- the multi-platinum tour de force that was Michael Jackson's 7th studio album -- cemented the King of Pop and the most formidable musical artist of his, or possibly any other generation. The legend lived up to the task of following his monstrously successful "Thriller" album with a record-breaking 11-song set that showcased all sides of his musical personae and, at times, replaces his polished, pitch-perfect performances with a rougher, racier sheen.

"Bad" marked the third (and last) project that Michael produced with the equally legendary Quincy Jones. The duo laced the album with a mixture of R&B, pop and rock tunes that ranged from dance floor hits to tender ballads to introspective calls for social change.

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"Bad" was the first album to produce five consecutive No. 1 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and was the sixth album to debut at No. 1 in the history of the Billboard 200, spending 38 weeks in the chart's top 10. On its 25th anniversary, we take a listen to the classic album that truly defined Michael Jackson as the King of Pop.

1. "Bad" Although "I Just Can't Stop Loving You" was the first single off "Bad," the album's title single set the sweeping, daring mood for Michael's album. "Bad" peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 on Oct. 24, 1987. "Bad" -- which was inspired by a magazine story of a student's death -- became Michael's second "Bad" Hot 100 No. 1 and his seventh No. 1 in total. "Bad" was reportedly intended to be a duet between both Michael and Prince, but then union unfortunately didn't come to fruition.

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2. "The Way You Make Me Feel" The third "Bad" single remains one of Michael's most beloved and best-known songs. "The Way You Make Me Feel" showcased Michael as the relentless pursuer of love, not backing down till he gets his hands on his leading lady (in the case of the Joe Pytka-directed music video, Tatiana Thumbtzen). And if you look closely, you'll see Jackson's sister La Toya strutting her stuff as one of Tatiana's friends in the video. "The Way You Make Me Feel" -- which samples Roy Ayers' "Hot" in the full version of the song's video -- peaked at No. 1 on the Hot 100 on Jan. 23, 1988. It was the longest running single off "Bad," staying on the charts for 18 weeks.

3. "Speed Demon" After Michael got pulled over for a traffic ticket, he went into the studio and scribed "Speed Demon." Its full of playful, light lyricism, but "Speed Demon" is better known for its accompanying video than for its chart success. In the clip, which appears in "Moonwalker" (1988), Jackson morphs into different clay characters, some celebrities (Sylvester Stallone, Tina Turner, Pee-Wee Herman) while involved in a car chase.

4. "Liberian Girl" Michael's star power was undeniable, even to his close circle of celebrity friends. The music video for "Liberian Girl," directed by Jim Yukich, featured 35 of Michael's superstar pals, including Whoopi Goldberg, Corey Feldman, Paula Abdul, Quincy Jones, John Travolta, Weird Al Yankovic, and many more.

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5. "Just Good Friends" feat. Stevie Wonder For one of the two duets on the album, Jackson called upon another legend, Stevie Wonder, to give him a helping hand. What's even more endearing than the friend-to-friend advice Stevie gives Michael throughout "Just Good Friends" is the real-life friendship and mutual admiration that shines through in the song. "Now Stevie Wonder, he's a musical prophet. He's another guy I have to credit," Michael said of Stevie in an interview with Ebony Magazine in 2007. "I wanted to experience it all. So Stevie Wonder used to literally let me sit like a fly on the wall. I got to see 'Songs in the Key of Life' get made, some of the most golden things."

6. "Another Part of Me" With classics such as "We Are the World" and "Man in the Mirror," Michael became known for being a caring humanitarian. "Another Part of Me" also showcases that side of Michael, with the song's lyrics focusing on world unity. The song peaked at No. 11 on the Hot 100 chart. The Patrick Kelly-directed video covers Michael performing the song live during his 'Bad World Tour' in Parc deed Princes on July 14, 1988.

7. "Man in the Mirror" "Man in the Mirror" remains one of Michael Jackson's most powerful songs. The emotional track that calls for both personal and global change matched its songwriters' (Glen Ballard and Siedah Garrett) lyricism of self-truth with the powerful background vocals of Garrett, the Winans and the Andrae Crouch Choir, who all joined Michael on the soaring track. "Mirror," "Bad's" fourth consecutive No. 1 single, stayed at the top of the Hot 100 chart after its peak on March 26, 1988.

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8. "I Just Can't Stop Loving You" feat. Siedah Garrett "I just want to lay next to you for awhile. You look so beautiful tonight ... A lot of people misunderstand me. That's because they don't know me at all," Michael whispers at the beginning the Hot 100 No. 1 ballad. The song was originally intended to be a duet with Barbra Streisand or Whitney Houston, though both divas had to pass due to other obligations. Quincy Jones' protégé Siedah Garrett stepped in to provide vocals at the last minute, and the song kicked off the five consecutive "Bad" Hot 100 No. 1s. The song peaked at No. 1 on September 19, 1987 and stayed on the charts for 14 weeks.

9. "Dirty Diana" MJ penned a rock n' pop classic with his fifth "Bad" single. "Dirty Diana," co-produced by Michael himself and featuring guitar licks by Billy Idol axeman Steve Stevens, showcased Jackson with the rough edge he originally revealed on "Thriller"s chart-topping single "Beat It." After nine weeks on the Hot 100 chart, "Dirty Diana" peaked at No. 1 on July 2, 1988. The single was the fifth and final single from "Bad" to hit No. 1.

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10. "Smooth Criminal" The next "Bad" track is an uptempo story of a home invasion which is illuminated by slick production elements courtesy of Quincy Jones. The music video -- taken from the '88 film "Moonwalker," is one of Michael's most iconic, as it features his signature anti-gravity lean (which was executed using a specially-designed pair of shoes that Jackson had patented). "Smooth Criminal" went on to peak at No. 7 on the Hot 100 chart.

BONUS TRACK: "Leave Me Alone" "Bad" closes on an aggressive note. On bonus track "Leave Me Alone," Michael turns the tables on the media and tabloids and addresses them on their false allegations and rumors. The music video, directed by Jim Blashfield and Paul Diener, brings Michael's frustration to life as he rides through an amusement park full of lewd headlines and images only to finally break free of it all.

3Comments
Sep 1, 2012 7:23AM
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Michael Jackson was a musical genius in his time.  Very sorry that so many things happened along the way to turn his life to crap.  Sad. Not saying he wasn't responsible for most of it but still sad..
Sep 1, 2012 1:09AM
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Bad is a pretty good description. The guy and his dysfunctional family were freaks.
The music is formula .

Next topic.
Aug 31, 2012 9:06PM
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I know many better. Pink Floyds "dark side of the moon" released march/1973. Superior in everything but the dancing, oo, oooh, ooooh,
Still top 100
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