Review #194: Bad, Michael Jackson

Karla Clifton
3 min readNov 3, 2021

#194: Bad, Michael Jackson

Team, we made it. The last Michael Jackson album on the Rolling Stone 500 list. I’m so tired of having to walk the fine line of “Good Music by Terrible People.”

Well…okay, I doubt we’re done walking that line entirely. But at least we can leave MJ behind.

I spent a little more time researching Jackson’s life this time, and I gotta say, it’s hard not to feel a pang of empathy for a guy who was being trotted out onstage like a show pony from the age of six, who got bullied for his looks no matter what he looked like, a guy who essentially didn’t have a nose at the end of his life. Bad was released shortly before Jackson retreated to the Neverland Ranch to isolate himself (and do heinous things).

That said, my empathy runs out when I remember the heinous things. Also, remember when he dangled his child off a balcony?

Now that that’s out of the way, crack a beer and let’s listen to Bad (which is actually quite good).

FAVORITE SONGS:

“Bad” — This music video is phenomenal — it’s an eighteen-minute long saga about a kid who goes to private school and then has to prove himself to all his old friends. Martin Scorsese directed it?? Michael Jackson has the craziest collaborations.

“The Way You Make Me Feel” — This one will always make me think of James Brown, because for some reason, I couldn’t stop singing it while I listened to the first half of Star Time, #54.

“Speed Demon” — Love the way he says Speed demooooon.

“Liberian Girl” — When I was taking notes on this album before listening, I definitely read it as “Librarian Girl,” and was very excited. (That’s me!) Fun fact, the Liberian people were incredibly excited about this one!

“Another Part of Me”HEE hee!

“Man In The Mirror” — I sang this in choir in the fourth grade. Isn’t that wild? Note that this song has an amazing key change on the word “change.” Listen, the man was good at doing pop music.

“I Just Can’t Stop Loving You (feat. Siedah Garrett)” Siedah Garrett holds her own on a duet with Michael freaking Jackson. They sang a Spanish version of this one as well!

“Dirty Diana” — The guitar on this one is incredible — I know it’s about groupies and is a little bit sexist, but it’s such a jam.

“Smooth Criminal” Alien Ant Farm cover, anyone?? Also I love that this is the second-to-last song on this album. I feel like pop artists usually pack all their best songs on the front half of the album, and this one is bringing up the rear.

“Leave Me Alone” — Watch this music video for a sense of the literal circus that Michael Jackson became. Bad predated the child sexual abuse accusations — that probably would have made the mock headlines a lot less fun.

LEAST FAVORITE SONGS:

“Just Good Friends” — No beef with this one specifically, it’s just my least favorite.

IS RS FULL OF IT?

Look. This was the first album ever to have five US #1 singles on it. You can ignore Michael Jackson if you want, but you can’t ignore the titanic impact he made on music.

Besides, he’s dead, and he’s not making any money off of your Spotify streams anyway. DON’T stream R. Kelly, but there’s no reason to feel guilty about streaming Michael Jackson.

Review #193: Willy and the Poor Boys, Creedence Clearwater Revival

Review #195: Songs of Leonard Cohen, Leonard Cohen

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