Making an album that stands up to Thriller is a daunting task for any artist, but Michael Jackson, dressed in a black leather jacket with silver highlights, feels he’s up to the challenge. He even wraps tape around his fingers like the boxers do as the guy who once described himself as a romantic “lover”, “not a fighter”, stands face-to-face with the leader of a notorious street gang with no plans to Beat It.
“I’m bad,” he declares on the funky title song before daring any man to slap him in the face if they don’t like what he’s saying. It’s a ballsy invitation, especially coming from a guy in eyeliner whose only source of weaponry consists of melodic tough talk and flashy dance moves. Luckily for him, the act is over before you can dent your eyebrows and muster-up an answer to the question, “Who’s bad?”
From there, the album goes into more familiar territory as his attention goes back to the girls and The Way they Make him Feel. He’s especially head over heels for a Liberian Girl, who, as far as he’s concerned, is “more precious than any pearl”. He Just Can’t Stop Loving Siedah Garrett, but he’s not so fond of an obsessive groupie named Diana. Her relentless seduction inspires the album’s Dirty rock song.
The dirty dance song is Smooth Criminal, about a guy who murders a girl in her apartment. It’s also the best song as Michael Jackson, playing the role of the narrator, crashes the fourth wall to ask if she’s okay. The whole album is Bad meaning good, but it isn’t a Thriller. The drums are too clanky, the synthesizers too unnatural. Not to mention a Speed Demon that should’ve never made it pass the finish line.
my rating : 4 of 5