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"Bad" was a 1987 hit recording by American singer Michael Jackson. The song was the second of five Billboard Hot 100 number-one hit singles from the album Bad, (the first a time a recording artist achieved this feat) and was his seventh number-one single overall.

The song was originally intended as a duet with longtime rival Prince. Quincy Jones, in an interview included in the special edition of Bad, said that Prince told Jackson and him that he had not wanted to participate because "it would be a hit without (him)".

In his 1988 autobiography Moonwalk, Jackson wrote:

In a 1988 interview to Ebony and Jet magazines released on Hulu shortly after his death, Jackson said he got the idea from a true story.

The song is also used in the video game adaptations of Michael Jackson's Moonwalker as a dance attack, level and ending credits song.

Music video

The full music video for "Bad" is a 16-minute short film written by novelist and screenwriter Richard Price and based on the case of Edmund Perry. The video was directed by Martin Scorsese and stars Michael Jackson. Jackson portrays a boy named Daryl who has just completed a successful term at an expensive private school. He returns to the city by subway, arriving in a derelict neighborhood.

Daryl arrives to find his house empty (his mother is played by Roberta Flack, albeit in voiceover), but is greeted by his old friends, led by Mini Max (an emerging Wesley Snipes) and spends an evening with them. At first relations are friendly, if slightly awkward, but the situation deteriorates once the rest of the gang realize how much Daryl has changed, and in particular how uncomfortable he has become with their tendencies towards petty crime. In an attempt to show his friends he is still "bad", Daryl takes the gang to a subway station (The Hoyt Schermerhorn Station in Brooklyn) where he attempts to mug an elderly man but changes his mind at the last minute. Mini Max berates Daryl and tells him that he's no longer bad.

After more abuse from Mini Max, the video jumps from black and white to color and Daryl, now dressed head to foot in black leather and joined by a crowd of dancing punks, sings "Bad" and dances his moves. (it is at this point that is the edited video generally begins when played on television). His insistence that Max is headed for a fall are nearly Daryl's undoing, but eventually his friend accepts that, and, after a final handshake, heads off leaving Daryl. The scene shifts back to black and white as Daryl, alone and back in his tracksuit, watches them leave.

The video has many references to the 1961 film West Side Story, especially the "Cool" sequence. Not only does it show a street gang dancing in an urban setting, but there are also some parts of the choreography that were influenced by it. The choreographer Jeffrey Daniel confirmed the influence, although they intended to do a more contemporary version of it.

The full 16-minute-long version of the video for "Bad" first appeared on the DVD version of Video Greatest Hits - HIStory in 2001.

Chart (1987) Peak
Australian Singles Chart 4
Austrian Singles Chart 9
Belgium Singles Chart 1
Canadian Singles Chart 1
Danish Singles Chart 1
Dutch Singles Chart 1
Eurochart Hot 100 Singles 1
French Singles Chart 4
German Singles Chart 4
Irish Singles Chart 1
Italian Singles Chart 5
New Zealand RIANZ Singles Chart 2
Norwegian Singles Chart 2
Swedish Singles Chart 4
Swiss Singles Chart 3
UK Singles Chart 3
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 1
U.S. ARC Weekly Top 40 1
U.S. Hot R&B Singles 1
U.S. Hot Dance Club Play 1
Chart (2009) Peak

Australian Singles Chart 27
Austrian Singles Chart 38
Danish Singles Chart 37
Irish Singles Chart 33
Swiss Singles Chart 15
UK Singles Chart 40
U.S. Billboard Hot Digital Songs 23

Live performances

"Bad" was generally the closing act for concerts on the Bad World Tour, and less often in Dangerous World Tour concerts. Michael Jackson would often perform "Bad" with an extended version of the ending which apparently was his preferred version. Jackson also performed the song on the 1988 MTV Video Music Awards. He would have performed it on This Is It, but the concert series was canceled due to his sudden death.

Cover versions

  • Russian band PoZitive Orchestra recorded a cover of the song using a classic string quartet sound with Latin guitar rhythms.
  • Khalil Fong, a Hongkongmarker-based soul singer, included a cover of the song in his album "Timeless" released in August 2009.
  • Beyonce will cover this song as part of her I Am... Tour Live DVD

Live cover performances

  • Celine Dion performed a live cover of this song.
  • Sammy Davis Jnr. also performed a live cover although he stopped half way through.


  • "Weird Al" Yankovic, who had previously parodied Jackson's earlier hit "Beat It" as "Eat It" in 1984, recorded a parody of "Bad" entitled "Fat" in 1988 on the album Even Worse; the title and cover of which also parodied the cover of Jackson's Bad album. For the music video, which parodies many elements of the original, Jackson allowed Yankovic to use the same set as that of the video for his own parody of the song, "Badder" (from the Moonwalker film).
  • Country music artist Ray Stevens recorded a cover of the song on his 1988 album I Never Made a Record I Didn't Like. Stevens' version features an impersonation of Michael Jackson.
  • The satirical puppet show Spitting Image spoofed Michael Jackson and his song "Bad" under the pun "Mad".
  • Lenny Henry also spoofed Michael Jackson and his song "Bad" under the pun "Mad".
  • Frank Zappa spoofed Michael Jackson in his song "Why Don't You Like Me?" on his album Broadway the Hard Way (1988), where Jackson's songs "Bad" and "Billie Jean" are referenced and parodied.
  • Bo' Selecta!'s caricature of Michael Jackson frequently says shamone which features in "Bad".
  • Lady Gaga's music video for LoveGame has qualities of, and therefore pays homage to the "Bad" video.

Track listing

Original release

UK 7" single
  1. "Bad" (7" single mix) – 4:06
  2. "Bad" (Dance Remix Radio Edit) – 4:54

UK 12" single
  1. "Bad" (Dance Extended Mix Includes 'False Fade') – 8:24
  2. "Bad" (Dub version) – 4:05
  3. "Bad" (A cappella) – 3:49

U.S. CD single
  1. "Bad" (Dance Extended Mix Includes "false fade") – 8:24
  2. "Bad" (7" single mix) – 4:06
  3. "Bad" (Dance Remix Radio Edit) – 4:54
  4. "Bad" (Dub version) - 4.05
  5. "Bad" (A cappella) – 3:49

Visionary single

CD side
  1. "Bad" (7" single mix) - 4:06
  2. "Bad" ("False Fade" Dance Extended Mix) - 8:22

DVD side
  1. "Bad" (Music video)



  • Written and composed by Michael Jackson
  • Solo and background vocals: Michael Jackson
  • Percussion - How Now Brown Cow
  • Hammond B3 Midi organ solo: Jimmy Smith
  • Synthesizer solo: Greg Phillinganes
  • Drums: John Robinson
  • Drum programming: Douglas Getschal
  • Guitar: David Williams
  • Saxophones: Kim Hutchcroft and Larry Williams
  • Trumpets: Gary Grant and Jerry Hey
  • Percussion: Paulinho Da Costa
  • Synclavier keyboards, digital guitar and rubboard: Christopher Currell
  • Synthesizers: John Barnes, Michael Boddicker and Greg Phillinganes
  • Rhythm arrangement by Michael Jackson, Christopher Currell and Quincy Jones
  • Horn arrangement by Jerry Hey
  • Vocal arrangement by Michael Jackson


  1. Bad.]
  2. The Billboard Book of Number 1 Hits Fred Bronson. p. 713. Billboard Books. ISBN 0823076776
  3. 'Bad' Choreographer Remembers Michael Jackson. Jeffrey Daniel Interview. National Public Radio.
  4. Michael Jackson - Bad (Song). Charts
  5. Swiss Singles Chart Archives. Access date: July 18, 2009.
  6. Michael Jackson Breaks Billboard Charts Records Keith Caulfield. June 30, 2009.
  7. Michael Jackson Remembered: "Weird Al" Yankovic on Imitation as Flattery. "Weird Al" Yankovic. 2009-07-09. Rolling Stone. Taken on: 2009-07-10

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