Michael Jackson's "Bad" Video Was His Biggest Yet

Michael Jackson's "Bad" music video
Photo Credit
video screenshot/MJJ/Epic

In the summer of 1987, Michael Jackson fans had one thing on their mind: when was his next video going to be released?

The future King of Pop had already teed up the release of his forthcoming album Bad - the follow-up to the decade's mega-blockbuster Thriller - with the romantic "I Just Can't Stop Loving You," a duet with R&B singer/songwriter Siedah Garrett. But like Thriller's first single, the gentle Paul McCartney duet "The Girl is Mine," it was a soft intro to this new era of music. The real push happened as August turned to September, with the premiere of the video to Bad's title track.

READ MORE: Feb. 26, 1983: Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' Hits No. 1 on US Album Chart

Michael's last video, for "Thriller," was unlike anything that had ever aired on MTV: a mini-movie directed by a Hollywood filmmaker (John Landis of The Blues Brothers and An American Werewolf in London fame) and shapeshifting special effects that turned the singer into a werewolf and a zombie. "Bad" was a chance to one-up even that short film: this one was directed by iconic director Martin Scorsese and told a story about inner-city struggles that could affect even the most promising young men. (The concept was inspired by a real-life tragedy, when Edmund Perry, a Black teenager due to attend Stanford University in the fall of 1985, was shot and killed by a police officer in Harlem.)

The "Bad" video, shot in and around New York City (including the Hoyt-Schermerhorn subway station in Brooklyn), pitted Michael (playing "Darryl," a prep school student) against a trio of former petty crooks he used to run with. The leader was played by a then-unknown Wesley Snipes in a breakthrough role. Jackson's edgier look - signified by a buckle and zipper-covered black leather outfit - and tireless dance moves (choreographed alongside Shalamar co-founder Jeffrey Daniel) made "Bad" another compelling entry in the singer's videography.

READ MORE: March 1988: Michael Jackson Hits No. 1 with "Man In the Mirror"

Making its world premiere not on MTV, but on a CBS primetime special, "Bad" the single helped push Bad the album into the stratosphere. It would become the LP's second of a record-breaking five consecutive No. 1 hits, and helped the album sell more than 35 million copies around the world.

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