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Numbers Game: 15 Facts to Celebrate Michael Jackson’s ‘Bad’ Album

DOUG KANTER, AFP

In 1987, the late Michael Jackson released the epochal album, Bad. Following the release of 1982′s Thriller, the album pushed the boundaries of pop music in a way that only Michael Jackson could. The album arrived at the helm of hip-hop’s reign. With cover art that reflected the leather jacket swag the King of Pop introduced us to on the previous project (only this time the jacket was black and not red), the cover also showed the album’s title written in spray-painted graffiti. The release was arguably one of MJ’s edgiest, in which he tackled the typical romantic topics, but also began his acknowledgement of a lack of privacy — evidenced by the song “Leave Me Alone.” Who knew that over two decades later, the side effects of fame would lead to the loss of a legend? As Bad reaches its 25th Anniversary today, The BoomBox drops some figures for fans of the King of Pop. Here are 15 numerical facts about Bad.

13 Countries Platinum Plus
It’s no surprise that Bad moved several units, given Michael Jackson’s colossal status at the King of Pop. The album was certified platinum-Plus in 13 countries worldwide. It reached platinum in Hong Kong and Mexico, but countries like Australia, Austria, Canada, Germany, New Zealand, Spain, France, Sweden, Switzerland, the U.K. and the U.S. saw sales in the multi-millions. In some territories it even reached diamond status (over 10 million sold). That’s a lot of albums.

12 Countries at No. 1
In addition to selling well into the millions, Bad would obviously skyrocket to the No. 1 spot on the charts in a variety of countries. Places like Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Czech, Dutch, Italian, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, U.K. and of course the U.S. all had Michael Jackson sitting comfortably at the top.

10 Instruments Used on the Album
It wasn’t just all about the synths on Bad. The rich production came thanks to a variety of musical instruments. They all came together masterfully, and with Michael Jackson’s voice added in, the project became a classic. Besides the obvious synthesizers, there were other instruments including guitars, organs, drums, bass, trumpets, percussion, keyboards, saxophones, pianos plus digital guitars.

9 Singles Off the Album
Every Michael Jackson song could be a single, and Bad is further proof of that. On an album of 11 tracks, a whopping nine of them were singles. Some of course did better than others and became fixtures in the history of pop music. The first single was the chart-topping “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You.” Then came the monstrous “Bad,” followed by “The Way You Make Me Feel,” “Man In the Mirror,” “Dirty Diana,” “Another Part Of Me,” “Smooth Criminal,” “Leave Me Alone” and “Liberian Girl.”

9 Songs Written by Michael Jackson
If Bad feels personal to Michael Jackson, it’s because he wrote the songs on most of the album. “Bad,” “The Way You Make Me Feel,” “Speed Demon,” “Liberian Girl,” “Another Part Of Me,” “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You,” “Dirty Diana,” “Smooth Criminal” and “Leave Me Alone” all show MJ in the writing credits. The two exceptions are “Just Good Friends” written by Terry Britten and Graham Lyle and “Man In the Mirror” written by Siedah Garrett and Glen Ballard.

7th Solo Album by Michael Jackson
There are two types of Michael Jackson fans: those who were riding with him since the beginning (during the Jackson 5 era) and those who jumped on following 1979′s Off the Wall (once the buzz of Thriller began). While for some it feels like Bad was Jackson’s third solo album (acting as if life began at Off the Wall), it was in fact his seventh. His first solo album was 1972′s Got to Be There followed by Ben that same year. He then wen on to drop Music & Me in 1973, Forever, Michael in 1975, and then finally Off the Wall (1979), Thriller (1982) and Bad (1987).

6 Weeks at No. 1
Michael Jackson is the purveyor of No. 1 albums, and Bad was no exception. While the album released on Aug. 31, 1987 it reached No. 1 on the Billboard charts by Sept. 26, 1987. It stayed there for a total of six weeks at the top. Most albums never reach that coveted spot, but Bad sat there for a month and a half. No wonder it racked up so many platinum plaques.

5 No. 1 Singles
While Bad as a whole was a No. 1 success on the album front, the singles didn’t too badly either. Out of the nine singles that dropped, five of them reached No. 1. The first was “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You,” then the title track “Bad,” “The Way You Make Me Feel,” “Man In the Mirror” and lastly, “Dirty Diana.” The remaining singles never reached No. 1, but the ones that did became instant classics (among many others).

5-Year Gap Between Thriller and Bad
Once Thriller dropped in 1982, the success was so monumental that it carried on for years. With a slew of singles, a film to commemorate it, along with just Michael Jackson evolving into the legendary figure that he was, it was understandable how working on a follow-up was both creatively challenging and physically difficult. It happened in 1987, five years later when Bad arrived. And the rest, as they say, is history.

4 Songs About Love
When isn’t Michael Jackson singing about love in some capacity? Whether it’s love of the world, love for one’s self, and of course, love of a “pretty young thing,” Michael Jackson is all about the love. While Bad tackles a number of topics (many of which involve love), we’re talking about the L-O-V-E — butterflies and all of that. “The Way You Make Me Feel,” “Liberian Girl,” “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You” and “Just Good Friends,” are all love, all day.

3 Background Vocalists
Make that technically three. Michael Jackson has the golden voice, but he had some help on Bad. The Winans (there are four of them), Siedah Garrett, and the The Andrae Crouch Choir (there are a lot of them), were the three separate entities to provide background vocals on the project. What it all comes down to though is MJ’s signature voice that echoed throughout every song. It’s always good, though, to shed some light on the musical support as well.

3 Socially Conscious Songs
As previously mentioned, Bad showed a lot of love in its songs. However, there was a fair share of social consciousness going on too. “Another Part Of Me” discussed world issues and coming together as one, then “Man In the Mirror” talked changed on a greater level (the video represented that quite well), and finally “Smooth Criminal.” Unbeknownst to most, the song is about a woman named Annie who was attacked. Rarely did songs discuss violence again women like that, but MJ was up for the challenge.

2 Grammy Awards Won
Sounds like it should be more Grammy Awards won, right? Well, Michael Jackson’s Bad won Best Engineered Recording and Best Music Video – Short Form for “Leave Me Alone.” For Grammy nods, here’s another figure: Bad had four other nominations, including Album Of the Year, Best Pop Vocal Performance, Best R&B Vocal Performance, and Record Of the Year for “Man In the Mirror.” There are probably several million fans who would argue that MJ deserved all of those Grammy Awards.

2 Legendary Collaborations
Like most Michael Jackson albums, the beauty of Bad was that it wasn’t laden with tons of collaborations. In fact, the album only had two features – both of whom are industry veterans. The legendary Stevie Wonder appeared on Jackson’s song “Just Good Friends.” Then, singer/songwriter Siedah Garrett appeared as a featured vocalist on “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You.” As previously mentioned Garrett co-wrote “Man In the Mirror” and is also credited as a background vocalist on Bad.

1 Legendary Producer
Does an album really need any other producer outside of Mr. Quincy Jones? After working with Quincy Jones on The Wiz, MJ later asked Jones to produce Off The Wall, followed by Thriller. Their last time working together was on Bad. Who knows what would have been created had Quincy Jones and Michael Jackson returned to the studio together once again? At least we were given a few classic projects to hold onto, and 25 years later, Bad remains one of them.

Watch Ne-Yo Remember Michael Jackson’s Bad Album


See 15 of the Best Hip-Hop & R&B Albums of 2012 (So Far)

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