Written and Composed by Michael Jackson
Produced by Quincy Jones for Quincy Jones Productions
Co-Produced by Michael Jackson for MJJ Productions, Inc.
From the album Bad, released August 31, 1987
Released as a single July 4, 1989
THE SHORT FILM
Director: Jim Yukich
Primary Production Location: Los Angeles, California
Michael Jackson’s short film for “Liberian Girl” was the eighth of nine short films produced for recordings from Bad, one of the best selling albums of all time. While “Liberian Girl” was not released as a single in the United States, it was released as a single internationally and reached the Top 20 in five countries throughout Europe, including the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, France, Switzerland and Ireland (where it reached No. 1). In the United Kingdom, “Liberian Girl” was Michael’s ninth Top 40 single from Bad, a record for one album.
The song’s humorous short film starts with black and white footage of an African port town, before a transition to color, where a production assistant’s clapboard reveals the “town” is a soundstage. On that set, dozens of Michael’s friends and collaborators make small talk, joke and wait around with one question on their minds: where is Michael? At the short film’s conclusion, when everyone converges on the set, it is revealed that Michael was behind the camera the whole time, laughing as he descends from a camera crane and saying, “Okay everyone, that’s a wrap!”
Three dozen actors, musicians and celebrities can be seen in the short film, including Malcolm-Jamal Warner, Paula Abdul, Whoopi Goldberg, Bad producer Quincy Jones, John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John (making their first on-screen appearance together since 1978’s Grease), Steven Spielberg, “Weird Al” Yankovic, Suzanne Somers, Lou Ferrigno, Don King, illusionist David Copperfield, Richard Dreyfuss, Danny Glover and Dan Aykroyd. During the video, a mysterious person wearing bandages can be spotted; in the short film’s end credits, he is credited simply as “?”
In a 2011 interview, director Jim Yukich called shooting the short film “incredible,” remembering Michael as “unbelievably nice…such a pleasant person and a nice guy.”