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 September 7, 1987
THE SHORT FILM
Director: Martin Scorsese
Primary Production Location: New York City, New York
Michael Jackson’s short film for “Bad” was the first of nine short films produced for recordings from Bad, one of the best selling albums of all time. The “Bad” single hit No. 1 in three countries in 1987, topping the charts in the United States, Spain and the Netherlands and reaching Top 5 in the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, Australia and elsewhere. In the U.S., “Bad” was the second of five consecutive No. 1 singles from one album on the Billboard Hot 100 – making Michael the first artist to achieve this milestone.
In the short films for the Bad album, Michael continued to expand the possibilities of the “music video” as art form, working with high-profile collaborators to realize his artistic visions. The “Bad” short film, directed by acclaimed filmmaker Martin Scorsese and scripted by author/screenwriter Richard Price (The Color of Money), depicted urban and racial challenges in the late 1980s.
Inspired by the real-life story of Edmund Perry, a prep school graduate from Harlem whose shooting death by a plainclothes policeman galvanized New York City, “Bad” stars Michael as Darryl, a student returning to his inner-city home while on break from a prestigious academy. In the short film’s extended black and white sequence, Darryl comes into conflict with his neighborhood friends (led by actor Wesley Snipes in a breakthrough role) after showing discomfort over their attempts at petty crime. Angrily dismissed by his friends for no longer being “bad,” Darryl challenges them in an abandoned subway station. As the film suddenly transitions to color, Darryl, clad in the black leather outfit Michael wears on the Bad album sleeve, leads a troupe of dancers in a high energy performance of “Bad,” asserting his toughness without resorting to violence and ultimately earning the respect of his peers.
Shot entirely on location in New York City (with the video’s dance sequence taking place in the Hoyt-Schermerhorn subway station in Brooklyn), the “Bad” short film found Michael moving in a more complex, edgy direction. Working with choreographers Jeffrey Daniel and Gregg Burge, Jackson took inspiration from West Side Story and modern street dancing to further push the envelope as an entertainer, even engaging in a lively a cappella call-and-response sequence toward the end of the short film. “I was mesmerized by it,” Scorsese told Rolling Stone of the two and a half weeks shooting the dance sequences to “Bad.” “The video monitor made us all dancers.”
The “Bad” short film received instant acclaim and attention around the world. It premiered on a CBS special entitled Michael Jackson: The Magic Returns and was quickly added to MTV’s playlist shortly thereafter. The short film was nominated for an MTV Video Music Award for Best Choreography in 1988. In 2014, Rolling Stone ranked “Bad” No. 2 on a list of Michael’s 20 greatest videos. A year later, “Bad” became VEVO Certified for more than 100 million views worldwide. With 10 VEVO Certified videos, Michael Jackson has more of these honors than any other artist.