After the unquestionable success of Thriller in 1982, which became the best-selling album of all time and put Michael Jackson in the spotlight, we had to wait five years (quite a lot of years considering that he was the most famous artist at the moment) until his next music proposal. It is true that Michael Jackson was involved –in a certain way– in the recording of the Victory (1984) album with his brothers, and by being the project driver with Lionel Richie in the We Are the World (1985) single. Nevertheless, the world wasn’t able to listen to any solo songs from him during all these years.
In 1987, Michael Jackson finally released the first single of the album Bad, titled I Just Can’t Stop Loving You, which eventually reached the peak position on the Hot 100 for one week. Although, the artist made his first appearance –with an evident new look and style– in the clip of the single Bad, an 18-minute short film directed by one of the most recognized filmmakers in the industry, Martin Scorsese, then already the director of cult movies such as Taxi Driver (1976) or Ranging Bull (1980).
Michael Jackson hoped that the clip for Bad would reach the success that Thriller had had when it came out, and that’s why it was conceived as a short film with a deep story behind it. Described as a tale of urban and racial challenges in the 1980s, the video explains the story of Daryl (Michael Jackson), a boy who came back to his neighbourhood for holidays after studying for the whole year in a private college, and who gets to reunite with his childhood friends. Daryl and they received a completely different culture and education, and this can be seen when Mini Max, the leader of the gang, is disappointed when he realizes that Daryl is sensitive and nice to people, while he expects him to be more of a tough guy. That’s the reason why Mini Max dares him to commit a crime. Daryl, angrily, accepts the challenge by bringing the gang to a subway station to show them that he is a really bad boy. Once they’re there, when he’s about to rob a lonely man, he regrets his own intentions and ends up not going through with the crime, which makes the gang disappointed, accusing him of not being bad enough. Then, Michael Jackson starts singing the iconic song we all know: Bad. Finally, when the song ends, the boys grasp and accept Daryl’s new way of life, reconciling with him again.
It’s important to point out that the clip is based on a real story that had a completely different ending. In real life, when the boy came back home, he was murdered by his friends because they felt jealous about the good life he’d had.
In summary, the magic of Martin Scorsese –whose classic camera movements can be appreciated on the video–, as well as the talent of Michael Jackson plus his unforgettable and stylishly choreography, and the number of details reminiscent of the 80s, make Bad one of the best music videos in history and one of the most iconic by far.