Sunday, January 9, 2022

"Smooth Criminal" by Michael Jackson

Top 10 Alert!
Song#:  3721
Date:  11/12/1988
Debut:  66
Peak:  7
Weeks:  15
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  After a record setting five #1 Pop singles from the album Bad, Jackson's sixth single, "Another Part of Me," faltered in two ways. Not only did it fail to reach #1, but it missed the Top 10, which brought a screeching halt to his tally of 17 consecutive Top 10s from his albums Off the Wall, Thriller, and Bad. To add insult to injury, the label then decided to push out this seventh single and it ended up making the Pop Top 10. Had "Another Part of Me" made the Top 10, with this single Jackson would have tied his own record at the time of most Pop Top 10 singles from one album with seven, which he first achieved with Thriller. Still, six Top 10s with a record setting five #1s was impressive. Other countries would see a further two singles released with "Leave Me Alone" and "Liberian Girl," but neither would be issued in the US. Bad would end up selling over 11 million copies in the US, which was about a third of what Thirller sold. Some considered that a disappointing results, but in reality Thriller was an odd phenomenon that was just not going to be replicated so the fact that Jackson sold over 11 million (35 million worldwide) was quite the achievement. He would do nearly as well with his next effort, 1991's Dangerous, which sold 8 million US/32 million worldwide. That LP would have seven Pop chart singles including four Top 10s. Jackson's final Pop Top 10 hit before his death in 2009 came with 2001's "You Rock My World" (#10), which was from the LP Invincible.

ReduxReview:  This should have been the sixth single, no question. Had it been, the song not only would have continued Jackson's Top 10 streak, but it probably would have done better than #7. Instead, the far lesser "Another Part of Me" got issued and it put a pin in Jackson's pop hit balloon. Ah well. "Smooth Criminal" was one of the best tracks on Bad and is one that has continued to sound good decades later. Its mysterious, intense groove combined with the "Annie are you OK?" made it instantly memorable. I'd say it was the one song on the album that wouldn't have sounded out of place on Thriller. It was a great song to end the run of Bad singles. We wouldn't hear from Jackson again until 1991's "Black and White" with its face morphing video and controversial extended ending.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  This song was remade in 2001 by the US rock band Alien Ant Farm. Apparently, the idea to record the song came about when the band would play the main riff of the song during their stage warm ups. People who heard them do it then started to ask them to do the full song and they eventually did. It went over so well that they decided to recorded the tune for their second studio album Anthology. Its popularity led to the track being released as the second single from the album. It would end up reaching #1 on the Alt Rock chart, #18 Rock, and #23 Pop. It would become their most successful single and would help their album reach #11 and go platinum.


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