Nine months and two weeks after the album’s release, five songs from Bad—”I Just Can’t Stop Loving You” (with Siedah Garrett), “Bad,” “The Way You Make Me Feel,” Man in the Mirror” and “Dirty Diana”— had reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100, for a collective seven weeks at the top, setting a new world record.
Lee: The legacy of the album is you have two legacies. It has something that Thriller doesn’t have: five No. 1 consecutive singles. But, number two is that it was the album that followed up Thriller, the biggest-selling album of all time.
Branca: Bad was an enormously influential album. It had an enormous impact on many of today’s biggest artists, stars, who point to that album and those videos as being influential in their careers.
Afrojack: All music has always been inspired by the next level of producing. This is a long time later. It’s fun to see how it’s still inspiring.
Branca: Like I said, I remember that conversation with Michael where I tried to take the pressure off of him and he said no, he put the pressure right back on his shoulders. I just remember how driven he was. I think he had a great time on the Bad tour. When you see that footage you can see that he’s having a really good time. He stepped out on his own; he was completely in control. I think it was a great time in Michael’s life.
Phillinganes: It was a wild ride. I do remember [the concerts at] Wembley. Princess Di showed up and Michael, that lucky dog, got to be in the receiving line. We could see her pretty well in her bright yellow dress, sitting in her box. Tons of people showed up. Naomi Campbell. Buddies of mine that I had toured with showed up. Eric Clapton. Phil Collins. Barry Gibb. They were all there. We did three at Wembley, and it’s Wembley Stadium, not arena, so that’s like at least 70,000 people. You can never imagine the feeling of watching 70,000 people light torches during “Man in the Mirror.”
Branca: [The concert footage on the BAD25 DVD is] one concert start to finish. There are no edits and piecing together of different concerts. It’s one concert, Michael Jackson at Wembley Stadium in the presence of Prince Charles and Lady Diana. He actually refers to them at the beginning and at the end of the show. We had high-quality footage of other concerts, but the audio wasn’t very good. For Wembley we had great audio but all we had visually was Michael’s VHS copy of the monitor feed.
Phillinganes: I wasn’t with him when he [watched the VHS tapes of his shows], but it was always to improve. He was very meticulous about every aspect of the show, particularly choreography, lighting. He just always strived to maintain that basis that he set for himself.
Forger: For me, it really was that point in time when Michael took the reins of his solo career and you could understand Michael’s personality musically. It’s not that you couldn’t before that, it’s just that in his solo career now he had taken all the encouragement that Quincy [Jones] had given him, and it was just that extension. This was it happening.
Phillinganes: It was arguably the most transitional point in establishing his musical independence. And the songs speak for themselves. It was just a well-rounded collection of great songs.
Forger: To me what I come away with from the Bad album is, ironically, one of the songs that Michael did not write, and that’s Man in the Mirror. Man in the Mirror to me totally represents that place that Michael started directing his energy to. You start to really see where Michael’s heart is, where his soul is, what his intent was for what he would like to accomplish with his music, and that’s a thing that in much later material is clearly evident, and this is the time when you see that coming to the forefront I think, so strongly.
Branca: Clearly Michael is an artist whose popularity will live on for generations. It’s funny, I was talking to Spike Lee about this, some artists are great singers but they don’t write their songs, and some artists are great songwriters but they’re not excellent vocalists or they can’t dance. You look at Michael, and he could write the songs, he could produce them, he could sing them, he could get out and perform and dance them, and then his sense of style sort of changed fashion trends. He’s a unique artist in that respect.
Lee: To be honest, over the years, Bad has grown in stature… Sometimes you don’t get s–t when it comes out right away. We cannot overemphasize: Bad was a follow-up to the greatest single selling album in the history of human civilization. You cannot overemphasize that.