Spike Lee is many things, a bomb thrower, writer, director and after watching his recent Documentary Bad 25, clearly a big fan of Michael Jackson. Bad 25 is a celebration of the genius of Michael Jackson.
It is an impossible task to follow-up the mega success MJ had with Thriller. At the time of release Bad was not as well received as many would have hoped. The radical shift in tone and style was revolutionary for its time. However, the album still became the first album to produce 5 straight number one singles.
Did you know Whitney Houston was originally supposed to do the duet on I Just Can’t Stop Loving You? Or that Sheryl Crow was a backup singer during the Bad World Tour. Neither did I. There are lots of nice little nuggets in this documentary. There are rare interviews with most of the people involved in making Bad including Siedah Garrett (the woman who eventually did the famous duet), Martin Scorsese, Quincy Jones, Tatiana Thumbtzen (The Way You Make Me Feel video girl) and more.
There is a funny moment in the video where everyone is questioning who Annie is (from the song Smooth Criminal). We now know the answer – Annie is a doll used to train people in CPR. The one thing the video does neglect is the context of the time this album was released. It is strange to say that when Spike Lee does an amazing job of really going in depth into the creation and cultural impact each song and video had. It is also interesting that the impact of Thriller
An especially powerful moment comes at the end when they talk about Michael Jackson’s death. The reaction of all the people who worked closely with him were very moving. This segways into one of the all time great anthems – Man In The Mirror. The song has taken on new significance and weight since MJ’s death. MJ would be proud that this ultimate song about love, changing your life, making the world a better place is the song that many people now remember.
What can you say about an Album that had 5 straight number ones? Ironically it is the “lesser” songs like Man In The Mirror and I Just Can’t Stop Loving You that really have the lasting emotional punch. All these years later Bad holds up even more than Thriller. It truly was an album that was way ahead of its time. It is now available in a beautiful 25th anniversary deluxe edition.
Every frame of this documentary is a testament to Michael Jackson’s genius. It is fitting and a bit of a cliche that the documentary ends with an amazing live, passionate, performance of Man In The Mirror.