for the majority of my childhood, two types of music comprised about 90% of my musical knowledge: southern gospel and oldies. of that 90%, about 75% of that was my dad’s (awful) southern gospel. occasionally we could beg him to turn on oldies on the car radio.
but then there was that 10%. the other piece of my childhood musical puzzle was the artist who any self respecting child of the 80s was obsessed with: michael jackson.
while i was mildly familiar with 1982’s seminal album thriller but it wasn’t until august 31, 1987—exactly 25 years ago today—that i became completely enthralled with the king of pop.
i can’t remember if it was on the release date or shortly thereafter, but at the ripe old age of 7 years old, i received my first album: michael jackson’s bad. i’m glad to say that 25 years later, it’s one of the few things—in all its vinyl glory (yes, vinyl…that’s the actual picture above)—i’ve managed to hang onto after all these years.
i really believe bad is one of the greatest and, ultimately, most underrated albums of all-time. following the monstrous success of thriller, people had a hard time not viewing bad in thriller’s shadow. some have argued, though, that pound for pound, track for track, bad was the stronger collection. while it didn’t have the single track as strong as billie jean, it had an arsenal of chart-topping hits that became classics from michael jackson’s songbook. in fact, it’s only 1 of 2 albums of all-time to have 5 consecutive chart-topping singles (i just can’t stop loving you, bad, the way you make me feel, man in the mirror & dirty diana).
i remember sitting for hours listening to this album, flipping one side to the other over and over and over. it’s impossible to say many original things about michael jackson at this point, but i remember listening to this album thinking it was magical and like nothing else i’d ever heard before. it has truly shaped the way i listen to music and set forth a journey of musical discovery that has and will always point back to that album.
so, if you’ve never given bad a thorough listen, go do it. 25 years later isn’t too late to give it a try.