Consumer Guide Album
Michael Jackson: Bad [Epic, 1987]
Anybody who charges studio hackery is too narrow-minded to be able to hear pros out-doing themselves. Studio mastery is more like it, the strongest and most consistent black pop album in years, defining Jam & Lewis's revamp of Baby Sis as the mainstream and then inundating it in rhythmic and vocal power. But what made Thriller a miracle wasn't consistency--it was genius like "Beat It" and "Billie Jean" and the unknowable allure of the pure star. The closest thing to genius here is the CD-only "Leave Me Alone," which isn't all that close and also suggests what's happened to his allure--the more knowable he gets, the more fucked up he seems. This is a record that damn near wrecks perfectly good dancin' and singin' with subtext. He's against burglary, speeding, and sex ("Dirty Diana" is as misogynistic as any piece of metal suck-my-cock), in favor of harmonic convergence and changing the world by changing the man in the mirror. His ideal African comes from Liberia. And he claims moonwalking makes him a righteous brother. Like shit.