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Michael Jackson - Smooth Criminal (1988)

  • Video Views 611,893,730
  • 80's Score80's Score80's Score 80's score: 2.65
  • Find this song on: Music Stack

"Smooth Criminal" is a song by American singer Michael Jackson from his seventh studio album Bad (1987). It was written by ...

"Smooth Criminal" is a song by American singer Michael Jackson from his seventh studio album Bad (1987). It was written by Jackson, and produced by Jackson and Quincy Jones. It was released as the album's seventh single on November 14, 1988. It features lyrics about a woman who has been attacked in her apartment by a "smooth criminal". The refrain "Annie, are you OK?" was inspired by Resusci Anne, a dummy used in CPR training.

"Smooth Criminal" peaked at number seven on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming the sixth top 10 single from Bad. It also peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot Black Singles chart. It was certified 2x Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). The song reached number one in Belgium, Iceland, the Netherlands and Spain. Though "Smooth Criminal" was not one of the Billboard Hot 100 number-one singles, in retrospective reviews it has been regarded as one of the best songs on Bad and one of Jackson's signature songs. It has appeared on numerous greatest hits albums and was performed on all of Jackson's solo tours.

The music video for "Smooth Criminal" premiered on MTV on October 13, 1988. The video is the centerpiece of the 1988 film Moonwalker. The 1930s influenced setting and Jackson's white suit and fedora pays tribute to the Fred Astaire musical comedy film The Band Wagon. In the video, Jackson and the dancers perform an "anti-gravity lean" that appears physically impossible.

"Smooth Criminal" was re-released in 2006 as a single as a part of Jackson's Visionary: The Video Singles boxset. Rolling Stone ranked the song sixth on their list of the 50 Best Michael Jackson Songs, writing that it was "his best blend of R&B groove and rock edginess, and a turning point in his shift toward darker, harder-edged material".

Music video

Jackson originally wanted to make a music video in the western genre, but decided after watching The Godfather with director Colin Chilvers to change it to a 1930s gangster style. Jeffrey Daniel of the soul music group Shalamar co-choreographed the "Smooth Criminal" video with Jackson and Vincent Paterson, who was a back-up dancer in the music videos for "Beat It" and "Thriller". It was directed by special effects coordinator Colin Chilvers. The dance sequence and Jackson's white suit and fedora pays tribute to the Fred Astaire musical comedy film The Band Wagon. The film was shot between mid-February and April 1987 at Culver City, California and in the backlot at Universal Studios Hollywood. The video premiered on MTV on October 13, 1988.

Jackson and the other dancers perform an "anti-gravity lean" that appears physically impossible. The dancers lean forward 45 degrees with their backs straight and feet flat on the floor, and hold the pose before returning upright. The lean moves the body's center of mass further than it can support. The illusion was achieved using cables and a harness. In October 1993, Jackson's team patented a method of performing the lean in concert using specially designed shoes that hook into pegs that rise from the stage. Even with the shoes, the move requires good athletic core strength.

The video won Best Music Video at the 1989 Brit Awards and the Critic's Choice awarded Jackson the "Best Video" award and the People's Choice Awards for "Favorite Music Video" for that same year.

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