We have all, hopefully, experienced the satisfaction of a job well done, received positive feedback, and moved on with a sense of wanting to outdo ourselves at the next at-bat.
Now imagine you’re Michael Jackson and your last job well done was “Thriller.”
Thursday night (Nov. 22), on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of “Bad,” ABC is airing “BAD 25,” a dynamite new documentary that chronicles the making of Jackson’s follow-up to the best-selling album of all time.
History may justifiably shine the brighter light on “Thriller,” but “Bad” hardly performed shabbily, spawning five consecutive number one singles -- a record recently tied by Katy Perry -- on its way to selling over 40 million copies.
(Fortunately, Jackson didn’t listen to his lawyer -- and now estate co-executor -- John Branca and make an album of covers.)
Spike Lee directs the film in straightforward oral history fashion, interviewing all of the major players in the studios, on the video sets, and on the subsequent world tour for the album (which included the only solo North American tour Jackson would ever perform), as well as famous fans including Mariah Carey, Questlove, and Kanye West. But within that traditional framework, Lee has crafted something that is not only illuminating, but funny and poignant.
While one confidant claims that Jackson would write the figure of 100,000,000 -- as in copies sold -- on his mirrors, the film focuses less on the album’s commercial aspirations than its creative inspirations and that of its videos, which Jackson insisted on calling “short films.”
It’s a kick to see a younger Martin Scorsese directing Jackson (and pre-fame costar Wesley Snipes) on the video for the title track and to hear novelist-screenwriter Richard Price recall that Jackson had hoped the video would illustrate that he had street cred. “So he goes to the Italian asthmatic, he goes to the Jewish asthmatic, and we’re going to make Michael a homey,” recalls Price, the Jewish asthmatic in that equation, with a chuckle.
Also popping up in both present-day interviews and archival footage (rocking a sky-high perm) is a contemplative and articulate Sheryl Crow, one of Jackson’s backup singers on the “Bad” tour, who marvels that when he performed, “the molecules changed in the room.”
Equally informative are conversations with Jackson’s various choreographic collaborators, who reveal Jackson’s famously fluid moves had roots in everything from “Soul Train” to vintage Fred Astaire films like “The Band Wagon.”
For Jackson music nerds, the meatiest stuff comes in discussions with his arrangers, engineers, songwriters, and musicians who break down Jackson’s songwriting, their own contributions, and the recording process -- from the horns on the title track to the gospel choir on “Man in the Mirror.”
You see the joy radiate off keyboardist Greg Phillinganes as he rhapsodizes about the various components of songs like “Leave Me Alone,” and as he bounces around onstage. And you can feel singer-songwriter Siedah Garrett’s chills as she reminisces about the moment she realized Jackson would be singing her and Glen Ballard’s co-penned “Man in the Mirror,” or that she would be recording a duet with Jackson on “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You.”
Kanye West may get off the best line in the film, however, when he voices the question about “Smooth Criminal” that no doubt many have asked over the years: “I never quite understood who Annie was. And why did it matter if she was OK or not?”
The Jackson estate has also released a three-disc anniversary set containing the remastered album, a disc of rarities from the period, and a DVD of a live London concert performance from the “Bad” world tour in 1988. Lee borrows several songs from that show for his film, and they serve as a jubilant reminder of Jackson’s kinetic gifts as a performer.
Click HERE to read reviews from the Hollywood Reporter, TIME Magazine, and the Guardian. Click HERE to read the New York Times' review.
Source - BostonGlobe.com
Michael Jackson's Duet Partner Siedah Garrett Reminisces On 'Bad'
There's a moment in Spike Lee's new Michael Jackson documentary "BAD 25" that Siedah Garrett -- co-writer of "Man in the Mirror" and the late Jackson's duet partner on "I Just Can't Stop Loving You" -- particularly favors.
"When Michael said he wanted to record 'Man in the Mirror,' the demo was in a key that was comfortable for me and one step too high for Michael," Garrett tells Billboard. "So he wanted me to re-sing the demo in the new key, and when I went into the studio to do it in the new key Michael followed me with a video camera. I said, 'What are you doing?' He said, 'I want to record you performing the song… because I want to sing it like you.' And I'm like, 'Great, Mike; all my friends are really gonna believe me when I tell them, 'Oh, Michael Jackson wanted to sound like me!' And I'm cracking up and he's cracking up, but he's still recording. And it's in ('BAD 25'). I never thought I would see it because it's Michael's personal footage. It's amazing."
Adding to the amazement: "You can see a little bit of him in a reflection in the mirror in the studio. You can see him videotaping me singing the song in the new key, and it's like HE'S the man in the mirror."
"BAD 25," which airs at 9:30 p.m. (EST) Thanksgiving Day on ABC and is also for sale on DVD and Blu-ray, includes many such behind-the-scenes moments in the making of the 1987 album, which ranks as the fifth best-selling album all-time with estimates of up to 45 million copies sold worldwide. It's also the first album to unleash five consecutive No. 1 singles, including "I Just Can't Stop Loving You" and "Man in the Mirror."
It's notable that "Bad" got a documentary for its silver anniversary while its predecessor, the more impactful "Thriller," did not, but Garrett has her own theory about why "Bad" resonates so significantly right now.
"'BAD 25' is such a stellar marker in time because [Jackson] was still alive when 'Thriller' was 25 years old," Garrett notes. "He was still alive and getting ready to tour, so there was a different kind of vibe going on. I think the fact he's passed now is what makes 'Bad' more special. I did notice that when he passed away, all the news footage and all the specials about his life, it wasn't 'Michael Jackson The Thriller' or 'Michael Jackson Beat It;' it was 'Michael Jackson Man In the Mirror.' That just spoke volumes to me."
"I Just Can't Stop Loving You," meanwhile, had its own behind-the-scenes drama that "BAD 25" captures. Jackson and producer Quincy Jones originally considered big-name partners such as Barbra Streisand, Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin and others. Unable to snag one, they chose Garrett, then working as one of Jones' staff songwriters. But they neglected to mention it to her until it was time to record the song.
"Quincy called me back and I thought we were still finishing 'Man in the Mirror,' 'cause we had been working on that a few days earlier and I knew we hadn't finished it," Garrett remembers. "There was another song being played, so I thought maybe they were running behind. I just made myself comfortable sitting behind Quincy and knitting, and then he says over his shoulder, 'Do you think this song?' I'm like, 'Yeah, yeah.' Then he said, 'Can you sing it?' 'Yeah.' He said, 'Go in there and sing it. Michael, go in there,' and as we're walking through the door it hit me I was gonna sing this song with Michael," who, Garrett adds, spent the whole take throwing popcorn at her while she was singing her parts.
Garrett has recently released a tribute song called "Keep on Loving You" that she calls "an answer to our duet. I never got to express to him how much what he did for me -- introducing me to the world as a singer and a songwriter -- meant to me. So I wrote it down in a song, just my sentiments about how I was feeling the day I met him and how surprised I was to find out he was as cool as he was. It's just a love song, a basic love song."
Source - Billboard.com
Author of 'Man in the Music' & University of Rochester Instructor Joe Vogel Talks 'BAD 25'
If you're a Michael Jackson fan, or a music buff in general, then University of Rochester instructor Joe Vogel's book on the King of Pop -- entitled "Man in the Music: The Creative Life and Work of Michael Jackson" -- is a must-have!
Vogel (a frequent contributor to The Huffington Post and PopMatters) began work on his impeccably detailed book in 2005, determined to "recover [Jackson's] artistry" in the face of "endless tabloid coverage on sensationalistic topics." He spent years analyzing the singer's massive catalog, as well as extensively interviewing Jackson's collaborators and studio engineers for the origins of each and every song.
Truly one of the very few books of its kind, "Man in the Music" explores what made Michael Jackson a great artist in the first place.
Director Spike Lee quickly became a fan of Vogel's work and asked the author to appear in his critically acclaimed documentary "BAD 25," which explores the making-of and inspirations behind Jackson's 1987 album "Bad."
Hear Vogel's insights into the creative mind of the King of Pop when "BAD 25" airs tonight (Nov. 22) on ABC at 9:30 p.m. ET / 8:30 p.m. CT.
Source - 13Wham News / ABC
When / Where to Watch Spike Lee's MJ Documentary, "BAD 25"
U.S.A. -- Tonight, November 22nd, 2012 at 9:30 p.m. ET/PT on ABC
CANADA -- Tonight, November 22nd, 2012 at 9:30 p.m. ET/PT on CTV Two
AUSTRALIA -- November 29th, 2012 at 10:30 p.m. on GO!
U.K. -- December 1st, 2012 at 9:30 p.m. on BBC2