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Singles that were and singles that weren't

Michael Hagerty

Well-Known Member
Contributor
Despite Thriller breaking all the records as an album, that “multi-single” approach didn’t actually work for Michael either, outside of the US. Granted, the album spawned seven singles, but not all of them were successful in chart terms. With a couple of exceptions in other territories such as Canada and the Netherlands, the fourth, fifth and sixth singles all strayed outside the top 10 in Europe and in a lot of cases the top 40. In the UK, “Thriller” only barely scraped the top 10 and “Human Nature” scaled the dizzying heights of #162.
Wow! Had no idea. Yeah---releasing too many singles off an album is a great way to insure than ten years later, people looking at chart history say "man, they had a lot of stiffs and mid-charters."
 

Alan71

Member
Despite Thriller breaking all the records as an album, that “multi-single” approach didn’t actually work for Michael either, outside of the US. Granted, the album spawned seven singles, but not all of them were successful in chart terms. With a couple of exceptions in other territories such as Canada and the Netherlands, the fourth, fifth and sixth singles all strayed outside the top 10 in Europe and in a lot of cases the top 40. In the UK, “Thriller” only barely scraped the top 10 and “Human Nature” scaled the dizzying heights of #162.
Bad was very successful though. Of 11 tracks, nine were released as singles, and only two of them (Another Part of Me and Liberian Girl) missed the UK top 10. Even they both made the top 15.

After the ninth single, I wondered if they’d complete the job and release the other two tracks. One of them, Speed Demon, had a readily-made promo thanks to its sequence in Moonwalker. Just Good Friends might have been trickier though, being as Stevie Wonder duetted. They could have cheated and called it a double-A side. Hey, presto, Bad would have been its own mini Greatest Hits album.
 

Rumbahbah

Well-Known Member
Bad was very successful though. Of 11 tracks, nine were released as singles, and only two of them (Another Part of Me and Liberian Girl) missed the UK top 10. Even they both made the top 15.

After the ninth single, I wondered if they’d complete the job and release the other two tracks. One of them, Speed Demon, had a readily-made promo thanks to its sequence in Moonwalker. Just Good Friends might have been trickier though, being as Stevie Wonder duetted. They could have cheated and called it a double-A side. Hey, presto, Bad would have been its own mini Greatest Hits album.

'Man in the Mirror' also fell short of the top 10 in the UK - in fact, it didn't even make the Top 20, stopping at #21 in 1988.

After Jackson died in 2009, his hardcore fans launched a coordinated campaign to try an get it to #1 by mass-downloading it (presumably in an effort to 'right' the 'wrong' of its disappointing peak first time round), which pushed it to #2 in 2009. But it was a surprise relatively poor charter in the physical singles era.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
Bad was very successful though. Of 11 tracks, nine were released as singles, and only two of them (Another Part of Me and Liberian Girl) missed the UK top 10. Even they both made the top 15.

After the ninth single, I wondered if they’d complete the job and release the other two tracks. One of them, Speed Demon, had a readily-made promo thanks to its sequence in Moonwalker. Just Good Friends might have been trickier though, being as Stevie Wonder duetted. They could have cheated and called it a double-A side. Hey, presto, Bad would have been its own mini Greatest Hits album.

I actually prefer the Bad album over Thriller. I love the sound and production and every track has its own style and something different to offer. Thriller for me contained a couple of relative duds - Girlfriend and The Girl Is Mine (“the dog-gone girl is mine”...what on earth was Michael thinking?). Bad was also from that era where I was madly into collecting music as a teenager, so I’ve always had a soft spot for it. Thriller was just a few years before my teens, although that promo video was absolutely huge in the UK. Every girl I knew in school practiced the dance moves.
 

Mark-T

Well-Known Member
Funny, I was never into Bad. I thought the album cover was ridiculous, and the music was just ok. To me, it signaled the b beginning of the end of his creativity. But I can see what others like it.
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Site Admin
Even I as a thirty-year old was caught up in the THRILLER phenomenon. After about the fourth or fifth single, I broke down and bought a copy. Unfortunately, that was the tail end of the era of bad vinyl pressings. The one I bought sounded horrible, so I took it back. The next one wasn't as bad, but still not great, and I was tired of the hassle, so it still sits in my vinyl collection. BAD did nothing for me. THRILLER remains the only Michael Jackson product in my collection.
 

goodjeans

Well-Known Member
I actually prefer the Bad album over Thriller. I love the sound and production and every track has its own style and something different to offer. Thriller for me contained a couple of relative duds - Girlfriend and The Girl Is Mine (“the dog-gone girl is mine”...what on earth was Michael thinking?). Bad was also from that era where I was madly into collecting music as a teenager, so I’ve always had a soft spot for it. Thriller was just a few years before my teens, although that promo video was absolutely huge in the UK. Every girl I knew in school practiced the dance moves.
Exactly.
That lyric was a dirty old shame.
 

A&M Retro

Well-Known Member
I actually prefer the Bad album over Thriller. I love the sound and production and every track has its own style and something different to offer. Thriller for me contained a couple of relative duds - Girlfriend and The Girl Is Mine (“the dog-gone girl is mine”...what on earth was Michael thinking?). Bad was also from that era where I was madly into collecting music as a teenager, so I’ve always had a soft spot for it. Thriller was just a few years before my teens, although that promo video was absolutely huge in the UK. Every girl I knew in school practiced the dance moves.
‘Girlfriend’ (written by Sir Paul) was on the ‘Off The Wall’ album.
 

AM Matt

Well-Known Member
Jacko was screwed when his hair & maybe his brain was on fire during the Pepsi commercial in early 1984!! Since "Bad" in 1987, Jacko went downhill from there.
 

Alan71

Member
'Man in the Mirror' also fell short of the top 10 in the UK - in fact, it didn't even make the Top 20, stopping at #21 in 1988.

Yes, you’re absolutely right of course. My first reference point is always Wikipedia. Streaming/downloading does mess up physical singles chart history. There was me thinking Wham’s Last Christmas and Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas were number 2 hits and all of a sudden they’re number ones.😆
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
'Man in the Mirror' also fell short of the top 10 in the UK - in fact, it didn't even make the Top 20, stopping at #21 in 1988.

^^^ This I’ve never been able to understand. It was the best thing on the entire album. Maybe once again a case of “fourth single syndrome”. There’s an amazing documentary about the making of the album where they tell the story that they’d wrapped the recording session for this song and all the members of the gospel choir were on their way back to the parking lot. Only then did Michael have the idea of changing the key towards the end - on the word “make that change!” - and taking the song home to its big finish. They had to recall everyone back to the studio before they drove off, so they could recut the ending. Amazing.

While we’re on the subject, whoever decided on “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You” as the lead single really messed up. Perhaps it was Quincy Jones, but to introduce a long-awaited album with a duet with a session singer few people had heard of...that was crazy. “The Way You Make Me Feel” had killer hit written all over it and should have been the flagship single for that album.
 
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Alan71

Member
While we’re on the subject, whoever decided on “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You” as the lead single really messed up. Perhaps it was Quincy Jones, but to introduce a long-awaited album with a duet with a session singer few people had heard of...that was crazy. “The Way You Make Me Feel” had killer hit written all over it and should have been the flagship single for that album.
And what was worse was that there was no video for it, or even any footage of them performing it. The likes of Top of the Pops had to resort to showing a static photo of them both, with a short section of the song played over it. Still, it was number one in both the US and UK.

Apparently Barbra Streisand and Whitney Houston were the first two choices, but neither of them really needed it as they were both huge in their own right. Siedah Garrett was a protégé of Quincy Jones, and she didn’t know she would be singing it until the day of recording.
 

newvillefan

I Know My First Name Is Stephen
Siedah Garrett was a protégé of Quincy Jones, and she didn’t know she would be singing it until the day of recording.

Although relatively unknown as a recording artist, Siedah really was perfect for the record. The studio team couldn’t believe how she could mimic Michael’s vocals in the second verse, to the point where they were virtually indistinguishable from one another. On the Bad tour, the vocal duties for I Just Can’t Stop Loving You fell to a then little-known artist by the name of Sheryl Crow.

Interesting fact: Siedah Garrett wrote Man In The Mirror and begged Quincy Jones to listen to her demo tape of the song. He called her later the same evening and told her it was the best song he’d heard in ten years.
 

John Adam

"Two Lives"
Although relatively unknown as a recording artist, Siedah really was perfect for the record. The studio team couldn’t believe how she could mimic Michael’s vocals in the second verse, to the point where they were virtually indistinguishable from one another. On the Bad tour, the vocal duties for I Just Can’t Stop Loving You fell to a then little-known artist by the name of Sheryl Crow.

Interesting fact: Siedah Garrett wrote Man In The Mirror and begged Quincy Jones to listen to her demo tape of the song. He called her later the same evening and told her it was the best song he’d heard in ten years.

Which of course made Siedah perfect for the background vocal mix on "Kiss Me The Way You Did Last Night!"
 
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