6. "Smooth Criminal"
Given that he was the biggest, most beloved pop star in the world, not everyone was happy about Michael Jackson coming out with a song that built on the aggression of Thriller's "Beat It." He and Quincy Jones reportedly butted heads over including the irresistibly menacing "Smooth Criminal" on Bad, and Jehovah's Witness elders visited the set of the song's video and expressed disappointment with its violent imagery. But Jackson held his ground, and the result is his best blend of R&B groove and rock edginess, and a turning point in his shift toward darker, harder-edged material. Inspired in part by the story of mid-Eighties serial killer Richard Ramirez, "Smooth Criminal" had been around in slightly different form since 1985, first called "Chicago 1945" and then "Al Capone"; both versions of the track featured a rapid-fire funky bass line close to the ravaging synth-bass of the finished number. The heartbeat heard on the track is a Synclavier rendition of Jackson's own, and helps provide creeping counterpoint to his haunting cries of "Annie, are you OK?"