Michael Jackson’s Music Video for ‘Bad’ Was Inspired by This Classic Movie

Michael Jackson was the king of music videos — and the video for “Bad” is one of his most famous. During an interview, one of his dancers revealed the video was inspired by Jackson’s love of a classic movie. The choreographer from the video also said a handful of major celebrities inspired Jackson’s dancing.

Michael Jackson wearing a hat
Michael Jackson |Kevin Mazur/WireImage

Michael Jackson loved this classic movie so much it made him yelp

Jackson rocked the world with his album Thriller. The songs from the album were massive hits and its music videos became iconic. Following the release of Thriller, the public wanted more. Larry Stessel, the senior Vice President of Marketing for Epic Records, explained the reaction to the album. “They were so hungry for Michael Jackson videos that we could’ve put out Michael singing ‘Happy Birthday’ and they would’ve played it,” he told Billboard.

In the book Michael Jackson: The Magic, The Madness, The Whole Story, 1958-2009, a dancer named Casper who worked with Jackson explained the origin of the “Bad” video. “Michael loves West Side Story,” he recalled. “He had us watch the film one night. He sat on the bed and we dancers — me, Jeffrey, Daniel, Greg Burge and some others — were sprawled all about in a hotel room.”

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West Side Story had a strong effect on Jackson. “He’d have us watch some scenes, and when he saw something he liked, he let out a yelp,” Casper said. “‘Ooh did you see that? Did you feel that?’ he’d say. That was the attitude he wanted in the video, West Side Story.”

The choreographer for ‘Bad’ revealed Michael Jackson’s other influences

During an interview with NPR, “Bad” choreographer Jeffrey Daniel said there were plenty of old-school influences on Jackson’s dancing besides West Side Story. “He pulls different things from different people, from Sammy Davis Jr., a bit of Elvis [Presley], a bit of James Brown, some Bob Fosse, Fred Astaire, what’s happening on the streets,” Daniel said. “So he’s a combination of all of those things and he mixes them all up.” Daniel’s comment is interesting since Jackson’s autobiography Moonwalk says he didn’t draw influence from Presley. Jackson said this may have been because he was born in the wrong generation.

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The way the world reacted to ‘Bad’

“Bad” became a massive hit. The song topped the Billboard Hot 100, remaining on the chart for 14 weeks. Its parent album, also titled Bad, had a major impact too. The album topped the Billboard 200 and stayed on the chart for 171 weeks.

“Bad” became a hit in the United Kingdom as well. The Official Charts Company reports “Bad” reached No. 3 in the U.K. and lasted on the charts for 21 weeks. Bad peaked at No. 1 in the U.K. and stayed on the chart for 180 weeks. “Weird Al” Yankovic parodied “Bad” and its video in “Fat.” “Bad” remains an iconic video and it wouldn’t be the same without West Side Story.