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Michael Jackson – Smooth Criminal: A 1998 hit song

Michael Jackson – Smooth Criminal: A 1998 hit song.

“Michael Jackson – Smooth Criminal” is not just a song; it is a masterpiece that showcases Michael Jackson’s unparalleled talent as a singer, songwriter, and performer. Released on November 14, 1988, from his seventh album, Bad, the song captivated audiences worldwide with its catchy beat, captivating lyrics, and an iconic music video that pushed the boundaries of what was possible in the world of dance.

1. The Composition and Lyrics

“Smooth Criminal” is a product of Jackson’s creative genius, with the singer co-writing and co-producing the track alongside the legendary Quincy Jones. The song is in the key of A minor, and Jackson’s vocal range from G3 to C6 adds a unique touch to the melody. The lyrics tell a gripping story of a woman who has been attacked in her apartment by a “smooth criminal,” setting the stage for a thrilling musical narrative.

The chorus refrain, “Annie, are you OK?”, was inspired by Resusci Anne, a CPR training dummy, adding a clever and memorable twist to the song’s theme. As always, Jackson’s ability to infuse storytelling elements into his music made “Smooth Criminal” stand out among his impressive catalog of hits.

2. The Groundbreaking Music Video

The music video for “Smooth Criminal” is an unforgettable visual spectacle that premiered internationally on MTV on October 13, 1988. Part of the 1988 film Moonwalker, the video features a 1930s gangster club setting, with Jackson donning a white suit and fedora as a tribute to Fred Astaire’s classic musical comedy film, The Band Wagon.

The highlight of the video is the seemingly impossible “anti-gravity lean,” where Jackson and his dancers lean forward at a gravity-defying 45-degree angle while keeping their backs straight and feet flat on the floor. Achieving this illusion required cables and harnesses, showcasing Jackson’s commitment to pushing the boundaries of dance and performance art.

3. Critical Acclaim and Chart Success

“Smooth Criminal” received widespread acclaim from critics, who praised its blend of R&B groove and rock edginess. Rolling Stone hailed it as one of Jackson’s best songs and a turning point in his musical style. The song’s unique combination of suspenseful storytelling and exhilarating action sequences earned it a place among Jackson’s most captivating works.

Chart-wise, “Smooth Criminal” performed exceptionally well, peaking at number seven on the Billboard Hot 100 and becoming the sixth top-10 single from the Bad album. It reached number one in several countries, including Belgium, Iceland, the Netherlands, and Spain, solidifying Jackson’s global appeal and influence.

4. A Timeless Legacy

Decades after its release, “Smooth Criminal” continues to be celebrated as a timeless classic. Its infectious groove, innovative dance moves, and powerful storytelling have left an indelible mark on popular culture. The song’s success even led to a re-release in 2006 as part of Jackson’s Visionary: The Video Singles box set, reminding fans and newcomers alike of the King of Pop’s unmatched artistry.


Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal” is an embodiment of the artist’s unmatched creativity and showmanship. With its mesmerizing music, thrilling narrative, and groundbreaking dance sequences, the song remains a testament to Jackson’s status as a true music legend. “Smooth Criminal” is more than just a song; it is an immersive experience that continues to captivate audiences, solidifying its place among the greatest works of one of the most iconic performers in history.

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