Today in 1988, Michael Jackson released “Smooth Criminal.” The up-beat track intertwined with the King of Pop’s piercing vocals told the story of a woman named Annie who was violently attacked by a smooth assailant. The single was featured on Michael’s seventh studio album, Bad, and launched his career into the world of film. The accompanying visual for “Smooth Criminal” is well-known for its gravity defying choreography but here a few facts about the song that you may not know:
“Smooth Criminal” was written by Michael Jackson and co-produced by Quincy Jones. Initially, the song was titled “Chicago 1945” and later evolved into “Al Capone.” These versions did not make the album and were re-worked into the exhilarating single we know and love today.
Michael originally wanted to shoot the video in the style of a western drama. But he later drew inspiration from The Third Man, after watching the film with the video’s director Colin Chilvers.
The video won Best Music Video at the 1989 Brit Awards and the Critic’s Choice awarded Michael the “Best Video” award and the People’s Choice Awards for “Favorite Music Video” for that same year.
In the accompanying visual, Michael performs a gravity-defying forward lean. To accomplish this maneuver, a hitching mechanism which Michael co-patented was built into the floor of the stage as well as his hoes, thereby allowing him to lean forward without needing to keep his balance.
“Smooth Criminal” was later adapted into a short film, Moonwalker, starring Michael and Joe Pesci as the lead roles. The film debuted in 1988 and was once again directed by Colin Chilvers.