Suggest a Songfact / Artistfact
Album: BadReleased: 1987Charted:
Michael Jackson wrote many of his hit song by himself, including "Billie Jean
" and "Beat It
." This is another example one he wrote, although it's not nearly as personal as many of his compositions. According to the book Jacksons Number Ones
, he wrote this song after his mother Katherine asked him to write a song with "a shuffling kind of rhythm."
Jackson had sung about girls in songs like "Rock With You
" and "P.Y.T.," but this was the first song that featured a love interest in the video. She was played by a dancer/actress named Tatiana Thumbtzen, and in the video, Jackson seduces her with his dancing. Their real-life relationship is a little murky: a tearful Thumbtzen claimed in the VH1 special Michael Jackson's Secret Childhood
that they had an affair, but she was fired from public performances of this song when their relationship started becoming public. When Jackson needed a love interest in later videos, he went with high-profile models: Iman in "Remember The Time" and Naomi Campbell in "In The Closet
This was the third of 5 US #1 hits from Bad, following up the title track.
On the Bad
tour, Jackson needed a female singer to perform on this song and "I Just Can't Stop Loving You
." An unknown Sheryl Crow was picked for the role. She told Rolling Stone
in 2010: "There'd be some nights where he was checked out, but some shows he'd pull me in really tight, and it was overwhelming. Not in a sexual sense, but because of the metaphysical energy he possessed."
Jackson performed this at the 1988 Grammy Awards, and at a 2001 concert special that aired on CBS where he was joined onstage by Britney Spears, who sang on this with Michael. Britney's appearance was originally cut from the broadcast because of her contract with HBO, but was inserted for a reair of the special.
Jackson produced the songs on the Bad album with Quincy Jones, who helmed his Thriller album. Jones has mentioned this song as one of his favorite orchestrations on the album; he added lots of little rhythms and sounds to the track to give it texture.