Will Young On Michael Jackson’s Bad

Sources: BBC News | All Things Michael


Will Young grew up surrounded by music, listening to cassettes in the family car and smuggling a walkman into his strict boarding school.

His musical education has paid dividends since winning the inaugural series of Pop Idol in 2002, prompting him to pick interesting and unexpected collaborators over his six studio albums.

It’s given him one of the most successful careers of any talent show winner: Young has sold eight million records, won an Ivor Novello Award, and scored four number one albums, including his most recent release 85% Proof.

“I like frailty and vulnerability,” he says. “People who let me into their music and songs that evoke an atmosphere.”

As he releases his new single, Thank You, the musician sat down to discuss his five favourite (and one least favourite) records.



The follow-up to Thriller, Bad was released to fevered anticipation in 1987. Spawning nine hit singles, from the title track to Smooth Criminal, it marked the point where Jackson transformed from nimble-footed musical genius to paranoid, self-promoting King Of Pop. The key track is Man In The Mirror, a gospel-powered ballad that’s equal parts self-reflection and self-flagellation.

Bad came out when I was at prep school, aged about nine, and it just took over the school. Everyone had it… on cassette, actually.

It was a really strict school. We were only allowed to listen to music on Wednesday, Saturday or Sunday and we weren’t allowed to play music out loud. So it really was contained to my own world, on my Walkman.

Sonically, it was incredible. He’d moved to a lot harder sound. It became insane, epic. Dirty Diana is incredible – because it’s so loud, then suddenly drops out to that fantastic bassline.

Michael was a global pop star with Thriller, but this moved him to a completely different sound. The videos and his look – suddenly he had the glove and the leather jacket.

The thing was, he wasn’t Bad. But I guess as a young kid he did seem quite rebellious. There were all these posh kids running around doing a flick of their leg and saying, “who’s Bad?


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