|Single by Michael Jackson|
|from the album Bad|
|Released||October 21, 1988|
|Format||7″ single, 12″ single, CD single,cassette single|
Michael Jackson (co-producer)
|Michael Jackson singles chronology|
“Smooth Criminal” is the seventh single from American recording artist Michael Jackson‘s 1987 Bad album. The song contains a fast-paced beat intertwined with Jackson’s lyrics about a woman named Annie, who has been violently attacked in her apartment by a “smooth” assailant. First broadcast on television as a video in early October, it was released as a single on October 21, 1988, and peaked at number seven on the Billboard Hot 100. It was re-released on April 10, 2006, as a part of the Visionary: The Video Singles box set. The re-released Visionary single charted at number 19 in the UK. The piece is one of Jackson’s signature songs, and has appeared on numerous greatest hits albums, including Number Ones, The Essential Michael Jackson, Michael Jackson: The Ultimate Collection, King of Pop, This Is It, and Immortal.
Background and composition
“Smooth Criminal” is a song written by Jackson and co-produced with Quincy Jones. Two early versions of the song were written in 1985 and the original demo was recorded in 1986. The first song was called “Chicago 1945” which evolved into “Al Capone” (which was later released on the 25th anniversary edition of the album). This version did not make the album and was re-worked and re-written as “Smooth Criminal”.
This song is played in the key of A minor. Jackson’s vocal spans from G3 to E5. It has a moderate tempo of 118 beats per minute.The refrain of the song contains the phrase “Annie, are you OK?” This is a phrase used in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training courses, and Michael Jackson is known to have taken a CPR course. Resusci Anne, otherwise known as “Annie” in English-speaking countries, is the name of a mannequin commonly used in CPR training. As part of the course, trainees are taught to say “Annie, are you OK?” to the dummy in order to check that the patient is conscious and responsive.
Jason Elias of Allmusic called the song one of Jackson’s best: “Despite the content “Smooth Criminal” is a gorgeous and exhilarating record.” The New York Times‘ Jon Pareles wrote: “in Smooth Criminal, the singer finds a bloodstained carpet and an unconscious body, and asks, obsessively, Annie are you O.K.? when, clearly, she’s not.” Rolling Stone‘s Davitt Sigerson wrote: “Smooth Criminal” may be the result of retiring too soon after a Brian de Palma picture.”