It was always inevitable following his death in 2009 that no corner of Michael Jackson’s back catalogue would remain untouched. Just three years on and there’s already been a collection of his unreleased recordings (Michael), a Cirque du Soleil soundtrack (Immortal) and countless cash-in compilations.
So it was little surprise when it was announced that Jackon’s seminal 1987 seventh studio effort, Bad, was to be given the full deluxe edition treatment for its 25th anniversary. However, the choice of remixers for the project was a little less predictable.
With only a minor solo hit (“Take Control”) and a credit on Pitbull’s number one “Give Me Everything,” under his belt, Dutch DJ Afrojack is certainly one of the lesser-known superstar DJs to have emerged from the burgeoning EDM movement, but was nevertheless personally selected by the King of Pop’s estate to rework the iconic title track.
A self-confessed Jacko fan, the 25-year-old initially turned down the offer, claiming it would have been ‘like the President of America asking you for financial advice.’ His reluctance is virtually audible. Putting a unique spin on one of the most famous pop songs of the 80s was always going to be a tall order. But his limp and generic ‘electro-pop by numbers’ Club Mix suggests that he was too afraid to try anything remotely adventurous, the now ubiquitous bass wobble the only rather feeble attempt to bring the track into the 21st century.
Unfortunately, the DJ Buddha Edit is even more charmless thanks to the appearance of creepy self-proclaimed lothario Pitbull, who shamelessly uses the track as an opportunity for yet more self-promotion (“Love it or hate it, it’s Mr Worldwide”), misguidedly attempts the famous Jackson ‘hee-hee’ and serves up such baffling lines as “you gonna play this/well, like a woman that’s pregnant for ten months/be the latest/don’t delay this.”
Chart-toppers in the UK but virtual unknowns in the US, dubstep duo Nero again aren’t the most obvious choice, but thankfully equip themselves slightly better on possibly the best pop track ever to be inspired by a speeding ticket, “Speed Demon.” Showcasing their bombastic bass-heavy Wall of Sound, the fun but throwaway slice of funk-pop is transformed into a monstrous stadium-ready dubstep anthem in a respectful but hardly subtle manner.
Of course, Jacko worshippers will be far more interested in Bad 25’s collection of demos, out-takes and live performances. But the opportunity to reinvent the entire album for the new clubbing generation appears to have been hopelessly wasted.