Speed Demon (song)


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Speed Demon (song)

"Speed Demon"
Promotional single by Michael Jackson
from the album Bad
Released October 12, 1989 (promo)
Format 7-inch single
Genre Funk rock
Length 4:01
Label Epic
Songwriter(s) Michael Jackson
Music video
"Speed Demon" on YouTube

"Speed Demon" is a song by American recording artist Michael Jackson from his seventh studio album, Bad. It was written, composed and co-produced by Jackson, and produced by Quincy Jones. "Speed Demon" is a funk rock song whose lyrics pertain to driving fast. The song was released on October 12, 1989, as a promotional single for both the album and the 1988 film Moonwalker. The song received mixed reviews from contemporary critics.

"Speed Demon" was originally supposed to be released as a commercial single, but those plans were subsequently canceled. "Speed Demon" was the tenth, and last, single to be released from Bad. The song achieved minor commercial success, having only received minor airplay in the United States. Despite being featured on Bad, the song was not performed during either leg of the album's world tour.


"Speed Demon" was written and co-produced by Michael Jackson, and produced by Quincy Jones. It appears on Jackson's album, Bad. Reportedly the song was originally planned to be released as an official single, but it was instead released as a promotion single. The song's lyrics are about driving fast. According to Jones, Jackson wrote the song after he received a traffic ticket, which caused him to arrive late to the recording studio. Jones told him to write about how he felt, which he did, thereby turning it into a song. Although "Speed Demon" was part of Jackson's Bad album, Jackson did not perform the song during his Bad World Tour, nor any of his other tours.

The song was remixed by electronic group Nero for the 25th anniversary of Bad.

Critical reception

"Speed Demon" received mixed reviews from contemporary critics. Davitt Sigerson of Rolling Stone stated that the "filler" content in Bad — including songs such as "Speed Demon", "Dirty Diana" and "Liberian Girl" — made Bad "richer, sexier, and better than Thriller's forgettables". Sigerson described "Speed Demon" as being "the car song"..."a fun little power tale in which Jackson's superego gives his id a ticket". On the other hand, Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic commented that the album's "constitute" of "near-fatal dead spot[s] on the record" were "Speed Demon" and "Another Part of Me", "a sequence that's utterly faceless, lacking memorable hooks and melodies".

Richard Cromelin of the Los Angeles Times gave Bad a good review. He remarked that the song "Speed Demon" would "zero" audiophiles on the "race car intro-dimensional recording....". Eric Snider of the St. Petersburg Times described "Speed Demon" as "churning along relentlessly". Jay Cocks of Time noted that Jackson did great "vocal stunts" on Bad's tracks; such as "Speed Demon" and "Dirty Diana" and described the two songs as "nimble and fanciful as any of his dance steps". In his Bad 25 review, BBC Music's Mike Diver wrote that "Speed Demon" was "fun funk-rock that'd sit happily on a Prince album of the period, compositionally if not lyrically."

Music video

Jackson filmed a promotional video for the song, which originally was a segment of his 1988 film Moonwalker. Directed by Will Vinton, the video was produced by Vinton, Jerry Kramer, Michael Jackson and Frank Dileo. In the video, Jackson, in an attempt to avoid overzealous fans (even The Noid), disguises himself as a rabbit named Spike, but ends up taunting the fans into chasing him. During the chase, he morphs into other celebrities, including Sylvester Stallone, Tina Turner and Pee-wee Herman;surprisingly enough, the set that Jackson was running on was very similar to the one in Pee-wee's Big Adventure, which was released 2 years prior . After finally losing the fans, he removes the costume, which comes to life and challenges him to a dance-off.

In the end, Clancy Brown tells Jackson he is in a "No Moonwalking Zone", and Jackson turns to point to Spike, and the rabbit has already left. The policeman then sarcastically asks for his autograph (as opposed to "signature") on the ticket. Just as Jackson is preparing to leave, the rocky crag in front of him morphs into Spike's head, who then nods to him, leaving Jackson one-upped by his own alter-ego. Nonetheless, he seems happy enough as he leaves. Dennis Hunt of The Los Angeles Times commented that the clips for Bad (which were featured in the film as "Badder", with children recreating the original clip), "Speed Demon" and "Leave Me Alone", are "slick, well-crafted and expensive-looking," but "they're still just [promotional] music videos". He felt that the videos were "not even strung together in any particularly imaginative fashion".

In 2010, the long version of the music video was released in the box set Michael Jackson's Vision and again in 2012 in the Target exclusive version DVD of Bad 25, along with eight other music videos, from the Bad era.

Credits and personnel

  • Written and composed by Michael Jackson
  • Produced by Quincy Jones
  • Co-produced by Michael Jackson
  • Michael Jackson: solo and background vocals, vocal synthesizer
  • Larry Williams: Midi saxophone solo
  • Miko Brando, Ollie E. Brown, John Robinson: drums
  • Douglas Getschal: drum programming
  • Bill Bottrell, David Williams: guitars
  • Kim Hutchcroft: saxophone
  • Gary Grant, Jerry Hey: trumpets
  • Paulinho Da Costa: percussion

  • Christopher Currell: Synclavier, effects
  • John Barnes, Michael Boddicker, Greg Phillinganes: synthesizers
  • Eric Persing: synthesizer programming
  • Race car intro:
    • Dimensional Recording by Spherical Sound, Inc.
    • Sounds engineered by Ken Caillat and Tom Jones
  • Rhythm arrangement by Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones
  • Vocal arrangements by Michael Jackson
  • Synthesizer and horn arrangements by Jerry Hey

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