Starting off with a musical hot take, Bad is Michael Jackson's best album, above Thriller. I was looking over those clueless "best albums ever" lists, and Rolling Stone even puts Off the Wall above Bad, lol. But Thriller I wasn't sure about, so looked them both over -- and yes, Bad is best.
Not as much punky and funky raw energy, but also none of the corny schmaltz like "The Girl Is Mine" (which cannot be excused as filler -- it was a single, and a duet with the senior-most Beatle). Also not as danceable, but then I never found the songs from Thriller super-danceable anyway at '80s night. Bad trades the youthful dance focus for a more mature, moody, slow-burning tension.
Michael Jackson was not a normal, fun-loving dance-a-holic, and gives better performances when he's in the role of someone being tempted and tormented. That comes through somewhat on "Billie Jean" and "Beat It" from Thriller, but even more so on "Smooth Criminal", "Dirty Diana" (probably the best song on the album), and "Liberian Girl", which is the basis for today's tribute to Aimee Terese. (A fragment, but more or less the entire lyrics.)
Slow-burning, dark, moody, exotic, and shot through with a New Age-y fascination with the overawing aspects of nature. Instrumentally sparse, dozens of layers of simple repetitive rhythms or chords, occasional sighing vocals -- perfectly in sync with the ethereal dream-pop zeitgeist of the late '80s. "Dirty Diana" is another great example of slow, moody, repetitive layering.
See this earlier post, and links therein, about dream-pop going mainstream during the vulnerable phase of the 15-year cultural excitement cycle.
* * *
Whose prophecies come unfurled
In feverish tweets
You send every sense aswirl
Through magic of memes
Your posts so untamed, you deranged my world
Just like in Apu's dream
Beneath the fig-tree leaves
She says, "Will you hug me?"
He steadies weakened knees --
"I'll hug you, Australian girl"