The Real Meaning Behind Smooth Criminal By Michael Jackson Tuesday September 26 2023, 11:15 AM
Yona Marie
Singer, Songwriter, Producer.
The Real Meaning Behind Smooth Criminal By Michael Jackson

Smooth Criminal Meaning 

Who is Annie, and why does Michael keep asking if she is okay? 

"Smooth Criminal" is from Michael Jackson's album "Bad," sold over 30 million copies worldwide, making it one of the best-selling albums of all time.

It was a staple of Michael Jackson's live performances, along with the infamous antigravity lean. He often performed it during his world tours, and it became one of his signature songs.

We all sing along with it when we hear it, but many people are still lost on the idea behind the lyrics and the story. 

The song references the character "Annie" and her situation, but it doesn't reveal the full story, which left me to do a deep dive into the songwriting process and the inspiration that hit MJ for this song. 

Inspiration Behind The Lyrics

This is one of those hit songs that really just tells a story and doesn't reflect anything happening in the songwriter's personal life. 

The song's narrative revolves around the mysterious circumstances surrounding Annie and her well-being, but it doesn't provide a complete or detailed storyline. Instead, it leaves much to the listener's imagination, creating an air of intrigue and suspense.

MJ was very inspired by crime stories of the 80s and even had another song related to gangsters titled "Al Capone." However, "Al Capone" was never officially released as a standalone song.

In Jermaine Jackson's book "You Are Not Alone," he reveals that Michael Jackson concealed the true inspiration behind the song "Smooth Criminal" because he wanted to avoid causing offense.

According to Jermaine, "Smooth Criminal" drew inspiration from the real-life serial killer Richard Ramirez, famously known as "The Night Stalker," who terrorized California from April 1984 to August 1985.

This discretion was particularly significant in the mid-1980s when America was gripped by the Satanic Panic, a period that some might argue still lingers today.

It's worth noting that the song was featured on Michael Jackson's 1987 album "Bad," though it was recorded between January 1985 and July 1987, aligning perfectly with the timeline of Ramirez's reign of terror.

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Who Is Annie?

While not confirmed, many fans believe that the reference to "Annie" in Michael Jackson's song "Smooth Criminal" is for the CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) training mannequin known as "Resusci Anne."

Resusci Anne is a widely used medical training tool designed to teach CPR and other life-saving techniques.

The phrase "Annie, are you OK?" comes from the practice of using Resusci Anne mannequins during CPR training. In training scenarios, instructors often encourage participants to address the mannequin by name to simulate a real-life emergency situation.

By asking, "Annie, are you OK?" instructors reinforce the importance of checking for responsiveness in a person who may have collapsed or become unresponsive.

It's believed that the song's narrative is not directly related to CPR training but uses the phrase as a creative device to engage the listener.


Different Interpretations By Fans

The music video for "Smooth Criminal" is considered one of the greatest music videos of all time and highlights the fact that the lyrics are just a story that could be made into a short film.

But while the song seems to be a straight-up story of murder, many fans are constantly looking for a deeper meaning behind the characters in this tragedy. 

Many people claim that the smooth criminal is in fact the lover or husband of Annie, and the song is shedding light on the consistent problem of domestic abuse in our society. 

One interpretation I found suggests a potential historical connection between the song and the Jack the Ripper murders.

The name "Annie" in the song may allude to one of Jack the Ripper's victims, and "It was a Sunday - What a Black Day" could relate to two of Jack the Ripper's victims who were discovered on a Sunday in 1888.

References to "He came to your apartment," "There's a sign in the window," and "Left bloodstains on the carpet" could be connected to Jack the Ripper's final known victim, Mary Kelly, who was murdered in her apartment with a broken window.

Related Post: Did Michael Jackson Play Any Instruments? The Surprising Truth

Yona Marie

As a session singer, writer, and producer that has worked with over 300 clients to provide high-quality jingles, singles, and features, Yona spends her time creating and marketing new music and helpful resources for creators. Check out Yona’s latest releases on her Spotify, her Youtube and share if you like it!

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