Hidden meaning behind Michael Jackson’s Smooth Criminal

Hidden meaning behind Michael Jackson’s Smooth Criminal

Aaron Curran
Posted by Aaron Curran

Date: Monday, 12 February 2024. -  
Blog, First Aid

Michael Jackson was one of the biggest names in music throughout the last decades of the 20th century.

His hits like Billie Jean and Thriller took the world by storm, but one of the American star’s most popular songs actually has a somewhat hidden meaning. Smooth Criminal was released on Jackson’s 1987 album Bad and the meaning behind the lyrics may not seem clear at first.

The song opens up with a heartbeat- alluding to the core theme of the track. Jackson then goes on to sing about a woman called Annie, who is the victim of an attack in her apartment.

The Annie in the track is widely believed to be a reference to Resusci Anne; the doll used across the world in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training. The lyrics “Annie are you okay?” are repeated throughout the song and is a direct reference to what learners are told to ask the casualty when training with the Resusci Anne doll.

The lyrics then appear to refer to CPR more directly, as bystanders appear to attempt to revive the victim of the violent crime. Jackson sings: “So they came into the outway / It was Sunday, what a black day / Mouth-to-mouth resuscitation / Sounding heartbeats, intimidations.”

Although Smooth Criminal never reached number one in the UK or US charts, it is among the most popular tracks of the 1980s, and one of the most high profile references to Resusci Anne in pop culture.

Smooth Criminal is not the first hit to be associated with CPR, the Bee Gees’ classic Stayin’ Alive has become known as the anthem for chest compression CPR due to the beat being at the perfect tempo to match compressions at 100-120 bpm.

Other songs that have become associated with CPR over the years include Eye of the Tiger by Survivor, and Wannabe by Spice Girls. These all fall within the 100-120 bpm range.

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