When Michael Jackson set a Chart Record

No, "Dirty Diana" isn't about her.
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Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images

After releasing the best-selling album of all time with Thriller in 1982, audiences wondered how many more worlds Michael Jackson could conquer. One of his biggest achievements, however, happened with follow-up album Bad - specifically on July 2, 1988, when "Dirty Diana" became the fifth single from the album to reach No. 1.

READ MORE: February 7, 1984: Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' Recognized as World's Best-Selling Album

Spinning off four No. 1s from one album was a dizzying achievement, but one that had already been done thanks to the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack a decade before. (Two other albums released in 1987, the same year as Bad, would match that achievement: Whitney Houston's Whitney and George Michael's Faith.) But Michael, who famously taped the words "100 million" to a mirror as a lofty goal to surpass Thriller's incredible sales history, was determined to shatter that record, having already rang the bell with "I Just Can't Stop Loving You," "Bad," "The Way You Make Me Feel" and "Man in the Mirror."

READ MORE: March 1988: Michael Jackson Hits No. 1 with "Man In the Mirror"

"Dirty Diana" was a sequel of sorts to a few tracks off Thriller, namely the paranoid groupie fantasy of "Billie Jean" and the hard rock edge of "Beat It." Like "Beat It," which featured a blistering solo from Eddie Van Halen, Michael recruited another guitar god for "Diana": Steve Stevens, right-hand man to Billy Idol. The song title may have been a reference to Michael's longtime friend Diana Ross, though another famous Diana of the '80s - England's Princess of Wales - was tickled by the connection, reportedly insisting Jackson keep it in his set that the royals were attending.

READ MORE: Behind Michael Jackson and Eddie Van Halen's Near-Missed Connection

With "Dirty Diana" reaching No. 1, Michael Jackson reasserted his crown as the King of Pop. He would issue two more singles from Bad - "Another Part of Me" and "Smooth Criminal" - but they would only peak at Nos. 11 and 7, meaning Bad wouldn't match Thriller's achievement of seven Top 10 singles from one album. (He'd already been matched by Bruce Springsteen's Born in the U.S.A., and by 1991, his sister Janet's Rhythm Nation 1814 would notch seven Top 5 hits.) It wasn't until 2011 that Michael's Bad-era record would be matched, when Katy Perry logged five chart-toppers from her second album Teenage Dream.

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