+
upworthy
Pop Culture

This awesome 2001 cover of Michael Jackson's 'Smooth Criminal' just can't stop going viral

Alien Ant Farm made the video an homage to MJ.

michael jackson smooth criminal alien ant farm

Alien Ant Farm's "Smooth Criminal" cover still rocks.

When Micheal Jackson released "Smooth Criminal" in 1988, I was a 13-year-old named Annie. As you can imagine, the "Annie, are you okay?" jokes came fast and furious, and they haven't let up much in the three and a half decades since.

It's all good. Those jokes gave me a respite from the "Annie get your gun" and "little orphan Annie" ones, and besides, it's a great song. It wasn't Jackson's biggest hit, but it was always my favorite, and not just because it bore my name. The music video—a nine-minute, dance-heavy mini-movie set in the 1930s gangster era—made it even better.

But apparently, mentioning "Smooth Criminal" or "Annie, are you okay?" to the younger folks doesn't conjure up the zoot suits and dimly lit speakeasy images it does for me. For them, it brings up images of an alternative rock punk band playing in a … boxing ring?


In 2001, a band called Alien Ant Farm did an alternative/punk cover of "Smooth Criminal" that has repeatedly gone viral since then. In fact, it went viral in June 2022 and then again this week, when Lindz McLeod on Twitter asked if anyone would recognize the lyrics, "Annie are you okay, are you okay, Annie?" without looking them up. (Ahem.) Some people, seriously or jokingly, pointed to the Alien Ant Farm cover as the source.

The Alien Ant Farm "Smooth Criminal" video is actually an homage to Michael Jackson, though the folks that didn't grow up in the MJ era may miss many of the small details that point to him. Watch and see how many Michael Jackson references you can find:

The kid dancing while wearing a mask has a whole different feel now than it did when the video came out, for sure. Seems downright prescient, in hindsight.

The masked kid was the one part of the Alien Ant Farm video that Michael Jackson himself took issue with at first. (Michael Jackson would often wear a face mask in public, long before it became a pandemic habit.) The band shared that story in an interview with Los Angeles Times:

"When you asked if we had any reservations of how it would be received, the only person we were mindful of was Michael Jackson himself. We were kind of worried. We sent the video to MJ to get his nod of approval. And he commented back that he didn’t really dig the kid with the mask. I think MJ wore that mask because of all of his failed surgeries. We were like, 'Oh s—, maybe we should remove it.' We were already on tour. But a few weeks later, the director of the video [Marc Klasfeld] went to the same street, got a bunch of the extras together and reshot the dancing kid without the mask. We went through quite a bit of money and bulls— to make sure that we were appeasing Michael Jackson. We sent it back to him a few weeks later with the kid with no mask and he said, 'You know what? I like it better with the mask!'"

The Alien Ant Farm "Smooth Criminal" video has racked up a whopping 257 million views on YouTube alone since it was shared in 2009. People say it's a perfect representation of the early 2000s, both the sound and the visuals.

Some people have also said they prefer the Alien Ant Farm version to the original, which feels a bit blasphemous, but whatever. It's a great cover—the band did an admirable job of keeping the overall elements of the original while adding their own sound to it—but there's just nothing like Michael Jackson's original. Enjoy:

A map of the United States post land-ice melt.


Land ice: We got a lot of it.

Considering the two largest ice sheets on earth — the one on Antarctica and the one on Greenland — extend more than 6 million square miles combined ... yeah, we're talkin' a lot of ice.

But what if it was all just ... gone? Not like gone gone, but melted?

Keep ReadingShow less
Kevin Parry / Twitter

Toronto-based animator and video wizard Kevin Parry has gone mega-viral for his mind-boggling collection of videos where he turns himself into random objects.

In a series of quick clips he changes into everything from a pumpkin to a bright yellow banana and in most of the videos, he appears to suffer a ridiculous death. The videos combine studio trickery with a magician's flair.

Keep ReadingShow less

It's rare enough to capture one antler being shed

For those not well versed in moose facts, the shedding of antlers is normally a fairly lengthy process. It happens only once a year after mating season and usually consists of a moose losing one antler at a time.

It’s incredibly rare for a bull moose to lose both at the same time—and even more rare that someone would actually catch it on film.

That’s why shed hunter (yes, that’s a real term) and woodsman Derek Burgoyne calls his footage of the phenomenon a “one-in-a-million” shot.

Keep ReadingShow less
OriginalAll photos belong to Red Méthot, who gave me permission to share them here.

Chloé was born at 32 weeks.


Every single day, babies across the world are born prematurely, which means that they're born before 37 weeks of gestation.

In Canada, about 29,000 infants are born prematurely each year, roughly 1 in every 13. But in the United States, around 400,000 to 500,000 are born early. That's about 1 in every 8 to 10 babies born in the U.S.!

Red Méthot, a Canadian photographer and student, decided to capture the resilience of many of these kids for a school photography project.

Keep ReadingShow less
Democracy

Teacher tries to simulate a dictatorship in her classroom, but the students crushed her

"I’ve done this experiment numerous times, and each year I have similar results. This year, however, was different."

Each year that I teach the book "1984" I turn my classroom into a totalitarian regime under the guise of the "common good."

I run a simulation in which I become a dictator. I tell my students that in order to battle "Senioritis," the teachers and admin have adapted an evidence-based strategy, a strategy that has "been implemented in many schools throughout the country and has had immense success." I hang posters with motivational quotes and falsified statistics, and provide a false narrative for the problem that is "Senioritis."

Keep ReadingShow less
Photo by insung yoon on Unsplash

The MC Hammer dance though.

Father and daughter dances are a traditional staple of weddings. They tend to range somewhere between tearfully sweet and hilariously cringey. But sometimes, as was the case of Brittany Revell and her dad Kelly, they can be so freakin’ cool that millions of people become captivated.

Brittany and Kelly’s video, which amassed, I kid you not, more than 40 million views on TikTok, shows the pair grooving in sneakers (Brittany’s were white because, hello, wedding dress) to their “dance through the decades.”

It all began with Young MC’s “Bust a Move,” to give you a clear picture. And bust a move, they did.

Though the duo did a handful of iconic moves—the tootsie roll, the MC Hammer dance, the Carlton, just to name a few—“the dougie,” made famous by Cali Swag District, was the obvious fan favorite.
Keep ReadingShow less