Bad Boys, Inner Circle‘s iconic song, which became the theme for the Cops TV show and the Bad Boys movie franchise, is now certified Silver in the United Kingdom, 36 years after it was first released.
According to the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), the song was issued a BRIT Certified Silver award on Friday (December 1) after selling over 200,000 units in the UK, as measured by The Official Charts Company.
Produced by band members Ian and Roger Lewis and Touter Harvey, Bad Boys debuted in October 1987 on their album One Way, and later appeared on their 1992 album Bad to the Bone. After the success of Sweat (A La La La La Long) in 1993, Bad Boys was released as a single that year.
The song enjoyed considerable success, reaching No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US and No. 52 on the UK Singles chart. It achieved Gold status (500,000 units) in the US in 1993.
Calton Coffie, who passed away in February 2023 at age 68, provided vocals for both hit songs while he was the band’s lead singer from 1986 to 1994, when he left to pursue a solo career.
The album Bad to the Bone, later reissued as Bad Boys (Big Beat/Atlantic) in the US, also found success, with the US version spending 49 weeks on the Billboard 200 and peaking at No. 64, and the UK version spending two weeks on the UK Albums chart, peaking at No. 44.
The album was ultimately certified Platinum in the US and won the Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album in 1994.
Interestingly, Bad Boys was chosen as the Cops opening theme song because at least two producers were reggae fans. The creator of the long-running series, John Langley, told Entertainment Weekly in 2017: “I was a Bob Marley fan — still am — and I thought it would be very interesting to counterpoint law enforcement with reggae. It seemed to announce, this is not your regular cop show.” According to Langley, a field producer gave him the One Way album, which included Bad Boys. “I heard the song and I said, ‘That’s it. That’s the song for the show.’”
The song also influenced the title of the Will Smith and Martin Lawrence-led Bad Boys movie series, with the fourth installment set for release in June 2024.
Bad Boys carries a deeper meaning that is often overlooked, according to Ian Lewis. In an interview with Rolling Stone in 2020, Lewis reflected on the song’s lasting impact and its true message.
“Thirty years. How many groups in the world can say they have a song that the world knows, but what is not understood is the essence of the song,” he commented.
“It was used in the context of Cops, but if they listen to the song, everybody just knows the hook. They don’t listen to the words of the song where it’s talking about a person who was coming into crime and adversarial towards their parents. The song is about growing up [as a teenager] who wants to be a man but doesn’t understand that it’s the family that you should springboard from. I think it was slightly misunderstood, but worldwide, we never got a negative connotation.”
In 1994, Inner Circle earned their second Grammy nomination for Best Reggae Album with their follow-up album Reggae Dancer with Coffie as lead singer.
Reggae Dancer had featured the band’s third most streamed single, Games People Play, which spent five weeks on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at No. 84, and two weeks on the UK Singles chart, peaking at No. 67.
The band, formed in 1968 and led by brothers Roger and Ian Lewis, has seen several members join over the years, including reggae legend Jacob Miller as lead vocalist until his death in 1980, and long-standing member Bernard “Touter” Harvey since 1973.
The current lineup includes Lancelot Hall, Trevor “Skatta” Bonnick, and Andre Philips.