Looking back at Michael Jackson’s Thriller — which turned 36 this year

STORY BY JOHN CARTER JR.

The Thriller Album by Micheal Jackson just recently had it’s 36 year anniversary. It was released on November 30th, 1982 and it was the biggest success of Jackson at the time. The prestige for this album seems to have no end, music fans of all kinds have been known to have at least one track from this album that they love and remember. As the best selling album of all time for a long period, Jackson’s music has touched generations and will continue to do so into the future.  In honor of the best selling album, we will look back at some of its highlight tracks.

Beat it

This song builds up anticipation for the first few seconds. It is a classic piece and is known for being empowering. The line “their words are really clear” is really funny, unlike other MJ’s songs the lyrics in this song are easier for me to hear. I think the comparison between being “tough” and being “bad”  is interesting in that being “tough” is like the want or will to survive, while being “bad” is like being cool and strong enough to stand up to your enemies. Thus the connotation of the song Bad from his Bad album is that of cool and the air that nobody walks on Micheal Jackson. This song is well paced in terms of rhythm. In this song, Jackson advocates for the tough route, but will later change his tune with again the 1987 Bad single.   

Billie Jean

The opening to this song is iconic and reasonably so, It works extremely well with the opening lyrics. Let us just make note of how suave and cool MJ looks in the music video. In the music video, The light up platforms that he steps on to respond to his dancing very fluidly. Back to the music itself.  The lyric “Then every head turned with eyes that dreamed of being the one” indicates that everyone wanted to be with Billie Jean, but she saw Jackson is the one. While Jackson admits she is gorgeous, he goes on to deny her claims that he is her child’s father, and that he is not in love with her. “Not your baby Daddy” drama, is an odd but intriguing topic for MJ to tackle. He does it in a superb fashion and looks great doing it.   

Thriller

Now, who could forget the titular track? This song is legendary and powerful. I will never stop hearing it be played around Halloween season. If asked what was the best example of dance choreography in a music video I would say this song (and after that Bad or Remember the Time also by Micheal Jackson). The aesthetic of the music video is a nod to classic creature feature cinema which makes for the terrifying delivery of said dance choreography.  It is a strong performance in terms of the delivery of creepy lines by the talented Vincent Price. Nobody will forget Prices epic Monologue:

“Darkness falls across the land
The midnight hour is close at hand
Creatures crawl in search of blood
To terrorize y’all’s neighborhood
And whosoever shall be found
Without the soul for getting down
Must stand and face the hounds of hell
And rot inside a corpse’s shell

The foulest stench is in the air
The funk of forty thousand years
And grisly ghouls from every tomb
Are closing in to seal your doom
And though you fight to stay alive
Your body starts to shiver
For no mere mortal can resist
The evil of the thriller”

The Thriller album is one to be remembered for many a year to come. Its strength is not only in sales but in the ability to get so many people to come together is undeniable. It is one of the most wonderful collections of songs to ever be released and keeps the legacy of Micheal Jackson alive.

“Music has been my outlet, my gift to all of the lovers in this world. Through it — my music, I know I will live forever.” -Micheal Jackson

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