In honor of Halloween I’ll be reviewing an album whose title track and it’s video is somewhat of a favorite this time of year, Michael Jackson’s 1982 mega-hit album Thriller. This is the album that transformed Michael Jackson into the biggest artist of the decade, and brought him the title of the King of Pop. There are few albums that have as much of an influence on popular music as Thriller and none that have reached it’s level of success. It’s still the all-time best-selling album worldwide and it’s sales continue to grow as people keep coming back to it for it’s undeniable charm.
Thriller builds on the disco-influenced dance-pop sound that Jackson had established with the equally great Off The Wall album. Quincy Jones’s production definitely has a very polished sound with lots keyboards and brass along with some undeniably catchy pop songs (four of which where written by Jackson). M.J. was also able to have a cross over rock hit with “Beat It”, which features a sweet guitar solo by Eddie Van Halen, which only added to the massive appeal of Michael Jackson’s music at this point.
Really all of the upbeat songs here are great slices of 80’s dance pop, and even Jackson’s slower ballads like “Human Nature” and “The Lady In My Life” are have a nice soulful quality to them. However, what really makes Thriller so great are the three huge hit songs at center of the album, “Thriller”, “Billie Jean”, and “Beat It”, these are arguably the strongest singles of Jackson’s career as well as his most well known. Not to mention that their success was further enhanced by their iconic music videos. Also the fact that 7 of the 9 tracks on the album where top 10 hits is just further proof of how incredibly huge this album was.
So after having sold over 100 million albums worldwide (no other albums come even close to that), and being an influence on every popstar wannabe that has come since, I’d say Thriller is still an album that is deserving of it’s reputation. I guess the only complaint I have is that “The Girl Is Mine”, a duet with Paul McCartney, is pretty cheesy. But besides that it’s easily one of the best albums of the ’80s as well as one of the best pop albums of all time.
Favorite Tracks: “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin'”, “Beat It”, “Billie Jean”