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Michael Jackson – Thriller (1982)

December 31, 2013

[Album 272/1001]220px-Michaeljacksonthrilleralbum

What most of the 7+ billion citizens of earth already know:
– Estimated sales figures differ but it is safe to say this is the best selling album of all time
– The music video for the title track remains the benchmark for the medium & exemplar #1 on how to choreograph a group dance number
– With Eddie Van Halen providing the memorable guitar solo, Beat It is the definitive example of how to do a crossover collaboration
Billie Jean is perhaps the perfect pop song and the debut of the moonwalk during this live performance must have been jaw-dropping to see for the first time:



What I hadn’t realized about Thriller:
– It is MJ’s sixth solo album (I had foolishly thought Off The Wall was his first)
– I knew he could sing, he could obviously dance & perform, but I didn’t realize he was also a co-producer & arranger here.
– He didn’t write all the songs but he wrote the best three on the record (Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin, Beat It, Billie Jean)
– The opening track’s unbelievably catchy “Mama-say mama-sah ma-ma-coo-sah” was lifted from a 1972 song named Soul Makossa.
– Seven of the nine tracks were singles.  Curiously, the lead single was arguably the record’s weakest track, The Girl is Mine.

One of the many reasons why Thriller still matters:
What album was at/near the top of many best of 2013 lists? Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories.  I could go into detail about the similarities in the slickness of production and overall aesthetic.

Instead, I’ll heed the advice of the Rod Stewart song: every picture tells a story, don’t it?


That’s all for iconic album covers in December.  Thank you for reading & commenting, always great discussing music with you fine folks.
Up next in January: memorable debut records, enjoy!

From → 1980s

  1. Oh yes!! Now this is MUSIC! I remember when I was young… we’re talking young here, my dad brought me back this tape from Korea when he went there for a year for the Air Force. I also remember being terrified of the music video for Thriller. My mom had bought me a poster of Michael and she hung it in the hallway. After I saw the music video she had to take it down because at night I was terrified of it!!! I always wish I would’ve seen a Michael Jackson concert.

    • I remember hearing Slash talking about MJ on stage and he said he’d never seen a performer like that. He would have been something else to see live.

      I too was afraid of the video – though I have to give him credit, he was ahead of the zombie craze by about 30 years!

  2. I always liked a bit of MJ and I’m always tempted to grab a copy of this but The Girl Is Mine is terrible and puts me off every time. I also have nostalgic fondness for the Bad album too. Is that on the list?

    • Off The Wall, Thriller, and Bad made the cut – no Dangerous, but that had some good moments too.

      With all the talent between McCartney & MJ, The Girl is Mine is definitely an underwhelming result. Though I do find the strong language of “dog-gone” amusing!

      • Ha ha personally I think they should have stopped recording and just taken it outside. Deciding who the girl belonged to in a vicious cock fight.

  3. I wore my MJ Thriller tape out when I was a kid. I LOVED MJ! Even now, that album is still awesome!

    • The beauty of the record is that even though it sold millions, I rarely see it for sale in used stores.

      Which means all those who bought it either kept it & still enjoy it or they wore it out enjoying it too much – and I’m glad to hear that was the case for you Sarca!

      I may or may not have had a single white glove as a kid as well 🙂

      • I had white glove stud earrings (I think I still have them, though probably too scuzzy to wear today…)

  4. I’m one of those who still has Thriller on cassette tape; it was one of the first tapes I ever received. I still enjoy the album except for the cringe-inducing “The Girl Is Mine” despite the presence of Paul McCartney. What’s even more cringe-inducing is the fact that their collaborations led to Michael Jackson buying The Beatles music catalogue, one of the biggest travesties in music history.

    • Though I have to give ‘pop up video’ credit. After showing video for the other, stronger McCartney/Jackson duet, the text cleverly stated “Jackson and McCartney haven’t had much to say, say, say to each other since the mid-80s.

      Same with the McCartney/Stevie Wonder Ebony & Ivory, how could two legendary musicians wind up producing such a, let’s call it, not-so-legendary tune?

      • It’s funny you should mention “Pop-Up Video” since I have a post about that show coming up on Thursday. I actually remember the pop-up you’re referring to from the “Say, Say, Say” video.

      • It was one of those pre-google shows where you learned all those great useless tidbits of information, great trivia stuff!

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

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  4. Michael Jackson – Bad (1987) | 1001albumsin10years
  5. 1982 | 1001albumsin10years

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