Review Summary: A pop album that will be remembered even years from now, almost three decades after its release in 1982.
Michael Jackson was born a star. Even from his roots in a poor Indiana town Jackson grew up to be one of the best selling musicians of all time, and that’s no exaggeration. He had become a well-known singer before he even hit his teen years due to his father’s constant pushing of his children into fame. The Jackson 5 was an excellent and popular group, but their fifteen minutes came and went. Michael decided he was not finished in the music industry though and decided to work on a solo pop career with help of friend and producer, Quincy Jones. Which lead to the creation of Off The Wall
, a disco-based pop album featuring the hit songs Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough
and Rock With You
. While the album was successful, Jackson knew he could do much better.
This strive for greatness exploded on the scene when the album, Thriller
dropped in 1982. Thriller
became a legend in the music industry almost instantaneously, and even today it is the definitive pop album of all time. Part of the albums success could have to deal with Jacksons idea to only feature nine songs on the album and release seven of those nine as singles, thus if the singles become hits, the album will be too. With that Jackson could only wait to see if he did the right thing. He did.
begins with Wanna Be Startin ‘ Somethin’
, Jackson’s take on tabloid rumors. The song uses the same disco theme seen on Off The Wall
, while upbeat the song also has darker undertones like much of the album does. This is one of the first Michael Jackson songs dealing with much more serious topics then past songs like She’s Out Of My Life
seen on Off The Wall
. A song unlike Wanna Be Startin ‘ Somethin’
is The Girl Is Mine
, a song Jackson did with another pop legend Paul McCartney. The song is incredibly cheesy by today’s standards, with a chorus like, “The Girl Is Mine/The Doggone Girl Is Mine/I Know She's Mine/Because The Doggone Girl Is Mine.” Excluding the humor the song is a collaboration that is unique in its own right and a slightly slower but happier song seen only a couple times on this album.
Following The Girl Is Mine
, comes a song that is almost the exact opposite of the previous. The title track Thriller
is a pop song that defines the eighties pop scene. Beginning with horror movie sound effects of a creaky door opening and a dog howling in the background, the song jumps into the first verse sang in a very creepy and almost scared way giving the song a feel of pop merged with paranoia. Leading to the loud and famous chorus of, “Cause this is thriller/Thriller night/ You know its thriller/Thriller night/From the beast about to strike,” continuing the albums theme of dark undertones.
In a matter of looking at things, the title track is a part one of this albums “trilogy”. The middle three songs, Thriller
, Beat It
, and Billie Jean
are the most famous and debatably the three best songs feature on the album.
The second song of the claimed trilogy is Beat It
, the “rock” song of the album featuring a catchy guitar solo played by none other than Eddie Van Halen. The song has a quick and jerky feel too it giving the album a more tough edge and not so poppy. Being that it is another hit track could be because of the uniqueness in comparison to the rest of the songs, it stands out from the rest due to its distinctive rock tone.
Part three of this Thriller Trilogy is Billie Jean
, a much lighter song than the previous two, but dealing with even darker elements. The song is about a real life situation Jackson had when a woman accused him of being the father of her child, notable in the chorus, “Billie Jean is not my lover/She’s just a girl who claims/ That I am the one/But the kid is not my son.” The song is incredibly straightforward about the subject and clearly states Michael’s opinion and his venting of the emotional toll the woman put on him. The song is very smooth moving and not nearly as rock sounding or creep as the other two songs of the trilogy.
This is Michael Jackson at his top performance, an album that influenced a whole new generation of pop artists. The album was indescribably successful because of the blend of dark themes and pop ballads, stepping away from his R&B roots, although they are still there. Thriller
is an album that can never be repeated, while some of the tracks have become cliché and cheesy today, to those that truly appreciate the art of this album Thriller
is forever timeless.
“Just beat it, beat it, beat it, beat it
No one wants to be defeated
Showin' how funky and strong is your fight
It doesn't matter who's wrong or right.”