Review Summary: Almost flawless, Thriller is a testament to how well pop music can really be done.
For the sake of refraining from making any more jokes on the singer, let's forget about Michael Jackson's controversy during 2000's before his death and go back in time (mentally, of course) to the early 1980's. Disco had died down, and while other genres such as NWOBHM and glam rock were starting their reign, a whole new beast was approaching... one that couldn't be contained by normal means, and still can't be contained even today. Such a beast had the power to cross racial boundaries and tear down multiple barriers in popular music history. All of this can be bundled into one word: Thriller.
Even though Jackson was involved in the music industry since he was 6 years old and singing in the Jackson 5, nothing could have prepared the world for the success of 1982's Thriller. Selling 110 million copies, having 7 hit singles, and destroying all expectations set by his previous album Off The Wall, the album became the biggest blockbuster record in history. With iconic tracks like "Billie Jean," "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'," "Beat It," "The Girl Is Mine," and of course the fantastic title track, it became clear why the album became such a success.
While some parts of the album are a little cheesy at times (I'm looking at you, "The Girl Is Mine"), the majority of the record feels timeless. From the rousing dance beat that kicks off "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'" to the beautifully soulful synth work that permeates album closer "The Lady In My Life," nearly everything has aged wonderfully. The lyrics reflect this very well too, with diverse topics ranging from love, nightmarish imagery, longing to live life to the fullest (and doing so in the process), to anti-violence, all rarely feeling too contrived; even when it is, though, it's pretty entertaining to say the least.
The diversity also extends to the music; with "Beat It," you get a hard rock tune. With "Human Nature," "The Girl Is Mine," and "The Lady In My Life," you get soul music. With "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'" and "PYT," you get some funky dance tunes. And so it goes. It's fantastic, because that means the songs never feel like they run together; they all have something distinct to offer that differentiates them from each other. At forty-two minutes, the material never really drags too much anywhere either, so everything is very comprehensive and easy to pick up and listen to at any time.
As a side note, I'd recommend the special edition of the album, as it includes multiple interviews surrounding the making of it, as well as the fantastic ballad "Someone in the Dark" from the E.T. movie. Thus, if you have the option between the original and special edition (usually found at Best Buy, Target, etc.), I'd recommend the latter choice.
As was said, though, the cheesy nature of a few of the tunes can definitely get to certain people. Just go into the album with the right frame of mind (as in, think about the time period this record was made in) and the record will be amazing to you. There's no doubt that this album is a real landmark of the 80's, as well as a cornerstone of Michael Jackson's career that solidified him as one of the best entertainers in popular music history. Get this album as soon as you can.