Michael Jackson
Thriller


4.0
excellent

Review

by Tyler Fisher EMERITUS
September 27th, 2006 | 246 replies


Release Date: 1982 | Tracklist

Review Summary: There's no denying the fun and catchiness of Thriller. Michael Jackson, despite his morals, was a fantastic music artist and knew how to make excellent pop music. Thriller is one of the greatest showings of that.

There will never be another artist like Michael Jackson. He had everything. The sex appeal, the voice, the experience, the connections- Michael Jackson epitomized everything about a pop artist. Despite his recent history and the jokes that go hand in hand (which haven’t been funny for years), Michael Jackson proves on his albums that no matter what he does, he has something great that everyone will remember him for. Thriller stands out as one of the best albums in his career, showcasing some of his most legendary songs ever.

The success of Thriller is flat out scary. The album skyrocketed to the top of the charts and stayed there for 80 weeks, one of only 3 albums to reach that level. Today, it stands as the second highest selling album in the United States and according to some sources, the highest selling album ever in the world. Seven of the nine songs on Thriller became singles, and three of them are among Jackson’s greatest hits. Thriller shows Michael Jackson branching off into a large amount of genres, including rock, R&B, funk, and just straight up 80s synth pop. Despite all the different areas of music, Jackson almost subconsciously inputs his undeniable catchiness and appeal. He took a larger songwriting and production role on this album, allowing him to really play to his strengths. He shows an obvious influence from artists like James Brown, George Clinton, and Stevie Wonder, but he also pulls in some even bigger star power. He called on Paul McCartney, immortally famous Beatles member, to do a duet with him. They “collaborated” and produced The Girl is Mine, the first single off of Thriller

Jackson actually wrote all of The Girl is Mine, not allowing McCartney in any of the writing. McCartney simply adds his voice and more importantly, his name to the song. Unfortunately, even with the talents of two of the greatest pop artists of all time, The Girl is Mine fails to impress. The song is a slow, dreamy love song, allowing the vocal talent to stand out. However, the poppy hooks fail to catch the attention of the listener and the music itself pails in comparison to most of the album. Regardless, The Girl is Mine found instant success, maybe due to the star power in the song. It peaked at #2 in the pop singles chart. However, The Girl is Mine was only the beginning of the success for Thriller. Jackson then released Billie Jean, a much more uptempo and overall better song than his previous effort. Jackson also wrote Billie Jean entirely, and proves his undeniable songwriting talent on the song. It grooves a simple drum beat and a fantastic, jumpy bassline. Melodically, a synth chord progression outlines the verse, but more and more instruments add in to the climatic chorus. The chorus features extremely catchy vocal harmonies and a superb funky guitar line. That line later expands into an instrumental bridge, and the guitar stands out as a certain highlight of the song. Billie Jean shot to #1 in both the Black Singles and Pop Singles charts.

Thriller contains two more extremely important tracks, the first being the title track. Known more for its dance moves and music video, Thriller is about as epic as a pop song gets. The song draws from Tower of Power horn licks and Funkadelic pop sensibility. The huge brass statement that leads the song into its main groove simply states that Thriller plans to go beyond the normal limits of a pop song. The song outlines the story of a cheesy horror film, which the video conveys perfectly. Immediately following Thriller is Beat It, which also brings in some extreme extra star power. Jackson called on Eddie Van Halen to play guitar on this song. The song draws heavily from the hair metal wave taking the rock nation by storm. The song actually peaked at #14 on the rock charts as well as #1 once again on the Pop Singles and Black Singles charts. Van Halen’s guitar playing is just as lackluster as McCartney’s appearance, but at least Van Halen isn’t as legendary as McCartney. He bursts out his typical fret-burning solo that somehow never impresses me. However, it’s a common misconception that fast guitar playing equals good guitar playing, so fans ate the song up. The riffing plays fairly stereotypical, but this isn’t on a Van Halen album, it’s on a Michael Jackson album, and Jackson lets his audience know that. His poppy vocal harmonies and lyrics make this song for what it is.

Overall, Thriller is composed much like a sandwich. The bread covers the top and bottom, the less interesting part of the sandwich. On Thriller, tracks 1-3 make a good first impression but after hearing the entire album, they just do not live up to the middle of the album, or the meat of the album. The three huge singles, Thriller, Beat It, and Billie Jean all stand out even today as some of the greatest pop singles of all time. Finally, the last half of the album feels much like the beginning. Human Nature and The Lady in My Life are both good tracks, featuring some great bass and Jackson’s more sensitive side, but still never live up to the catchiness and fun of the middle of the album. However, as the entire album is listenable all the way through and each track has at least its moments, Thriller stands as one of Jackson’s greatest efforts, giving him an eternal legacy in pop music.

Recommended Tracks:
Thriller
Beat It
Billie Jean
The Lady in My Life



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Zebra
Moderator
September 27th 2006


2647 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Great work on the review but I prefer italicizing songs and the album title rather then bolding them; but that's nothing to worry about since it's probably just a personal preference.
I always thought this album was kind of boring save the title track and "Billie Jean." You were right when you said the middle of the album was the best because the first and last three songs are just meh.

Conky
September 27th 2006


227 Comments


I Agree With Zebra.. and yeah i'm kinda scared of this guy..

FlawedPerfection
Emeritus
September 27th 2006


2806 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I think Beat It is superb too, and I really like a lot of different moments from other tracks. Human Nature is a very effective ballad.

Jacaranda
September 27th 2006


684 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

One of my favorite albums. I'm surprised it has such a low overall rating.

Otisbum
September 27th 2006


1912 Comments


Great review, and a decent CD from what I've listened to.

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
September 27th 2006


16089 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

A.P style strictly details songs be put into quotes and album titles and such be italicized, but who really care about them anyways.
Pretty good review, I really like this album but it really isn't that amazing or anything to catch a 5, if you get my drift.

FlawedPerfection
Emeritus
September 27th 2006


2806 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

My thoughts exactly on my rating, Iluvatar. There's no denying it's influence though.

El_Goodo
September 27th 2006


1008 Comments


I love the song The Girl Is Mine, it's a great love song and the vocals are great too...although Say Say Say is the better of the MJ/McCartney duets.

Little fact I read! Van Halen refused to be in the music video for Beat It because he didnt think the song was going to be very popular.

FlawedPerfection
Emeritus
September 28th 2006


2806 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Prince did the same thing as Van Halen for another video. I think it was Bad, but I'm not sure.

The Jungler
September 28th 2006


4827 Comments


I'm not a huge Jackson fan, to me his music seems kind of bland and annoying as far as 80's pop goes. This review is great, I agree with Zebra about the italicizing too.

FlawedPerfection
Emeritus
September 28th 2006


2806 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is the only Jackson I own, but I can't see ever giving it a 3 no matter how good the others are.

incubotic
September 30th 2006


78 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

'Nice review. I love this album. Early albums are better though.'

Lol, he only had one album before 'Thriller', 'Off The Wall' (Unless you're talking about his lame motown teen albums that is). Probably thought that comment would make you sound knowledgable (?)

Decent review, though personally I dont understand you're lack of relative enthusiam for Wanna Be Startin Somethin
and Human Nature, they're both as good as Billie Jean and Beat It Imo.

'Six of the nine songs on Thriller became singles'

Actually it was 7, all top ten hits too, you probably forgot PYT (the least well known single from Thriller and a great disco track too).

All of Mjs first 4 albums are very underrated here IMO, Im guessing some people cant separate the man from the music which is a shame.

Equus
September 30th 2006


56 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Why, because someone rated it a four?

FlawedPerfection
Emeritus
September 30th 2006


2806 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Oh sorry that was a typo. I meant to put 7, I'll fix it now.

incubotic
October 1st 2006


78 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

'Why, because someone rated it a four?'

No I didnt mean this review (this is a good review), I was refering to the voted ratings of albums like Off The Wall, Bad and Dangerous which are all around the low 3s. Even Jessica Simpsons latest album is rated higher here than those 3 albums which are often regarded as classics (2 are on the Rolling Stones 500 list for example). I know MJs music isnt everybodys cup of tea but I just think perhaps some people are being a little biased possibly (though it may also be that people arent as into this type of music here aswell)This Message Edited On 10.01.06

incubotic
October 7th 2006


78 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

/ Fair enough, Ive never really given them a proper listen to be honest...Ben is a great track though for sure.

beau99
October 18th 2006


60 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

"Beat It" and "Billie Jean" are damn excellent songs, but they don't live my rating past a 3.

Oh, and I think Eddie Van Halen's solo in "Beat It" is better than anything he did as a member of Van Halen.

FlawedPerfection
Emeritus
October 18th 2006


2806 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I don't really like anything Van Halen did.

Hatshepsut
October 18th 2006


1997 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I listened to about 25 seconds of the first song and changed the album. Might give it another shot in the distant future.

FlawedPerfection
Emeritus
October 18th 2006


2806 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

That's because you listened to the first song.



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