When Michael Jackson’s Thriller was released in 1982, it’s safe to say that both critics and general audiences were thrilled. Lauded for the considerable growth since his previous album Off the Wall, Thriller became (and remains to this day) the best-selling album of all time.
As a self-professed MJ lover living in contemporary times, I sorted through all of his tracks on my iTunes and listened to the album in its entirety, for perhaps the first time. My love for lesser-played tracks was renewed as I listened to certain nuances that had escaped me before.
Michael’s breathy whispers throughout “Wanna Be Startin’ Something;” his subtle harmony with Paul McCartney throughout “The Girl is Mine;” the relevancy of the message in “Beat It”, and the memorable beat of “Billie Jean.” And then, of course, there’s “Thriller,” the album’s title song. There are very few people who don’t listen to this song at least once around Halloween, but what about its impact on the music industry?
The album pushed for racial equality, pressuring MTV to broadcast the videos for “Billie Jean” and “Beat It” despite previous discrimination. Thriller also established the popularity of music videos, as Michael made music video production an art unto itself, with the title song encapsulated in an unforgettable lucky-number-thirteen minute video.
So this Halloween, when you inevitably hear “Thriller,” raise a ghost-like gloved hand and shiver in remembrance at the impact of this album, as Michael Jackson once again rises from the dead.
Freakiest Track: Thriller
Favourite Track: Wanna Be Startin’ Something