Michael Jackson – Thriller
Record Label: Epic Records
Release Date: November 30th, 1982
I’ll be completely honest – I’ve been really hesitant to review this record, because I know that people will disagree with me on what I think of it. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy it, because I absolutely adore this record in every single way. This is the essential Michael Jackson record, as well as the best selling album in the world. I picked it up a few weeks back, and I’m familiar with Michael’s music, as well as him in general. There’s no way you didn’t know who Michael Jackson or what he has done to contribute to music. Everyone remembered when he passed away a few years ago. It was a very shocking event in history, and even now, he’s still extremely popular, beyond the grave. Not many artists have had that kind of impact. Back to what I was saying in the first sentence of the review, this is one of those albums that is just so fantastic, it’s really hard to express how one feels about it in words. Regardless of that, I will do my best.
This album is basically a classic in every sense of the word; its 30th anniversary was just last month, actually, and the fact that this album still holds up after 30 years really says something to me about it. It’s definitely got that lasting value factor, and for plenty of reasons. It really helped to pioneer pop music in the sense that Michael Jackson broke down the boundaries and combined more than one style of music, such as rock, pop, funk, R&B, and soul. This album has a variety of sounds, and every song is a different genre, essentially. This album also really pioneered the music video as well; the videos for “Billie Jean,” “Beat It,” and the most popular song from the record (and possibly the decade) “Thriller” are some of the most popular videos of all time, and they brought the music video to a whole new level, essentially. For a long time, music videos were quite important, and still sort of are, to a degree. But the fact that Michael Jackson brought down so many barriers, whether they are racial or musical, that makes it that much more special.
The album starts off with a six-minute song called “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’,” which is a “dance” song, I suppose. It features horns, synthesized drums, and an overall optimistic/happy vibe. It’s not the best song on here, but it’s pretty darn awesome. When Jackson sings, he shines. His vocals are absolutely fantastic throughout the entire record. This song definitely makes me want to get up and start dancing, and the song is called “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’.” The next track “Baby, Be Mine” is a much slower track, and it’s quite contrasting, compared to “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’.” It’s essentially an R&B slow jam that’s all about how Jackson wants to be with a girl. That’s what a lot of the songs are about, yet it’s not cliché or boring. It’s really entertaining and very unique. Third track “The Girl Is Mine” is another great track, because it features guest vocals from Beatle Sir Paul McCartney. This is one of my favorite tracks, because at the end of the song, they have a playful exchange where they’re fighting over a girl, and it’s really funny to me. The song is a duet about two guys who are competing over a girl’s affections, and it’s really entertaining, because the subject matter is not something I’ve heard too much. Speaking of which, next track “Thriller,” which is the title track, is my favorite song on here. Every time I listen to it, I think of the music video, which is fantastic in every way, but this song has a very interesting Halloween theme to it, and I love it. It’s the perfect pop song in every way. There’s also a cool little spoken word outro by Vincent Price at the end, which is really creepy, but awesome.
Ironically, the next two songs are the other two most popular singles, “Beat It,” and “Billie Jean.” The former is a very iconic song, and it’s also very well recognized for the signature guitar riff throughout the song. This is one of the only more “rock” songs on the records, because of that guitar riff. In fact, there’s a great guitar solo in the middle of the song, which is fantastic. Fall Out Boy did a cover of this track in 2008, I believe, and it definitely does the song justice. The latter is another love song, but it’s in the vein of another Michael Jackson song “Dirty Diana,” which is about a guy who’s trying to get a girl away from him. In that song, it’s Diana, and in this one, it’s Billie Jean. Next track “Human Nature” is another R&B track that also has a very adult contemporary feel to it. It’s a nice song, but doesn’t do much for me, to be frank. Well, it’s a great song, but just not my favorite. Eighth track “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)” is another one of my favorite songs on the record, because it’s another great pop song, simply. Last track “The Lady In My Life” is another slower song with a nice bassline that’s definitely a nice R&B track. It ends the album on a nice note, literally.
Basically, this is a beautiful album in every single way; it’s pop, rock, R&B, and just amazing. There’s something for everyone here. You can’t deny that Michael Jackson is/was a talented artist, despite all of the controversy that surrounded him. It’s a wonderful record, and Thriller is a definitely an essential record to listen to before you die. It’s a classic, and will always remain one.