It hasn’t been a great start to the year for the reputation of the late king of pop, but, if you’re willing to separate his art from his actions, it’s easy to see why he claimed that title without contest. Michael Jackson‘s Thriller solidified himself as a pop icon for decades to come, tying together soul, R&B, and pop into one glamorous record.
Many of Jackson’s biggest hits are on Thriller, which makes it no mystery as to how iconic the record is. Most notably, perhaps is title track ‘Thriller,’ which still captivates many today with its larger than life attitude. Jackson’s vocals are as aggressive and thrilling as the brass that accompanies him, the basslines and guitar also pushing the song forward with a lot of drive. ‘Beat It‘ dives into the rockier side of things with its iconic riff blasting at the start of the track. The energy is unmistakable, and it gives the record a huge rush during that big central run. ‘Billie Jean‘ wraps up that big run, this time focussing more on Jackson’s sweet vocals, which are so sweet and infectious that you can help but move along with them.
The hits aren’t what make Thriller great alone. Tracks like ‘The Girl Is Mine‘ fill the record with character, this one in particular seeing Jackson and Paul McCartney charmingly argue over a girl. It’s a bit weird, but its not meant to be taken too seriously in the first place. More fun is had in ‘Human Nature,’ the sweet and almost seductive track bringing some playful tones to the end of the record. ‘Wanna Be Startin’ Something‘ opens the record with a lot of groove and punch, the glamour and good vibes continuing to the very end. The same funkiness comes back in the end in ‘P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing),‘ before the sweet, infatuating end ‘The Lady In My Life‘ takes things out.
The king of pop earned his title rightfully, at least musically. Michael Jackson’s Thriller brough glamour and excitement to pop by introducing elements of rock, soul, R&B, and more into the music. It’s rare to see pop so daring today, and even rare to hear a classic record sound so refreshing today.
Favorite Tracks: Thriller, Beat It, Billie Jean, Wanna Be Startin’ Something
Least Favorite Track: P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)
Rating: 81 / 100
Stream or buy Thriller on Apple Music, and follow our Throwback Playlist on Spotify: