The sixth full-length studio album by legendary American Funk/Soul/Pop singer.
It’s hard to believe now, but when Michael Jackson’s "Thriller" was released in the UK in time for Christmas 1982, there was an initial sense of misfire. In choosing the album's most lacklustre track, "The Girl Is Mine", as its lead single, the postcard delivered was mildly disappointing. The playful duet with Paul McCartney, chosen no doubt to emulate the success McCartney had had earlier the same year with Stevie Wonder on "Ebony And Ivory", was simply not what the listeners were expecting... It reached number eight on the UK chart, and the album sold well, but certainly not in the manner that the man who’d delivered "Off The Wall" should have done.
"Off The Wall" was a massive success, spawning four top ten hits (two of them number ones), but nothing could have prepared Michael Jackson for "Thriller". Nobody could have prepared anybody for the success of "Thriller", since the magnitude of its success was simply unimaginable - an album that sold 40 million copies in its initial chart run, with seven of its nine tracks reaching the Top Ten. This was a record that had something for everybody, building on the basic blueprint of "Off The Wall" by adding harder Funk, Hard Rock, softer ballads, and smoother Soul - expanding the approach to have something for every audience. That alone would have given the album a good shot at a huge audience, but it also arrived precisely when MTV was reaching its ascendancy, and Jackson helped the network by being not just its first superstar, but first black star as much as the network helped him. This all would have made it a success (and its success, in turn, served as a new standard for success), but it stayed on the charts, turning out singles, for nearly two years because it was really, really good!
By the following Christmas, "Thriller" had become the phenomenon it remains to this day. Singles kept dropping off the album like golden fruit from a platinum bough: the precision snap of that snare on UK number one "Billie Jean"; the raucous Eddie Van Halen guitar on "Beat It"; the groove-driven frenzy of "Wanna Be Startin' Something". It became apparent that this was a remarkable, ever-yielding Pop jukebox.
By 1984, the album got an extension on its lifecycle with the John Landis-directed video for "Thriller", which took the album from successful Pop record to cultural icon. Casting the then-clean cut, scandal-free singer as a werewolf in a 15-rated short film was a risk, but one that truly paid off! Soon enough "Thriller" had become a greatest hits package – seven of its nine tracks were issued as singles.
Love it or hate it, "Thriller" is Pop's great, immovable Everest. Marketing departments realised that more and more singles could be pulled from a record to prolong its shelf life, and Michael Jackson became the King of Pop with the whole of the recording industry at his investiture!!
MJJ Productions Inc./Epic, a division of Sony Music Entertainment, 1982/2016 (88875143731). Made in Germany. 180 gram vinyl gatefold LP.
1. Wanna Be Starting' Somethin' 6:02
2. Baby Be Mine 4:20
3. The Girl Is Mine 3:42
4. Thriller 5:57
5. Beat It 4:17
6. Billie Jean 4:57
7. Human Nature 4:05
8. P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing) 3:58
9. The Lady In My Life 4:57
Total playing time: 42:15 min.