The quintessential pop album celebrates 40 years! Michael Jackson’s THRILLER changed the way that the world regarded R&B and pop as the undisputed King of Pop set out to revolutionize the industry and conquer MTV!
The novelty of the music video was still in its infancy in the early 80s. MTV still had a lot of ground to cover and its relationship with the music industry was still on shaky ground. Though there were many artists [mostly new and up-and-comers at the time] that had embraced the concept and art form the innovation provided by the music video, the music channel was relatively limited on equal representation. When the network launched, the Rolling Stones, Madonna, and David Bowie all rallied around the platform, but Bowie took things further and confronted a reporter with the question about why black artists were not rotating as prominently as their white contemporaries. The exception was Michael Jackson.
When MTV launched in 1981, Jackson was riding the wave of the success of his solo debut album Off The Wall, and his disco-inspired video for “Rock With You” with its laser beams and glitter ball was among the only ones to feature in rotation on the network with a black artist, paving the way for other acts to follow in his bedazzled footsteps. Meanwhile, Michael Jackson was busy in the studio working with legendary producer Quincy Jones, on the most groundbreaking pop album. In its commemorative release Thriller 40 (available now for download now on most digital music stores, including iTunes) features the original 9-track setlist digitally mastered and in lossless audio for the most authentic music experience. Released on November 30, 1982, the album is as relevant today as ever.
Every Song a Killer
Having already collaborated with Jackson on 1979s Off The Wall producer Quincy Jones wanted to ensure that when he and Michael Jackson went back into the studio together, they came out the other side delivering an album where “every song was a killer.” Thriller would go on break records and win every major award of the season, and Jackson’s passion for movies and Hollywood nostalgia, lead to the most cinematic-looking videos accompanying every single release starting with “Billie Jean”. The video capitalized on Jackson’s emerging iconography, his spotless black shoes, and unique dance moves, including his signature moonwalk. By the time MTV premiered the video for the follow-up single “Beat It”, Jackson had solidified his place as a music video superstar!
Thriller continued to benefit from major radio play and hit singles that included “Human Nature”, the ready for the club “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)”, and the Paul McCarthy duet “The Girl is Mine”, and was an extraordinary industry achievement for the pop star, moving him into uncharted popularity. By the time Thriller was poised to make its next and final move, Jackson pulled out every stop and teamed up with Hollywood filmmaker John Landis (An American Werewolf in London) for the epic music video to accompany the title track. The 13-minute short film was the first of its kind and was inspired by Jackson’s love of classic horror movies and would feature the most dynamic choreography. The video premiered on MTV on December 2, 1983, and would change the way the world looked at MTV!
THRILLER 40 | Michael Jackson | is available to download on iTunes and additional digital music store outlets. It is also available as a 2-disc CD set with previously unreleased bonus tracks; the iTunes digital release is comprised of 34 tracks, including demo tracks and remixes. Download from iTunes here.