Throwback Thursday: Michael Jackson’s Thriller (1982)

Above: A still from Michael Jackson's legendary 14-minute video, "Thriller"

In this day and age of iTunes and singles, I wanted to kick off my initial Throwback Thurday offering with a look back at the greatest album of all-time — or at least what I think is the greatest album all-time — Michael Jackson’s Thriller.

Released on November 30, 1982, Thriller produced seven Top 10 singles. Seven. That’s an outstanding career for many of the flash in the pan artists of today or a quality three-year stretch for someone like Rihanna or Beyonce.

It remains the best selling album of all-time, had a major cultural influence and is infinitely playable to this day.

The title track, which was track four on the nine-song album, remains a Halloween staple and the video still stands as one of the best videos ever made. The zombie dance sequence is so awesome that Jennifer Garner and Mark Ruffalo rocked it in 13 Going on 30 and anyone between the ages of 35 and 45 probably knows most of the moves, even if they’re not going to readily show you without a supporting cast and a couple glasses of liquid courage.

The opening instrumental from “Billie Jean” is arguably one of the most universally recognized intros in music history. That bass line and synth combo kicks in and you know exactly what song is coming on, and you can’t help but start tapping out the beat and/or moving your feet.

Try it: go to YouTube or pull up “Billie Jean” in your iTunes collection, hit play, and try not to move along with it. If you can do it, consult your physician because there might very well be something wrong with you.

“Beat It” is a classic and is probably how you got introduced to “Weird Al” Yankovic, just like everyone else, “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’” is an underrated Side One, Track One for anyone that gets the Nick Hornby, High Fidelity reference, and “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)” doesn’t get nearly enough credit for being an amazing song simply because of the iconic tracks it had to battle for recognition on this incredible album.

And call me old school, but I still love the idea of an album — a collection of tracks assembled to be played together, one after the other, as a whole, that can also be broken down into individual singles.

Most albums aren’t put together that way these days—singles are crafted for maximum airplay, and if an album produces three hits, that’s a windfall.

Thriller. Had. Seven. Top. 10. Singles… out of nine tracks.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be bouncing all over the place with my #TBT selections — movies, books, televisions shows, toys, more music — but I needed to kick things off with a classic.

And it doesn’t get much better than Michael and Thriller.  

Tags: Michael Jackson

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