By Tyrone C.
Epic Records (1982)
Epic Records (1982)
Thriller is the sixth studio album by Michael Jackson, following his very popular album Off the Wall. The album sold very well and remains the best-selling of all time to this very day.
Michael Jackson (August 29, 1958 – June 25, 2009) was born in Gary, Indiana, the eighth of ten children in an African-American working class family that faced financial struggles. His father, Joe Jackson was a steel mill worker while his mother Katherine Jackson was a devout Jehovah’s Witness. Michael’s brothers Jackie, Tito and Jermaine had formed a band called the Jackson Brothers and in 1964, young Michael and his brother Marlon would join the group, becoming the Jackson 5. The five brothers became huge names in a short amount of time, having such hits as ABC, The Love You Save and I’ll Be There. They became legends after signing with Motown Records. Soon, the Jackson 5 would leave Motown due to creative differences and become the Jacksons as part of CBS Records. During this time, Michael had already released four albums by the time he turned 16. Jackson eventually sought out to achieve solo fame, releasing Off the Wall which was a huge hit, but not nearly as successful as his future endeavors would be.
Thriller was recorded between April 14th and November 8th, 1982 in the Westlake Recording Studios in West Hollywood, California, being released on the 30th of that month. Thriller saw Jackson incorporate pop, funk, rock, post-disco and R&B elements like he had done on Off the Wall, except with much more substance and flavor to them. Michael worked with legendary Quincy Jones on the album and they collaborated on 30 songs, 9 of which were actually included on the album. Prior to the recording, Jackson was very upset with what he thought was an under-performing Off the Wall album and hired a new agent, telling the agent that he wanted to be the most popular, wealthiest music star immediately. Jackson was also upset that he had not gotten Record of the Year at the Grammys and wanted to break down racial barriers after being declined an interview with Rolling Stone, despite being an already big name in the music industry. Oh, he would break down barriers, for sure.
This album is fantastic. I have Off the Wall on my iPad and Thriller is such a step up. He literally upgraded everything from Off the Wall. Thriller is edgier, with better vocals, a sweet solo on Beat It by Eddie Van Halen and strong beats. This album sounds like he spent a lot of time working on it and had a chip on his shoulder, wanting to have a very successful album and be interviewed for magazines and television shows despite being a young black man. Now, of course, Thriller is the song from the album that became the biggest hit, featuring an incredible 12-minute music video/mini-film that is so well made, with so much hard work being evident. However, my favorite track is Beat It. I love the vocals from it, the aforementioned solo and the story Jackson tells in the music video. The two rival gangs facing off, pulling out switchblades and jockeying for position, ready to make the first strike. It’s a really strong track, as is almost every song on Thriller.
Personally, I really love that Michael did most of the tracks solo, apart from The Girl is Mine, a duet with Paul McCartney that is very good, as well. He really shined on this album and became a superstar overnight. This album is significant because of all of the elements of music it has, as well as the strong vocals from Jackson and the contrast between love songs (Baby Be Mine, P.Y.T.), rock songs (Beat It), uptempo disco songs (Billie Jean) and haunting tunes (Thriller). There are so many elements to this album, but it doesn’t feel forced and messy. There’s a lovely transition between all of the songs so as to not take you out of the enjoyment of the music.
Tyrone C. is a grade 12 student who enjoys hip-hop music, funk, jazz and other types of rhythm and blues, and has a strong respect for Michael Jackson.