Exactly 40 years ago, record stores in the United States received the first copies of the record, the cover of which featured the former child star posing, viewed from behind, with a tiger cub. The record, as literally the whole world soon learned, was called “Thriller” and was the second solo album by Michael Jackson in his adulthood.
Clearly, expectations for CBS, now Sony, were high, as “Off The Wall”, the previous work of this still very young 24-year-old singer, sold millions of copies and had a string of singles on the charts around the world. However, it’s safe to say that no one imagined it would become the best-selling album of all time.
Even today it is difficult to explain exactly what made this work so popular. Was it a lean and varied format? There are only nine songs in Thriller, which, although they can be roughly divided into “dance tracks” and “ballads”, are very different from each other. That is, they did not tire the listener and showed the flexibility of the artist. For those who listened to the songs on the radio or saw the clips on the new MTV, the sensations were, of course, even stronger.
Actually MJ arrived with a complete package. He had a great voice, but he wasn’t theatrical, and he knew how to make his style stand out. Despite his young age, he was also a showbiz veteran, already having a No. 1 hit in the US by the age of 11 with “Jackson 5”. That is, he knew how to entertain and impress the audience. It’s not for nothing that his performance at the Motown 25th Anniversary Special is considered one of the turning points of his career (try not to get emotional in the video below as he sings “Billie Jean” and leaves the audience and the whole country, sure to have witnessed the birth Super star).
Above all, it was a technically perfect record, brilliantly produced by Quincy Jones, who had at his disposal the finest musicians and equipment that money could buy. As a result, even in the so-called secondary moments, Thriller never ceases to impress.
Thriller also comes at a unique moment in the history of pop music that will never be repeated. Whereas before the 70s the rule was that artists should release their albums with a certain regularity, even if the previous album was still successful, Jackson showed that an album could have a long life and continue to sell well for a long time.
It’s not that he didn’t do anything until the release of “Bad” in 1987. In fact, it was hard for MJ to leave, say, between 1983 and 1985, and not just for Thriller. In 1984, the Jacksons released “Victory”, an album from which it became clear that Michael had already outgrown his brothers.
Michael also did not play solo shows in support of “Thriller”, although the “Victory Tour”, which consisted of only 55 concerts in the USA, is perceived as Michael’s tour – half of the repertoire was formed by songs from “Off The Wall” and “Thriller”, and it was clear that the crowds who were struggling to get a ticket really wanted to see Michael and not Tito or Jermain or Marlon.
Jackson could also be heard on “Somebody’s Watching Me”, Rockwell’s big hit, under the Kennedy stage name William Gordy, son of Berry Gordy, owner of Motown, the record company that revealed the artist.
In 1985, Michael bought ITV Music, the company that owned the rights to thousands of songs, including almost all of the McCartney Quartet’s songs from Liverpool. Thriller is considered the best-selling record in history, with 70 million copies sold worldwide. In the US, he spent 37 consecutive weeks at number one and also held the title for many years.
Thriller has returned to stores in a series of re-releases over the years. The most recent of these, and by far the most interesting, came out a few days ago, and its biggest attraction is a series of songs that were considered for inclusion on the album, some excellent but which were left out.