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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Music Retrospective: Michael Jackson - Thriller

So, what can I say about Thriller? I mean, it is one of the best-selling albums of all time! It broke all sorts of records! It released seven singles! It won a crap ton of Grammys! Jackson wrote four songs on it! It… You know what? Just read Wikipedia if you want the stats on this. They look right to me!

Anyway, the album was released in 1982 and set the world on fire. This was the album that got me introduced to Michael Jackson. The record’s still at the house, but I don’t have anything to play it. I used to have the 2001 edition on CD, but I accidentally left it and some other CDs in a rental car one summer. I hope whoever found them is enjoying whatever was in there. I was able to copy my sister’s version of the album from her collection. Well, I ain’t got much else to say, so let’s get to the album itself.

Thriller

  • Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ – The album starts out with this fast and funky dance piece. This is also one of the songs Jackson wrote. I didn’t know what the song was about initially. I was too busy listening to that tight beat. It seems like it’s about starting gossip and rumors for no good reason. It also talks about how those rumors and gossip affect the one that stuff's about. It’s definitely something that Jackson would know about being a celebrity and what-not. It’s a really good song, but it’s not one of my favorites from Jackson.
  • Baby Be Mine – The next song is a straight-up love song. It kind of reminds me of “Rock With You.” It even starts out with a little solo on the drums for good measure. It’s a love song, pure and simple. There’s not much to say about it. You could even say it's a little forgettable. It’s still a good song, but there’s not much to chew on.
  • The Girl is Mine – Instead of moving to another fast dance piece like the last album did, things slow down completely with this song. It’s a duet that features the Beatle known as Paul McCartney. This song was also written by Jackson. It’s about two guys fighting over the affections of a dog-gone girl. It’s a pretty nice song. The music is especially pretty good. I have to laugh at the end because the two guys get into a little spat over the girl. Overall, I like the song. It’s not a favorite of mine, but it’s a good one.
  • Thriller – Now we get back to the fast dance pieces.  If I had to name this part of the album, it would be “Freakin’ Epic.” This one is probably one of Jackson’s well-known songs. It’s definitely the ultimate Halloween song. It also features actor Vincent Price at the end with an eerie voice-over. The song is about being scared out of your wits and all sorts of horror references are thrown in. It’s a good song, but it’s one that I really only pull out when it’s Halloween or if I gotta dance. Yes, I know some of the dance moves. No, you won’t see me do them here.
  • Beat It – Here is another one of Jackson’s well-known songs. This is also one he wrote and did an awesome music video for. The song goes for a rock feel and even has a guitar solo from Eddie Van Halen. The song is about non-violence and not trying to get into fights. If I could define epic, it would probably be this song. It’s straight-up awesome. The music kicks butt and the lyrics give a good message. It’s definitely one of the best songs on the album and one of Jackson’s best songs in general.
  • Billie Jean – The last song on the “Freakin’ Epic” part of the album is “Billie Jean.” This is the fourth song Jackson wrote for this album and it even got a music video. The song is essentially about groupies who claim that he is their baby’s daddy. It’s a pretty personal topic and it’s something that Jackson and his brothers had to put up with. This song is as epic like the previous song. The lyrics are well done and the music is pretty awesome. I especially like the bass guitar rhythm to this one. Now if I could only play the instrument, I’d be set.
  • Human Nature – We get another slow ballad from Jackson. From what I can tell, the song is about human nature... yeah, the song's kind of vague. The lyrics talk about being out in the big city at night and enjoying the sights. All I know is that it’s a really nice, slow song. It’s not as epic as the previous songs, but it is a good one.
  • P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing) – This fast little piece was one of the seven singles released. It’s another love song, pure and simple. It also features some of Jackson’s sisters doing the background. For some reason, it even features the Chimpmunks at the end and I’m not joking about that.  It’s a good song, but it’s not one of my favorite songs. It’s a little forgettable as well. There's just not a lot to it.
  • Lady of My Life – The album ends with a slow ballad. It’s a love song and it might be the ultimate love song. It kind of feels like a song you might throw on at a wedding or during the wedding night, if you get my drift. It’s definitely one of Jackson’s lesser known songs. It’s one I rarely listen to since I want to save it for something special. While it’s not one of my favorite songs, it’s still a good one and it ends the album decently.

Favorite Song – This will have to go to “Beat It.” It’s one of the best songs Jackson has done.

Least Favorite Song – Now this is a little difficult. While there are a lot of good songs on her, there are a couple songs that can go here. I’d probably throw either “Baby Be Mine” or “PYT” into this category. They’re decent songs, but they're kind of bland.

So, is Thriller a good album? I can definitely say “YES” to that. I could also yell that, but then I would gather attention to myself. It takes the good stuff from Off the Wall and expands on it greatly. I also noticed that there is more of a variety on this album than his last album in terms of music styles.There's also a nice blending of styles going on. The songs are also diverse. While you have a few love songs, you also have songs that tell a story, give a message, or make you want to do that one dance move. Is the album perfect? It’s not complexly perfect. There are a couple of weak songs on here. They’re not bad, but they're kind of forgettable. Still, the excellent songs make the album worth listening to over and over again.

If you haven’t listened to this album, then what the heck have you been doing for the last 30+ years? Get out there and download the sucka’, sucka’! Before I end the post, here is another one of Jackson’s unreleased songs. This was the original demo to “PYT (Pretty Young Thing).” You can definitely tell that it’s a different beast from the released version. I don’t know why it got reworked, but I like the demo. It’s has a nice, smooth feel to it. It could have probably replaced the released version or “Baby Be Mine.” Well, I’m out of here. Peace and God Bless.

NEXT TIME: BAD!!

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