“Thriller” by Michael Jackson: An Iconic Classic?


Currently, “Thriller” is the highest sold album of all time.

Luke Chipley, Copy Editor

To say that “Thriller” by Michael Jackson is a classic would be a big understatement. Being the highest sold album of all-time, “Thriller” is a pop album (along with some genre-fusions such as funk and disco) with such heavy influence on other albums and songs, as well as arguably some of the greatest pop songs of all time.

That being said, do the deeper cuts on this album hold up today like the other highly revered ones? How has “Thriller” aged throughout its four decades of existence as well as praise?

The album starts with “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’,” the longest track on the album. As an introduction track should, it perfectly begins the album with examples of what to expect over its 42 minute run time. A funky instrumental that builds from a simple synthetic bass line to a grandiose instrumental, Michael Jackson’s iconic and energetic vocals that lash out against those against him and his struggle for fame.

It is a triumphant intro that cannot be understated for giving off the perfect mood for what the listener will get into.

Throughout “Thriller,” there is a duality between moods of energetic funk, such as “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’,” as well as more quiet, lush, and romantic feelings of pleasure. While the “energetic funk” side usually gives the album its classic status, the deeper cuts on here fall onto the “romantic pleasure” side. Unfortunately, this side of the spectrum can be a bit of a hit or miss.

For instance, my least favorite song on the album, “The Girl Is Mine,” falls short on the aesthetic that it is trying to bring to the table. Its glossy and romantic production has not really aged well at all. To make matters worse, singer and band member of the Beatles’ Paul Mccartney makes an appearance on this track.

Unfortunately, Jackson and Mccartney do not have much chemistry together at all, making for an awkward song overall.

While the other tracks are not as awkward as this one, they can still be pretty underwhelming. “Human Nature” and “The Lady in My Life” are both toned back and relaxed, although can be a bit lackluster compared to the other songs.

Do not let these less enjoyable tracks fool you, though. When this album delivers, it delivers fantastically.

Around the middle point of the album we are given the centerpieces to the album, all in a row. “Thriller,” “Beat It,” and “Billie Jean,” three of some of the most iconic pop songs to ever be released, and I do not think I need to explain too much as to why. Each have their own senses and moods of energy to them, “Thriller” with its dark and scary yet funky attitude, “Beat It” is loud and bombastic, and “Billie Jean” is a bit quieter but very rebellious in mood.

“P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)” and “Baby Be Mine” are around the middle in terms of quality. They both bring a bit of a mix between the energy and romance that the entire album is split on, but are both very catchy in their own ways.

While a few tracks have not aged well, there is still a sense of grandeur and fun when it comes to the pop anthems “Thriller.” I do not think it is perfect, but whenever this album reaches its highs, those highs define an era of the 80s. I will give this album an eight out of 10.