Is it even Halloween if you haven’t played this track?
In the spirit of the day’s occasion, this week’s From The Vault pick is as legendary as it gets.
We give you Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller.’
After releasing instant classics in the form of ‘Billie Jean’, ‘Beat It’ and ‘Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin,’’ Jackson went all out with the title track from his sixth album in 1984. And, in the process, he serviced the masses yet another pop culture fixture.
Inspired by MJ’s love for horror movies, ‘Thriller’ was helmed by wordsmith Rod Temperton and producer extraordinaire Quincy Jones. An early version named ‘Starlight’ was deemed not good enough and after settling on the horror theme, everything fell into place. From the spooky and dramatic sounds heard throughout the song, and horror actor Vincent Price’s creepy spoken-word monologue, Jackson and his production team managed to create one of the greatest songs (and visuals) of all time.
Peaking at #4 on the US Billboard Hot 100, it was also a worldwide hit charting inside the Top 5 of most of the countries it was released in
Horror director John Landis took on the huge task of creating a visual that lived up to the song’s vivid quality. And delivered that… and then some.
The short film for the track was filmed like a horror movie, with Michael luring his girlfriend to a cemetery before revealing his true deadly nature and dancing up a storm with his troop of zombies.
From its iconic choreography, cinematography, and fashion, this visual is the definition of “iconic” and is as fresh today as it was in ’84.
In the almost 40 years following its release, ‘Thriller’ – both the song and its parent album – have never ceased to amaze the masses, and has lost none of its luster.
Sonically, it remains the perfect filler-free Pop album, and it visually changed the game for music videos forever.
Whether churning out whimsical songs, world-peace anthems, or heartfelt ballads, Jackson knew exactly what to do to turn his art into potent cultural moments, and it’s exactly why the King of Pop’s reign will never ever let up.