Michael Jackson resurrects 'The World's Biggest Selling Album of All Time' with Thriller 25

Pepsi fires, plastic surgery disasters, and child molestation accusations aside, Michael Jackson is a genius. Some people may laugh at that statement, but those folks probably aren't included among the more than 104 million people who bought copies of Jacko's 1983 record, Thriller, which remains the best-selling album of all time, worldwide. And they probably fail to see the fact that Jackson influenced a whole slew of contemporary hit makers, from Lil' Jon to Justin Timberlake.

To mark the 25th anniversary of his opus, Jackson's released Thriller 25 (Epic), which includes the original album in its entirety, plus two previously unreleased tracks from the Thriller sessions and five remixes featuring the likes of will.i.am, Fergie, Akon, and Kanye West. The King of Pop also proves yet again that he's the master of slick packaging, with a massive, full-color booklet of lyrics and pre-plasticized Jacko photos included alongside a DVD featuring three videos ("Billie Jean," "Beat It," and "Thriller") and Jackson's performance at the Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, and Forever TV special in 1983. The latter performance is legendary for being the first time Jackson performed his "moonwalk" dance.

There's not much that hasn't been said about Thriller already, but listeners who haven't heard the album in a while will be struck at how fresh it still sounds. The opening track, "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'," suddenly sounds like the sonic springboard for Justin Timberlake's entire FutureSex/LoveSounds album, and hearing Jackson's trademark interjections of "Hee hee" and "Hoo!" brings to mind Lil' Jon's whole "Yeah!" and "What?!" crunk shtick. Thriller was also one of the first albums to include a star-studded guest list, with contributions from Paul McCartney ("The Girl Is Mine"), Vincent Price ("Thriller"), sisters Janet and LaToya ("P.Y.T."), Quincy Jones (producer), and Eddie Van Halen (the guitar solo on "Beat It").

The unreleased tracks from Thriller include an outtake of Price's voice-over session (wherein Price actually asks, "Can you dig it?") and "For All Time," a low-key pop ballad that probably got bumped from Thriller's final track listing for the similarly smooth song "Human Nature."

And the remixes? Well, here's where things get really interesting. The two tracks featuring will.i.am — "The Girl Is Mine" and "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)" — are both pretty bland, revved-up with synthesizers and drum programming and layered over with will.i.am's vocal samples. Ultimately, it sounds as if Jackson and will.i.am never shared a studio throughout the process of putting the remixes together. By contrast, the remix of "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'" with Akon contains a completely new arrangement, opening with piano and vocal harmonies before sweeping into a bumping techno-soul number that takes even more advantage of the unlikely earworm "Ma ma sa, ma ma se, ma ma coo sa" than the original. The remix of "Billie Jean" with Kanye West is disappointing, mainly because West's presence is felt more as a producer than a performer; the song's all booming club beats and chop-shop sampling, with West interjecting two whole phrases throughout the entire 41/2-minute tune.

The most standout remix here, by far, is, "Beat It" featuring Fergie. will.i.am redeems himself by contributing some stellar, sharp snare drums to the track, but it's Fergie and Jacko's visceral vocal swapping that breathes new life into the song — that, and an instrumental switcheroo that sees the original guitar riff reborn as a funky bass line.

Michael Jackson's worked hard to create an unparalleled body of art his entire life. And while he's built a reputation as "Wacko Jacko" with seemingly no effort, listening to a masterpiece like Thriller — and falling in love with it all over again — serves as a potent reminder of why, when all is said and done, Michael Jackson will still be hailed as one of the great musical geniuses of our time.

 
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15 comments
Bill Brasky
Bill Brasky

It doesnt really matter how many copies thriller has sold. The dude is still pedofile. So yea Pedo Musical Genius YAY!

Kitty Antonik Wakfer
Kitty Antonik Wakfer

Most definitely Micael Jackson is a very talented individual. He was so as a youngster when I first heard him as part of the Jackson Five and he continued to be so as he grew older. I've thoroughly enjoyed dancing to all his music - which is terrific! His Thriller album was added to my slim collection (I"m choosy what I actually purchase) when it first came out. When his music is played now online or broadcast, it's reason to pause and soak in the exceptional production in comparison to most of what is put out currently in mainstream popular music. And yes, to read an article that concentrates on Michael's talent is pleasant to see. I hope that he will do so himself in the future.

mjyvv
mjyvv

I agree with every word written here.It's nice to see that at least one journalist is worthy of the title.Thank you!

Sue
Sue

Thank You so much for a great article , If you check World Sales Thriller 25 is #1 !!!We still Love The King of Pop !!!

Leslie
Leslie

Thank you. This is a great comment...to an awesome album by the "King of Pop"

listening to a masterpiece like Thriller � and falling in love with it all over again � serves as a potent reminder of why, when all is said and done, Michael Jackson will still be hailed as one of the great musical geniuses of our time.

London UK
London UK

Finally! Someone wrote an article about Michael Jackson relating to his brilliance!!!! The world definitely needed a reminder about what genius is and I love the 2008 remakes! PYT is so smooth and Michael drops a wicked vocal on The Girl Is Mine - is now a bonafide jam. What is so special is having music that relates to everybody - especially those of us old enough to remember the Thriller days who still know how to groove - these extra versions more than satisfy and connect us with the younger generations, because musically there has been such a wide gap (choc full of trash). Michael Jackson did not need resurrection. Our tastes did. Long live the eternal King of Pop. We will always love you.

Micheale
Micheale

Thank you for the wonderful article you wrote. Micheal, where ever you are we love you very very much!!Please come back!!

hotmomma
hotmomma

I think this is a wonderful article! You can see there is still kindness in this world and morality when people aren't tearing down someone when there down in the gutter of life. I'm hoping the rest of MJ's life on this earth will be no more trouble but just more great music to come. I still enjoy his music and always will no matter the personal life of MJ. He is King and no one can change that fact. Just like Elvis still holds his title, so will Michael Jackson. Thank you for the wonderful article, It gets old listening to negativity all the time. I love ya MJ keep it coming King of Music!

dan
dan

thank u for this nice articlegod bless u michael

bill
bill

I must agree with you there, even though there has been no new material in some time, his prior work is genius. His stage presnce was as well. To this day with so many artists trying to pick up his role, nobody has come close. To think there has been terrance trent darby, cisco,usher, timberlake, and none is as entertaining or talented.

slim
slim

its true that michael jackson resurrected thriller .. and thats why we love him

Romeo
Romeo

No matter what!! Everybody knows there is only one King and he is Michael Jackson...The greatest entertainer the world has ever seen...

R to the O to the N
R to the O to the N

It's al about the music. Michael Jackson truky is a musical genius, no matter what his flaws, no matter what.

Thank you for focussing on that.

Patrick
Patrick

Well put Michael is King love or hate him you can't deny he is pop.

me
me

I agree Michael Jackson is a genius.

People who can't stop to bash him don't understand what the man went through during his trial. These people are too superficial to understand what it means to be accused for injustified reasons.

 
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