SoulBounce’s Top 50 Michael Jackson Songs: #3 ‘Thriller’

Girl, I can thrill you more
Than any ghoul could ever dare try


To utter the word "Thriller" after Michael Jackson changed all of our worlds completely, meant that we would all irrevocably be overcome with sensations that most of us had never felt before. In 1984, the music video was still a relatively new phenomenon. Despite Michael being the first Black artist to break the color barrier on MTV with his video for "Beat It" and only after intense lobbying, it was he who pushed the very concept of what a song could be. "Thriller" wasn't just a song with an accompanying video and a 45-minute making-of video. "Thriller" was an event. An event complete with cutting edge special effects by acclaimed artists Stan Winston and Rick Baker of American Werewolf In London along with John Landis, the movie's director. Michael wanted the type of horror and comedy blend than Landis delivered in the movie to be present in his landmark video. Needless to say, Michael's vision was realized. 

Truth be told, "Thriller" is not only an awesome song with its twisted bass licks and voice over by old Hollywood's King of Horror Vincent Price, it's a video that is absolutely horrifying. Zombies spewing blood, walking darkened streets in search of victims' brains and cornering love interest and recipient of the "Baddest Jheri Curl Ever Conceived" Ola Ray, "Thriller" was disturbing. But like all great works of art, it was the intricacies inherent in the video that kept us riveted: the iconic red and black leather jacket that every man, woman and child just had to have and the Michael Peters-choreographed dance sequence that you were required to learn before school resumed the next day to name just a few. When it premiered, Michael Jackson's "Thriller" was enough to make time stand still and enough to make the entire world pause to watch a former man-child who stole our hearts a decade before scaring and intriguing us in the most amazing way possible. 
To this day, I can say with absolute certainty that Michael Jackson is a being the likes of which none of us will ever again experience in any of our lifetimes. Luckliy, "Thriller" is an event which all of us can experience again and again bringing us all closer to exactly how we felt when we first experienced it. The most supreme superlatives will never be able to fully explain just how impressive "Thriller" continues to be.  

Michael Jackson: "Thriller"

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11 Responses

  1. Any additional comment is unnecessary. A masterpiece. Just like "Billie Jean". Just like other 47 songs and a lot more in his musical Wonderland.

  2. Thriller is EPIC,i wasn't born but i can imagine the Phenomenon that it was since it's still a big ass deal today. I love the video and of course i know the dance...who doesn't? lol

  3. great song of course.......I love the vocals melody and the runs he does on this song.
    But on the other hand I've realized that there are several songs that didn't make this countdown that absolutely should have. I'm not gonna ruin the Top 2 and but I think I know what # 1 is....Looking back at the list, I realize the fact that there are barely any album cuts in this Top 50 (and mostly singles), which to an extent, doesn't really show the greatness of Michael Jackson. "Push Me Away," "Music's Takin Over," "Liberian Girl," When I Come of Age," "Dear Michael," and "Maria," are a few songs that should've been included but weren't. On the other hand, it was a great idea & a good list. This "Summer of Michael Jackson" was definitely fun and I'm sad that its almost over. They should do another one of these in a coulple years, and do one for Stevie!

  4. Lovely commentary. Michael, we love you MORE.

  5. Thrilling commentary (no pun intended), I have gossebumps...
    I thank the Heavens above because I was born in the blessed generation and I know exactly what you are talking about. But on the other hand, that's the very reason why his lost is still impossible for me to accept. I love you most, Michael, you gave it all.

  6. Michael will forever be the Greatest forever! Thriller the best,no one can come close to it! Revolutonary, Iconic, Groundbreaking, Masterpiece, Inventive, Genius, Perfect...

  7. I'm sure everyone remembers where they were the day that video premiered. I always loved the song but didn't know the video would surpass it's name.
    It was the scariest music video I had ever seen!
    My sister was 4 and I was 9 at the time. It was a huge late night release and it must have been international because we live in Canada. It premiered at 10pm and it was a big deal because my mother let us set up to watch it.
    We ran screaming hiding behind my mother and would peek out then start screaming again when we would see a Zombie or hear that scary movie music. But still managed to learn that entire dance that night! It was GREAT!!!
    I don't think I watched that video in full until a year later...thank goodness for the making of Thriller...eased my 10 year old mind.
    Even Tank talked about his same fear of the video when it was released.
    Only Michael Jackson could make a video I was too afraid to watch but still kept trying.....cuz it was the best.

  8. The funny thing about this song being #3 is that it is #95 in the countdown of 100 soul songs and is the lowest rated song of Michael Jacksons' in the countdown. Some songs rated lower than Thriller are higher in the Top 100 soul songs countdown.
    /Sips cup of Arizona tea and waits for people to marinate on that.

  9. @John Q: Oooh, I bet you think you're on to something. Well, you're not. The Top 100 Soul/R&B Songs countdown had different ranking criteria and was voted on by a totally different set of people. There were 4 MJ songs on that countdown and they did not fall in spots 1-4 of this countdown. No story there because it's really not that deep.
    Now, please don't choke on your Arizona tea.
    Celebrating the life and legacy of Michael Jackson,
    The Management

  10. I was just making an inquiry and was wondering about that. It was meant to be a more a question than statement. And I have been digging the countdown cause Soulbounce comes correct to soul or artist countdowns. I have great appreciation for the coverage Soul Bounce has with artists from across all facets of music. So, no need to get feisty, causes it all good.

  11. @John Q: Thanks for the follow up comment and for clearing that up. Folks have been coming at us sideways all summer about this countdown and other assorted things, so please excuse my defensiveness. Thanks for riding this countdown out with us.
    Peace, Love & Michael,