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Michael Jackson - Thriller

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Thriller

Michael Jackson

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Off the Wall was a massive success, spawning four Top Ten hits (two of them number ones), but nothing could have prepared Michael Jackson for Thriller. Nobody could have prepared anybody for the success of Thriller, since the magnitude of its success was simply unimaginable -- an album that sold 40 million copies in its initial chart run, with seven of its nine tracks reaching the Top Ten (for the record, the terrific "Baby Be Mine" and the pretty good ballad "The Lady in My Life" are not like the others). This was a record that had something for everybody, building on the basic blueprint of Off the Wall by adding harder funk, hard rock, softer ballads, and smoother soul -- expanding the approach to have something for every audience. That alone would have given the album a good shot at a huge audience, but it also arrived precisely when MTV was reaching its ascendancy, and Jackson helped the network by being not just its first superstar, but first black star as much as the network helped him. This all would have made it a success (and its success, in turn, served as a new standard for success), but it stayed on the charts, turning out singles, for nearly two years because it was really, really good. True, it wasn't as tight as Off the Wall -- and the ridiculous, late-night house-of-horrors title track is the prime culprit, arriving in the middle of the record and sucking out its momentum -- but those one or two cuts don't detract from a phenomenal set of music. It's calculated, to be sure, but the chutzpah of those calculations (before this, nobody would even have thought to bring in metal virtuoso Eddie Van Halen to play on a disco cut) is outdone by their success. This is where a song as gentle and lovely as "Human Nature" coexists comfortably with the tough, scared "Beat It," the sweet schmaltz of the Paul McCartney duet "The Girl Is Mine," and the frizzy funk of "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)." And, although this is an undeniably fun record, the paranoia is already creeping in, manifesting itself in the record's two best songs: "Billie Jean," where a woman claims Michael is the father of her child, and the delirious "Wanna Be Startin' Something," the freshest funk on the album, but the most claustrophobic, scariest track Jackson ever recorded. These give the record its anchor and are part of the reason why the record is more than just a phenomenon. The other reason, of course, is that much of this is just simply great music. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

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Thriller

Michael Jackson

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1
Wanna Be Startin' Somethin' (Album Version) 00:06:03

David Williams, Guitar - Larry Williams, Flute - Larry Williams, Saxophone - Bunny Hull, Background Vocal - Julia Waters, Background Vocal - Michael Boddicker, Synthesizer - Greg Phillinganes, Synthesizer - Becky Lopez, Background Vocal - Maxine Waters, Background Vocal - Louis Johnson, Bass - Jerry Hey, Arranger - Jerry Hey, Trumpet - Jerry Hey, Flugelhorn - Michael Jackson, Vocal - Michael Jackson, Arranger - Michael Jackson, Background Vocal - Michael Jackson, Performer - Paulinho Da Costa, Percussion - Bill Reichenbach, Trombone - Gary Grant, Trumpet - Gary Grant, Flugelhorn - James Ingram, Background Vocal - Oren Waters, Background Vocal - BILL WOLFER, Synthesizer - Michael J. Jackson, Composer - Michael J. Jackson, Lyricist - Quincy Jones, Producer -

(P) 1982 MJJ Productions, Inc.

2
Baby Be Mine (Album Version) 00:04:20

CHANCLER,NDUGO, Drums - David Williams, Guitar - R. Temperton, Composer - R. Temperton, Lyricist - Larry Williams, Flute - Larry Williams, Saxophone - Bernie Grundman, Mastering Engineer - Humberto Gatica, Recording Engineer - Michael Boddicker, Synthesizer - David Paich, Synthesizer - Greg Phillinganes, Keyboards - Greg Phillinganes, Synthesizer - Louis Johnson, Bass - Matt Forger, Engineer - Matt Forger, Recording Engineer - Jerry Hey, Arranger - Jerry Hey, Trumpet - Jerry Hey, Flugelhorn - Michael Jackson, Vocal - Michael Jackson, Background Vocal - Michael Jackson, Vocal Arranger - Michael Jackson, Performer - Paulinho Da Costa, Percussion - Bruce Swedien, Recording Engineer - Bill Reichenbach, Trombone - Gary Grant, Trumpet - Gary Grant, Flugelhorn - Mark Ettel, 2nd Engineer - Rod Temperton, Vocal Arranger - Quincy Jones, Producer - Steve Bates, 2nd Engineer -

(P) 1982 MJJ Productions Inc.

3
The Girl Is Mine (Album Version) 00:03:42

Mark Ettel, 2nd Engineer - Michael Jackson featuring Paul McCartney, Performer - David Foster, Synthesizer - Michael Jackson, Vocal Arranger - Michael Jackson, Background Vocal - Michael Jackson, Vocal - Paul McCartney, Background Vocal - Paul McCartney, Vocal - Humberto Gatica, Recording Engineer - Bernie Grundman, Mastering Engineer - Louis Johnson, Bass - Steve Lukather, Guitar - Bruce Swedien, Recording Engineer - Michael J. Jackson, Composer - Michael J. Jackson, Lyricist - Jeff Porcaro, Drums - David Paich, Piano - Matt Forger, Engineer - Matt Forger, Recording Engineer - Quincy Jones, Producer - Quincy Jones, Vocal Arranger - Steve Bates, 2nd Engineer - Dean Parks, Guitar -

(P) 1982 MJJ Productions Inc.

4
Thriller (Album Version) 00:05:57

Jerry Hey, Trumpet - Jerry Hey, Flugelhorn - Michael Jackson, Vocal - Michael Jackson, Background Vocal - Michael Jackson, Performer - Greg Phillinganes, Synthesizer - Bill Reichenbach, Trombone - Larry Williams, Flute - Larry Williams, Saxophone - Rod Temperton, Composer - Rod Temperton, Lyricist - Rod Temperton, Synthesizer - Brian Banks, Synthesizer - David Williams, Guitar - Quincy Jones, Producer - Gary Grant, Trumpet - Gary Grant, Flugelhorn - Vincent Price, Speaker -

(P) 1982 MJJ Productions Inc.

5
Beat It (Single Version) 00:04:18

Michael Jackson, Vocal - Michael Jackson, Background Vocal - Michael Jackson, Performer - Greg Phillinganes, Synthesizer - Steve Lukather, Guitar - Steve Lukather, Acoustic Bass - Steve Porcaro, Synthesizer - Paul Jackson Jr., Guitar - Jeff Porcaro, Drums - Quincy Jones, Producer - M. J. Jackson, Composer - M. J. Jackson, Lyricist - BILL WOLFER, Keyboards -

(P) 1982 MJJ Productions Inc.

6
Billie Jean (Single Version) 00:04:54

CHANCLER,NDUGO, Drums - Michael Jackson, Vocal - Michael Jackson, Background Vocal - Michael Jackson, Performer - Greg Phillinganes, Synthesizer - Greg Smith, Synthesizer - Louis Johnson, Bass - Michael J. Jackson, Composer - Michael J. Jackson, Lyricist - David Williams, Guitar - Quincy Jones, Producer - BILL WOLFER, Synthesizer -

(P) 1982 MJJ Productions Inc.

7
Human Nature (Album Version) 00:04:06

Mark Ettel, 2nd Engineer - Michael Jackson, Vocal - Michael Jackson, Background Vocal - Michael Jackson, Performer - Humberto Gatica, Recording Engineer - Bernie Grundman, Mastering Engineer - John Bettis, Lyricist - John Bettis, Composer - Steve Lukather, Guitar - Steve Lukather, Arranger - S. Porcaro, Composer - S. Porcaro, Lyricist - Steve Porcaro, Arranger - Steve Porcaro, Synthesizer - Bruce Swedien, Recording Engineer - Jeff Porcaro, Drums - Paulinho Da Costa, Percussion - David Paich, Arranger - David Paich, Synthesizer - Matt Forger, Engineer - Matt Forger, Recording Engineer - Quincy Jones, Producer - Steve Bates, Engineer - Steve Bates, 2nd Engineer -

(P) 1982 MJJ Productions Inc.

8
P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing) (Album Version) 00:03:59

Mark Ettel, 2nd Engineer - CHANCLER,NDUGO, Drums - Michael Jackson, Vocal - Michael Jackson, Performer - Greg Phillinganes, Synthesizer - Humberto Gatica, Recording Engineer - Howard Hewett, Background Vocal - James Ingram, Composer - James Ingram, Background Vocal - James Ingram, Lyricist - James Ingram, Arranger - James Ingram, Keyboards - Bernie Grundman, Mastering Engineer - Louis Johnson, Bass - Bruce Swedien, Recording Engineer - Paul Jackson Jr., Guitar - Matt Forger, Engineer - Matt Forger, Recording Engineer - Quincy Jones, Producer - Quincy Jones, Composer - Quincy Jones, Lyricist - Quincy Jones, Arranger - Steve Bates, 2nd Engineer -

(P) 1982 MJJ Productions Inc.

9
The Lady in My Life (Album Version) 00:05:00

Mark Ettel, 2nd Engineer - Michael Jackson, Vocal - Michael Jackson, Background Vocal - Michael Jackson, Performer - Humberto Gatica, Recording Engineer - Rod Temperton, Arranger - Bernie Grundman, Mastering Engineer - Louis Johnson, Bass - Steve Porcaro, Synthesizer - Bruce Swedien, Recording Engineer - Paul Jackson Jr., Guitar - R. Temperton, Composer - R. Temperton, Lyricist - Jeff Porcaro, Drums - David Paich, Synthesizer - Matt Forger, Engineer - Matt Forger, Recording Engineer - Quincy Jones, Producer - Steve Bates, 2nd Engineer -

(P) 1982 MJJ Productions Inc.

Album Description

Off the Wall was a massive success, spawning four Top Ten hits (two of them number ones), but nothing could have prepared Michael Jackson for Thriller. Nobody could have prepared anybody for the success of Thriller, since the magnitude of its success was simply unimaginable -- an album that sold 40 million copies in its initial chart run, with seven of its nine tracks reaching the Top Ten (for the record, the terrific "Baby Be Mine" and the pretty good ballad "The Lady in My Life" are not like the others). This was a record that had something for everybody, building on the basic blueprint of Off the Wall by adding harder funk, hard rock, softer ballads, and smoother soul -- expanding the approach to have something for every audience. That alone would have given the album a good shot at a huge audience, but it also arrived precisely when MTV was reaching its ascendancy, and Jackson helped the network by being not just its first superstar, but first black star as much as the network helped him. This all would have made it a success (and its success, in turn, served as a new standard for success), but it stayed on the charts, turning out singles, for nearly two years because it was really, really good. True, it wasn't as tight as Off the Wall -- and the ridiculous, late-night house-of-horrors title track is the prime culprit, arriving in the middle of the record and sucking out its momentum -- but those one or two cuts don't detract from a phenomenal set of music. It's calculated, to be sure, but the chutzpah of those calculations (before this, nobody would even have thought to bring in metal virtuoso Eddie Van Halen to play on a disco cut) is outdone by their success. This is where a song as gentle and lovely as "Human Nature" coexists comfortably with the tough, scared "Beat It," the sweet schmaltz of the Paul McCartney duet "The Girl Is Mine," and the frizzy funk of "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)." And, although this is an undeniably fun record, the paranoia is already creeping in, manifesting itself in the record's two best songs: "Billie Jean," where a woman claims Michael is the father of her child, and the delirious "Wanna Be Startin' Something," the freshest funk on the album, but the most claustrophobic, scariest track Jackson ever recorded. These give the record its anchor and are part of the reason why the record is more than just a phenomenon. The other reason, of course, is that much of this is just simply great music. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

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