About the Album
Welcome to our fifth annual presentation of Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Released November 30, 1982, the album was produced by Quincy Jones and recorded for a mere $750,000. The album was a massive success. It was selling a million copies a week at its peak. With singles including “Thriller,” “Billy Jean,” “Beat It,” and “Wanna Be Startin Something,” it is funny to note that the first released single was actually “The Girl is Mine,” due to featured vocals by Paul McCartney. Basically everyone with ears considers this one of the greatest albums ever recorded. Thriller won eight Grammy Awards, eight American Music Awards and three MTV Awards in 1984.
The video changed the industry, too. It basically played constantly on MTV when it was released in December of 1983. It’s hard to overstate the impact of Thriller (both the album and the video) and the role MTV played in launching Michael Jackson’s career. It’s also hard to overstate the role MJ had in establishing MTV as a network and the music video as a vehicle for promotion. Up until Thriller, the King of Pop struggled to get his videos on MTV because he was black. Thriller tore down the racial barriers. Commercial radio had similar segregation happening at the time of the album’s release. Black music and disco were relegated to stations that catered to black listeners. In fact, the whole industry was still mired in racism. Despite selling over 20 million copies, Jackson’s former release Off the Wall (1979) did not win album of the year, and Jackson was frustrated that Rolling Stone wouldn’t do a cover story on him. As Jackson told his publicist, “I’ve been told over and over that black people on the cover of magazines doesn’t sell copies … Just wait. Someday those magazines are going to be begging me for an interview. Maybe I’ll give them one, and maybe I won’t.”
- Chelsea Shag
- Cleveland P. Jones
- Ben Deignan