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Saturday, February 26, 1983

Michael Jackson hit #1 with Thriller: February 26, 1983

Originally posted 2/26/12. Updated 2/21/13.


Release date: 30 November 1982
Tracks: (Click for codes to singles charts.) Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ / Baby Be Mine / The Girl Is Mine (with Paul McCartney) / Thriller / Beat It / Billie Jean / Human Nature / P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing) / The Lady in My Life

Sales (in millions): 29.0 US, 4.27 UK, 72.4 world (includes US and UK)

Peak: 137 US, 18 UK

Rating:


Review: Thriller was the follow-up to Michael Jackson’s blockbuster album Off the Wall, which had accomplished the rare feat of four top ten hits on the U.S. pop charts. “The sweet schmaltz of the Paul McCartney duet The Girl Is MineAMG became the leadoff single, sailing to #2. Two #1 hits followed – the massive “disco-inflected” NRR Billie Jean and Beat It, which by adding hard-rock guitarist Eddie Van Halen, “bridged arena rock and soul four years before Run DMC met Aerosmith.” TL Both have endured the test of time well enough to secure spots in the Dave’s Music Database book The Top 100 Songs of the Rock Era, 1954-1999.
“Billie Jean” was a week away from securing the top slot on the charts while “Beat It” made its debut. It was that week when Thriller first topped the charts, a spot it would hold for 37 non-consecutive weeks in the U.S. on its way to becoming the world’s best-selling album of all time with more than 72 million copies sold. The album also ranks second only to The Beatles’ Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band on Dave’s Music Database’s list of the top albums of all time.
The significance of Michael Jackson’s Thriller-era accomplishments cannot be overstated. In addition to the aforementioned singles, the album also spawned top ten hits Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’, Human Nature, P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing), and Thriller. It was the first album in history to spin off seven top ten hits. His “unprecedented commercial success elevated the concept of the all-conquering, blockbuster album to reality…After Thriller, the industry initiated a super-league which only a precious few can aspire to.” WR It “was an album that…almost everyone could favorably agree on; it had a luxurious production…and the most expensive studio talent that money could buy, yet it never sounded manufactured or contrived.” BN It was “a time when his music spoke for itself;” RV “when Jackson declared himself the King of Pop, everyone agreed.” RV
One of the reason for the album’s immense success was Jackson’s uncanny use of video. The album “arrived precisely when MTV was reaching its ascendancy, and Jackson helped the network by being not just its first superstar, but first black star.” AMG “Billie Jean” broke through the fledging channel’s color barrier, “Beat It” introduced the idea of the concept video backed by scads of dancing extras, and “Thriller” brought the idea of turning a pop song into a mini-movie. All three rank in the top 100 videos of all time.

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