Welcome to Viva La Vinyl, Music Feeds‘ new bi-monthly record club where we kick back with a glass of vino and gasbag about the classic albums that every vinyl lover should own.
And what better way to drop the tonearm on our very first instalment than by un-sleeving one of the greatest albums ever made: Michael Jackson’s Thriller.
There’s nothing divisive about this record. It’s universally adored, revered and even studied at universities for its groundbreaking awesomeness. If you don’t like it, then you might as well ~Beat It~ because you’re just plain wrong.
Here’s why Thriller is a deadset must-have for any self-respecting vinyl collector’s record crate.
Just for some obligatory context, Thriller dropped a whopping 35 years ago in 1982 via Epic Records. The Quincy Jones-produced LP was Michael Jackson’s 6th, but it was also the one that would change the course of his career — and pop music as we know it — forever.
Thriller bagged a record-breaking eight Grammy Awards back in ’84, including Album of the Year, and was later inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. It remains the best-selling LP of ALL TIME and was the first album to be certified 33× multi-platinum in the US and 16 x platinum in Australia. It’s also been named on multiple ‘Greatest Albums Of All Time’ lists from the likes of Rolling Stone and the National Association of Recording Merchandisers.
Oh and at the point it was released, the music video for the ‘Thriller’ single was the most expensive video ever made.
Before songwriter Rod Temperton wrote Thriller, MJ’s working title for the album was Starlight. Doesn’t have the same badass ring to it, does it?
So many!!! ‘Beat It’ feat. that iconic Eddie Van Halen guitar solo, ‘Billie Jean’, ‘Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’, Paul McCartney duet ‘The Girl Is Mine’ and of course that legendary title track.
MJ’s unprecedented blending of R&B, funk, rock, pop and almost Broadway-style ballads on Thriller cut across all boundaries of taste, style, age, race and geography in a way that had never been done by any artist ever before.
Musically, it influenced generations of musicians to come, from Run DMC to the Backstreet Boys to Justin Timberlake and Bruno Mars.
But the legacy of Thriller is far more than just musical. Its release rattled pop culture as we know it to the very bone and its impact will likely continue to be felt until long after the actual zombie apocalypse goes down.
The album helped break down racial barriers that had existed in pop music forever, after the Prince Of Pop scored landmark rotation on MTV, paving the way for other African-American artists like Prince to achieve mainstream recognition.
It also completely changed the game for the music industry at large, with Time magazine dubbing MJ “A one-man rescue team for the music business” based on Thriller‘s unprecedented success. The LP’s multiple smash-hit singles effectively raised the bar for the industry’s expectations about the number of successful hits that could be wrung from an individual album and the ‘Thriller’ clip itself transformed the medium of the music video as both an art form and a promotional tool.
From its iconic choreography to its cinematic storyline and even a big ticket voice cameo from horror movie legend Vincent Price, never before had a song been so intrinsically linked to its visual imagery in the collective consciousness. Even in terms of its unconventional funding deal, the success of the ‘Thriller’ approach changed the way that the industry functioned for decades to come.
Now, in 2017, the impact of Thriller continues to be felt. From modern artists like Fall Out Boy and the late Chris Cornell delivering their own memorable covers of its iconic songs, to the pervasive Michael-Jackson-eating-popcorn meme that still dominates internet chat boards…
Hell. Just watch the latest teaser trailer for the new season of Netflix’s hit series Stranger Things and you’ll have all the evidence you need that ‘Thriller’ still reigns supreme over modern pop culture:
Why Own It On Vinyl?
Are you kidding? Thriller is a timeless pop masterpiece and an absolute staple for any serious vinyl connoisseur. For no mere mortal can resist the evil of the Thriller…
Best Enjoyed With…
A group of friends, a fridge full of drinks and an impromptu dance floor.
But, let’s face it, you can enjoy this one pretty much anywhere.
Browse the full Viva La Vinyl catalogue and start beefing up your own collection here.