‘Thriller’ still reigns 25 years later

Douglas Hite

Michael Jackson

Thriller 25 (25th Anniversary edition)

Released by Legacy Recordings/Sony BMG

Stater rating (out of five): ****

This week Michael Jackson, through Epic Records, re-released the best-selling album of all time — Thriller.

The album, when originally released, marked a new advent in entertainment and properly set the scene for the supergroups and massive arena concerts accenting the decade’s music. Things were going to get big. They were going to get real big.

Thriller set a bar that could not be and has not been surpassed by any album since. When released, Jackson’s masterpiece reigned the Billboard top 10 for 80 weeks, and spent 37 of those weeks in the No.1 slot. Its effect on entertainment goes beyond just greater record-sells.

The video for the title-track of Thriller is somewhat of a short movie — using impressive makeup, an early version of stop-motion animation, and even a real plot — it has forever changed the way that music videos define themselves.

Videos were no longer just a singer performing in an intimate setting. They were now immense productions in an epic cinematic tradition.

The album and its promotional music videos also led to a bit of controversy. According to then-CBS Records President Walter Yetnikoff, newly formed MTV was hesitant to cover black artists. Under the threat of going to the press under allegations of racism, MTV quickly began playing “Billy Jean,” a hit off of Thriller, very often, which lead to several more videos to be played throughout the ’80s into the ’90s.

Now, Michael Jackson has become a bit of an oddity to us. In the time after Jackson being charged with sexual abuse, Epic Records is bringing back the dream via the 25th Anniversary Edition of Thriller.

Upon hearing the revitalized re-release, the listener becomes quickly aware of just how talented Michael Jackson must be as a musician. And when viewing the videos — which come on DVD with the album — it becomes increasingly difficult to not try a finger-snap or moon walk in the mirror when no one’s looking.

Besides this album’s incredible ability to ascend an entire generation with no effort, a surprise to the purchaser may be that the original recordings are accompanied by remakes and remixes of Thriller’s greatest hits by Akon, will.i.am, Fergie and Kanye West. While these revisited pieces hold their own, there is truly nothing like the original. Thriller is likely to remain, through new generations and past alike, the best-selling album of all time for many years to come.

Contact all reporter Douglas Hite at [email protected].