(Written January 14, 2023)
The King of Pop. It is difficult to explain to younger generations just how big Michael Jackson was in the early 1980s. He was everywhere. The Beatles, of course, were bigger in the 1960s, but I fail to think of anyone (or any band) bigger than Michael Jackson in the years since – with, of course, the exception of Madonna, who was just as big as the Queen of Pop during the same time period.
Similar to Madonna, Michael Jackson’s hits immediately take me back to my earliest childhood memories. My love of MJ’s music, once again, has much to do with the influence of my older cousins. I distinctly remember my mom giving my cousin Nicole a Michael Jackson doll for her birthday. As a preschooler, I was envious! There is even an adorable picture of Nicole and I sitting on Grandma’s lap, Nicole proudly hugging her new Thriller album.
Unlike the cloud that hangs over Madonna’s legacy, there is little question that Michael Jackson’s music holds up. I noticed it the summer of 2009 right after his death. All of a sudden it was cool to rediscover MJ’s hits, his questionable legacy suddenly forgotten. I can’t help but wonder if the same will happen with Madonna upon her death.
Then there is Thriller itself. The album, the song, and music video itself – in reality, almost a short film – are still fun to revisit. As a child who loved the macabre and everything to do with Halloween, I adored the video. Learning as an adult that VIncent Price lent his incredible voice to the video: Priceless. In my opinion, Thriller is one of the best music videos ever made.