Thriller review by Michael Jackson

logo Ultimate Guitar
  • Released: Dec 1, 1982
  • Sound: 9
  • Lyrics: 7
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 8.3 Superb
  • Users' score: 8 (70 votes)
Michael Jackson: Thriller
0

Sound — 9
Invincible was Michael Jacksons first full length album in 6 years and hence can be considered a career comeback. His last couple of albums had seen his music become edgier, further removed from the feelgood pop that made his name and increasingly a reaction to his personal troubles and tabloid critics. Invincible continues in this vein, with "Unbreakable" being an explosive, hostile and radio-unfriendly opener reminiscent of "Scream" on the previous album. It is more of a hip-hop/rnb album than pop, and I think listeners will be most surprised by how contemporary it sounds; Jackson has continued to change and adapt, not simply rehashing his old cheesy pop and becoming a nostalgia artist like some other 80s popstars. Musically the album is quite eclectic, and one criticism could be the track order, as the similar tracks are sometimes grouped together; for example, "Unbreakable" and "Heartbreaker" are followed by the similarly abrasive hip-hop rhythms of the title track, which is not bad but is disadvantaged by following two similar but better tracks. Its the same story with the ballads that are grouped later in the album, and arguably become exhaustive. Sugar-coated, disney-esque tunes like "Speechless" and "Cry" show the opposite extreme of Jacksons sound: his most challenging material ever co-exists with his sappiest ever love songs on Invincible. The best part of the album for most is probably the middle, boasting the singles "Butterflies", "You rock my world", and should-have-been singles "Break of dawn" and "Heaven can wait". "Heaven can wait" has the kind of pulsating rnb beat that you'd expect Alli G to blast out of his car, but is smoothed over by beautiful, multi-layered soulful harmonies. Notable but contrasting highlights include the guitar-driven "2000 watts" and "Privacy", and pick of the airy ballads "You are my life". Jackson has continued his tradition of high-profile guitarists with Slash on "Privacy" and Carlos Santana(!) on "Whatever happens".

Lyrics — 7
Lyrically the album ranges from love songs to invasion of privacy and paranoia. R.Kelly-penned "Cry" is the token humanitarian ballad, whilst "Threatened" continues Jacksons tradition of paranormal-inspired funk. His vocals are nicest when he uses multiple layers to produce dreamy walls of harmonies. The lead vocals are open to debate, as he sounds nasal and strained compared to his Thriller-era peak. Although his passion is there it can be almost uncomfortable to listen to at is worst, but there is nothing as inappropriate on the ballads as the trademark hiccuping that blighted "You are not alone" and "Man in the mirror" previously.

Overall Impression — 9
Ultimately I feel this is a highly underrated comeback that suffered from lack of promotion due to a legal dispute with Sony, and his subsequent court cases, plus arguably wrong choice of singles. Although Jacksons output was limited in his final decade, his influence manifest itself in the newer rnb artists who came through, most of which sounded like poor imitators who would kill for an album as good as Invincible. By 2001 Jackson could do nothing right in the publics eyes, but I genuinely believe that if this record had been made by someone young and trendy like Justin Timberlake or Akon, it would be considered a modern classic by now.

8 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Gerard Way Jr
    Also, I think many of you are so stuck in the seventies and eighties that you can't come to terms with the fact that GOOD music is being made RIGHT NOW. No, I do not put Pete Wentz up with Dylan, Waters, Waits, and my other favorites, but he introduced a cheeky style that tons of bands have been trying to copy ever since, something we hadn't seen much of beforehand. Don't whip out your early punk references; I DO know what I'm talking about. Final word: if you don't like my opinion, let readers know what yours is. In essence, that's all a critic is: ONE person with ONE opinion. I do NOT think that my opinion is the only one or ever the right one. Even since the composition of this review, my own opinion has evolved. Granted, I doubt it's changed enough for a rewrite, but there are things I see now that I didn't see then and other things that I used to think were truly genius which aren't so special anymore. Music is music, whether or not the composer is dead, and opinions are opinions, no matter whether it's a terrible writer or Charles Dickens expressing said opinion. I'm not going to tell you all how to think, I simply stated what was on my mind in regards to this record.
    benthegrunge
    great, so my invincible review has been put in completely the wrong place, and ppl will continue to assume its a naff album forevermore oh and "whats cheesy about ur review" gerard way jnr. gee i dno, references 2 marshmallow and scooby doo maybe?
    FuruiShin
    Good job doing this but I think u have forgotten about some things: This is the album with highest selling ever, it has revolutionized pop(yeah that was real pop music back then xD) music generally, it made MJ become an icon of music/dance/groove; and finally changed what people think about music and music videos . For me that's not the best cd ever but for sure the best MJ cd ;]. Altrought i like to listen drop B stuff i like to listen things like thriller too- that's the magic of MJ music!
    beineken
    Dear Gerard Way Jr, Please refrain from saying things like, "Oh, dear God, I just said that aloud. Okay, moving on," and, "wait," in the middle of your review if you would like to be taken seriously. kthx!
    Splashed
    jeowy wrote: regardless of whether or not you think all this posthumous publicity is too much or not, what he did during his life was absolutely outstanding; his contribution to music as a whole cannot be ignored by any serious music listener. Go ahead and hate the sudden surge of interest in him after his death, but dont hate the man himself.
    A-****ing-Men
    StarsFallForMJ
    MJ rocks....now I may be a bit bias (check my username!) but I think some of the points are just darn DAFT! THRILLER revolutionised pop, infact no, it MADE pop music! Half of the artists around today would not exsist without this album! Chris Brown, no, Usher, no, Jason De-Rulo, no, Justin Timberlake, big fat NO! This album changed the face of music, and the fact that the record counters STOPPED counting how many were sold because they tought NOBODY would ever hit that mark again, tells us something! Think...without this album, we may be subjected to 500000 ABBA copies nowadays! Who would you prefer seriously...MJ clones...or ABBA clones? Ooof...MJ all the way! Yeah, there was a huge surge of interest after his death, but isnt that to be expected...I mean SHAMONE he died?! The biggest artist in music died...did you expect every one to say 'aww what a shame, now how many sugars do you have in your tea?' and get on with their lives?....NOPE!
    Gerard Way Jr
    FuruiShin wrote: Good job doing this but I think u have forgotten about some things: This is the album with highest selling ever, it has revolutionized pop(yeah that was real pop music back then xD) music generally, it made MJ become an icon of music/dance/groove; and finally changed what people think about music and music videos . For me that's not the best cd ever but for sure the best MJ cd ;]. Altrought i like to listen drop B stuff i like to listen things like thriller too- that's the magic of MJ music!
    I didn't forget any of that. My review was my review. I'm as big a fan of MJ as anyone, but that doesn't change the fact that I think he's overrated.
    Gerard Way Jr
    beineken wrote: Dear Gerard Way Jr, Please refrain from saying things like, "Oh, dear God, I just said that aloud. Okay, moving on," and, "wait," in the middle of your review if you would like to be taken seriously. kthx!
    Dear reader, Don't tell me how to write my reviews and refrain from using phrases like "kthx" if you wish to be taken seriously. Warmest personal regards, GWJ