Thriller Review

artist: Michael Jackson date: 08/06/2009 category: compact discs
Michael Jackson: Thriller
Released: Nov 30, 1982
Genre: R&B, Dance, Dance-Pop, Pop Rock, Funk
Label: Epic
Number Of Tracks: 9
"Thriller" explores similar genres to those of "Off the Wall," including funk, disco, soul, soft rock, R&B, and pop.
 Sound: 8.5
 Lyrics: 7.5
 Overall Impression: 8
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reviews (2) 60 comments vote for this album:
overall: 7.7
Thriller Reviewed by: takenthecannoli, on august 06, 2009
11 of 20 people found this review helpful

Sound: First of all, let me just say that I am SHOCKED that there are no other reviews for this record, what with it being the top-selling album of all time and Michael Jackson's death presumably sparking the nostalgia that causes me to review it even now, not even affecting other fans of his music. Which I am not.

I find it almost difficult to review the classic 'Thriller,' because I actually really like it, and the jiggly happy pop scene is, by no means, one of my favorite brands of music, but, after years of skepticism, I finally popped 'Thriller' in (apparently, I already own it, much like every other human being on the planet), and enjoyed it quite a bit. It pulls off his scene of music a lot nicer, I thought, than the previous Jackson title 'Off the Wall,' but that might be that it's edgier than the lattermentioned. Hang on, let me slap myself for calling 'Thriller' edgy. Thanks.

No, it's not really edgy, it's more like...less fluffy. If 'Off the Wall' was a sparkly, white, poofy cloud floating in the sky, or my hair, than this go is more like a pile of cotton balls, if you see what I'm getting at.

Ah, the sound. Well, it's Michael Jackson, for God's sake, you know what it sounds like. I mean, half the tracks on the album got so much radio play that 'Stairway to Heaven' and other rock classics were soon forgotten beneath its extremely mobile shadow. I say extremely mobile because I know it was probably dancing at the time.

You've got your pop, you've got your 'edge' with "Beat It," which includes a mediocre guitar solo from Eddie Van Halen. Sure, it matches the song; it blends in like marshmellow cream with even more marshmellow cream. Wait.

Anyway, the reason I really didn't like it that much was because...well, it wasn't that great. Sure, it's Van Halen behind the strings, but it's not one of his better solos, by any means.

Other songs follow a slower feel--not balladdy, just slower. You know, gushy love songs. Not as gushy as 'Off the Wall.'

Another comparison to that album--there's a lot less of the 70's in this record, in that there are less trumpets and orchestration, and, for the most part, Michael sticks to using actual pop instruments, all likely computer generated, which I liked. The one thing I don't like about the sound is...well, wait. See, I really, really like the sound, but "PYT" is the stupidest song I've heard in my life. First of all, to open, you've got Jackson crooning in your ear like he's about to molest you (no offense to the man, and I don't mean to be ironic), and then he does his little moan thing, which I'll also get to later, and then you've got this boring, fluffy fluffikins as fluffland can be. And he doesn't pull it off. That's the ONE track that I didn't like. Even "The Girl is Mine," which has guest vocals by the one and only Paul McCartney, is excellent in the light (and light, and light) of "Pretty Young Thing." So, the sound gets an 8/10, losing two stars for that dreadful song that was better left off the wall.

Oh, dear God, I just said that aloud. Okay, moving on. // 8

Lyrics: Well, the lyrics are pretty good--in songs like "Thriller," you've got that fantastical feel that I miss in some artists so much, in "Billie Jean," it's a much more mature feel, dealing with unwanted children and denial over having had slept with someone who's come back to bite you in the butt, "Beat It" is cool, "Human Nature" is also...other than that, the lyrics are mostly average. I mean, it's a big, juicy collection of love songs apart from that, really, and you can't expect everything from the 80's like that, especially in the way of words; musicians gave up on innovative lyrics in the 70's. That is, until Pete Wentz was born.

Anyway, as for the singing, I really shouldn't even have to comment on the one thing Mikey J's known best for--his voice is great, even if you've got the classic Jackson vibrato (that thing where he shakes his voice, for all the kids following along at home), which sounds like he's clapping his hand against his throat while someone moves the microphone further and closer to him really fast. The copyright-patented Michael Jackson Moans are here, as well, and I won't make any comments about how it literally sounds as though he recorded the vocals while he was jack...hammering...but it does. What with the gasps and grunts here and there. Don't get me wrong; it sounds cool. Just...weird.

Everything lyric and singing wise blends very nicely with the rest of the record on every single track, but the complaint I have is not over Michael, it's over Vincent Price and his 'rap' at the end of Thriller. It's just so bloody stupid and insubstantial that I can't even take a stab at REVIEWING it without it falling apart--it murders the great feel of the song by dropping a great bucket of corn all over the music video (it works better there) and the song itself. I mean, I get that Quincey Jones, who produced this record, and Michael, wanted the song to be spookier, but this isn't Scooby Doo. That's MEANT to be lame, by the way, so please don't quote me on that. I'd give the general lyrics and singer skills hands in the air, in praise, but, unfortunately, my mother just cut off two of my fingers for insulting Vincent Price. // 8

Overall Impression: I can't really compare this to other records without treating it harshly and having millions of eighty-year-old fangirls come after me with pitchforks and the like, but I'm giving it my best shot thus far.

Well, it isn't bad, by which I mean it isn't the follow up record, which really should be the top-selling record of all time, in that it's better than 'Thriller.' I mean, despite being a media hog, 'Thriller' is no better than 'Bad--' in fact, it's not nearly as good--and the only reason this record has so much fame is because of Michael's rise to power as the immortal King of Pop at the time. I mean, you've got Motown, you've got the whole Black-on-MTV-thing, and then you've got the music video for the song "Thriller," all of which were unheard of things--Michael's dancing, the black thing, and the music video. Granted, the video for "Thriller" is still my favorite, even over "Bad" and others, but my point is, don't be fooled by the whole 'top selling record of all time.' It's not perfect. Yeah, it's great, and I want you to go buy it if you or your family don't already own it (you do), but it falls below its younger brother by far.

Granted, the sound on this one is great, consistent, the lyrics and singing are excellent, but Vincent and '"Pretty Young Thing" are pretty unforgivable, so I can really only give this record 7 stars. I still love it--great tracks like "Billie Jean" and "Human Nature" make me want to go have a nice, long kissing session with my beautiful girlfriend, but the very LAST thing I thing of when I hear "PYT" is her, and not because she's not pretty, or young, or...thing, but it's so bloody canned-cheese-filled that it's hard just to relate to without throwing up, and maybe it's because I'm such a man's man and don't like creamed corn and making such analogies as the one I did right there, but, there again, I love all music. Just not "PYT." Or country. // 7

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overall: 8.3
Thriller Reviewed by: benthegrunge, on july 06, 2010
1 of 3 people found this review helpful

Sound: 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". // 9

Lyrics: 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. // 7

Overall Impression: 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. // 9

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