Thriller (Michael Jackson album)
|Studio album by Michael Jackson|
|Released||November 30, 1982|
|Recorded||April 14 – November 8, 1982|
|Studio||Westlake Recording Studios
(West Hollywood, California)
|Michael Jackson chronology|
|Singles from Thriller|
Thriller is the sixth studio album by the American recording artist Michael Jackson. It was released on November 30, 1982, by Epic Records, as the follow-up to Jackson's critically and commercially successful 1979 album Off the Wall. Thriller explores similar genres to those of Off the Wall, including pop, R&B, rock, post-disco, funk, and adult contemporary music. Recording sessions took place between April and November 1982 at Westlake Recording Studios in Los Angeles, California, with a production budget of $750,000, assisted by producer Quincy Jones.
Of the album's nine tracks, four were written by Jackson. Seven singles were released from the album, all of which reached the top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100. Three of the singles had music videos released. "Baby Be Mine" and "The Lady in My Life" were the only tracks that were not released as singles. In just over a year, Thriller became—and currently remains—the best-selling album of all time, with sales over 65 million copies worldwide according to various sources.T In the United States, it also tied with the Eagles' Their Greatest Hits (1971–1975) as the best-selling album at 29 million units shipped. The album won a record-breaking eight Grammy Awards in 1984, including for Album of the Year.
Thriller enabled Jackson to break down racial barriers in pop music via his appearances on MTV and meeting with President of the United States Ronald Reagan at the White House. The album was one of the first to use music videos as successful promotional tools—the videos for "Thriller", "Billie Jean", and "Beat It" all received regular rotation on MTV. In 2001, a special edition issue of the album was released, which contains additional audio interviews, demo recordings and the song "Someone in the Dark", which was a Grammy-winning track from the E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial storybook. In 2008, the album was reissued again as Thriller 25, containing re-mixes that feature contemporary artists, a previously unreleased song, and a DVD, which features the short films from the album and the Motown 25 performance of "Billie Jean". That same year the album was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame along with Jackson's Off The Wall LP.
Thriller was ranked number 20 on Rolling Stone magazine's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list in 2003, and was listed by the National Association of Recording Merchandisers at number three in its "Definitive 200" albums of all time. The Thriller album was included in the Library of Congress' National Recording Registry of culturally significant recordings, and the Thriller video was included in the National Film Preservation Board's National Film Registry of "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant films". In 2012, Slant Magazine listed the album at number one on its list of "Best Albums of the 1980s".
- 1 Background
- 2 Recording
- 3 Composition
- 4 Release and reception
- 5 Influence and legacy
- 6 Reissues and catalog sales
- 7 Track listing
- 8 Personnel
- 9 Chart performance
- 10 Charts
- 11 Certifications
- 12 See also
- 13 Notes
- 14 References
- 15 External links
Jackson's previous album Off the Wall (1979) received strong critical acclaim and was also a commercial success, eventually selling over 20 million copies worldwide. The years between Off the Wall and Thriller were a transitional period for the singer, a time of increasing independence. The period saw the singer become deeply unhappy; Jackson explained, "Even at home, I'm lonely. I sit in my room sometimes and cry. It's so hard to make friends ... I sometimes walk around the neighborhood at night, just hoping to find someone to talk to. But I just end up coming home." When Jackson turned 21 in August 1979, he hired John Branca as his manager.
Jackson confided in Branca that he wanted to be the biggest star in show business and "the wealthiest". The singer was upset about what he perceived to be the under-performance of Off the Wall, stating, "It was totally unfair that it didn't get Record of the Year and it can never happen again." He also felt undervalued by the music industry; in 1980 when Jackson asked the publicist of Rolling Stone if they would be interested in doing a cover story on him, the publicist declined, to which Jackson responded, "I've been told over and over that black people on the cover of magazines doesn't sell copies ... Just wait. Someday those magazines are going to be begging me for an interview. Maybe I'll give them one, and maybe I won't."
Jackson reunited with Off the Wall producer Quincy Jones to record his sixth studio album. The pair worked together on 30 songs, nine of which were eventually included. Thriller was recorded at Westlake Recording Studios in Los Angeles, California, with a production budget of $750,000. The recording for Thriller commenced on April 14, 1982 at 12:00 noon with Jackson and Paul McCartney recording "The Girl Is Mine", and the album was completed with the final day of mixing on November 8, 1982. Several members of the band Toto were also involved in the album's recording and production. Jackson wrote four songs for the record: "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'", "The Girl Is Mine", "Beat It", and "Billie Jean". Unlike many artists, Jackson did not write these songs on paper. Instead, he would dictate into a sound recorder; when recording he would sing from memory.
The relationship between Jackson and Jones became strained during the album's recording. Jackson spent much of his time rehearsing dance steps alone. When the album's nine songs were completed, both Jones and Jackson were unhappy with the result and remixed every song, spending a week on each.
Jackson was inspired to create an album where "every song was a killer", and developed Thriller with that in mind. Jones and songwriter Rod Temperton gave detailed accounts of what occurred for the 2001 reissue of the album. Jones discussed "Billie Jean" and why it was so personal to Jackson, who struggled to deal with a number of obsessed fans. Jones wanted the long introduction on the song to be shortened; however, Jackson insisted that it remain because it made him want to dance. The ongoing backlash against disco made it necessary to move in a different musical direction from the disco-heavy Off the Wall. Jones and Jackson were determined to make a rock song that would appeal to all tastes and spent weeks looking for a suitable guitarist for the song "Beat It". Eventually, they found Eddie Van Halen of the rock band Van Halen.
When Rod Temperton wrote the song "Thriller", he originally wanted to call it "Starlight" or "Midnight Man", but settled on "Thriller" because he felt the name had merchandising potential. Always wanting a notable person to recite the closing lyrics, Jones brought in actor Vincent Price who was an acquaintance of Jones' wife, who completed his part in just two takes. Temperton wrote the spoken portion in a taxi on the way to the recording studio. Jones and Temperton said that some recordings were left off the final cut because they did not have the "edginess" of other album tracks.
Songs recorded by Jackson for consideration included "Carousel" (written by Michael Sembello), "Nite Line" (written by Glen Ballard), "Trouble" (aka "She's Trouble", written by Terry Britten, Bill Livsey and Sue Shifrin), and "Hot Street" (written by Rod Temperton, and aka "Slapstick"). Jackson also cut a version of "Starlight". Demos of all these songs exist and have leaked onto the internet. "Carousel" and "Hot Street" were completed, but left off the final version of the album. A short clip of "Carousel" appeared as a bonus track on the 2001 reissue of the album; the full version was later released on iTunes in 2013 as part of The Ultimate Fan Extras Collection.
Excerpt of the album's title track, and one of Jackson's signature pieces, "Thriller", released as a single in 1984. Jackson uses cinematic sound effects, horror film motifs and vocal trickery to convey a sense of danger.
"Human Nature", a top ten hit single in the US. It is the most notable ballad on the album, praised for its moody, introspective lyrics and sound.
"Billie Jean", a number one hit single in many countries. The song was written and co-produced by Jackson. The track mixed uptempo funk and disco with the somber themes of paranoia and obsession.
|Problems playing these files? See media help.|
Thriller is a post-disco album. According to Steve Huey of AllMusic, it refined the strengths of Jackson's previous album Off the Wall; the dance and rock tracks were more aggressive, while the pop tunes and ballads were softer and more soulful. The album includes the ballads "The Lady in My Life", "Human Nature", and "The Girl Is Mine"; the funk pieces "Billie Jean" and "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'"; and the disco set "Baby Be Mine" and "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)" and has a similar sound to the material on Off the Wall. "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'" is accompanied by a bass and percussion background and the song's centerpiece, a climaxing African-inspired chant (often misidentified as Swahili, but actually syllables based on Duala), gave the song an international flavor. "The Girl Is Mine" tells of two friends' fight over a woman, arguing over who loves her more and concludes with a spoken rap. The album's songs have a tempo ranging from 80 beats per minute on "The Girl is Mine", to 138 on "Beat It".
Despite the light pop flavor of these two records, Thriller, more so than Off the Wall, displayed foreshadowings of the contradictory thematic elements that would come to characterize Jackson's subsequent works. With Thriller, Jackson would begin his association with the subliminal motif of paranoia and darker themes, including supernatural imagery in the album's title track. This is evident on the songs "Billie Jean", "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'" and "Thriller". In "Billie Jean", Jackson sings about an obsessive fan who alleges he has fathered a child of hers; in "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'" he argues against gossips and the media. In the former song, Jones had Jackson sing vocal overdubs through a six-foot-long cardboard tube, and brought in jazz saxophonist Tom Scott to play a rare instrument, the lyricon, a wind-controlled analog synthesizer. Bassist Louis Johnson ran through his part on a Yamaha bass guitar. The song opens with a long bass-and-drums introduction. In the song "Thriller", sound effects such as creaking door, thunder, feet walking on wooden planks, winds and howling dogs can be heard.
The anti-gang-violence "Beat It" became a homage to West Side Story, and was Jackson's first successful rock cross-over piece. Jackson later said of "Beat It", "the point is no one has to be the tough guy, you can walk away from a fight and still be a man. You don't have to die to prove you're a man". "Human Nature", co-written by Steve Porcaro of the band Toto, is moody and introspective, as conveyed in lyrics such as, "Looking out, across the morning, the City's heart begins to beat, reaching out, I touch her shoulder, I'm dreaming of the street".
By the late 1970s, Jackson's abilities as a vocalist were well regarded; Allmusic described him as a "blindingly gifted vocalist". Rolling Stone compared his vocals to the "breathless, dreamy stutter" of Stevie Wonder. Their analysis was also that "Jackson's feathery-timbred tenor is extraordinarily beautiful. It slides smoothly into a startling falsetto that's used very daringly". With the release of Thriller, Jackson could sing low—down to a basso low C—but he preferred to sing higher because pop tenors have more range to create style. Rolling Stone was of the opinion that Jackson was now singing in a "fully adult voice" that was "tinged by sadness". "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)", credited to James Ingram and Quincy Jones, and "The Lady in My Life" by Rod Temperton, both gave the album a stronger R&B direction; the latter song was described as "the closest Jackson has come to crooning a sexy, soulful ballad after his Motown years" by Taraborrelli. The singer had already adopted a "vocal hiccup" which he continued to implement in Thriller. The purpose of the hiccup—somewhat like a gulping for air or gasping—is to help promote a certain emotion, be it excitement, sadness or fear.
Release and reception
Thriller was released on November 30, 1982, and sold one million copies worldwide per week at its peak. Seven singles were released from the album, including "The Girl Is Mine"—which was seen as a poor choice for the lead release and led some to believe that the album would be a disappointment, and to suggestions that Jackson was bowing to a white audience. "The Girl Is Mine" was followed by the hit single "Billie Jean", which made Thriller a chart-topper. Success continued with the single "Beat It", which featured guitarists Eddie Van Halen and Steve Lukather. The album's title track was released as a single and also became a hit internationally.
Thriller was well received by most critics. Christopher Connelly in a January 1983 review in Rolling Stone gave it four out of five stars and described it as "a zesty LP" with a "harrowing, dark message". Comparing the songs on the album with the life challenges that the 24-year old Jackson had faced since Off the Wall, Connelly remarks that he has "dropped the boyish falsetto" and is facing his "challenges head-on" with "a feisty determination" and "a full, adult voice". John Rockwell in a December 1982 review in The New York Times also commented on Jackson's age, comparing his youth with his experience as an entertainer, feeling that perhaps he is a "sometimes too practiced ... performer", and that at times Quincy Jones may "depersonalize his individuality" with his "slightly anonymous production", and that Jackson may be hiding his true emotions behind "layers of impenetrable, gauzy veils". The bulk of Rockwell's review concentrated on how he felt that the album was helping breach "the destructive barriers that spring up regularly between white and black music", especially as "white publications and radio stations that normally avoid black music seem willing to pretend he isn't black after all". He feels that Thriller is "a wonderful pop record, the latest statement by one of the great singers in popular music today", and that there are "hits here, too, lots of them".
In his consumer guide for The Village Voice, Robert Christgau gave the album an A– rating and commented that "this is virtually a hits-plus-filler job, but at such a high level it's almost classic anyway". He later revised it to an A, and commented in retrospect, "what we couldn't know is how brilliantly every hit but 'P.Y.T.' would thrive on mass exposure and public pleasure." A year after the album's release, Time summed up the three main singles from the album, saying, "The pulse of America and much of the rest of the world moves irregularly, beating in time to the tough strut of "Billie Jean", the asphalt aria of "Beat It", the supremely cool chills of "Thriller".
The album won a record-breaking eight Grammy Awards in 1984, including Album of the Year. Jackson won seven of the Grammys for the album while the eighth Grammy went to Bruce Swedien. That same year, Jackson won eight American Music Awards, the Special Award of Merit and three MTV Video Music Awards. Thriller was recognized as the world's best-selling album on February 7, 1984, when it was inducted into the Guinness Book of World Records. It is one of four albums to be the best-seller of two years (1983–1984) in the US.
On August 21, 2009 Thriller was certified 29× platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America, for shipments of at least 29 million copies in the US. The album topped the charts in many countries, sold 4.2 million copies in the UK, 2.5 million in Japan, and was certified 15× Platinum in Australia. Still popular today, Thriller sells an estimated 130,000 copies in the US per year; it reached number two in the US Catalog charts in February 2003 and number 39 in the UK in March 2007. Outside the US, the album has sold over 20 million copies.
Influence and legacy
Blender described Jackson as the "late twentieth century pre-eminent pop icon", while The New York Times gave the opinion that he was a "musical phenomenon", and that "in the world of pop music, there is Michael Jackson and there is everybody else". Jackson changed the way the industry functioned: both as an artistic persona, and as a financial, profitable entity. His attorney John Branca observed that Jackson achieved the highest royalty rate in the music industry to that point: approximately $2 for each album sold. As a result, Jackson earned record-breaking profits from compact disc sales, and from the sale of copies of the documentary, The Making of Michael Jackson's Thriller, produced by Jackson and John Landis. Funded by MTV, the film sold over 350,000 copies in its first few months. In a market then driven by singles, Thriller raised the significance of albums, yet its multiple hit singles changed perceived notions as to the number of successful singles that could be taken from an individual album. The era saw the arrival of novelties like the Michael Jackson doll, that appeared in stores in May 1984 at a price of $12. Thriller retains a position in American culture; biographer J. Randy Taraborrelli explains, "At some point, Thriller stopped selling like a leisure item—like a magazine, a toy, tickets to a hit movie—and started selling like a household staple".
At the time of the album's release, a press statement from Gil Friesen, the then President of A&M Records, read that, "The whole industry has a stake in this success". Time magazine speculated that "the fallout from Thriller has given the [music] business its best years since the heady days of 1978, when it had an estimated total domestic revenue of $4.1 billion". Time summed up Thriller's impact as a "restoration of confidence" for an industry bordering on "the ruins of punk and the chic regions of synthesizer pop". The publication described Jackson's influence at that point as, "Star of records, radio, rock video. A one-man rescue team for the music business. A songwriter who sets the beat for a decade. A dancer with the fanciest feet on the street. A singer who cuts across all boundaries of taste and style and color too".
When Thriller and "Billie Jean" were searching to reach their market demographic, MTV and cable TV had a smaller market share than the much larger reach of broadcast television stations in the United States. A national broadcast TV audience on ABC, NBC, and CBS affiliate stations, as well as major independent TV stations, was desired by CBS/Epic Records to promote Thriller. The national broadcast TV premiere of the Thriller album's first video, "Billie Jean", was during the week of Halloween in October 1984 and was the idea of Video Concert Hall executive producers Charles Henderson and Jerry Crowe. Video Concert Hall, the first nationwide music video TV network, taped the one-hour special in Hollywood and Atlanta, where the TV studios of Video Concert Hall were located. The Thriller TV special was hosted by Thriller video co-star Vincent Price, distributed by Henderson-Crowe Syndications, Inc., and aired in the top 20 TV markets and much of the United States, including TV stations WNEW (New York), WFLD (Chicago), KTTV (Los Angeles), WPLG (Miami), WQTV (Boston), and WXIA (Atlanta), for a total of 150 TV stations.
Music videos and racial equality
Before the success of Thriller, many felt Jackson had struggled to get MTV airing because he was black. In an effort to attain air time for Jackson, CBS Records President Walter Yetnikoff pressured MTV and declared, "I'm not going to give you any more videos and I'm going to go public and fucking tell them about the fact you don't want to play music by a black guy."
His position persuaded MTV to begin airing "Billie Jean" and later "Beat It", which led to a long partnership and later helped other black music artists to gain mainstream recognition. MTV denies claims of racism in their broadcasting. The popularity of his videos, such as "Beat It" and "Billie Jean", helped to place the young channel "on the map", and MTV's focus shifted in favor of pop and R&B. Jackson transformed the medium of music video into an art form and promotional tool through the use of complex story lines, dance routines, special effects and cameo appearances by well known personalities. When the 14-minute-long Thriller video aired, MTV ran it twice an hour to meet demand. The short film marked an increase in scale for music videos and has been routinely named the best music video ever. The popularity of the video sent the album back to number one in the album chart, but Jackson's label did not support the release of the third music video from the album. They were already pleased with its success, so Jackson convinced MTV to fund the project. Author, music critic and journalist Nelson George wrote in 2004, "It's difficult to hear the songs from Thriller and disengage them from the videos. For most of us the images define the songs. In fact it could be argued that Michael is the first artist of the MTV age to have an entire album so intimately connected in the public imagination with its imagery". Short films like Thriller largely remained unique to Jackson, while the group dance sequence in "Beat It" has been frequently imitated. The choreography in Thriller has become a part of global pop culture, replicated everywhere from Bollywood to prisons in the Philippines.
For a black artist in the 1980s to that point, Jackson's success was unprecedented. According to The Washington Post, Thriller paved the way for other African-American artists to achieve mainstream recognition, such as Prince. "The Girl Is Mine" was credited for getting interracial love on the radio. Time noted, "Jackson is the biggest thing since The Beatles. He is the hottest single phenomenon since Elvis Presley. He just may be the most popular black singer ever".
Today, Thriller is still viewed in a positive light by critics some three decades later. Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic gave the album the maximum five stars and wrote that the record had something to interest everyone. He believed it showcased harder funk and hard rock while remaining "undeniably fun". He went on to compliment "Billie Jean" and "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'" and said, "The record's two best songs: 'Billie Jean, ...and the delirious 'Wanna Be Startin' Somethin' ', the freshest funk on the album [but] the most claustrophobic, scariest track Jackson ever recorded." Erlewine gave the opinion that it was an improvement on the artist's previous album, although Allmusic was critical of the title track, describing it as "ridiculous" and as having the effect of "arriving in the middle of the record and sucking out its momentum". Slant Magazine gave the album five stars and, like the Allmusic review and the original Rolling Stone review, paid compliment to the lyrics of "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'". Giving it five stars in The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (2004), Rolling Stone journalist Jon Pareles commented that Jackson "doubled his ambitions and multiplied his audience" with the album and wrote of its legacy, "Thriller had extramusical help in becoming the best-selling noncompilation album of all time: Jackson's dancing feet and dazzling stage presence, amplified by the newfound promotional reach of music video and the Reagan era's embrace of glossy celebrity. But especially in the album's seven hit singles (out of nine songs), the music stands on its own."
Culture critic Nelson George wrote that Jackson "has educated R. Kelly, Usher, Justin Timberlake and countless others with Thriller as a textbook". As a sign of the album's longevity, in 2003 Thriller was ranked at number 20 on the Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list, and was listed by the National Association of Recording Merchandisers at number three of the "Definitive 200" albums of all time. In 2008, 25 years after its release, the record was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame and, a few weeks later, was among 25 recordings preserved by the Library of Congress to the National Recording Registry as "culturally significant". In 2009, music critics for MTV Base and VH1 both listed Thriller as the best album released since 1981. Thriller, along with other critic favorites were then polled by the public. 40,000 people found Thriller to be the Best Album of all time by MTV Generation, gaining a third of all votes.
Reissues and catalog sales
Thriller was reissued on October 16, 2001, in an expanded set titled Thriller: Special Edition. The original tracks were remastered, and the album included a new booklet and bonus material, including the songs "Someone in the Dark", "Carousel", and Jackson's original "Billie Jean" demo, as well as audio interviews with Jones and Temperton discussing the recording of the album. Sony also hired sound engineer and mixer Mick Guzauski to work with Jackson on creating 5.1-channel surround sound mixes of Thriller, as well as all his other albums, for release on the then-new Super Audio CD format. Despite numerous retries, the artist never approved any of the mixes. Consequently, Thriller was issued on SACD only in a stereo version.
In February 2008, Epic Records released Thriller 25; Jackson served as executive producer. Thriller 25 appeared on CD, USB and vinyl with seven bonus tracks, a new song called "For All Time", a snippet of Vincent Price's voice-over, and five remixes featuring American artists Fergie, will.i.am, Kanye West, and Akon. It also included a DVD featuring three music videos, the Motown 25 "Billie Jean" performance, and a booklet with a message from Jackson. The ballad "For All Time" supposedly dates from 1982, but is often credited as being from Dangerous sessions. Two singles were released from the reissue: "The Girl Is Mine 2008" and "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin' 2008".
Thriller 25 was a commercial success and did particularly well as a reissue. It peaked at number one in eight countries and Europe. It peaked at number two in the US, number three in the UK and reached the top 10 in over 30 national charts. It was certified Gold in 11 countries including the UK, received a 2× Gold certification in France and received platinum certification in Poland. In the United States, Thriller 25 was the second best-selling album of its release week, selling one hundred and sixty six thousand copies, just fourteen thousand short of reaching the number one position. It was ineligible for the Billboard 200 chart as a re-release but entered the Pop Catalog Charts at number one (where it stayed for ten non-consecutive weeks), with the best sales on that chart since December 1996. With the arrival of Halloween that November, Thriller 25 spent an eleventh non-consecutive week atop the US catalog chart. This brought US sales of the album to 688,000 copies, making it the best selling catalog album of 2008. This was Jackson's best launch since Invincible in 2001, selling three million copies worldwide in 12 weeks.
After Jackson's death in June 2009, Thriller set additional records. It sold more than 100,000 copies, placing it at number two on the Top Pop Catalog Albums chart. Songs from Thriller also helped Jackson become the first artist to sell more than one million song downloads in a week. According to Nielsen Soundscan, Thriller was the 14th best selling album of 2009 in the United States with 1.27 million copies sold.
|1.||"Wanna Be Startin' Somethin"||Michael Jackson||
|2.||"Baby Be Mine"||Rod Temperton||Jones||4:20|
|3.||"The Girl Is Mine" (duet with Paul McCartney)||Jackson||
|4.||"Thriller" (featuring. Vincent Price)||Temperton||Jones||5:57|
|5.||"Beat It" (featuring. Eddie Van Halen)||Jackson||
|8.||"P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)"||
|9.||"The Lady in My Life"||Temperton||Jones||5:00|
|2001 special edition bonus tracks|
|10.||"Quincy Jones Interview #1"||2:19|
|11.||"Someone in the Dark (recorded June 1981)"||4:47|
|12.||"Quincy Jones Interview #2"||2:04|
|13.||"Billie Jean" (Home Demo from 1981)||Jackson||2:20|
|14.||"Quincy Jones Interview #3"||3:10|
|15.||"Rod Temperton Interview #1"||4:03|
|16.||"Quincy Jones Interview #4"||1:32|
|17.||"Voice-Over Session from Thriller"||Temperton||2:52|
|18.||"Rod Temperton Interview #2"||1:56|
|19.||"Quincy Jones Interview #5"||2:01|
|21.||"Quincy Jones Interview #6"||1:17|
- Brian Banks – keyboards, synthesizers, programming
- Michael Boddicker – keyboards, synthesizers
- N'dugu Chancler – drums
- Paulinho da Costa – percussion
- David Foster – keyboards, synthesizers
- Gary Grant – trumpet and flügelhorn
- Eddie Van Halen – guitar solo on "Beat It"
- Jerry Hey – trumpet and flügelhorn
- Michael Jackson – co-producer, lead and background vocals, drum case beater, bathroom stomp board, vocal, drum, horn and string arrangement
- Paul Jackson – guitar
- Louis Johnson – bass guitar
- Quincy Jones – producer
- Steve Lukather – guitar, bass guitar
- Anthony Marinelli – synthesizer programming
- Paul McCartney – vocals on "The Girl Is Mine"
- David Paich – keyboards, synthesizers, programming
- Dean Parks – guitar
- Greg Phillinganes – keyboards, synthesizers, programming
- Jeff Porcaro – drums, horn and string arrangements
- Steve Porcaro – keyboards, synthesizers, programming
- Vincent Price – voice-over on "Thriller"
- Bill Reichenbach – trombone
- Bruce Swedien – recording engineer, mixer
- Chris Shepard – vibraslap on "Beat It"
- Rod Temperton – keyboards, synthesizers
- David Williams – guitar
- Larry Williams – saxophone and flute
- Bill Wolfer – keyboards, synthesizers
- La Toya Jackson – background vocals on "PYT"
- Janet Jackson – background vocals on "PYT"
- Greg Smith – synthesizers
Thriller was one of the best-selling albums in many countries during 1983 to 1984, topping the charts in United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, France, Canada, Australia, Sweden, New Zealand, and the Netherlands.
|Australian Albums Chart||3|
|Austrian Albums Chart||1|
|Japanese Albums Chart||2|
|UK Albums Chart||3|
|Australia (ARIA)||16× Platinum||1,150,000|
|Austria (IFPI Austria)||8× Platinum||400,000x|
|Brazil (ABPD)||5× Platinum||1,250,000*|
|Canada (Music Canada)||2× Diamond||2,400,000|
|Germany (BVMI)||3× Platinum||1,500,000^|
|Hong Kong (IFPI Hong Kong)||Platinum||20,000*|
|Mexico (AMPROFON)||2× Platinum+Diamond+Gold||1,600,000^|
|Netherlands (NVPI)||8× Platinum||1,400,000|
|New Zealand (RMNZ)||12× Platinum||180,000^|
|Sweden (GLF)||4× Platinum||400,000^|
|Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)||6× Platinum||300,000x|
|United Kingdom (BPI)||11× Platinum||4,274,000|
|United States (RIAA)||29× Platinum||29,000,000^|
For sales in 2009
*sales figures based on certification alone
|Michael Jackson portal|
- List of best-selling albums
- List of best-selling albums in Australia
- List of best-selling albums in France
- List of best-selling albums in Germany
- List of best-selling albums in Japan
- List of best-selling albums in New Zealand
- List of best-selling albums in the United Kingdom
- List of best-selling albums in the United States
- List of number-one dance singles of 1983 (U.S.)
- Erlewine, Stephen (February 19, 2007). "Thriller Overview". Allmusic. Retrieved June 15, 2008.
- Heyliger, M., Music - Help - Web - Review[dead link] - A State-of-the-Art Pop Album (Thriller by Michael Jackson): "Not many artists could pull off such a variety of styles (funk, post-disco, rock, easy listening, ballads) back then...". Retrieved on March 12, 2011
- "Michael Jackson: The Unlikely King of Rock". Rolling Stone. Jul 7, 2009. Retrieved January 14, 2013.
the lustrous post-disco sound of Thriller
- Craig Glenday (ed.). "Biggest-selling Album Ever". Guinness World Records. Archived from the original on May 17, 2006. Retrieved 2012-12-03.
- Gitlin, Martin (March 1, 2011). The Baby Boomer Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. p. 196. Retrieved 2012-03-15.
- Janosik, MaryAnn (2006). The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Rock History: The video generation, 1981-1990. Greenwood Press. p. 16. ISBN 978-0-313-32943-2. Retrieved July 14, 2011.
The phenomenal success of Thriller as a landmark pop/rock album was enhanced further by Jackson's innovative dance based music videos
- Paul Grein (Nov 30, 2012). "Chart Watch Extra: Where "Thriller" Ranks". Chart Watch. Yahoo Music. Retrieved December 5, 2012.
- "Grammy Award Winners". The Recording Academy. Archived from the original on January 2, 2008. Retrieved February 14, 2008.
- "The RS 500 Greatest Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. November 18, 2003. Retrieved January 30, 2010.
- "Best Albums of the 1980s". Slant Magazine. March 5, 2012.
- Erlewine, Stephen. "Off the Wall Overview". Allmusic. Retrieved June 15, 2008.
- Holden, Stephen (November 1, 1979). "Off the Wall: Michael Jackson". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on December 23, 2007. Retrieved July 23, 2008.
- "Michael Jackson: Off the Wall — Classic albums". Virgin Media. Retrieved December 12, 2008.
- Taraborrelli, p. 196
- Taraborrelli, p. 206
- Taraborrelli, p. 190
- Taraborrelli, p. 191
- Taraborrelli, pp. 220–221
- Jackson, Michael. Thriller 25 booklet.
- Jackson, Michael. Thriller Special Edition Audio.
- Taraborrelli, pp. 209–210
- Lyle, Peter (November 25, 2007). "Michael Jackson's Monster Smash". London: The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved April 20, 2008.
- Ebony Magazine: Michael: 25 Years After Thriller, December 2007, pg. 97–98
- Jackson, Michael (March 27, 2005). Jesse Jackson Interviews Michael Jackson. Interview with Jesse Jackson.
- George, p. 23
- Connelly, Christopher (January 28, 1983). "Michael Jackson: Thriller". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on June 22, 2008. Retrieved June 15, 2008.
- Medd, James (April 26, 2013). "!!! keep the party going with Thr!!!er". The Guardian (London). The Guide section, p. 14. Retrieved May 26, 2013.
Michael Jackson's 1982 post-disco titan
- Huey, Steve. "Michael Jackson — Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved November 11, 2006.
- Henderson, Eric (2003). "Michael Jackson: Thriller". Slant Magazine. Retrieved June 15, 2008.
- Ben Zimmer (June 26, 2009). "Ma ma se, ma ma sa, ma ma coo sa". Language Log.
The story behind these seemingly nonsensical syllables is a fascinating one, originating in the Cameroonian language Duala...Jackson apparently claimed his version was Swahili, but he eventually acknowledged his debt to [Cameroonian singer Manu] Dibango...
- Taraborrelli, pp. 223–225
- The Complete Michael Jackson, International Music Publications Ltd, 1997, ISBN 1859094473
- Pareles, Jon (September 1987). "Critic's Notebook; How Good Is Jackson's 'Bad'?". The New York Times. Retrieved April 19, 2007.
- "Michael Jackson, "Billy Jean"". Blender. April 1, 2009. Retrieved 2010-06-01.[dead link]
- "Michael Jackson: Biography". The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. 2004. Archived from the original on January 9, 2008. Retrieved February 14, 2008.
- Hogan, Ed. "Steve Porcaro - Music Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved April 12, 2013.
- Cocks, Jay (March 1984). "Why He's a Thriller". Time. Retrieved March 17, 2007.
- Connelly, Christoper (January 28, 1983). "Michael Jackson: Thriller". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on June 22, 2008. Retrieved July 23, 2008.
- George, p. 22
- "Sold On Song Top 100". British Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved April 5, 2008.
- "Sold On Song". British Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved April 5, 2008.
- "Sessions". Steve Lukather. 2006. Retrieved April 5, 2008.[dead link]
- Rockwell, John (December 19, 1982). "Michael Jackson's Thriller': Superb Job". The New York Times. Retrieved July 3, 2008.
- Christgau, Robert (December 28, 1982). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice (New York). Retrieved July 3, 2008.
- Christgau, Robert. "CG: Michael Jacksonpublisher=Robert Christgau". Retrieved August 3, 2012.
- "Grammy for Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones and Bruce Swedien". Grammy. Archived from the original on February 24, 2009. Retrieved February 25, 2009.
- Guinness World Records (2006). Guinness World Records 2007. New York: Guinness World Records Ltd. ISBN 1-904994-12-1.
- Jackson, Michael. Michael Jackson: The Ultimate Collection booklet.
- Taraborrelli, p. 482 (pictures)
- "The Year In Pop 2012: Adele Repeats as Top Artist, Gotye Scores No. 1 Hot 100 Song". billboard.com. December 14, 2012. Retrieved 2013-04-14.
- "RIAA Diamond Awards". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved October 28, 2009.
- "Sony announce Thriller 25". Reuters. November 30, 2007. Retrieved April 17, 2008.
- |"Adele overtakes Michael Jackson in all-time biggest selling albums chart". The Official Charts Company. Retrieved 2012-02-28.
- "Michael Jackson Remains A Global Phenomenon". Billboard magazine. July 2, 2009. Retrieved July 3, 2009.
- "ARIA Charts-Accreditations-2009 Albums". ARIA. Retrieved June 6, 2009.
- Steve Huey. "Michael Jackson - Music Biography, Credits and Discography". Allmusic. Retrieved January 10, 2013.
- Pareles, Jon (January 1984). "Michael Jackson At 25: A Musical Phenomenon". The New York Times. Retrieved May 15, 2007.
- "Michael Jackson". VH1. 2007. Retrieved February 22, 2007.[dead link]
- Taraborrelli, p. 226
- Vincent Price's Halloween Thriller, Fact Sheet, Henderson-Crowe Syndications, Inc., Atlanta, September 24, 1984
- Vincent Price Hosts His First American Halloween Special, News Release, September 24, 1984, Henderson-Crowe Syndications, Inc., Atlanta
- McCullaugh, Jim. "Atlanta Firm Claims First Ever Nationwide Cable Music Show". Billboard Magazine. March 3, 1980 p. 1, p. 38
- King, Bill, "Atlantans Pioneering Cable Video Music Show", The Atlanta Constitution, June 3, 1980, p. 1-B, p. 10-B
- Werts, Dianne, "Din of Modern Hit Parade Invades Cable Homes", The Dallas Morning News, May 23, 1980
- Denisoff, Serge R. Tarnished Gold: The record industry revisited. Oxford, UK: Transaction books, 1986. p. 369
- "Michael Jackson, "Billy Jean:". Blender. Retrieved April 11, 2007.[dead link]
- Gundersen, Edna (August 25, 2005). "music videos changing places". USA Today. Retrieved April 6, 2008.
- "Why it took MTV so long to play black music videos". Jet. 2006.
- "Why Are Michael Jackson's Fans So Devoted?". ABC News. February 23, 2005. Retrieved April 6, 2007.
- Taraborrelli, pp. 270–271
- "1500 Prisoners Perform Thriller Dance". The Wrong Advices. July 21, 2007. Retrieved April 5, 2008.
- "Jacko goes bollywood". TMZ.com. October 3, 2006. Retrieved April 8, 2008.
- Harrington, Richard (October 1988). "Prince & Michael Jackson: Two Paths to the Top of Pop". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on October 11, 2007. Retrieved May 21, 2007.
- Christgau, Robert. "Robert Christgau: Artist 932". Robert Christgau.com. Retrieved June 27, 2008.
- Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian, eds. (November 2, 2004). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. p. 414. ISBN 0743201698. Archived from the original on August 4, 2012. Retrieved August 4, 2012.
- George, p. 24
- "Michael Jackson, 'Thriller' - Rolling Stone". Rolling Stone. May 31, 2012. Retrieved January 14, 2013.[dead link]
- "Definitive 200". The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. 2007. Archived from the original on April 6, 2008. Retrieved April 8, 2008.
- "GRAMMY Hall of Fame". GRAMMY.org. The Recording Academy. 2008. Retrieved January 14, 2013.
- "Thriller, Joni Mitchell album make the cut for US recording registry". CBC News. May 14, 2008. Retrieved May 14, 2008.
- "MTV's Greatest Album Ever — The Results". MTV. April 9, 2009. Retrieved April 9, 2008.
- "Michael Jackson's album Thriller voted best album since 1981". Daily Mirror. April 9, 2009. Retrieved April 9, 2008.
- Jackson, Michael. Thriller Special Edition booklet.
- Paul Verna (May 1, 2001). "Interview with Mick Guzauski". Mix Online. Retrieved July 7, 2009.
- Kevin Becka (June 1, 2006). "Mix Interview: Mick Guzauski". Mix Online. Retrieved July 7, 2009.
- Roger Friedman (July 23, 2001). "First Jackson Effort Rejected, New One Not Ready". Fox News. Retrieved July 7, 2009.
- "Michael Jackson on SACD". PS3SACD.com. July 9, 2009. Retrieved July 26, 2009.
- "Kanye West, Will.I.Am On New Edition Of Michael Jackson's Thriller". MTV (Music Television). Retrieved December 7, 2007.
- "Kanye, Akon Help Jackson Revisit 'Thriller'". Billboard. December 30, 2007. Retrieved June 23, 2008.
- Paphides, Pete (February 8, 2008). "Michael Jackson: Thriller 25". London: The Times. Retrieved April 6, 2008.
- "Zona Musical" (in Spanish). zm.nu. Archived from the original on April 24, 2008. Retrieved April 5, 2008.
- "Thriller the best selling album of all time". digitalproducer. February 20, 2008. Retrieved April 6, 2008.
- "Michael Jackson Thriller 25". ultratop.be. Archived from the original on April 13, 2008. Retrieved April 6, 2008.
- Grein, Paul (May 18, 2008). "Diva Smackdown". Yahoo. Retrieved May 22, 2008.
- Caulfield, Keith (February 20, 2008). "Big Grammy Gains For Many; King of Pop Returns". Billboard magazine. Retrieved February 20, 2008.
- Hasty, Katy (February 20, 2008). "Johnson Remains No. 1; Winehouse, Hancock Soar". Billboard magazine. Retrieved February 20, 2008.
- "US fans shun CD". BBC. July 30, 2005. Retrieved April 7, 2008.
- Waddell, Ray (November 7, 2008). "Michael Jackson Eyeing London Run?". Billboard. Retrieved November 8, 2008.
- Friedman, Roger (May 16, 2008). "Jacko: Neverland East in Upstate New York". Fox News. Retrieved May 22, 2008.
- "Michael Jackson Breaks Billboard Charts Records". Billboard. June 30, 2009. Retrieved July 3, 2009.
- Keith Caulfield (January 7, 2010). "Taylor Swift Edges Susan Boyle For 2009's Top-Selling Album". Billboard.com. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. Retrieved January 18, 2010.
- "allmusic ((( Thriller > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums )))". allmusic.com. Retrieved 2011-10-31.
- "Album Search: Michael Jackson - Thriller" (in German). Media Control. Retrieved 2012-01-29.
- マイケル・ジャクソンさん『BAD』以来22年ぶりの1位 "Michael Jackson tops the chart for the first time in 22 years" (in Japanese). November 3, 2009. Retrieved 2012-01-29.
- "InfoDisc : Tous les Albums classés par Artiste > Choisir Un Artiste Dans la Liste" (in French). infodisc.fr. Retrieved 2012-01-27.
- Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 2012-01-17
- Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970-1992. St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
- "swedishcharts.com Michael Jackson - Thriller" (ASP) (in Swedish). Retrieved 2012-01-29.
- "charts.org.nz Michael Jackson - Thriller" (ASP). Hung Medien. Recording Industry Association of New Zealand. Retrieved 2012-01-29.
- "dutchcharts.nl Michael Jackson - Thriller" (ASP). Hung Medien. MegaCharts. Retrieved 2012-01-29.
- "Austriancharts.at - Jahreshitparade 1983". Hung Medien. Retrieved 2012-01-29.
- "RPM Top 100 Albums of 1983". RPM. Retrieved 2012-01-29.
- "Dutch charts jaaroverzichten 1983" (in Dutch). Dutchcharts.nl. Retrieved March 1, 2014.
- "Les Albums (CD) de 1983 par InfoDisc" (PHP) (in French). infodisc.fr. Retrieved 2012-01-29.
- "Hit Parade Italia - Gli album più venduti del 1983" (in Italian). hitparadeitalia.it. Retrieved 2012-01-29.
- "Japanese Year-End Albums Chart 1983" [1983年アルバム年間ヒットチャート] (in Japanese). Oricon. Retrieved 2012-01-29.
- "1980s Albums Chart Archive". everyhit.com. The Official Charts Company. Retrieved 2012-01-29.
- "Top Pop Albums of 1983". billboard.biz. December 31, 1983. Archived from the original on December 31, 2012. Retrieved April 24, 2014.
- "Album – Jahrescharts: 1983". charts.de. Media Control Charts. Retrieved 2012-01-29.
- "Austriancharts.at - Jahreshitparade 1983". Hung Medien. Retrieved 2012-01-29.
- "RPM Top 100 Albums of 1984". RPM. Retrieved 2012-01-29.
- "Dutch charts jaaroverzichten 1984" (in Dutch). Dutchcharts.nl. Retrieved March 1, 2014.
- "Japanese Year-End Albums Chart 1984" [1984年アルバム年間ヒットチャート] (in Japanese). Oricon. Retrieved 2012-01-29.
- "Hitparade.ch - Schweizer Jahreshitparade 1984". Hung Medien. Retrieved 2012-01-29.
- "Top Pop Albums of 1984". billboard.biz. December 31, 1984. Archived from the original on December 31, 2012. Retrieved April 24, 2014.
- "ARIA Charts – End of Year Charts – Top 100 Albums 2009". Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved May 2, 2013.
- ":: MTV | Album Jahrescharts 2009 | charts". Mtv.de. December 29, 2009. Archived from the original on August 5, 2010. Retrieved 2010-08-23.
- Billboard Magazine – Charts: The Year in Music 2009. Billboard (Nielsen Business Media). December 19, 2009. Retrieved April 2, 2014.
- "2010 End of Year Charts - Top 50 Catalogue Albums". Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved May 2, 2013.
- Billboard Magazine – Charts: The Year in Music 2010. Billboard (Nielsen Business Media). December 18, 2010. Retrieved April 2, 2014.
- "Austriancharts.at - Bestenlisten - 80-er album" (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved 2011-10-24.
- Oricon Album Chart Book: Complete Edition 1970-2005. Roppongi, Tokyo: Oricon Entertainment. 2006. ISBN 4-87131-077-9.
- "Los premiados". Archived from the original on March 18, 2005.
- "2011 Albums Accreditations". Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved 2011-11-23.
- Dale, David (January 13, 2013). "The music Australia loved". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2013-01-15.
- "Austrian album certifications – Jackson, Michael – Thriller" (in German). IFPI Austria. Enter Jackson, Michael in the field Interpret. Enter Thriller in the field Titel. Select album in the field Format. Click Suchen
- "Brazilian album certifications – Jackson, Michael – Thriller" (in Portuguese). Associação Brasileira dos Produtores de Discos.
- "Canadian album certifications – Michael Jackson – Thriller". Music Canada.
- Springsteen Big in canada too. Billboard. Retrieved 2012-04-22.
- "Musiikkituottajat — Tilastot — Kulta- ja platinalevyt". Retrieved August 19, 2010.
- "InfoDisc: Les Certifications — Les Disques de Diamant". InfoDisc.fr. Retrieved 2010-08-29.
- "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Michael Jackson; 'Thriller')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. Retrieved August 23, 2010.
- "IFPIHK Gold Disc Award − 1984". IFPI Hong Kong.
- "Italian album certifications – Michael Jackson – Thriller" (in Italian). Federation of the Italian Music Industry. Retrieved July 5, 2012. Select Album e Compilation in the field Sezione. Enter Michael Jackson in the field Filtra. The certification will load automatically
- "RIAJ > The Record > May 1994 > Page 5 > Certified Awards (March 1994)" (PDF). Recording Industry Association of Japan (in Japanese). Retrieved July 10, 2013.
- "Michael Jackson Remains A Global Phenomenon". Billboard. Archived from the original on November 3, 2010. Retrieved 2012-04-20.
- "Mexican album certifications – Michael Jackson – Thriller". Asociación Mexicana de Productores de Fonogramas y Videogramas. Archived from the original on January 24, 2012. Retrieved May 14, 2013.
- "Dutch album certifications – Michael Jackson – Thriller" (in Dutch). Nederlandse Vereniging van Producenten en Importeurs van beeld- en geluidsdragers. Retrieved March 27, 2012.
- "Een ster in het land van lilliputters". Trouw.nl. Retrieved 2012-03-27.
- "Gold / Platinum Albums". Recording Industry Association of New Zealand. Archived from the original on June 18, 2009. Retrieved 2012-03-19.
- "Discos de Ouro e Platina-GALARDÕES 2009". Associação Fonográfica Portuguesa. Archived from the original on August 19, 2010. Retrieved 2013-04-17.
- Korea Chart, 1984-03-21
- "Guld- och Platinacertifikat − År 2008" (PDF) (in Swedish). IFPI Sweden. Retrieved July 4, 2011.
- "The Official Swiss Charts and Music Community: Awards (Michael Jackson; 'Thriller')". Hung Medien. Retrieved December 28, 2010.
- "Certified Awards Search". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved August 19, 2010. Note: User needs to enter "Michael Jackson" in the "Search" field, "Artist" in the "Search by" field and click the "Go" button. Select "More info" next to the relevant entry to see full certification history.
- RIAA — Gold & Platinum "(Searching results by albums entitled "Thriller")". Retrieved March 14, 2010.
- "IFPI Platinum Europe Awards – 2009". International Federation of the Phonographic Industry. Retrieved July 4, 2011.
- Durchholz, Daniel (November 30, 2012). "Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' At 30: Classic Track-By-Track Review". Billboard. Retrieved 2014-10-28.
- Bill Wyman (January 4, 2013). "Did "Thriller" Really Sell a Hundred Million Copies?". The New Yorker (Condé Nast). Retrieved January 10, 2013.
- Carl Bialik (2009). "Spun: The Off-the-Wall Accounting of Record Sales". The Wall Street Journal (Dow Jones & Company (News Corporation)). Retrieved January 10, 2013.
- Carl Bialik (July 14, 2009). "How many albums did Michael Jackson Sell?". The Wall Street Journal (Dow Jones & Company (News Corporation)). Retrieved January 10, 2013.
- David Lara (May 12, 2012). "Michael Jackson's 'Bad' Gets a Revamp and More Inflated Sales!". Impre (ImpreMedia). Retrieved January 10, 2013.
- George, Nelson (2004). Michael Jackson: The Ultimate Collection booklet. Sony BMG.
- Taraborrelli, J. Randy (2004). The Magic and the Madness. Terra Alta, WV: Headline. ISBN 0-330-42005-4.