A Brief Overview
Michael Jackson’s Best Selling Solo Albums
Michael Jackson had a long career with many best selling albums, but 3 of them were able to distinguish from all the others due to their popularity. This is a brief overview on “Thriller”, “Bad” and “Dangerous”
“Thriller” – 1982
Back in 1982 Michael Jackson wasn’t quite yet the biggest Pop star in the world, but with “Thriller” that would change in just a few months. His 6th solo album, and follow up of the successful 1979 Disco LP “Off The Wall”, it’s still considered his masterpiece, much more diverse musically then his previous albums, in fact, it’s an album that has very little fillers, just consider having cuts such as “Human Nature” or “Beat It” in the same record. This album was ground-breaking from several points of view. First it is from a historical perspective the first album that it’s sales were in a big part due to the promotional videos, being “Thriller” the major one, but also “Billie Jean” and “Beat It”. Jackson was able to caught on the new MTV wave of video promotion and using new technologies available on video he did what is considered a landmark and milestone of music marketing. On other hand, the extremely good production of Quincy Jones, that sensed exactly what kind of beat would be selling, not holding on or playing safe to the recently disposed disco sounds that ruled just a couple years before in Pop music, and featuring a (back then rarely seen) Heavy Metal/Hard Rock guitarist, Eddie Van Halen, collaborating in an 100% pop album, with the memorable guitar solo in “Beat It”, also as a guest, the former Beatle Paul McCartney with the duet in “The Girl Is Mine”. “Thriller” it’s to this day the best selling album of all time, exceeding the 60 Million copies sold world wide, and it’s Jackson at his best, far from the roller-coaster that his life would become and that got in the way of what he did best, music.
Strongest tracks: “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin”, “Billie Jean”, “Beat It”, “Human Nature”, “Thriller”, “The Girl Is Mine”
“Bad” – 1987
The follow up to “Thriller” took 5 years, but when it came out, only 1 out of 10 songs did not became a hit, almost all of the songs made it to become staples at Jackson’s live concerts, he composed alone 8 of the 10. As it’s predecessor, there aren’t fillers on this album, the sound shows a distinctive difference from “Thriller”, but as the decade went by also the trends were changing, however, this is still Jackson in great shape. Some of the sounds are more “rocking” than what he usually did, and to that, it also contributed the fact of having some guitar virtuoso’s such as Steve Stevens (from Billy Idol band) backing him up, as an example the “Dirty Diana” solo done by Stevens, and later done by Jennifer Batten in his live shows during the “Bad Tour”. Jackson did another memorable video for promoting “Bad” with the self titled song, resulting again in a successful formula for him. Quincy Jones produced once more, proving that he was a big part of Jackson’s success during the first part of his adult solo career. “Bad” it’s an excellent album that has a different kick from “Thriller”, it’s estimated it sold over 35 million copies worldwide to this day.
Strongest tracks: “Bad”, “The Way You Make Me Feel”, “Another Part of Me”, “Man in the Mirror”, “Dirty Diana”, “Smooth Criminal”
“Dangerous” – 1991
As the 80’s ended and a new decade begun, Michael Jackson had for the first time to seriously adapt into a new music scene and trend. In 1991 “Dangerous” is released, featuring adopting the new Electronic/Dance beats which were widely popular during the early 90’s, he co-produced the album, this time without Quincy Jones, together with Teddy Riley, Bill Bottrell and Bruce Swedien. A double album featuring a total of 14 tracks, was less successful than “Thriller” or “Bad”, but still, debuted at number 1 in several countries worldwide. The early 90’s music charts were then dominated by Alternative Rock, it was some serious challenge for Jackson (and he felt it when the then unknown band Nirvana was able to take him out of the top of the charts with “Nevermind”) , however, he was still able on trying to compete by pulling of a very good Rock song from the album when he called Slash from Guns N’ Roses to play in “Give In To Me”, which resulted brilliantly, although the album was majorly based on Electronic/Dance beat music. “Remember The Time”, “Who Is It”, “In The Closet” were 3 of the album’s hits. Other two memorable songs were “Will You Be There” and “Heal The World”, and the biggest hit in the album, “Black Or White”, for which he again tried the “epic” video formula to promote the album. Overall this was Michael Jackson’s last solid album, and he even went to get real royalty for the back vocals, Princess Stéphanie Of Monaco (who was for a short period of time a pop star during the 80’s)
Strongest tracks: “Jam”, “In The Closet”, “Remember the Time”, “Black or White, “Who Is It”, “Give In to Me”, “Will You Be There”
Listen to selected tracks from these three albums on Spotify, compiled by Pop Expresso
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