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Michael Jackson’s pop magnum opus, “Thriller,” was a cultural turning point for music as a whole. And out of all those hard hitting tracks, one truly captured the es- sence of Michael Jackson. The song, “Billie Jean,” embodies everything in Jackson’s ability to create music. From the track’s darker and more mature content, incredible production and vocals, and personal impact, “Billie Jean,” stands out amongst Jack- son’s incredible catalogue. The song opens with a darker beat than what we’ve heard from Jackson previ- ously, which already gives the track a more unique and intriguing sound. As the listener goes further into the song, they are become familiarized with a darker synth line, which adds to the mysterious aspect of the track. What makes, “Billie Jean,” so interesting is that it plays out like feature film. From the introduction to the characters (Billie Jean, and Jackson himself) to the inner monologue of Jackson, the audience truly gets a cin- ematic experience with the song.
As the film plays out a out like a film, the plot seems to turn much more mature then what audiences have heard from Jackson in the past. Many have speculated what the true meaning of the song is, but I believe it is all up to personal interpretation. What I believe to be the story behind the lyrics is that Jackson’s experience with fame and being a celebrity has taken a dangerous turn. As he intro- duces us to a beautiful woman, I believe this is really about an obsessive fan who is extremely infatuated with the celebrity persona of Michael Jackson. This “Billie Jean” believes that Jackson is father of her child and will not let that thought go. Jackson, wanting to have nothing to do with this, tries to distance himself from the woman.
Throughout the entire song, Jackson is pleading and trying to convince us that he is not the father of this child, and this woman will not leave his mind. With all of these ma- ture themes being played out throughout the track, this seems to deviate from most of Jackson’s other songs. With a more energetic and lively tone throughout his previous catalogue of tracks, “Billie Jean,” does stray off of that. And that’s what makes the song that much more unique and special. “Billie Jean’s,” darker and more mature content led to a wider range for Jackson with his vocals, and production as well. Jackson and his producer at the time, Quincy Jones, disagreed whether or not this song should stay on the album. Jones believed the song was not big enough to fit within the album. In the end, they resolved their dif- ferences, and the song became a massive success.
With Jackson’s vocals really being the driving force behind the track. The power in his voice was truly incredible to hear, and also showed more range than before with his voice going into untouched terrain. Jackson seems to be biting his voice off in a few parts throughout the song, which drove the narrative of this being more a inner monologue even further. And with the backup vocals and layering of Jackson’s voice, this song truly resonates with me as the WEEK: 3 The Thriller Years NAME: best song off the “Thriller” album, and my favorite song from him out of his entire cata- logue. Michael Jackson’s, “Billie Jean,” was the first song that I heard from the pop icon when I was about eight years old. The vivid memory of seeing the music video for the song when I was at a friends house will always stay with me. Even though the song is incredible in its own right, the factor of nostalgia will hold a special place within me and my love of Michael Jackson.
As time went by, my appreciation for the song only grew greater. This song allowed me to discover more Jackson’s discography and is what in- troduced me into his wide range of pop hits and deep tracks. Even though Jackson’s “Thriller” is my personal favorite of his and incredible monumental and shifted the mentality of pop music for the time, there is one track that I believe is weak and could have been left off the album. The song titled, “Human Na- ture,” overall does not feel as if it should have been left on the album. What makes this song not a hit are the details. The production of the track just doesn’t do it for me. And with Jackson’s back up vocals throughout the chorus doesn’t help it either. Not a terri- ble song by any means, just one that I believed should have been left off the album, or reshaped in a more energetic way.
Talking about whether Michael Jackson’s, “Thriller,” was an over rated project is a simple conversation. It is a simple no. Even placing myself within the 1980s, when this album was at the height of its large reach to a mass audience. Jackson’s album gave a different meaning and sound to what pop was. With a more sophisticated style and manner compared to his last project, “Off The Wall,” this album truly defined who Jack- son was and solidified his place as a pop star. To see “Thriller” launch when it was first introduced to the world would more than likely given me a different perspective on the album and Michael Jackson. Since I grew up during a time where Michael Jackson was cemented as one of, if not, the greatest musical talents of all time, my perspective and thoughts on the album would have been drastically different compared to 1982.
The entire history of who this man was and his legacy was at my disposal, and to hear that history be told throughout the album added to my enjoyment. And to position myself in 1982, I would have most likely enjoy the album, but definitely not as much as I do now. As previously stated, the album gives off a cinematic quality throughout all of the tracks. From a crazed fan in “Billie Jean” to a horrifying night with “Thriller,” this album is in no way a disappoint- ment. Each song tells a story, and shines a more personal side of The King Of Pop that we have not heard before this album. Whenever I hear any tracks from this record, I always feel a sense of happiness and nostalgia that could never be replaced with any other artist than the King Of Pop himself, Michael Jackson.
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