Posts Tagged ‘Billy Jean’

At number 20 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s 500 greatest albums is “Thriller” by Michael Jackson. If this were a list of the “best selling albums ever” then this album would be number one; “Thriller” has sold about 65 million copies Worldwide.


“Thriller” was released in 1982, and was Michael Jackson’s sixth solo album. It was preceded by “Off the wall” and was followed by “Bad”. This is a screen capture from the Wikipedia page about Thriller.


The video for the single “Thriller” was a breakthrough in its length and complex coordinated dancing. It is more like a mini-film than a video, with a long lead-in before the song starts where Michael Jackson woos a girlfriend, played by an ex-Playboy model Ola Ray.

So, if “Thriller” has sold more copies than any other album, how come this albums is at number 20 and not at number 1 in this list? Remember, this Rolling Stone list is not a list of best selling albums. When we get to number one, which I will tell you now is The Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band” (that shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone!), we can discuss maybe why the top 10 are the albums they are, and why “Sgt. Pepper” comes out top of nearly every list of greatest albums ever. We will see that most of the top 10 in this list are not in the list of top 10 best selling albums.

Maybe the thing that was so different about “Thriller” was how many singles were released from it. Back in the 1960s, in what could be called the rise of “the album”, The Beatles would not include most of their single releases on their albums. The album considered to be the greatest of all time, Beatles album “Sgt. Pepper” does not contain one track which was released as a single. The single and album market were seen as totally separate markets.

Throughout the 1970s there seemed to be an unwritten rule that an artist would release two or maybe three singles at most from an album. Often it was just one track, and anything more was conning the public. “Thriller” changed all that. There are nine tracks on the album, and of those nine no less than seven (yes, 7!!) were released as singles.

Do you think this album deserves to be higher than number 20? Do you think it deserves to be the best selling album of all time?

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