There’s not much to say about Michael Jackson that hasn’t already been stated. The King of Pop broke so many records, won so many awards and more than that inspired an entire generation. People, who saw him, knew they were witnessing something that will always find a beautiful place in history.
It has been eight years since the legend passed away following an accidental drug overdose in the summer of 2009. But we all still remember him as a great singer, masterful dancer and a consummate entertainer. The legacy that he left behind will always keep him immortal.
On his death anniversary, here’s an attempt to resurrect the icon through the ten best tracks of Michael Jackson that shaped up an entire generation. Take a look:
The song 'Thriller' is just as great about the album named after it. Add to that, the song has Vincent Prince in it, and that’s not even the best thing about it. That says something about the song itself. It is a funky song based around one of Jackson’s best bass lines and vocal performances. The haunted house sound effects and a killer horns section create an engrossing wall of sound that makes every second of the pop song about as well thrilling as one would imagine given the title.
#2. Man In The Mirror
Unlike many of his songs, Man in the Mirror was not written by Jackson. However, if you listen to it, the song is a testament to his singing that a song written by someone else can feel so touchingly personal in his hands. The song has his typical catchy choruses and a strange emotional underpinning to it. This song is the perfect blend of Jackson’s talents as a singer and interesting lyrics that give out a different sentiment altogether.
#3. Beat It
When you listen to this track, the first thing that you would notice is the insanely good guitar riff. It is one of those rare musical touches that is immediately iconic. You’ll end up feeling how could anyone ever manage it? However, that was Jackson’s life, doing things that nobody ever thought of doing and that was just how good he was. The song has menacing lyrics as well. It is no surprise that it remains to be a pop anthem to this date.
#4. Billie Jean
No song better sums up Jackson’s involving vocal style than “Billie Jean” whose melodic hooks and fantastic bass line simply wouldn’t be the same without Jackson hiccupping, wooing, and gasping over it all. On a total fire run from three back-to-back number one singles, Jackson took his stardom to an entirely new level with “Billie Jean.” The track spent seven weeks at number one, in part due to its dramatic curveball in Jackson’s otherwise dance-driven songs.
#5. Smooth Criminal
If pop music had the power to turn a horrifying subject into beautiful and pure melodic pleasure, then Smooth Criminal is perhaps the embodiment of the same. Jackson talks about a home invasion and likely rape in this song. The subject of the song is entirely gruesome; however, when you listen to it you’ll know why it is considered to be one of the best Michael Jackson songs ever. The fast and frenetic music clubbed with Jackson’s singing abilities give this song its beauty.
Few people know that a tragic true story drives the lyrical narrative: a boy went off to a private boarding school and was murdered out of jealousy when he returned home. The title track and second single from the “Bad” album peaked at No. 1 on the Hot 100, where it lasted two weeks. But it also helped establish a new era of aggressive, rock-driven sound for the icon.
#7. Black Or White
Upon its release, Black or White was called a rock n’ roll dance song about racial harmony and that is perhaps the best way to sum the song up. The topic of the song was nothing new at the time. However, Jackson’s music and singing were. It is only amusing how MJ could put life into anything that he touched.
#8. Will You Be There
One of Jackson’s best epic ballads, Will You Be There was originally released on the 1991 album Dangerous. The song was also the theme from the 1993 film Free Willy. The songs choir-like chorus gives it a soaring, spiritual resonance that is rarely matched on other Michael Jackson songs.
#9. I Want You Back
No list of Jackson’s accomplishments as a musician would be complete without a nod to his beginnings as the star of the Jackson 5. Singing one of the greatest hits of the Motown era as a little 11-year-old, Jackson possessed more singing chops and especially soul as a tween than most artists manage in their entire lives. The lyrics of the song might sound pretty straightforward, but they feel big in Jackson’s young hands.
#10. Don‘t Stop Till You Get Enough
Unlike most disco hits, “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” has endured and can still be heard on its own terms, despite some signs of age, thanks to its absolute bombardment of the hook after hook. Every chorus and element of the song is doing something that feels immediately memorable and iconic, not least of all Jackson’s impressive falsetto and Quincy Jones’s powerful production techniques.
(GIFs Courtesy: Giphy)