the pop world
lost one of
its great architects.
Along with the Beatles and Elvis, Michael Jackson set the course taken by countless pop stars of today, and his music has proven timeless.
Off the Wall, 1979
With the freedom of his burgeoning solo career, Michael Jackson’s talent soared with a little help from A-list friends like Stevie Wonder, Quincy Jones and Paul McCartney.
Michael Jackson’s first solo album away from Motown Records immediately defined him as one of the world’s great solo artists, elevating him from any legacy of his early years with the Jackson 5. Produced by Quincy Jones (Shaft), Off the Wall fused disco, R & B and funk and with floor-fillers like “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough”, and “Rock With You” became a must-have record for any self-respecting DJ. The record marked Jackson’s transition from a boy, to an independent, and utterly unique young man. On its release, Rolling Stone said “Off the Wall represents discofied post-Motown glamour at its classiest.”
Three years after Michael Jackson set sales-records with Off the Wall, his next album, Thriller, would smash records for all time while also inventing the cinematic, big-budget music video as we know it.
Michael Jackson’s follow up to Off the Wall had a decidedly darker and edgier sound, featuring the all-time classic bangers “Billy Jean” and “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’”, and the snarling “Beat It”. This time, Jackson and producer Quincy Jones worked rap and early programming techniques into their pallet, making Thriller unlike anything that had come before it. Jackson’s love of horror films inspired the album’s title track, and with the help of John Landis (fresh from An American Werewolf In London), the pair created a career-and-genre-defining 14 minute zombie music video. It’s still the most successful music video of all time.
With Bad, Michael Jackson boldly screamed at the world, “I’m bad!”. His most confident and ambitious record would also become his most commercially successful.
Michael Jackson threw all of his talent and resources into making what would become one of the best-selling records of all time. “The Man In the Mirror”, “The Way You Make Me Feel”, “Smooth Criminal”, “Dirty Diana”, “Bad”… hit singles just kept coming from this immaculate collection of pop classics. Lyrically, Bad feels like Jackson showed more confidence, and in the title track, “Bad” he called upon the whole world to answer right now, it sounds like a challenge to his contemporaries – just try to top this.
Michael Jackson – Top Tracks
Michael Joseph Jackson
August 29, 1958 — June 25, 2009