Thriller: The Musical Life of Michael Jackson

Thriller: The Musical Life of Michael Jackson

Nelson George

Language: English

Pages: 256

ISBN: 0306818787

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Thriller takes us back to a time in 1982 when Michael Jackson was king of the charts, breaking the color barrier on MTV, heralding the age of video, and becoming the ultimate representation of the crossover dreams of Motown’s Berry Gordy, who helped launch Jackson’s career with the Jackson 5. In this incisive and revealing examination of the making and meaning of Thriller, Nelson George illuminates the brilliant creative process (and work ethic) of Jackson and producer Quincy Jones, deftly exploring the larger context of the music, life, and seismic impact of Michael Jackson on three generations. All this from a groundbreaking journalist and cultural critic who was there. George questions whether the phenomenon Jackson became is even possible today. He revisits his early writings on the King of Pop and examines not only the stunning success of Thriller but also Jackson as an artist, public figure, and racial enigma—including the details surrounding his death on June 25, 2009.

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the record probably wouldn’t have meant as much when it was released if Van Halen hadn’t played the solo on it. As a young music critic at Billboard, I reviewed Van Halen’s first headlining show in New York, a gig at the steamy rock venue the Palladium, on East 14th Street. Lead singer David Lee Roth, with his long, swinging hair, athletic body, and splits, was the visual center of the band and was crucial to its MTV appeal. But Eddie’s quicksilver fingers and inventive solos created sonic

Michael. Parents like the ones sitting behind me getting loudly drunk and spilling beer on my shoes enjoyed the spectacle of it, though the only non-“Thriller” material they seemed to know came during the Jackson Five medley. They were looking for family entertainment; a little sentiment, a little fantasy, a little dancing, a little nostalgia, a lot of glitter. As the first show of a large tour, the Kansas City, Missouri, date felt like “a glorified rehearsal,” with the tempos on several songs

contrast with Kansas City was stark. There he seemed a fairy prince off in the distance, far removed and detached from his subjects and even the show itself. In Jersey he walked the waterfront with a chip on his shoulder, moving and singing with real blood in his eye. This was particularly true of the show’s first half, when even during “She’s Out of My Life” he threw in some break dance movements, signifying that on this night all sweetness must be cut with funk. It might have been that Jersey

album. No Rod Temperton songs made the album. Nor is there any song as genre busting as “Beat It” or as intense as “Billie Jean.” What is on Bad are songs with magnificent melodies (“I Just Can’t Stop Loving You,” “Liberian Girl”), cinematic in conception (“Smooth Criminal”), and smartly funky (“The Way You Make Me Feel,” “Another Part of Me”). The secret hero of Bad is singer-songwriter Siedah Garrett, who sang the female part on “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You” and co-wrote the song that would

It’ movie.” Furthermore, the site stated, “a few scenes were selected in which Michael Jackson smiled and showed that in spite of being in a dire state, he was still the greatest star in the world.” Having been in scores of edit rooms over the last ten years, I know “This Is Not It” is likely more right than wrong. Any edit of 110 hours of footage into under 2 hours of film could yield dozens of different versions. Moreover, any version of the documentary financed by the promoters of the London

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