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Awesome Music / Michael Jackson

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Jackson's music pretty much WAS the music of the '80s if you weren't into New Wave or Hair Metal, and most likely helped inspire or kickstart a few new musical genres on its own.

  • "Ben," one of Young Michael's solo songs, from the film of the same name. Beautiful ballad, and even more beautifully sung.
  • "Blame It on the Boogie" with The Jackson Five (actually The Jacksons), proof that disco can stand the test of time.
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  • "Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground)". Eight minutes of pure, concentrated awesome. Listen closely, and you can even hear what must be an early inspiration for "Thriller".
  • Off the Wall was the first of the triptych of Michael Jackson albums (along with Thriller and Bad) produced by jazz legend Quincy Jones, and marks the point where his solo career really took off; it spawned four singles - "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough", "Rock with You", "Off the Wall", and "She's Out of My Life" - and every one reached the top 10 in the US.note 
    • "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" was his first big solo smash, topping the charts in the USA, Australia, and New Zealand, and at least reaching the top 5 in Canada and many parts of Europe. The video is a fascinating proto-MTV exercise in green screen effects, with three copies of Michael dancing on screen at once in some shots.
    • The Rod Temperton-penned "Rock with You" was the album's second Billboard chart-topper, and is another great disco/post-disco track, with an awesome Truck Driver's Gear Change after the instrumental break. The video follows the trajectory from Performance Video to Concept Video started by "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough", with Michael singing and dancing in a sequined suit, lit from behind in bright green.
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    • "Get on the Floor", featuring absolutely furious slap-bass from Louis Johnson, who co-wrote the song with Michael and later played the famous bassline on "Billie Jean".
    • The title track is another first rate entry in the disco/funk style that was part of Michael's sound in the late 1970s, and although the Laughing Mad intro is a bit hammy, it's hard to resist the song's entreaties to just cut loose on the dance floor.
      Tonight, gotta leave that nine to five upon the shelf
      And just enjoy yourself
      Groove, let the madness and the music get to you
      Life ain't so bad at all
      When you're livin' off the wall
  • Not for nothing is Thriller by far the best-selling album of all time by any artist, ever. Jackson wanted to assemble an album with no filler tracks, resulting in nine songs of which seven were released as singles, with every one reaching the Top 10 on the Billboard charts.note  "Thriller", "Beat It", and "Billie Jean" were also matched to videos which collectively revolutionised the medium of the music video.
    • The album hits the ground running full speed with two songs in the same disco/funk style as most of Off the Wall, but even more so:
      • "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'" starts with a driving bass and drum beat and adds a first rate horn section in counterpoint to Jackson's angry vocals about rumourmongering for the sake of starting fights. Despite its fast tempo and major key, it is one of the most frightening yet fascinating tracks he ever recorded.
      • The impeccably scored "Baby Be Mine" meshes the lyrics of a plaintive love ballad with more outstanding drums, bass, brass, and keyboards. It was one of just two songs on the album not to be released as a single,note  which is a shame, as it more than holds its own against the album's more famous tracks.
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    • Having already dueted with Paul McCartney on the former Beatle's single "Say Say Say", Michael teamed up with him again to record his own "The Girl is Mine", the first single from Thriller to be released.note  The two superstars' voices are a perfect match for each other on the album's first slow ballad.
    • The Rod Temperton-penned late night horror film-inspired title track may be somewhat camp, but Jackson's performance on it is superb, outdone only by the hammy yet deliciously sinister narration by Vincent Price over the song's second half. And then there's the epic-length video directed by John Landis that pushed back the boundaries of what a Concept Video could do. Who knew the hordes of a Zombie Apocalypse were such incredible dancers?
    • Side 2 also hits the ground running with the Jackson-penned anti-urban violence anthem "Beat It", anchored by Epic Riffs and a spectacular guitar solo courtesy of Eddie Van Halen. The video is another classic, featuring yet more top notch group choreography.
    • The trifecta of songs inspiring seminal early music videos is completed with the paranoid, paternity-denying "Billie Jean", which opens with a simple yet memorable syncopated riff and never lets the listener's attention go for a second.
    • The dreamlike "Human Nature" is one of the best love ballads Jackson ever recorded, with an immensely catchy beat and a terrific vocal performance.
    • The bouncy, fast-paced funk of "P.Y.T." ups the energy of the album again with still more Earwormy goodness in the rhythm track and the refrain.
    • And the album closer, "The Lady in My Life", may not have been released as a single (not even a B-side) or enjoy the popularity of most of the other tracks on the album, but it still ranks as one of the best slow ballads from Jackson's post-Motown years.
  • Bad was one of the most hotly anticipated albums in pop history when it was released in 1987. Like Thriller before it, it spawned seven hit singles (only "Speed Demon", "Liberian Girl", and "Just Good Friends" were not released as singlesnote ), with five - "Bad", "The Way You Make Me Feel", "Man in the Mirror", "I Just Can't Stop Loving You", and "Dirty Diana" - reaching #1.note  It would be 23 years before another album duplicated this feat (Katy Perry's Teenage Dream), and it has never been surpassed.
    • The peppy "The Way You Make Me Feel" shows Michael as a flirtatious smooth talker rather than the streetwise rebel of "Bad" or the lover of "I Just Can't Stop Loving You", and its sheer energy really captures the thunderbolt that Love at First Sight can deliver.
    • "Speed Demon" is pure adrenaline from start to finish, while the Will Vinton-directed claymation music video (used for a sequence in Moonwalker) is a memorable exercise in late 1980s MTV surrealism.
    • "Be the change that you wish to see in the world" is the message of "Man in the Mirror". A slow buildup leading into perhaps the most glorious Truck Driver's Gear Change in music history:
      Michael: If you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and then make that...
      Choir: (out of flipping nowhere) CHANGE!
    • It's Awesome Music as it is, but the video for "Smooth Criminal" is easily one of his best. Especially that anti-gravity lean.
  • Two songs recorded with the great Freddie Mercury, but never released: State of Shock (later released by The Jacksons with Mick Jagger) and There Must Be More to Life than This. What Could Have Been...
  • From Dangerous:
    • "Black or White" and its great music video.
    • Remember the Time and its great video.
    • "Jam", a lesser-known song (at least among people who aren't Sonic 3 fans).
    • "Give In To Me", a lesser-known but awesome song, is the same rock type as "Beat It" and "Dirty Diana" and is incredibly passionate.
    • "Who Is It", a brooding yet effectively dark song that tells the tale of a man left in complete despair after losing his love to someone else. It's also got a sick beat, courtesy of MJ beat-boxing.
  • From HIStory: Past, Present And Future, Book I:
    • "Scream", in the expensive spaceship with Janet Jackson. A video that, to this day, is one of the most expensive music videos ever made (topping out at about $7 million). Along with "This Time Around" and "2 Bad," it's also a great song to put on when you're pissed off.
    • "Stranger in Moscow", which does a great job capturing the emotional devastation of his first child molestation trial. The music almost feels like a proto-downtempo/trip-hop song.
  • "Blood on the Dance Floor" combines elements of funk and new jack swing to bring a dark, catchy tune that wouldn't sound out-of-place in a Sonic the Hedgehog game; it helps that the percussion track seems to be the basis for Knuckles's theme (note that the song was originally supposed to be included on the Dangerous album).
  • Even his last album, Invincible — while easily not his best at the time — has several superb songs on it that we only wish others could adequately perform, let alone his larger than life 1980s songs.
    • "You Rock My World" is easily the best song on it, and its music video is even more awesome, as it co-stars Chris Tucker and even Marlon Brando.
    • "Unbreakable," which is not only a killer "fuck the haters" song but has one of the most insanely catchy ear worms of any MJ song. A perfect start for the album.
    • "Break of Dawn" and "Heaven Can Wait," the closest MJ ever came to a straight-up sex jam after "I Just Can't Stop Lovin' You." Both of them just ooze sex appeal.
    • Even critics at the time who dismissed the album called "2000 Wats" an exceptional dance track. It's also one of the few where MJ sings in his normal, deeper voicenote  and it is awesome. Not to mention that rhythm could rival even the hottest Nsync tracks from the time.
  • From Michael:
    • "Best of Joy" especially since it was reportedly the final song that Michael recorded before his death. A Bittersweet Ending indeed.
    • Imposter or not, "Monster" is a pretty damn catchy song. And features a rap solo from 50 Cent.
    • "Hold My Hand," a gorgeous silly love song performed with then-R&B superstar (and close friend of MJ's) Akon.
  • From Xscape, "Love Never Felt So Good". The duet version with Justin Timberlake gets some bonus points for incorporating some lyrics from Johnny Mathis's cover, which predates the Jackson version's official release by 30 years.note 
  • "This Is It". The Orchestra Version is even better.
  • The lost single, Cheater. There is no 'not dancing' to this one. It's impossible.


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