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40 years ago Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” was released: and the world made pop…

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It is that beyond the perfect compendium of disco, rock, funk, pop and r&b music, and the level of the guests and session participants who placed themselves at the producer’s command Quincy Jonesas the case of Paul MCCARTNEY, Eddie Van Halen and members of Totowith “Thriller” Michael Jackson it set the pace of fashion in those years, popularized a particular way of dancing and paved the way for a new era in terms of the video clip industry.

All of this made the artist -a kind of spoiled child in his country but who in other latitudes was not so widely known-, reached a peak of popularity comparable to the “beatlemania” of the 60s. The phenomenon awakened in our country is a clear example of this.

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Although throughout the ’70s, the young Michael began to detach himself from the family burden with four solo albums, towards the end of the decade he seemed to break definitively with his past when he moved away from the label. motown and, already with Quincy Jones as a producer, released “Off The Wall” via Epic Recordsa job that began to project him as something more than the talented little boy of the famous family.

But around 1982, musical fashions presented other paths and the Jackson-Jones duo embarked in that direction, not without several clashes between them, which led to the album being mixed again once finished, because they could not agree on As for the end result.

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The final edition of “Thriller” featured nine compositions, four of them by Michael himself –“Wanna Be Starting Something”, “The Girl Is Mine”, “Billie Jean” Y “Beat It”- and, as said before, brilliant collaborations, like the case of the former beatle in “The Girl Is Mine”; Toto’s Eddie Van Halen and Steve Lukather on “Beat It”; and even a final recitation of the horror movie legend Vincent Pricein “Thriller”.

Perhaps as a return of courtesies, michael jackson collaborated with Paul MCCARTNEY the following year in the hit “Say, Say, Say” Y “The Man”included in the disk “Pipe of Peace”of the former beatle.

As if all the sound arsenal that the album presented were not enough to mark an era, its cover was also going to become one of the most iconic in the history of contemporary popular music, with the photo of the artist reclining in a relaxed way with a immaculate white suit and a tiger cub at his feet.

If the album itself was already presented as a work destined to go down in history, the artist’s use of the incipient video clip industry took care of the rest. In this category, he highlighted “Billie Jean”, with the remembered dance step that made the tiles light up and the ghostly figures that appeared to the artist in his walk; and “Beat It”, with the choreographic confrontation between gang members.

But, without a doubt, “Thriller” was the video that not only stood out among all those of Michael Jacksonbut it burst in with force and created a cinematographic style followed to this day in relation to audiovisual musical productions.

Throughout almost a quarter of an hour, the director John Landisresponsible for comedies like “The Blues Brothers” Y “Animal House” (“Los Hermanos Caradura” and “Colegio de animales”, respectively in our country), created a sort of small B-class horror film, in which Michael becomes a werewolf and then a zombie, to star in a memorable dance in a cemetery surrounded by “living dead”.

In this way, the work as a whole, with its brilliant production, its perfect songs, its danceable imprint and its visual proposal, presented a consumer Michael Jackson for all tastes and ages.

In the United States, where the artist was already a celebrity from his earliest childhood, this release confirmed that he had a life of his own beyond the protective wing of the Motown label and that he was embraced by the rest of the music community. And in other countries, he massively popularized a figure previously known only to disc jockeys.

If in the romantic comedy “The Break”, from 2006, the music lover character Miles, played by Jack Black, showed the cover of the album “Frampton Comes Alive” to an Iris played by Kate Winslet and told her that at a certain moment in the ’70, every self-respecting US citizen, as well as having an identity document, also had that album at home; In Argentina, around 1983 and 1984, there was no residence in which there was not a copy of “Thriller”.

It is worth noting that, until the 90s, foreign artistic productions arrived in our country with several months and even a few years of delay in relation to their original publication.

With this production, “jacksonmania” seized an entire generation, especially schoolchildren who tried to copy the dance steps; they were dazzled with the shiny wardrobe, pants above the ankles and a white glove; and they were excited by the horror scenes of the video clip of the flagship song.

Such was the furor that the then Channel 9 Freedomreturned very recently to its original owner Alejandro Romay In the first months of the return of democracy, he put on the air a message called “Dancing with Michael Jackson”.

Every Monday at 9 p.m., the film critic Sunday Di Nubilaa man who had nothing to do with modern music or with all that it meant -he even had trouble pronouncing the name of the artist himself correctly-, dressed in a tuxedo, presented video clips and a breakdance dance contest, popularized from the success from “Thriller”.


The cycle survived several months, although first it was necessary to add “Dancing with Michael Jackson and friends” to the title, as if to have the excuse of showing other artists’ video clips.

The popularity achieved here opened the doors for a whole range of new pop artists to become known, in a movement that, like a Trojan horse, allowed the discovery on a massive level of figures like Prince, for example.

This openness, and the fact that he never again created a work up to it, put Michael Jackson in a more earthly place in the first place.. A personal course of surgeries that radically transformed his physiognomy and his behavior, which was otherwise eccentric, turned him years later into a kind of caricature or material for jokes.

Several years later, more gruesome situations would be revealed, with complaints against him for child abuse, which made the joke no longer funny. The brilliant artist was now carrying the monstrous shadow of pedophilia.

For those who agree to separate the work from the person, there will remain forever the brilliant record and the exciting days when we all tried, with more or less success, to copy the “moon walk”.

By Hernani Natale

Source: Ambito

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