Michael Jackson Dark Imagery In Thriller

Michael Jackson's fifth studio album, Off the Wall, which released in August 1979 is his first solo album under Epic Records. A departure from his previous work for Motown Records. Off the Wall crafted from funk, disco, soft rock, jazz, Broadway and pop ballads.

Michael received positive reviews for his vocal performance on Off the Wall. The record gained critical acclaim and recognition, and won the singer his first Grammy Award.

But, Michael felt undervalued by the music industry. In 1980 when he asked the publicist of Rolling Stone if they would be interested in doing a cover story on him, the publicist declined, to which Michael responded, 
"I've been told over and over that black people on the cover of magazines doesn't sell copies ... Just wait. Someday those magazines are going to be begging me for an interview. Maybe I'll give them one, and maybe I won't."

Michael is a highly intelligent man who was able to increasing his independence through his song lyrics about human conditions and popularized a number of complicated dance techniques.

On 30 November 1982, Michael released his sixth studio album, Thriller. In just over a year, Thriller became—and currently remains—the world's best-selling album. It is the first album to be certified 33x multi-platinum.

Michael wanted to create an album where "every song was a killer" and developed Thriller with that in mind. Michael and producer Quincy Jones were determined to make a rock song that would appeal to all tastes.

Thriller displayed foreshadowings of the contradictory thematic elements that would come to characterize Michael's subsequent works. With Thriller, Michael would begin his association with the subliminal motif of paranoia and darker themes, including supernatural imagery in the album's title track.

With the release of Thriller, Jackson could sing low—down to a basso low C—but he preferred to sing higher because pop tenors have more range to create style. In Thriller, his feathery-timbred tenor slides smoothly into a startling falsetto that's used very daringly.

Michael had already adopted a "vocal hiccup" (first used in 1973 on It's Too Late to Change the Time), which he continued to implement in Thriller. The purpose of the hiccup—somewhat like a gulping for air or gasping—is to help promote a certain emotion, be it excitement, sadness or fear.

Thriller contains nine tracks. Michael wrote four songs for the record: "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'", "The Girl Is Mine", "Beat It" and "Billie Jean". Unlike many artists, Michael did not write these songs on paper. Instead, he would dictate into a sound recorder; when recording he would sing from memory.

Thriller use music videos as successful promotional tools, and the videos for the songs "Beat It", "Thriller" and "Billie Jean". Michael also get involved in the making of the music videos. He Transformed the music video into an art form, a promotional tool through complex story lines, dance routines, and breaking down racial barriers.

Beat It

The lyrics of "Beat It" express Michael's dislike of violence. Michael said:
"I wanted to write a song, the type of song that I would buy if I were to buy a rock song... That is how I approached it and I wanted the children to really enjoy it—the school children as well as the college students."

The song begins with seven distinct synthesizer notes played on the Synclavier digital synthesizer, with Tom Bahler credited for the Synclavier performance on the song. The drums were played by Toto co-founder Jeff Porcaro.

Eddie Van Halen, lead guitarist of hard rock band Van Halen, was asked to add a guitar solo. Van Halen recorded his guitar solo free of any charge. "I did it as a favor".

The song is played in the key of E ♭ minor at a moderately fast tempo of 132 beats per minute. In the song, Michael's vocal range is B3 to D5.

The music video for "Beat It" was Michael's first treatment of black youth and the streets. It was written and directed by Bob Giraldi, who drew inspiration from his experience growing up in Paterson, New Jersey.

"Thriller" was written by Rod Temperton. The lyrics and sound effects pertain to frightful elements and themes.

It is set in the key of C♯ Modern Dorian. Its instrumentation consists of synthesizer, guitar, trumpet, flugelhorn, saxophone, flute and trombone.

The song has a moderate tempo of 120 beats per minute. The bass part was made from two modified Minimoogs playing in unison.

Throughout the song, sound effects such as a creaking door, thunder, feet walking on wooden planks, winds and howling dogs can be heard.

While Temperton was writing "Thriller", he stated that he'd "always envisioned" a "talking section at the end" on the song, but did not really know what "to do with it", until deciding "to have somebody, a famous voice, in the horror genre, to do this vocal."

Then, Producer Quincy Jones brought in actor Vincent Price to recite the closing lyrics, which temperton wrote.

Thriller explores different music genres, including pop, post-disco, rock and funk.

Michael expressed interest in having director John Landis direct the music video for "Thriller". Having seen Landis' previous work on the horror film An American Werewolf in London, Michael envisioned the main character of his short film to undergo similar transitions parallel to those of the characters in Landis' horror film.

John Landis
Hence, Landis was asked to direct the video seeing as Michael felt he would make the best fit towards properly conveying his personal concepts for the short feature film. Landis accepted Michael’s invitation and production began soon thereafter.

Michael also said of making the music video, in an interview that aired on 11 December 1999, for MTV's 100 Greatest Videos Ever Made:
"My idea was to make this short film with conversation ... I like having a beginning and a middle and an ending, which would follow a story. I'm very much involved in complete making and creating of the piece. It has to be, you know, my soul. Usually, you know, it's an interpretation of the music.It was a delicate thing to work on because I remember my original approach was, 'How do you make zombies and monsters dance without it being comical?' So I said, 'We have to do just the right kind of movement so it doesn't become something that you laugh at.' But it just has to take it to another level. So I got in a room with [choreographer] Michael Peters, and he and I together kind of imagined how these zombies move by making faces in the mirror. I used to come to rehearsal sometimes with monster makeup on, and I loved doing that. So he and I collaborated and we both choreographed the piece and I thought it should start like that kind of thing and go into this jazzy kind of step, you know. Kind of gruesome things like that, not too much ballet or whatever."
The Girl Is Mine

"The Girl Is Mine" was recorded by Michael and Paul McCartney. The track was written by Michael. It was released as the first single for Thriller.

The year before, Michael and McCartney had recorded "Say Say Say" and "The Man" for McCartney's fifth solo album, Pipes of Peace.

"The Girl Is Mine" tells of two friends' fight over a woman, arguing over who loves her more and concludes with a spoken rap.

Many members of the band Toto participated in the recording of this song, including David Paich (piano), Jeff Porcaro (drums), Steve Lukather (guitars) and Steve Porcaro (synthesizers).
Billie Jean

"Billie Jean" was written and composed by Michael. The song is well known for its distinctive bassline and the standard drum beat heard in the beginning, the repetition of "Billie Jean is not my lover" towards the end of the song, and Michael's vocal hiccups.

Jazz saxophonist Tom Scott played the lyricon. Bass guitarist Louis Johnson was then brought in and he played his part on every guitar he owned, before Michael finally settled for a Yamaha bass. Greg Phillinganes was also drafted in and he played the keyboard.

Michael stated that "Billie Jean" was based on the groupies he and his brothers encountered while part of The Jackson 5.
"Billie Jean is kind of anonymous. It represents a lot of girls. They used to call them groupies in the '60s."
He added: "They would hang around backstage doors, and any band that would come to town they would have a relationship with, and I think I wrote this out of experience with my brothers when I was little. There were a lot of Billie Jeans out there. Every girl claimed that their son was related to one of my brothers."

The reason for this was due to the fame of the Jackson 5, and wanting to have their money in order to have a way of living.

Michael wrote "Billie Jean" with female fans in mind, and later stated that when he wrote the song, he knew it would be a success.
"A musician knows hit material. Everything has to feel in place. It fulfills you and it makes you feel good. That's how I felt about 'Billie Jean'. I knew it was going to be big when I was writing it."

On 25 March 1983, Michael reunited with his brothers for a live performance taped at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium for Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever, an NBC television special. The show is best remembered for Michael's solo performance of "Billie Jean". Wearing a distinctive black-sequined jacket and a golf glove decorated with rhinestones, he debuted his signature dance move, The Moonwalk.

Pepsi Commercial and The Accident That Burned Michael Jackson's Hair

After Thriller, Michael and other members of the Jacksons partnered with PepsiCo in a $5 million promotional deal that broke records for a celebrity endorsement. The first Pepsi Cola campaign, which ran in the United States from 1983 to 1984 and launched its iconic "New Generation" theme.

Michael Jackson's Pepsi commercial shoot was the first product endorsement by a superstar of his magnitude in history.

Pepsi's ad agency BBDO hired Bob Giraldi to shoot "The Pepsi Generation" campaign, it marked his third encounter with Michael (Giraldi directed the music video "Beat It" and "Say Say Say," the song that Paul McCartney co-wrote with Michael).

In January 1984, Michael and his brothers filmed the Pepsi commercial. It was shot in a span of three days.

The first was devoted to what Giraldi called the "Street" spot. Michael and his brothers danced through the streets. A group of kids are led by a marvelous young dancer, Alfonso Ribeiro, as he imitates the moonwalk of his idol only to bump into the real Michael Jackson. Michael suggested using his song "Billie Jean" as its jingle with revised lyrics.

Michael Jackson's Pepsi commercial with a group of kids

On day two, the team headed to downtown Los Angeles to an auditorium to film the second spot, "Concert." They were prepping for the last take, in which they planned for big special effects. 
"I was backstage standing amid nervous clients. Michael stands at the top of the steps, the explosion behind him grand and loud, the crowd cheering. As I scanned all five monitors, something seemed out of whack. I leaned into my producer, Antony Payne, and whispered: "He's out of sync ... Michael's never out of sync." The next thing we know, the star is struggling to rip off his fabled red jacket, thinking it was the jacket on fire, not his hair—and then pandemonium. The audience is in shock, some running to the stage, some trying to get out. Everyone comes forth from backstage rushing around him, comforting him. Emotions were high." Giraldi wrote in adage.com in 2009.

Pyrotechnics accidentally set Michael's hair on fire, causing second-degree burns to his scalp. Michael underwent treatment to hide the scars and had his third rhinoplasty shortly thereafter.

Michael Jackson's Pepsi commercial on day two, that caused the accident