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Release of 'Thriller' revolutionised pop music

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2009-06-26

On December 1, 1982, popular music changed forever with the release of Michael Jackson’s sixth solo album, Thriller. The title song's 13-minute promotional video proved that the marriage between music and film was destined to last.

Thriller was revolutionary.


First, and foremost, there was the promotional video that was more like a mini horror film. Directed by John Landis, it cost a million dollars to make. The special effects caused a sensation, and so did the dancing zombies.

Michael Jackson and Thriller were a symbol for the era, as pop music and television collided. The Thriller video -- at 13 minutes long -- came at just the right time.

Jackson was crowned King of Pop by that other icon of popular culture, MTV.


But Thriller's success wasn't just about the video. Michael Jackson had another trump up his sleeve: the Moonwalk.

A groundbreaking dance move, Michael Jackson brought it out of black, urban anonymity into global, mainstream popular cultural. He would forever be associated with the move, which has been imitated ever since.

In tribute to those famously quick feet, the news of Jackson's death prompted his fans to take to the streets.

But behind the slick moves and the expensive video, Thriller had one more key element that still stands out today. The music.


Jackson teamed up with producer Quincy Jones and the result was a mix of soul, funk, pop and disco that led to unmatched worldwide success with Thriller. Sales topped $50 million, the album spent 37 weeks as number one on the US charts and it won eight Grammy Awards.

Thriller was all about breaking records. Its legacy is undeniable and its influence can be heard in today's rap, rock, funk, pop, soul and hip hop.

At his artistic pinnacle, the King of Pop lays claim to what is arguably the most important record of the 20th century.

Date created : 2009-06-26