Michael Jackson, also known as MJ and the King of Pop, was an iconic star in pop culture throughout his life. He began in a band with his older brothers known as the Jackson 5 but quickly moved on to a long solo career which landed him countless awards. His album, Thriller, is still the best-selling album of all time to this day. The intense popularity of this album was not only a musical and cultural phenomenon but very important because its success helped to pave the way for other Black artists. He was one of the first popular Black artists to consistently air music videos on MTV. It's nearly impossible to go through life without knowing the chorus by heart to at least one of his songs, especially off of this album. But if you're wondering which of the songs on this album are the top of the top, here are the best Michael Jackson Thriller songs ever recorded.
P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)
"P.Y.T" was the sixth single released from his Thriller album and has some awesome backup vocals courtesy of Janet Jackson and La Toya Jackson. This catchy, danceable tune peaked at number ten on the top 100 charts and stayed there for 16 weeks. Its success on the top 100 charts makes it one of the best Michael Jackson Thriller songs. It's super funky and is full of silly 80s slang like "tenderoni." Weirdly, though, MJ never performed this song live. I know it would've been awesome to hear the audience echo those na na na na's right back at Michael at a show or concert.
Jackson's fifth single off of Thriller was inspired by an incident where his daughter came home crying about a boy pushing her off the slide. To comfort her, he said that it was simply human nature, and people can be strange sometimes. It achieved chart success in the U.S., hitting number seven on the top 100. "Human Nature" is mellow, but definitely a ballad. If anyone wants to hear a prime example of an 80s ballad, point them to this song.
The guitar in "Beat It" is absolutely incredible thanks to Eddie Van Halen. It is a true rock song and it was a total hit on the dance floor. This Thriller single not only hit number one on the charts but also won two Grammys for Record of the Year and Best Male Rock Vocal Performance. This song's achievements makes it one of the best Michael Jackson Thriller songs.
Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'
Another hit off Thriller, this track was super dancey and easy to sing along to. 1983 was Jackson's year of hits and this was another one to make it high on the charts, hitting number five and staying in the top 100 for 15 weeks. Many found it to be a nod to Jackon's disco days with its funky beat and callback to Manu Dibango's 1972 disco song "Soul MaKossa" with its coda, "Mama-say mama-sah ma-ma-coo-sah," at the end.
This is the song that truly propelled MJ into pop icon status and stardom. While he certainly wasn't unknown before this time, "Billie Jean" took the world by storm. Topping the charts in 1983, this song was the perfect blend of 70s disco and classic rock. It was a runaway hit, peaking at number one and staying there for an incredible seven weeks, lasting 24 weeks in total on the top 100 chart. It was also during a performance of this song on Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever that Jackson created the moonwalk dance, which became his signature move. It also picked up two Grammy's, an American Music Award, and was inducted into the Music Producers Hall of Fame along the way. This song helped to make Thriller the best-selling album of all time, making it one of the most well-known and best Michael Jackson Thriller songs.
The Girl Is Mine
The King of Pop and the lead singer of The Beatles all in one? Count me in! Apparently, Jackson finished writing this song as he watched cartoons with Paul McCartney. This song is smooth as silk and Jackson's voice is really well complimented by McCartney's. It's almost hypnotizing in a way. "The Girl Is Mine" was actually the first single off of Thriller, believe it or not. It started off Thriller's seven-single-streak success, peaking at number two.
What would a list of the best Michael Jackson Thriller songs be without its title track? If you've only heard one of Michael Jackson's songs, this is it (pun intended). Despite the 417 million views on YouTube, during its time, "Thriller" only made it to number four on the top 100. It has skyrocketed in popularity in recent years, becoming THE song to play at every Halloween party ever. Its music video is well known for its easy-to-dance-along-to moves, and people often mimic the "Thriller" dance in flash mobs across the country. It's simple: you hear this song, you get up, dance, and shout, "Cause this is thriller, thriller night!" at the top of your lungs.
We never got to see Jackson's comeback tour due to his sudden death, but his music will always be remembered as legendary. Whether you're a die-hard Jackson fan or just a casual fan who's heard "Thriller" a few times, it's easy to see why these are the best Michael Jackson Thriller songs that the King of Pop crafted.