Michael Jackson, often referred to as the “King of Pop,” was a legendary American singer, songwriter, and dancer who left an indelible mark on the world of music and entertainment. Born on August 29, 1958, in Gary, Indiana, and passing away on June 25, 2009, in Los Angeles, California, Michael Jackson’s life and career were marked by unprecedented success, innovation, and cultural impact.
From a young age, Michael Jackson showcased immense talent as a member of the Jackson 5, a Motown group formed with his siblings. However, it was his solo career that catapulted him to global superstardom. His 1982 album “Thriller” remains the best-selling album of all time, featuring iconic tracks like “Billie Jean,” “Beat It,” and the title track “Thriller.”
Michael Jackson was not only known for his chart-topping hits but also for his groundbreaking music videos, including the iconic video for “Thriller.” His innovative dance moves, including the moonwalk, became legendary, influencing generations of performers.
Beyond his music, Michael Jackson was also known for his humanitarian efforts and philanthropy. He used his fame and wealth to support numerous charitable causes, making a positive impact on the lives of many.
Despite the controversies that surrounded him, Michael Jackson’s musical legacy remains untarnished. His contributions to pop, R&B, and dance music are immeasurable, and his influence can be heard in the work of countless artists across the globe. Michael Jackson’s enduring legacy ensures that he will forever be remembered as a true icon of the music industry.
1. “Billie Jean”
“Billie Jean” is one of Michael Jackson’s most iconic and enduring hits, released in 1983 as part of his album “Thriller.” The song’s catchy bassline, memorable melody, and distinctive opening riff have made it an instantly recognizable classic.
The lyrics of “Billie Jean” tell the story of a mysterious woman who claims that the narrator is the father of her child. Michael’s emotive vocals and the song’s rhythmic groove create an atmosphere of tension and intrigue. The repeated refrain, “Billie Jean is not my lover,” adds to the song’s enigmatic allure.
Musically, “Billie Jean” is a fusion of pop, R&B, and funk, featuring a pulsating bassline and a driving beat that makes it impossible to resist dancing along. The song’s music video, featuring Michael’s signature moonwalk, became iconic and helped solidify his status as a pop culture phenomenon.
“Billie Jean” remains a timeless classic in Michael Jackson’s repertoire, celebrated for its musical innovation and its contribution to the global popularity of the music video format. It’s a song that continues to captivate audiences with its irresistible groove and enigmatic storytelling.
“Thriller” is the title track of Michael Jackson’s landmark 1982 album, and it’s arguably one of the most famous and influential songs in the history of popular music. The song stands as a thrilling embodiment of Jackson’s ability to create music that transcends genres and generations.
The lyrics of “Thriller” describe a nightmarish scenario where creatures of the night come to life and terrorize the unsuspecting. Michael’s expressive vocals and the eerie sound effects give the song a cinematic quality, evoking a sense of both fear and excitement.
Musically, “Thriller” is a fusion of pop, rock, and funk, featuring a haunting bassline, a driving beat, and a memorable melody. What sets the song apart is its iconic music video directed by John Landis, which includes Jackson’s transformation into a werewolf and a zombie dance sequence that became a cultural phenomenon.
“Thriller” not only became a massive chart-topping hit but also revolutionized the music video industry. It’s a Halloween staple and remains a beloved classic, known for its ability to captivate and entertain audiences while celebrating the thrill of the unknown. Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” continues to stand the test of time as an enduring masterpiece of pop culture.
4. “Black or White”
“Black or White” is a powerful and socially relevant song by Michael Jackson, released in 1991 as the lead single from his album “Dangerous.” The song addresses themes of racial harmony, unity, and equality, making it a poignant anthem for the time.
The lyrics of “Black or White” convey a message of unity and acceptance, emphasizing the idea that it doesn’t matter if you’re black or white; we are all part of the same human family. Michael’s emotive vocals and the anthemic chorus make it an inspiring call for social change.
Musically, the song combines elements of rock, pop, and R&B, featuring a catchy melody, a guitar-driven arrangement, and a memorable rap segment by L.T.B. The music video for “Black or White” was groundbreaking, featuring cutting-edge special effects and a morphing sequence that transformed faces from different ethnicities, further emphasizing the song’s message of unity.
“Black or White” is not only a testament to Michael Jackson’s ability to create music with a social conscience but also a reminder of the importance of tolerance and understanding in a diverse world. The song’s enduring relevance and impact make it an essential part of his legacy.
5. “Smooth Criminal”
“Smooth Criminal” is a signature song by Michael Jackson, released in 1987 as part of his album “Bad.” The song is characterized by its infectious groove, distinctive bassline, and Michael’s iconic “hee-hee” vocalizations.
The lyrics of “Smooth Criminal” tell the story of a woman named Annie who has been violently attacked in her apartment. Michael’s emotionally charged vocals and the song’s pulsating rhythm create a sense of urgency and drama, as the narrator seeks justice for Annie.
Musically, “Smooth Criminal” features a blend of pop, rock, and R&B, with its driving beat, catchy melody, and a guitar solo that adds to the song’s edginess. Michael’s electrifying dance moves, especially the famous “anti-gravity lean” featured in the music video and live performances, have become legendary.
“Smooth Criminal” is celebrated not only for its musical innovation but also for its captivating storytelling through both lyrics and visuals. It remains one of Michael Jackson’s most iconic songs, known for its distinctive sound and its influence on subsequent generations of pop and rock artists.
6. “Man in the Mirror”
“Man in the Mirror” is a poignant and introspective ballad by Michael Jackson, released in 1988 as part of his album “Bad.” The song encourages self-reflection and personal responsibility, delivering a message of positive change and social consciousness.
The lyrics of “Man in the Mirror” urge listeners to take a hard look at themselves and make a commitment to be a force for good in the world. Michael’s soulful and impassioned vocals add sincerity and depth to the message, making it an emotionally resonant anthem.
Musically, the song features a gentle melody, gospel-inspired harmonies, and a choir that elevates the song’s spiritual and uplifting quality. It builds to a powerful crescendo, emphasizing the urgency of the call for change.
“Man in the Mirror” is not only a testament to Michael Jackson’s ability to create meaningful and thought-provoking music but also a reminder of the importance of personal growth and making a positive impact on the world. The song’s enduring popularity and its continued relevance as a call for social change make it an integral part of his legacy.
7. “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough”
“Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” is a funk-infused disco hit by Michael Jackson, released in 1979 as the first single from his album “Off the Wall.” The song is a celebration of music, dance, and the joy of letting loose on the dance floor.
The lyrics of “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” are an invitation to immerse oneself in the rhythm and groove of the music. Michael’s exuberant vocals and the song’s infectious melody create an atmosphere of carefree abandon and exhilaration.
Musically, the song features a dynamic arrangement with a prominent bassline, funky horns, and a driving beat that beckons listeners to move their feet. Michael’s electrifying dance moves, especially in the music video, further emphasized the song’s connection to dance culture.
“Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” marked a significant departure from Jackson’s earlier Motown sound and established him as a solo artist capable of dominating the disco era. The song’s enduring popularity ensures its place as a timeless dance classic that continues to fill dance floors and bring people together in celebration.
“Bad” is the title track of Michael Jackson’s 1987 album, and it’s an emblematic song that showcases his mastery of pop and R&B. The song is a declaration of self-confidence and assertiveness, highlighting the transformation of the protagonist from being “bad” in the sense of cool and fearless.
The lyrics of “Bad” describe a confident and assertive individual who won’t tolerate mistreatment or disrespect. Michael’s strong and defiant vocals convey a sense of empowerment and self-assuredness.
Musically, the song features a catchy and iconic bassline, a memorable melody, and Michael’s signature vocal ad-libs. The music video, directed by Martin Scorsese, adds to the song’s cinematic quality and showcases Jackson’s unparalleled ability to combine music and storytelling.
“Bad” is not only celebrated for its musical and visual elements but also for its cultural impact. It became a symbol of Michael Jackson’s artistic evolution and his ability to maintain his status as a pop icon in the late ’80s.
9. “The Way You Make Me Feel”
“The Way You Make Me Feel” is a feel-good and upbeat love song by Michael Jackson, released in 1987 as part of his “Bad” album. The song exudes happiness, capturing the euphoria and excitement of falling in love.
The lyrics of “The Way You Make Me Feel” express the overwhelming joy and attraction experienced when being with a loved one. Michael’s charismatic vocals and the song’s catchy chorus create an atmosphere of bliss and celebration.
Musically, the song features a groovy rhythm, a memorable melody, and Michael’s signature vocal style. The accompanying music video, featuring a street dance performance, adds a playful and energetic visual element to the song.
“The Way You Make Me Feel” is a testament to Michael Jackson’s ability to create music that lifts spirits and spreads positivity. It’s a timeless love song that continues to bring smiles to the faces of listeners.
10. “Rock with You”
“Rock with You” is a smooth and soulful R&B ballad by Michael Jackson, released in 1979 as part of his “Off the Wall” album. The song is a celebration of love and the joy of dancing to the rhythm of the heart.
The lyrics of “Rock with You” convey a sense of intimacy and connection, with Michael expressing his desire to be close to his beloved. His velvety vocals and the song’s mellow melody create an atmosphere of warmth and romance.
Musically, the song features a relaxed tempo, a hypnotic groove, and Michael’s soothing vocal delivery. It’s a song that invites couples to embrace and sway to the music, making it a classic choice for romantic moments.
“Rock with You” showcases Michael Jackson’s ability to convey deep emotions and create a sense of intimacy through his music. It remains a timeless love ballad that continues to captivate audiences with its smooth and soulful charm.
David Morrison is a frequent contributor to Singers Room. Since 2005, Singersroom has been the voice of R&B around the world. Connect with us via social media below.