Single Review: Michael Jackson “Thriller”

Thriller
Album: Thriller
Year: 1984

“Thriller” was the peak of Michael Jackson’s career. A moment in his career which he has been trying to recreate ever since with other expensive, mini-movies/music videos without success. Jackson is now in the “has-been/famous for being famous” category of celebrity. The music is like a side career while his strange personality and child molestion charges are the reasons the media pay attention to him anymore. Jackson has faded away.

But “Thriller” will never go away. On the radio Halloween night and in the 80s dance clubs, “Thriller” is played. It has become the modern equivalent to the “Monster Mash” over the years, dusted off the station playlists once a year and then promptly put away for next Halloween. In 2003, the Jennifer Garner movie “13 Going On 30” was built around the ‘Thriller’ dance. However, despite the novelty it’s a classic.

Gather in a circle, everyone. Turn off the lights and put your flashlights on. Are you ready to hear the classic scary tale? The creaking of a door opens “Thriller.” Footsteps, thunder, and a howling wolf create a nervous, omnious mood. The music begins to start with the wolf howling in time. Slow and quiet, the music builds up to the famous break. Then, after hanging 30 seconds or so, the break occurs and it’s time to dance.

Jackson hiccups then sings about the unfriendly night where danger could be found anywhere (“It’s close to midnight and something evil’s lurking in the dark”). People should be careful and watch for wolves or vampires hiding. If they don’t, they could find themselves so afraid they will be unable to move (“Under the moonlight you see a sight that almost stops your heart…You start to freeze as horror looks you right between the eyes/you’re paralyzed”).

In the chorus, Jackson sings that it’s a night of thrills and chills. (“‘Cause this is thriller, thriller night/and no one’s gonna save you from the beast about to strike…you’re fighting for your life inside a killer, thriller tonight”).

In the next verse, Jackson sings that a young woman will think she’s safe, but she then she “will hear a door slam and realize there’s nowhere left to run.” On her shoulder, she will “feel a cold hand” and hope she will live to see the next day. Jackson sternly tells her “You close your eyes and hope that this is just imagination/but all the while you hear the creature creepin’ up behind/you’re out of time.” If this were now, that young woman would be attempting to kick some creature of the night ass. She wouldn’t be shaking in a corner and screaming.

Jackson warns of all the zombies and evil creatures that will hear a call and come for her. She also will die at the hands of the unmerciful vampires and goblins of the night. (“Night creatures call/And the dead start to walk in their masquerade/There’s no escapin’ the jaws of the alien this time (they’re open wide)/This is the end of your life”).

And wouldn’t you know? This is when Jackson tries to cop a feel. (“Now is the time for you and I to cuddle close together/All thru the night I’ll save you from the terrors on the screen/I’ll make you see”).

In the chorus, he then attempts to seal teh deal with “’cause I can thrill you more than any ghost would dare to try/girl, this is thriller, thriller night/so let me you hold tight and share a killer, diller, chiller/thriller here tonight”). 5, 4, 3, 2, ….and the jumbo glass of pop is all over Jackson’s face.

Vincent Price’s section is next and summarizes the first half of the song. But he threatens those “without the soul for getting down/must sand and face the hounds of hell/and rot inside a corpse’s shell”). Where they’ll do the mash (the monster mash). It’ll be a graveyard smash. (Waw–oooohhh). He then says that zombies who have been dead for thousands of years will come after people in the cold, chilly night and kill them (“The foulest stench is in the air/The funk of forty thousand years/And grizzly ghouls from every tomb/Are closing in to seal your doom/And though you fight to stay alive/your body starts to shiver/for no mere mortal can resist/the evil of the thriller”). Price’s wicked, psychopathic laugh ends the single.

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One thought on “Single Review: Michael Jackson “Thriller”

  1. Pingback: Michael Jackson's 'Thriller': Music Video of the Week - The Queen of Scream

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