Thriller was Michael Jackson’s sixth solo album, released in 1982.While had received much success and critical acclaim for his previous works, it was Thriller that perhaps cemented him as the biggest pop star of his generation. Thriller contained many of Jackson’s most iconic hits, such as Billie Jean, Beat It, Human Nature and of course the title track. Thriller became not just the best selling album of the 1980’s, but still remains the best selling album of all time today. Even the video for the title track is preserved in the Library of Congress, having been deemed “culturally significant.
But, perhaps the most important thing about Thriller and it’s effect on Jackson’s career and the music industry is that it signified two major changes. The first major change is that it helped to break down racial barriers in music, as it proved that an African American man could become perhaps the biggest star of his generation. Through Thriller, Jackson became perhaps the first African American star who as instantly recognisable as other American music icons like Elvis and Frank Sinatra, as well as creating an album that outsold both of them. This perhaps signifies the changing racial attitudes of the 1980’s.
Thriller is also significant in how it used music videos. Via heavy rotation on MTV, Jackson was able to bolster his success and the Thriller album provided many iconic video moments, such as the light up pavement in Billie Jean or the subway scene in Beat It. Most important is perhaps the video for the title track, that also served as short film, and demonstrated how music videos could be both promotional gimmicks and art. These videos also helped to cement Jackson’s title as the most iconic male pop star of the 1980s.