Michael Jackson Gets off the Wall with Thriller
By far the biggest pop culture phenomenon of Dan and Randy’s lifetimes had to be Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’. All you can say is if you were there it was like nothing since. We missed Beatlemania and Elvis Presley exploding on the scene. But the stage was set for Michael Jackson’s mega-hit by three crucial elements.
First, you had the Motown 25th anniversary special where he unveiled his trademark moonwalk during a seminal performance of ‘Billie Jean’ where over 80 million people worldwide watched him. Next you had MTV starting to make its way into homes all across the land on cable TV and MJ being the first African American artist to be featured on the network. Not only was he featured, MTV played-and-played-and-played the videos for ‘Billie Jean’ and ‘Beat It’ constantly. And the final component was making the video for ‘Thriller’ that was more ambitious than any other music video had been to that point and producing a home video for sale that would sell tons and be featured, again, on MTV and Showtime ad nausea.
When all was said and done the album spawned a pair of #1 hits in ‘Billie Jean’ and ‘Beat It’ and 7(!) of the 9 tracks were released as singles, all of them at least going Top 10. While other albums would have that many singles, none of them would all crack the Top 10. The record sold over 20 million copies domestically (double that if you count sales all over the world) and to this day it’s the top-selling non-compilation LP ever (24 million US as of 2015). It’s staggering if you think of it.
As impressive as all that was and is, what remains in the minds of people like Dan and Randy is the cultural impact and significance a record could make. On the podcast we get into all of that and more as we analyze track-by-track the songs that were on the actual record but talk about what the music meant to us then and means to us now.
For Randy W. Hall it was the first record he ever spent his own money on, for Dan Minard it was an entertainment tour de force that was spearheaded by the great Quincy Jones. So join us as we take you back to a time when Michael Jackson was the biggest pop star on planet earth and the world was better for it.