My mother loved Michael from his Motown days, and his Off The Wall hit when she was working in a hip Philly dance club, where I’m sure it was unavoidable. She passed that love to me via many, many spins of Thriller and its videos, which I obsessed over for years after its release.
I’ve always assumed that my love for MJ was a habit I learned from my mother, but having watched EV obsess over him for over a year now with no special coaching on my part I’m beginning to think it’s a genetic predisposition. Either that, or his voice was truly so magical that it can enrapture any child’s imagination, no matter when they first hear it.
For the second year in a row, I tried to teach EV the “Thriller” dance for Halloween. Last year it was more that I was trying to finally learn it and EV liked to shuffle around like a zombie. This year we both tried, but the appeal of a glowing rectangle held too much sway and EV spent more time watching the dance instructors than doing the dance. She only got as far as the head nods.
Now that I’m older and a musician, I can’t help but dissect “Thriller” in a different way.
There’s no possible way to overstate just how truly and deeply weird it was as a song on a Michael Jackson album, let alone as the title track. There’s really not anything else remotely campy on the LP, aside from perhaps “Beat It.”
In fact, the song started out its life not as “Thriller,” but as a Rod Temperton demo called “Starlight.” You can even listen to a completed version of the track with virtually the same production. Free of the creepy lyrics and the Vincent Price cameo, there’s nothing remotely ooky about the song. It sounds like more of the same disco/funk blend from Off the Wall. It’s a near neighbor to “Turn This Disco Out.” [Read more…] about Music Monday: “Thriller” – Michael Jackson