Michael Jackson was a true legend in pop music and pop culture. It has been almost five years since he passed away at 50, but his inspiration still leaves an impact on many. In honor of his upcoming album Xscape, it is time to take a look at some of the legend’s biggest hit songs and why these songs had such a lasting impression. From his early days as a member of The Jackson 5 to his final years, he was more than just an entertainer. He represented the music industry and gave everyone what they wanted.
Thriller (the single off his Thriller album) was one of the singer’s most memorable hit songs. The track blends synthesizers with bass lines to create a dance hit. What really set this song apart from many other pop songs is the haunting effects that sounded like wind and howling dogs. To match the song’s sound, John Landis was tapped to direct the music video. Landis previously directed horror film American Werewolves in London. Although the video was much longer at 14 minutes, it provided an epic narrative featuring Jackson and model/actress Ola Ray. Perhaps the most memorable part of the music video was when he did a choreographed number with other dancers dressed up as zombies.
Smooth Criminal was song number 7 from Jackson’s 1987 album Bad. Like most of his greatest hits, this song provided a fast pace sound. He wrote the song which was about a ‘smooth criminal’ attacking a person inside their home. Although the track only made it to number 7 on the Billboard charts, it is still considered one of greatest hit songs ever.
P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing) was another huge hit off the Thriller album. Originally, this track was written by Greg Phillanganes and Jackson, but fellow music legend Quincy Jones decide to rewrite that song with the same title with the help of James Ingram. The track peaked at number 10 on the Billboard charts and fared even better in Belgium where it landed at number 6. This song has since been covered by many different artists.
Human Nature was yet another big hit of Michael Jackson’s Thriller album. Unlike many of his other hit songs, this particular track had a slower pace and a more haunting feel to it. It was described by music reviewers as a smooth ballad that was one of the more memorable adult contemporary tracks of the decade. This song was composed by famed songwriter John Bettis and Toto’s Steve Pocaro. Although this song topped charts in the United States, it was not released in the United Kingdom.
The Way You Make Me Feel was a big hit from Michael Jackson’s Bad album in the late 1980s and it topped the charts in early 1988. This track was the third consecutive release to become a number 1 hit from Bad. Like Thriller, this track had a memorable music video. The video for this was directed by Joe Pytka and features choreography from Vincent Patterson.
This music video was up for nomination at the 1988 MTV Music Awards Ceremony, however he lost to his sister Janet Jackson, who scored a win for The Pleasure Principle. The aforementioned songs were not Michael Jackson’s only hits, but certainly a handful of his biggest and most memorable.
Opinion by Anna Peel