Top 10 Michael Jackson Songs
It's hard to believe that pop icon Michael Jackson is three years gone. It feels like yesterday we were hearing the incomparable 'Thriller' album for the very first time. We remember sitting on our couches glued to the TV as he accepted accolade after accolade at awards shows for hit after hit, and found him curious when he dodged the spotlight almost as much as he embraced it. Jackson's life was one of untouchable fantasy and fans, such as us, were enthralled by every minute. On top of that, the lyrics for his songs served as the soundtrack for poignant moments for many. TheDrop.fm highlights 10 of the top Michael Jackson songs. The tunes should bring back memories and even create some new ones.
Feud? What feud? The rumors of some rivalry between Michael and Janet Jackson were quickly squashed when their ear-pumping duet off the 'HIStory: Past, Present, and Future, Book I' anthology excited the masses. The song spent a good chunk of time on Billboard's Dance/Club Play chart in 1995, with the science-fiction-influenced video also taking home Best Dance Video honors at the MTV Video Music Awards that year. "Stop pressuring me / You make me wanna scream," belt the Jackson siblings on the song. Wow, not one, but two ticked-off Jacksons? Gotta love it.
At this point in 1995, Jackson became pretty pissed off -- and that's before he realized his 'HIStory' anthology was going to be a ho-hum effort. But even through the critical backlash (some accused 'They Don't Care… ' of being laced with anti-Semitic messages) and personal trials (such as child molestation accusations), this particular song off the anthology stood out as a stomping, punching, bat-to-the-face of social injustice and the wrongs of prejudice. The off-kilter rhythms, rousing choral shouts and slap-like percussion all culminate into what's arguably the angriest song he's ever recorded.
'I Just Can't Stop Loving You,' from the 1987 'Bad' album, may be one of those forgotten tracks, but its straight-forward tale of desperate love is really an achievement on the basis of memorable build-ups and vocal prowess. "My life ain't worth living if I can't be with you," he cries before the chorus. It's not a vast departure from what other artists have sung before, but for some reason, when Jackson's tender vibrato leaves his lips, it feels a million times different.
'Man in the Mirror,' also a 'Bad' release, stands as a kind of introductory glimpse into Jackson's examination of a person's (or perhaps his person's) many foibles and failures. "If you want to make the world a better place / Take a look at yourself and make change," he insists in the song. It's a pointed message over a mid-tempo arrangement that, at certain points, feels like a lecture, but plays over in your head as well as any other Jackson song. The soaring choir verses at the end are pretty stellar, too.
By 1985, nobody could deny Jackson's influence over the music world and human beings in general. So it was with little surprise that when he and Lionel Richie came together to create the epic 'We Are the World,' many other stars were more than game to take part. Stevie Wonder, Tina Turner, Cyndi Lauper, Bruce Springsteen, pick any artist from the '80s and chances are, they sang in the song. The single, which helped raise over $50 million for famine relief in Africa, sold 20 million copies in '85.
Funky and downright soulful, 'I Want You Back' became the world's real introduction to the Jackson 5 in 1969 -- as well as to the power of a certain 10-year-old kid from Indiana. Performed on everything from 'The Ed Sullivan Show' to 'Johnny Carson' to 'Soul Train,' this playful song about love gone awry gave credence to the group's unyielding star power and a sound that was too hard to ignore. The impact of 'I Want You Back' can be felt in so many of our favorite tunes, and emphatically earns a spot in the top five.
One of the all-time greats by virtue of its birthing of the moonwalk. Remember Jackson's performance during the 'Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever' TV special in 1983? (If not, YouTube it, it's essential viewing material.) 'Billie Jean' itself only amplified the influential dance move through a ton of attitude and an infectious, head-bobbing beat, ultimately catapulting the track to seven weeks at the No. 1 spot on Billboard's Hot 100 chart. It became one of the first indicators of how huge the 'Thriller' album was to be.
It wasn't long after this song, his second single from 1979's 'Off the Wall,' that Jackson began his now-unmistakable sequined glove and jacket years -- the years during which we he finally became a solo superstar. Musically speaking, a stylistic crossover was starting to emerge for Jackson, and this particular track, which combined funk and R&B sensibility with a trendy, disco backbeat, won over the 'Saturday Night Fever' crowd (and just about everyone else) in a big way. Not surprising, it became the fourth biggest song of 1980, according to Billboard.
Awww, wasn't he cute? For 1970's 'I'll Be There,' from the 'Third Album,' a very young Jackson was coming into his own with the Jackson 5; in other words, the combination of unparalleled maturity in both lyrics (when he sings, "I'll be there to protect you," you believe him) and vocals was palpable. The song spent a highly-respectable five weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 (a feat the Jackson 5 never achieved again), and eventually inspired Mariah Carey to release her version of the song in 1992.
As if you really had a doubt? Jackson's title track from the mega-successful 'Thriller' album did more than just give people something to listen to every Halloween; it's a groundbreaking achievement in almost every sense -- from the booming synths at the beginning to Jackson's slow-burning vocals before each chorus to the creepy-but-catchy bass line. Not to mention the inclusion of Vincent Price, whose voice is, let's face it, capable of making even the hardest individuals poop their pants. The song and its accompanying video were Billboard sensations for years to come, and the measure of a true pop and R&B classic.