Many years into the future, one name you can be sure that will pop up when you think of the term 'pop star’ will be Michael Jackson. The pioneering singer, dancer, video artist, and timeless hit-maker who ruled the charts throughout his career would have been 59 this 29th August. So on that note, here’s our playlist of his 10 greatest songs.
Bad – (Bad, 1987)
From all his biggest hits, it was always evident that that MJ loved to sing over an indefatigable bassline. You don’t need to go further than his 1987 title song, promoted with an 18-minute short film that is widely recognised as one of the greatest of all time.
The Way You Make Me Feel – (Bad, 1987)
Also from Bad in 1987, this is another R&B, big-beat chart-topper co-produced by Jackson’s biggest wellspring of hooks and melodies, Quincy Jones. Punctuated with MJ’s trademark ‘Hee-hee’ and the demanding ‘Aaaow’, this became an instant hit.
Smooth Criminal – (Bad, 1987)
‘Smooth Criminal’ reinforces just how much the popstar loved basslines and a loud beat. Carried through majorly on a killer bass groove, this song about a woman named Annie became hugely popular also for MJ's dance moves on show in the video.
Thriller – (Thriller, 1982)
The spooky horror-vibe visuals of a date gone wrong matches the 1983 banger perfectly, complete with creaky doors and walking on wooden planks, all set over a groovy-as-heck bassline that redefined funky pop music.
Heal the World – (Dangerous, 1992)
If the term ‘heart-warming’ needed sonic representation, then it has to be 1992’s ‘Heal the World’. Although certainly not Michael Jackson’s first attempt at talking about the world around him (see also, ‘Human Nature’), there was a certain poignancy to MJ’s emotions that just filters and is still perfectly relatable to anyone who listens to it.
Billie Jean – (Thriller, 1982)
MJ was already on an upward trajectory of the rollercoaster ride that was stardom when he released this album in 1982. With thriller though he truly became the king of pop. For most of his fans Billie Jean was the song that stood out; a song that talks about the dangers of stardoms, groupies, and leeches. With MJ employing his finest croon on the song, it’s no surprise this remains one of the best-selling singles worldwide.
You Rock My World – (Invincible, 2001)
After many years of tumult in his personal and professional life, MJ released this album in 2001, starting with a signature sound, and a signature return to the short-film visual style. Plus, it was all about danger, coupled with his disco-pop, R&B vibe.
Beat It – (Thriller, 1982)
If you never knew how important a keyboard was in pop music, you found out via one of Jackson’s biggest hit to date, the pissed-off pop anthem that was ‘Beat It’, with an unforgettable, shimmering keyboard hook that was juxtaposed against MJ’s advice to maintain distance.
Black or White – (Dangerous, 1991)
Perhaps an introduction to many '90s Kids was this sharp guitar-led celebration of unity. Plus, it featured a roaring guitar solo from Guns ‘N Roses axeman Slash. But its allure was mostly just MJ working his snappy magic to make a song that bashed racism in the catchiest way possible.
They Don’t Care About Us – (HIStory, 1995)
Among his most powerful songs were the ones in which you could tell Jackson was deadly serious and deadly angry. This one is his take on the state of world affairs in 1996, that he both celebrates and condemns.
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