Sunday, June 28, 2009

Michael Jackson Live: Thriller (1987)

THRILLER marks the peak of Michael Jackson’s career. The album THRILLER remained in the top 10 of Billboard 200 for 80 consecutive weeks. Seven singles from THRILLER, including "Billie Jean", "Beat It" and "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin" concurrently hit the Billboard Hot 100 top 10.

THRILLER sold over 109 million copies making it the best-selling album of all time. Jackson’s biographer J. Randy Taraborrelli mused about the album, "at some point, THRILLER stopped selling like a leisure item -- like a magazine, a toy, tickets to a hit movie -- and started selling like a household staple."

THRILLER was an extraordinary success as Michael Jackson’s lawyer John Branca negotiated it for the highest royalty rate ever in the music industry, about $2 per album. Also Jackson made big profits from “The Making of Michael Jackson's Thriller”, a documentary by Jackson and John Landis, which sold over 350,000 copies.

The newfound success brought Michael Jackson huge profits from all around. His image became a saleable commodity that raked in enormous sales from articles such as Jackson dolls and other novelties that hit the market.

THRILLER also helped the music industry which was almost on a downslide. All of a sudden importance of albums became more pronounced, and changed the notions about how many prospective hits an album should have. Also THRILLER restored to the industry a sense of confidence in its ability to release high-level artistry, when profits had been sinking.

THRILLER became a huge it in an era when music scene was “white-dominated”, excepting a few talented artists, notably Stevie Wonder. MTV, though in its struggling stages and aired predominantly white music, agreed to air THRILLER and it was a huge success. THRILLER “helped bring MTV into its heyday, even as MTV helped fuel Thriller’s success”.

THRILLER paved the way for other talented artists to become profitable entertainers. As many industry analysts wrote, “Jackson was a one-man rescue team for the music business”. At its 25th anniversary, THRILLER still retained important influence over the music industry, artists, and American culture.

On March 25, 1983, Michael Jackson performed live on the Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever television special, both with The Jackson 5 and performed his own "Billie Jean", debuting his signature dance move, “the moonwalk”. His performance was seen by 47 million viewers on its initial airing and it drew comparisons to Elvis Presley’s and The Beatles' appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show.

The New York Times reported, "The moonwalk that he made famous is an apt metaphor for his dance style. How does he do it? As a technician, he is a great illusionist, a genuine mime. His ability to keep one leg straight as he glides while the other bends and seems to walk requires perfect timing".

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