Customer Review

189 of 221 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Citizen Kane of pop, June 25, 2009
This review is from: Thriller, 25th Anniversary Edition (Audio CD)
I woke up from a nap and there were three text messages on my phone. Nobody ever texts me, so I knew it must have been big news. I thought there was a fire or something. Turned out, Michael Jackson is dead. I was startled, to say the least, because MJ never seemed like the kind of person that could, you know, die. To be honest, he never really registered in my consciousness as being a person; Michael Jackson was the androgynous sexual panic of "Billie Jean," the breathless seduction of "P.Y.T.," the thrilling kitsch of "Thriller," the chattering afro-popisms of "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'." The idea that he had a human body, one that needed food and air and sleep, never really clicked in my mind. But then again, I guess that's to be expected. I mean, how can a mere human being really be thought to be capable of creating something as monstrous, as mechanical, as all-encompassing, and as awesome as Thriller? This kid wasn't the king of pop; he was the whole damn kingdom. And we, the audience, are not his loyal subjects; we're just reading the travel brochures.

The point is, Thriller is one of the greatest moments in the history of pure pop. Which is to say, it's plastic, mass-produced, jugular-grabbingly commercial, and completely unconcerned with originality, artistic merit, or honesty. And goshdarnit, I wouldn't have it any other way! With songs and performances as irresistible and ecstatic as the ones found here, artfulness will only get in the way. Because when you have a song as swooping, as ethereal, as hypnotic, and as unashamedly romantic as "Baby Be Mine," there's really no need to question its validity. Just let those labyrinthine keyboards and yearning vocals carry you away to a shiny place. And when "Beat It" comes roaring out of the gates, it does so with such force and brutal eloquence that you completely forget how absurd it is for Michael Jackson to take on the role of a street-smart hoodlum. As a vision of ghetto reality, it's a nonsensical failure; but the important thing to remember is that, on a purely visceral level, it SOUNDS more convincing and more immediate than its more authentic counterparts.

And then there's "Billie Jean," whose lyrics are either shockingly amoral or completely uneventful, but which still manages to be one of the most magical, irresistible, and emotionally charged moments in the history of music. And if we found ourselves getting annoyed by the idea of having to root for a child-abandoning father, then we can just remind ourselves that it's only a pop album. An stunning pop album, to be precise.
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Comments


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Showing 1-10 of 24 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jun 26, 2009 12:46:00 PM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Oct 18, 2009 8:29:46 PM PDT]

Posted on Jun 26, 2009 3:57:28 PM PDT
Well said, Laszlo. Well said.

Posted on Jun 26, 2009 8:14:30 PM PDT
Beautifully written.

Posted on Jun 26, 2009 10:07:18 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 26, 2009 10:08:33 PM PDT
Armanda and Amber- Thank you very much! Glad you liked my review.

Brock- I'll agree with you there. I admittedly came up with the title for this review in a somewhat tossed-off fashion, because I couldn't really think of anything good. What I was trying to get at was that Thriller holds the same exalted place in the world of pop music that Wells' masterpiece does in the world of film. Whether or not the two are comparable on an artistic basis is an almost absurd question to ask; it's like comparing apples to water buffalos. So yes, you have a valid point- my title is not a good one.

Posted on Jun 27, 2009 3:31:50 AM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Jun 28, 2009 2:01:53 PM PDT]

Posted on Jun 27, 2009 3:38:22 AM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Jun 28, 2009 2:01:53 PM PDT]

Posted on Jun 27, 2009 6:51:34 AM PDT
This review deserves 5 stars!

"And then there's "Billie Jean," whose lyrics are either shockingly amoral or completely uneventful, but which still manages to be one of the most magical, irresistible, and emotionally charged moments in the history of music."

Amen to that.

Posted on Jun 27, 2009 8:14:39 AM PDT
Señor Spook says:
Best description of this album I've yet read. As with Welles on "Citizen Kane" Michael Jackson peaked early with this one, in my opinion. After "Thriller" there simply wasn't much more to be accomplished (although "Bad"'s record number of chart hits was a nice follow-through).

Posted on Jun 27, 2009 4:22:54 PM PDT
C. Bell says:
great synopsis well done

Posted on Jun 27, 2009 10:49:15 PM PDT
L. TORRENCE says:
I too like this CD, but am trying to buy the best one and it's really getting confusing? You have the one that you just reviewed, their is another one that is a little different, not totally sure how. Then their is the original, which from what I hear is the best one. However, if you buy that one, even used, not sure which one to try and find that has the DVD with it, that shows Michael singing and dancing to his best hits? Any suggestions out there?

I agree with most everyone on this post, you did an excellent job on your review!

Linda
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