[box type=”shadow”]THE GREATEST OF ALL TUNES (G.O.A.T.) is a salute to the greatest songs of all time. One song per artist, with suggested further listening and covers![/box]
Yes, I’ve listened to “Beat It” many more times. Yes, Billie Jean is a better crafted song. But Thriller is an epic. It’s reliance on, and use of, a high-budgeted video was emblematic of the changes happening to music at the time—and kind of presaged the current state, where many artists can’t sell a song unless it’s on a soundtrack. And songs that tell stories date back to the time of the paladins. Music-as-storytelling is an art mastered by the best rappers—most just rely on hooks and catchphrases, but the greatest have a tale to tell—and by pop musicians ranging from Harry Chapin to Leo Sayer to King Missle and on and on.
Thriller is an adventure—the kind of song little kids listen to closely because they want to see what happens next—but it’s also a great dance tune, and an homage to Vincent Price. So I went with this song because yes, it’s a great song, but also it represents so much more than just a pop tune.
Further listening: Beat It, Billie Jean.
Covers: Oh my. Waaaaay too many to mention. But here’s some of the more interesting ones…