In honor of the 25th anniversary of the original release of Thriller, the biggest selling album of all time, a new expanded edition version is in stores featuring reworked versions of some of the classic songs by contemporary artists. The true star here is the original album. It is a welcome reminder that Thriller remains a foundation block of any serious pop music collection. Ignore most of the additions and revel in an enduring classic.
Still One of the Top Albums of All Time
Back when Thriller originally hit stores in 1982, only the treacly "The Girl Is Mine" ballad with Paul McCartney had been heard. The rest of the album was new to the lucky fans who purchased it early. The album kicked off with the still arresting funk of "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'...and by the time it ended with the silky strains of "The Lady In My Life" listeners knew they had heard something special. Some of the most enduring beats of all time had been laid down on "Billie Jean," a groundbreaking r&b/rock hybrid on "Beat It" blew the mind of more than a few listeners, and "Human Nature" set down a blueprint for what would become known as adult r&b. The true reward of this re-release is that this music has lost little of its magic for those who discover it today.
Messy Reworked Versions of Classics
After listening to the pristine original album, it's not a surprise that attempts to re-interpret some of the keys songs for contemporary audiences may seem like a bit of a letdown. They are also unnecessary. Unfortunately a few even approach unlistenable. The sonically flattened version of "Beat It" featuring Fergie is particularly embarrassing. Kanye West's lifeless take on "Billie Jean" sounds like he entered the studio fully intimidated by the genius of the original. Fortunately, the slower, mellower, sexier mix of "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'" featuring a gorgeous vocal performance from Akon is worth hearing.
Top Tracks from 'Thriller'
- Beat It
- Billie Jean
- Human Nature
- Wanna Be Startin' Somethin' 2008 with Akon
Listen With New Ears
If you've never listened to the entire album that is Thriller, now is the time. There is no excuse to wait. If it is already a valued part of your pop history, listen again. Such classics as "Billie Jean," "Beat It," and "Human Nature" have never sounded better.
Released February 2008 by Sony.