Michael Jackson's solo debut album was released when he was 13. It followed a string of success by his group with his brothers the Jackson 5. The style of music was a familiar Motown sound. Got To Be There included the title song which reached #4 on the pop singles chart and "Rockin' Robin," a #2 pop smash.
2. Ben - 1972
Teenage Michael Jackson was becoming interested in writing his own material and gaining more artistic control over the recording process. However, Motown did not allow him this option and Music & Me is another product of the Motown machine. The album barely cracked the top 100 of the US album chart and failed to generate any top 40 pop singles.
For his first solo album under contract with Epic Records Michael Jackson headed into the recording studio with legendary producer Quincy Jones. What they came out with as a landmark in the development of R&B and pop. Perched on the edge of the last gasp of disco and pointing the way toward the R&B styles of the 80's, Off the Wall quickly became a classic. It reached #3 on the US album chart and was the first album by a solo artist to feature four top 10 pop singles. Among them were the #1 smash hits "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" and "Rock With You."
To follow the success of Off the Wall, Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones headed into the studio with a $750,000 budget. They came out with Michael Jackson's first #1 album and what became ultimately the bestelling album of all time. Thriller spent 37 weeks at the top of the US album chart and generated an unheard of seven top 10 pop singles. It remains a true landmark in pop music history.
7. Bad - 1987
How do you follow a truly legendary album? Michael Jackson did quite well in creating Bad. Many critics praised it as musically even better than Thriller. Bad still holds the record for generating #1 pop singles at five. The album debuted at #1 on the charts and ultimately sold eight million copies in the US. It included an image change for Michael Jackson as well away from the squeaky clean pop hero he had cultivated previously.
For those who were concerned that Michael Jackson might grow to be out of touch with current pop audiences, he released the album Dangerous. The album incorporated such elements as the rock guitar of Guns 'n Roses' Slash and rap. Michael Jackson enlisted the help of New Jack Swing star Teddy Riley and rock-oriented Bill Bottrell to take over Quincy Jones' role. Dangerous debuted at #1 on the US album chart, sold seven million copies and included four top 10 pop singles. It was his fourth consecutive album to include at least four top 10 singles.
Michael Jackson's HIStory served the dual purpose of being a greatest hits collection and a new studio release. It sprawled over two discs with the first being a compilation of past work and the second new material. Michael Jackson worked with a range of R&B oriented producers as well as producing a number of the songs himself. His anger with tabloid news was obvious in songs like the top 10 hit "Scream" with sister Janet Jackson. The ballad "You Are Not Alone" was a #1 hit. HIStory was Michael Jackson's third consecutive album to debut at #1.
Two years after HIStory Michael Jackson released this set of dance remixes and new material. A number of critics praised his adventurous spirit trying out sounds that seemed more common in the music of Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson. The album did not sell well in the US only peaking at #24, but it includes enduring, less-known classics such as "Ghosts" and the title track of the album.