In addition to his phenomenal impact on the world of pop music, Michael Jackson was also one of the top music video artists of all time. Working with a wide range of top talent, he created innovative video after video. This is a guide to Michael Jackson's music video achievement.
Like the song it illustrates, Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean" video is a landmark in music video history. Whether it's Jackson's dancing on the sidewalk whose sections light up as he touches them, his pink shirt and black leather jacket, or the coin toss to the homeless man on the street. Every element of this short film by Steve Barron, the director behind a-ha's classic "Take on Me" as well, is classic. "Billie Jean" was the first video by a black artist played in heavy rotation on MTV.
Michael Jackson takes a cue from the classic musical West Side Story and shows us that maybe gangs can settle issues by dancing instead of fighting. As a follow up to "Billie Jean," this video cemented Jackson's status as on of the most innovative of video artists. Television commercial veteran Bob Giraldi directed and Michael Peters, Tony Award winner for work on Dreamgirls, provided choreography.
The 14-minute longer "Thriller" short film was one of the most ambitious undertakings in music video yet. Successful film director John Landis (Blues Brothers and An American Werewolf in London) directed the video co-wrote the screenplay. The film featured dancing zombies, Michael Jackson morphing into a werecat and Vincent Price's spoken word performance. "Thriller" has maintained a reputation as one of the greatest achievements in music video of all time.
It had been four years since Michael Jackson's groundbreaking success with the "Thriller" video. He pulled out all the stops for his return with "Bad." The full length video runs 18 minutes and was directed by legendary film director Martin Scorsese (Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Goodfellas). It tells the story of Daryl who returns home from an expensive private school and wants to show his gang buddies he's still "bad." Novelist Richard Price wrote the screenplay and based it on the real life story of Edmund Price, a Harlem resident who was a prep school honor student shot dead by a New York City policeman on suspicion he was trying to mug the officer.
The video to accompany Michael Jackson's fifth #1 single from the album Bad was filmed live. It is the second directed by Joe Pytkac. "Dirty Diana" includes footage of Jackson tearing his shirt from his chest. The guitar pyrotechnics are provided by former Billy Idol guitarist Steve Stevens.