Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” Music Video
The release of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” music video on December 2, 1983, revolutionized the music industry and popular culture, as it combined music, dance, and storytelling to create a groundbreaking cinematic experience.
“Thriller” was the title track and seventh single from Michael Jackson’s sixth studio album, released on November 30, 1982. The song, written by Rod Temperton and produced by Quincy Jones, was a blend of pop, rock, and funk with a spooky theme that captivated audiences worldwide. The music video, however, took the song’s success to a whole new level.
Directed by John Landis, known for his work on the film “An American Werewolf in London,” the “Thriller” music video had a runtime of 14 minutes, which was exceptionally long for a music video at the time. It featured a narrative story in which Michael Jackson, playing a young man on a date, transforms into both a werewolf and a zombie, and leads a group of dancing zombies in a now-iconic choreographed routine. The video also starred actress Ola Ray as Jackson’s love interest and featured voice-over work by horror film legend Vincent Price.
The “Thriller” music video premiered on December 2, 1983, quickly gaining widespread attention, becoming a cultural phenomenon. Its innovative blend of music, dance, and storytelling set a new standard for music videos, turning them into a legitimate art form and promotional tool for artists. The video’s success also contributed to a surge in album sales, making “Thriller” the best-selling album of all time with an estimated 66 million copies sold worldwide.
The impact of the “Thriller” music video extended beyond the music industry, influencing fashion, dance, and popular culture. The iconic red leather jacket Michael Jackson wore in the video became a fashion statement, and the choreography, created by Jackson and Michael Peters, inspired countless dance routines and performances. The video’s success also helped break down racial barriers, as it was one of the first videos by a black artist to receive heavy rotation on MTV, predominantly featuring white artists at the time.
In summary, the release of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” music video in 1983 marked a turning point in the music industry and popular culture, as it demonstrated the power of music videos as a storytelling medium and promotional tool, while also leaving a lasting impact on fashion, dance, and the integration of black artists in mainstream media.