Sunday, 12 December 2010

Michael Jackson (Thriller) 1982 Sony music Entertainment

The album Thriller was released in 1982 by Sony Music Entertainment which would see Michael Jackson reach worldwide superstardom.
Album sales have reached 104 million worldwide.
The album spent 80 consecutive weeks in the charts in America, 37 of the weeks were spent at number one.
Thriller was the first album to produce 7 top ten singles, only album to date to be the bestselling album for 2 years.
In 1983 the album had two singles “Billie Jean” and “Beat it” in the top five in the charts at the same time, something that is rarely achived.
1984 the album won 7 Grammy awards  
Produced by Michael Jackson & Quincy Jones
After Michael’s death in June 2009 Thriller album sold more than 100,000 copies and also became the first artist to sell over one million song downloads in a week

Singles from the album, release date and chart positioning
      1.    The girl is mine” Released October 18th 1982
           (USA 2 UK 8)
      2.    Billie Jean” Released January 3rd 1983
           (USA 1 UK 1)
      3.    Beat it” Released February 14th 1983
           (USA 1 UK 3)
      4.    Wanna be starting something” Released May 8th 1983
           (USA 5 UK 8)
      5.    Human nature” Released July 3rd 1983
           (USA 7  UK 90)
      6.    P.Y.T. (Pretty young things)” Released September 19th 1983
           (USA 10 UK 11)
      7.    Thriller” Released January 23rd 1984
           (USA 4 UK 10)

Track listing
1 Wanna be starting something (Composer Jackson, Michael)
2 Baby be mine (Composer Temperton, Rod)
3 The girl is mine (Composer Jackson, Michael)
4 Thriller (Composer Temperton, Rod)
5 Beat it (Composer Jackson, Michael)
6 Billie Jean (Composer Jackson, Michael)
7 Human nature (Composer Porcaro, Steve)
8 P.Y.T (Pretty young thing) (Composer Ingram, James)
                                9 The lady in my life (Composer Temperton, Rod)

1 Wanna be starting something

Words and music by Michael Jackson
4/4 time signature/Key D major/Tempo moderately bright
Chords C/D-D-C/D-D
Single released May 8th 1983 (USA 5 UK 8)
Electronic drums/Electric guitar/Bass guitar/Brass/synthesizer/Male vocals/Multiple female backing vocals/Sand shaker/Claps

Song structure
Intro (instrumental)/Chorus-Verse 1/Chorus-Verse 2/Chorus-Verse 3/Chorus-Chorus + ad lib/Chorus/Chorus + ad lib repeat and fade

This song was wrote in anger with a attack at the press and other people who gave him a hard time with spreading rumours or people who took advantage of his misunderstood nature, which you can hear with aggressive hypnotic bass line driving the song, the passion and aggression that is put in to the lead vocal is evident throughout the track seem more forceful the way he is projecting the lyric. With lines of “Beat it, beat it” in the chorus telling people in the real world to go away from him and leave him alone and stop putting him down, “They eat you off, “you’re a vegetable” I think he is saying that people i.e. The press can say/print whatever they want about you, but you can’t do anything about it, so makes you feel powerless like a vegetable.

The track starts with a drum fill (pick up) with two quavers and a crochet then moves in to 4-4 time. Bass and snare drum playing a rhythm of crochet + crochet for beats 1 and 2, then semi quaver + quaver + semi quaver + crochet for beats 3 and 4, the hi-hat plays four semi quavers on beats 1, also claps on beats 2 and 4, the drum sound is very electronic and the hi-hat has lots of reverb and E.Q on it.
The bass guitar plays the same riff all the way through keeping the drive of the song along with the drums, apart when it drops out in the second ad-lib near end of the track. Electric guitar plays short lines with call and response technique used in the high then low register of the guitar that cuts out for first half of the verses and choruses uses this all way through the track apart from after the fourth chorus when a eight bar solo repeats a different phrase and is moved further forward in the sonic field. The vocals open up with an ascending melody line singing “got to be starting something” which is also the chorus of the song, lots of backing vocals in the track singing “yeh yeh” in the verses and joining in with the main vocals singing a major fifth above Michaels vocals, at the end of the track in the last chorus + ad-lib part the backing vocals sing nonsensical lyrics in a African chant style singing (ma ma se, ma ma sa, ma ma coo sa) lots of call and response style with the main vocals and backing vocals.

2 Baby be mine


Words and music by Rod Temperton

4/4 time signature/Key D major/Tempo-moderately


Song structure
Drum intro/verse 1/Chorus/verse 2/chorus 2/Bridge/verse 3/Chorus 3 (x3)

This song is about a fascination he has with a girl who he wishes was either, someone he didn’t know, and wanted in his life, or someone who was already in his life and he wanted to get closer to with lyrics such as; “baby be mine girl” “Girl you’ve got to hold me” clearly indicates this.

The drums start the song with a one bar drum fill. The first two fills repeating each other, then moves to drum roll fill played on the tom toms and snare that moves to the beginning of the song, then plays a simple four to the floor drum beat and playing quarter notes on the hi-hat. In the verses the guitar and the synthesizer play call and response style riffs with each other and the guitar sat in the left channel, with the synthesizer in the right channel so it etherizes the technique used with sound bouncing from one side to the next. The bass guitar has synthesizer effect on it creating a low end resonated sound, playing a funk style bassline is on the beat but has grace notes slightly behind the beat to give it more colour and sound more interesting. There is two trumpets in the track that play during playing long notes in the second half of the verses and during the choruses it sounds like they are singing the melody line “baby be mine” answering the main vocals in a call and response style, one has a clean sound and one has a synthesizer effect on it and are placed bottom left and upper right in the mix. The main vocals are central in the mix above all of the instruments, but sound quite far back in the stereo field with slight reverb, the backing vocals are top left and right in the mix and forward in the stereo field singing “baby be mine” and other vocals in a call and answer style finishing the lines Michael is singing, there is multiple vocals male and female with chorus and reverb added and are very prominent in the track especially in the choruses. There is a key change near the end of the track in the penultimate chorus that modulates from a minor key to major one that changes the dynamic of the track and gives it another lift.

The girl is mine

Words and music by Michael Jackson

4/4 time signature/Key D major/Tempo moderately bright
Single released October 18th 1982 (USA 2 UK 8)

Drums/Synthesizer/Electric Guitar/Bass/strings

Song structure
Verse 1/Chorus 1/Verse 2/Chorus 2/Bridge/Verse 3/Chorus 3x2 + fade-out

This is a song with two friends who are Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson are having a friendly argument about a girl who they both assume is part of their lives in a intimate way, it is a very light hearted song maybe even a joke that the song was included or that Michael just wanted more variation to the album? Lines from the songs chorus Paul singing “I love you more than he” B/V’s “Take you anywhere” Michael “Well I love you endlessly” B/V’s “Loving we will share” All together “So come and go with me, two on the town” Michael “But we both cannot have her, so it’s, one or the other, and one day, you will discover that’s she’s, my girl forever” which would scare any girl away from them both. This song is my least favourite song on the album, I think it is too soppy and silly.

Starts with the clean electric guitar with chorus and reverb, playing popping sounding notes with a mixture of triplets and crochets similar to main melody, the synthesizer plays a swirly sounding ascending line down two octaves, the bass and drums are locked in with each other playing simple grooves. There are two main vocals one is Michael Jackson and other is Paul McCartney taking it in turns to sing a verse about a girl that they both think is theirs, the title lyric is repeated over and over during the song, lots of call and answer with the two main vocals and the backing singers vocals, when the line “the girl is mine” there is three layers of backing vocals singing “mine mine” The music lifts when the strings are added in the bridge playing multi layered long notes high and low range. In the middle of the last chorus the singing stops the instrumentation levels drop slightly and moves to a talking style with Paul and Michael talking to each other about why the girl is theirs in a composed argument, and then the music and vocals move slightly forward in the mix and the dynamic raises to a higher level adding a crescendo to the last chorus, which goes on to repeat and then fade out.

4 Thriller


Words and music by Rod Temperton

4/4 time signature/Key C major/Tempo moderately bright
Single released January 23rd 1984 (USA 4 UK 10)

Piano/Synthesizer/Guitar/Bass/Drums/natural sound effects loops

Song structure
Instrumental intro/Verse 1/Chorus 1/Verse 2/Chorus 2/Bridge/verse 3/chorus 4+fade-out

This song is a none-fictional story about demons coming back from the dead to eat and drink on people’s blood. Because the king of pop, Michael Jackson with his image and soft high pitched voice, he could not make this songs message come across to the public as being scary, far from it. Michael dressed up as a character from Night of the living dead, and created a short film along with the music that consisted of acting from Michael who is on a date with a girl until the full moon comes out and he transforms into creature from the dead, then the song starts up. In the middle of the song there is a large choreographed scene involving professional dancers following all Michael’s moves which adds to the excitement of the song. The whole video is 14 minutes long which went on to be one of the biggest selling music videos of all time. Over 26 million copies sold and very scary too.

The song starts with a door creaking open, footsteps, wolfs howling in the distance, thunder and the wind blowing hard. The synthesizer then plays a descending line to make a starting point for the guitar to come in playing clean sounding chords on and off the beats using quavers with E.Q added to sound brighter for more clarity the drums are lightly playing the bass drum on all the down beats and open and closed hi-hat on the off beats. This is all going on adding and building tension to a crescendo then the chorus melody “Thriller thriller night” plays on the synthesizer to open up the song then fades out slowly, while the drums and bass start the groove for the song. The bass is playing a riff that is on the first three beats, using four quavers and a crochet with slight variations more so when leading into the choruses. Main vocal is central in the mix with slight reverb very clean and easy to listen to the words being sung, there is lots of emphasis on sustaining the length of the notes, with lots of dynamic changes up and down. The backing vocals have lots of chorus/reverb and a small amount of delay moving about left and right in the mix singing the main chorus melody line “thriller, thriller night” same as main vocal but higher and lower range. There is a rap style outro with lighter dynamics in the instruments, the bass plays a short two semi-quaver groove on beat one playing the same note, the wolf’s howls come back in like intro, the synthesizer plays high range long sustained notes, all the instrumentation is creating this feeling of suspense and uncertainty. The male voice dark and evil sounding and is loudest in the mix, telling the story of thriller after the rap ends the song finishes with a evil laugh central and forward in the mix, that fades out.

5 Beat it


Words and music by Michael Jackson

4/4 time signature/Key E minor/Tempo moderately fast
Single released February 14th 1983 (USA 1 UK 3)

Synthesizer/Bass guitar/electric guitars/Drums

Song structure
Verse 1x2/chorus 1/verse 2x2/Chorus 2x9

This song is about gang violence on the streets of the USA at the time at really didn’t affect Michael directly but still showed concern towards the problem by writing a song about it. The line “don’t you ever come around here, don’t want to see your face you better disappear” were talking about gang territory and not go into the rivals areas because there would be trouble. “It doesn’t matter who’s wrong or right just beat it” I think the message there is, when confronted by someone no matter the situation, be the better man and just walk away from the issue. Also the song smashed its way through the racial barriers that were still evident at the time in the 1980s, some radio stations would only play white music, but because Michael and Quincy Jones had Eddie Van-Halen playing the solo on the song a popular New York radio station WPLJ who were a white music station at the time started playing it, there were numerous protests but the song with lots of airtime ended up changing people’s train of thought and appreciate the music rather than the colour of the skin. MTV were playing the music video twice an hour which was 14 minutes long, almost 50% of every hour was for Thriller, everybody knew about Thriller. And the amazing thing is, that it sounds as fresh to this day 28 years after the release, and not aged like most other music videos do as technology progresses through the years.   

Track starts with synthesizer with resonating sound playing long notes swirling left and right for eight bars, then the electric drums come in playing a mix of crochet notes on the beat with bass drum for beats 1/2/3 then snare drum on beat 4, in the second time round of the sequence the drums miss beat four and put it on second quaver on “and” of beat four the hi-hat is playing closed on the beats but sounds distant in the mix, the bass drum has reverb and delay on it and is central but low down in the stereo field and the snare has E.Q on it to sound snappy and bright and is further forward and to the right in the mix  also there is claps at the same time to the left. The bass and electric guitar play the same riff in unison in the chorus ascending then quickly descending at the end of the line, and in the verses play the same rhythm as each other, the synthesizer plays long sustained notes the dynamic is greater in the choruses and higher up in the stereo field, lower in the verses. The main vocals are quite forced to emphasize the message of the song which is about gang violence using call and response style for the especially when singing the title “beat it, beat it” in the choruses. Just before the guitar solo there is a instrumental build up with the guitar building up with short motif’s, then sounds like someone knocking on a door, then guitar solo bursts into life using techniques such as; Tapping/hitting harmonics with distortion so they scream out more forcefully/use of the whammy bar/great use of long and short notes, then repeats chorus a few times and fades out. 

6 Billie Jean


Words and music by Michael Jackson

4/4 time signature/Key A minor/Tempo moderately bright
Single released January 3rd 1983 (USA 1 UK 1)


Song structure
Verse 1x2/Bridge/Chorus/verse 2x2/Bridge/Chorus

The song is from Michael’s troubled experiences he had with girls, who were sometimes proclaiming that they were carrying Michael’s child running to the press and try sell their story or even stalking him and writing to him telling him how his child was doing because of their love towards him was so strong or more like feelings out of control. Lines from the song “Billie Jean is not my lover, she’s just a girl who claims that I am the one” which is self explanatory and “For forty days and forty nights the law was on her side” singing about the court battle to prove he wasn’t the father to her child. The music video was set in a street and everywhere he walked the floor lights up and he pulls off all his trademark dance moves e.g. spinning around, grabbing his crotch and doing the moonwalk.

Starts with drums playing crochet beats alternating bass and snare drums on the beat, there is a shaker putting sixteenth notes on top. The bass has a slightly distorted sound on the low notes, playing the main riff using quavers. The synthesizer is playing short quaver on the beat of one and off the beat of two, the main vocal is very clear and easy to listen to and follow the songs story about a girl who claims they are lovers which is a lie, at the end of the vocal lines through the verses Michael adds lib with trade mark “whoos” and “he he” in a high pitch. In the chorus the electric guitar becomes more prominent playing funky syncopated lines after the vocal sings “Billie Jean is not my lover, she is just a girl who says I’m the one” the bass still keeps to the same line.
Guitar solo is very similar to the verses but comes right up front and central in the mix using sixteenth note rhythms with the use of muted and fretted notes. The only time the bass changes is in the bridge and plays the root notes while trumpets play small five note phrases that ascend and descend.