The early years of MTV was an exciting time in music. Some musicians embraced it some hated it. Michael Jackson on the other hand embraced it. In 1983, Jackson released his master piece “Thriller. Jackson as did others thought MTV was “devoid mostly of artists of color”. Jackson wanted to break down that barrier. Michael exploded onto the MTV prograamming with “Billie Jean,” following it up with “Beat It,” and finally “Say Say Say” with Paul McCartney. It was the fourth single’s music video that Jackson wanted to make an “Epic”.
Twenty Seven years ago today, Michael Jackson released the 14 minute “Thriller” video on MTV. It was a smash immediately. I remember watching it the first time on VHS tape, because no one had MTV or even cable in my town.
The music video, directed by John Landis, was filmed in various locations in New York and Los Angeles for $500,000.
My idea was to make this short film with conversation … in the beginning – I like having a beginning and a middle and an ending, which would follow a story. I’m very much involved in complete making and creating of the piece. It has to be, you know, my soul. Usually, you know, it’s an interpretation of the music.[…] It was a delicate thing to work on because I remember my original approach was, ‘How do you make zombies and monsters dance without it being comical?’ So I said, ‘We have to do just the right kind of movement so it doesn’t become something that you laugh at.’ But it just has to take it to another level. So I got in a room with [choreographer] Michael Peters, and he and I together kind of imagined how these zombies move by making faces in the mirror. I used to come to rehearsal sometimes with monster makeup on, and I loved doing that. So he and I collaborated and we both choreographed the piece and I thought it should start like that kind of thing and go into this jazzy kind of step, you know. Kind of gruesome things like that, not too much ballet or whatever. –Michael Jackson interview for MTV’s 100 Greatest Videos
I think the video still holds up…
Darkness falls across the land
The midnight hour is close at hand
Creatures crawl in search of blood
To terrorize y’alls neighborhood
I’m gonna thrill ya tonight, ooh baby
I’m gonna thrill ya tonight, oh darlin’
Thriller night, baby, ooh!
The foulest stench is in the air
The funk of forty thousand years
And grizzly ghouls from every tomb
Are closing in to seal your doom
And though you fight to stay alive
Your body starts to shiver
For no mere mortal can resist
The evil of the thriller