It’s been three decades and we still can’t get those zombie dance moves out of our heads!
Thriller is one of those music videos that people never seem to get tired of. Released in December 1983 ago, it remains one of the most recognized, distinct, and possibly most watched music videos of all time.
The music video was a tactic to increase the album’s sales; the King of Pop had been relentlessly calling record label execs, worried that his album, Thriller, was no longer on top of the charts.
At the time, it wasn’t customary for movie directors to create music videos, but American film director “John Landis”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Landis accepted the project nevertheless, and co-wrote the screenplay with Jackson himself.
The result is a 13-minute and 43-second long cinematic masterpiece that fluidly combined tasteful filmmaking with music. Watching it will make you think that you are actually watching a scene from a movie. It starts with a 50’s era teenage Michael Jackson and a girl running out of gas in a quiet wooded area at night. Jackson is then revealed to be a werecat,, and the scene to be part of a film that the real-life couple is watching in a movie house. The girlfriend goes out of the theater followed by MJ, zombies appear, and dance.
Horror film veteran Vincent Price lent his gruesome voice and award-winning composer and conductor Elmer Bernstein created incidental music and specifically for the music video. Obviously, Thriller is no ordinary music video, with the swell of talent that came with its production.
Thriller was Music Television’s (MTV) world premiere video. In 2006, it was recognized by Guinness World Records as the “most successful music video,” having sold nine million copies at the time. It was the first ever music video to be inducted to the National Film Registry in 2009 and even won a Grammy for Best Video in 1985.
If you haven’t seen the music video, now is the time to sit back, relax, and enjoy this thriller.
In an interview with MTV in 1999, the King of Pop talked about making Thriller:
“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.”
Well, MJ, Thriller turned out to be one hell of spectacular and unforgettable music video. It’s been 30 years and we still can’t get those zombie dance moves out of our heads!
Like this article? Read more from our Midweek Music Video series.