Today marks what would have been Michael Jackson’s 60th birthday. The King Of Pop was born on 29 August 1958 in Gary, Indiana. However, he sadly died at the age of 50 on 25 June 2009 in Los Angeles. Jackson’s career spanned four decades, with him starting off in The Jackson Five with his siblings, later going solo in the 80s. To celebrate his birthday, here are 10 of MJ’s best tracks, as well as the meanings behind them.
Released thirty years ago in 1988, Smooth Criminal was on Jackson’s 1987 album Bad. It peaked at number eight in the UK singles chart. The track is about a woman named Annie who is violently attacked in her apartment. It was used as the theme song to Moonwalker, Jackson’s 1988 film.
Released in 1983, Beat It was from this sixth studio album Thriller 1982. It peaked at number three in the UK. The track has been described as a ‘sad commentary on human nature’ and is influenced by Michael’s childhood and growing up in a gang culture, as well as his dislike of violence, hence lyrics such as ‘don’t be a a macho man’. For the acclaimed video, Jackson famously brought together the ring leaders of two of Los Angeles’ notorious gangs – the Crips and Bloods – to not only add authenticity, but also in an attempt to neutralise their issues.
Blood On The Dance Floor
Released in 1997, Blood On The Dance Floor is from the remix album Blood On the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix. It was originally written in 1991 and set to go on his album that year Dangerous, however he left it off to give himself more time to tweak and perfect it. Blood On The Dance Floor is about a woman called Susie who seduced Jackson and then plots to stab him with a knife on a dance floor.
Man In The Mirror
Another track from Bad, Man In The Mirror was released in 1988, peaking at number two in the UK. While not written by him, it is believed it was one of Jackson’s favourite tracks and was one of his famous socially conscious works.
Dirty Diana was released in 1988 from his album Bad, peaking at number four in the UK charts. Jackson revealed the song is about his groupies, focusing on one in particular, and had to dismiss claims it was about the late Diana, Princess Of Wales after she told him it was her favourite song of his.
Earth Song was from Jackson’s HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I and was released in 1995, peaking in the UK in the top spot. It was another of Jackson’s socially conscious tracks, this time focusing on animal welfare and the environment. Like Blood On The Dance Floor, it had been destined for his Dangerous album but didn’t make the cut.
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Billie Jean was one of Michael Jackson’s earlier singles, released in 1983 from the album Thriller and hitting the number one spot in the UK. It became the biggest selling single for MJ and, along with Beat It, helped Thriller become the best selling album of all time. The track was about a woman called Billie Jean who slept with the narrator and then told him he is the father of her son, although the narrator denies it. Jackson had said how he based the son on the experiences his brothers had while in The Jackson Five, rather than his own experiences.
Released in 1983, Thriller came from his album of the same name. It was originally called Starlight, with lyrics including ‘Give me the Starlight’. But Jackson then came up with the title Thriller and changed the lyrics to ‘Cause this is Thriller’. Jackson’s most iconic music video was created as a result of the track, lasting for 14 minutes and featuring his Thriller dance.
The Way You Make Me Feel
The Way You Make Me Feel was released in 1987 and came from his album Bad. It reached number three in the UK charts and is a song about being in love and the feeling of love.
Another of his earlier tracks, Human Nature was released in 1983 and came from his album Thriller. It is about a conversation Toto member Steve Porcaro, who wrote the song, had with his young daughter about a boy who was being mean to her at school. Jackson’s producer Quincy Jones ended up accidentally hearing a demo of it and immediately wanted it on Thriller. He brought in lyricist John Bettis to tweak the verses and it made it onto the album.
Michael Jackson albums:
Got to Be There (1972)
Music & Me (1973)
Forever, Michael (1975)
Off the Wall (1979)
HIStory: Past, Present and Future,
Book I (1995)
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