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The Best Of Michael Jackson

Michelle Tiu |
February 5, 2014 | 2:02 p.m. PST

Executive Producer

To this day, Michael Jackson remains one of the most popular musicians of all time. (Twitpic)
To this day, Michael Jackson remains one of the most popular musicians of all time. (Twitpic)
Since this month is Black History Month, it's only fair that we highlight the most influential black performer of all time - Michael Jackson.

Known as the King of Pop, Jackson set numerous records during his lifetime that still have yet to be broken.

To this day, his 1982 album "Thriller" is the best-selling album in the entire world and the singer has set a number of Billboard Hot 100 achievements, including the record for most number one singles during the 1980s.

Jackson is also the first and (so far) only singer to have number one hits on the Billboard charts in 4 decades (from the 60s through the 90s).

In memory of the greatness that was Michael Jackson, let's take a look back at 7 of his most iconic tunes!

"Billie Jean"

One of seven singles from Jackson's incredibly successful "Thriller" album, "Billie Jean" is supposedly based on real-life incidents in which groupies accused Jackson of fathering their children, though the singer fervently denies these claims in the chorus ("Billie Jean is not my lover / She's just a girl / Who claims that I am the one / But the kid is not my son").

At the time of its release, the song was a huge milestone in music history. When Jackson dropped the music video for "Billie Jean," the singer was able to break down racial barriers and became the first black artist to have a music video aired on MTV.

The "Billie Jean" video also pioneered the idea of short film music videos that has been embraced by artists like 30 Seconds to Mars and Portugal. The Man.


This Best of Michael Jackson list wouldn't be complete without "Thriller," the singer's most iconic song and title track of the world's best-selling album ever!

As with many of Jackson's other songs, this tune's main claim to fame is its music video - a 1950s horror flick-inspired short film video that has made "Thriller" a must on any good Halloween playlist.

Running almost 14 minutes long, the "Thriller" video is considered one of the most important music videos of all time, having been the first of its kind to be inducted into the U.S Library of Congress' National Film Registry in 2009.

"Beat It"

Featuring the guitar work of Eddie Van Halen, "Beat It" was Jackson's second number one hit from "Thriller."

"Beat It" is also one of the singer's most covered and sampled songs. Most famously, Fall Out Boy released their version of this iconic tune in 2008 with the famous Van Halen guitar solo being performed by John Mayer.

Others who have covered "Beat It" include post-hardcore band Pierce the Veil and - surprisingly enough - Alvin and the Chipmunks.

Fun fact: Jackson set the record for most Grammys awarded in a single night when he won eight in 1984 - two of which were for "Beat It." Since then, no one has managed to surpass this achievement, though Santana did manage to tie the singer in 2000.

"The Way You Make Me Feel"

"The Way You Make Me Feel" was one of five singles from Jackson's 1987 album "Bad" to hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100, making Jackson the record holder for most number one singles from the same album. In 2011, Katy Perry tied Jackson with five number one singles from her third studio record "Teenage Dream."

The song was last performed live in 2001 for the Michael Jackson: 30th Anniversary Special filmed at Madison Square Garden and featured Britney Spears.

"Smooth Criminal"

Considered one of Jackson's signature songs, "Smooth Criminal" is best known for its music video, which was the first to showcase the singer's "anti-gravity lean" - a move in which Jackson planted both of his feet on the ground and leaned forward at an almost 45 degree angle.

(Spoiler alert: Jackson did not in fact defy gravity - the trick was achieved with wires!)

The music video was also included in Jackson's 1988 film "Moonwalker" starring the singer himself and "Goodfellas" actor Joe Pesci.

"Man In the Mirror"

One of the singer's favorite songs, "Man In the Mirror" was nominated for Record of the Year at the 1989 Grammys, though the award ultimately went to Bobby McFerrin for "Don't Worry, Be Happy."

The song's music video is also notable in that - aside from a very brief cameo towards the end of the video - it is the only one in which Jackson himself doesn't actually appear. The video is instead a compilation of footage about notable world figures, including Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela, and major news events like the Vietnam War.

Following his death in June 2009, Jackson's music received a resurgence in sales with many of his songs breaking into the top ten on iTunes in 21 different countries. "Man In the Mirror" managed to reach number one in the U.S. and the U.K.

"Black or White"

Jackson's hit 1991 single "Black or White" peaked at number one for seven consecutive weeks, tying with "Billie Jean" as the singer's longest amount of time spent atop the Billboard Hot 100.

The song's music video is also famous for pioneering the use of "morphing" technology, which had previously only been used in big Hollywood feature films like "Willow" (1988) and "Terminator 2" (1992).

Fun fact: Does the kid from the "Black or White" music video seem incredibly familiar to you? That's because it's young Macaulkay Culkin from his "Home Alone" years!

Reach Executive Producer Michelle Tiu here and follow her on Twitter.



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