"Thriller" is a song recorded by American singer Michael Jackson, composed by Rod Temperton, and produced by Quincy Jones. It is the seventh and final single released by Epic Records from his 1982 studio album Thriller. A 14-minute video showing Jackson in a horror-themed performance premiered on November 14, 1983. It was first shown on MTV on December 2, 1983. The song was not released as a single until January 23, 1984.
"Thriller" has appeared on multiple greatest hits compilation albums from Jackson, including HIStory (1995), Number Ones (2003), The Essential Michael Jackson (2005) and Michael Jackson's This Is It (2009) and was remixed for the Immortal album in 2011. The song has a voice-over from actor Vincent Price.
In the song, sound effects such as a creaking door, thunder, feet walking on wooden planks, winds and howling dogs can be heard, and the lyrics contain frightening themes and elements. "Thriller" received positive reviews from critics and became Jackson's seventh top-ten single on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart from the album, while reaching the top of the charts in France and Belgium and the top ten in many other countries.
"Thriller" was adapted by director John Landis into a highly successful music video, known independently as "Michael Jackson's Thriller". At fourteen minutes the video is substantially longer than the song, which ties together a narrative featuring Jackson and actress Ola Ray in a setting heavily inspired by horror films of the 1950s. In the video's most iconic scene, Jackson leads other actors costumed as zombies in a choreographed dance routine. Though it garnered some criticism for its occult theme and violent imagery, the video was immediately popular and received high critical acclaim, being nominated for six MTV Video Music Awards in 1984 and winning three. In 2009 it was added to the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress, the first music video ever selected.
"Thriller" was written by Rod Temperton, and produced by Quincy Jones. An inspiration was the Jacksons' hit "This Place Hotel". Early titles include "Starlight", "Starlight Sun" and "Give Me Some Starlight". The title was changed to 'Thriller' after Michael told Temperton he wanted something that would appeal to kids. While still titled "Starlight", the song's hook lyrics were "Give me some starlight! Starlight sun...", but after the song was changed to "Thriller" the hook was rewritten to "'Cause this is thriller! Thriller night...". Temperton commented,
Originally, when I did my 'Thriller' demo, I called it 'Starlight'. Quincy said to me, "You managed to come up with a title for the last album, see what you can do for this album.' I said, "Oh great," so I went back to the hotel, wrote two or three hundred titles, and came up with the title 'Midnight Man'. The next morning, I woke up, and I just said this word... Something in my head just said, this is the title. You could visualize it on the top of the Billboard charts. You could see the merchandising for this one word, how it jumped off the page as 'Thriller'.
While Temperton was writing "Thriller" he stated that he'd "always envisioned" a "talking section at the end" on the song, but did not really know what "to do with it", until deciding "to have somebody, a famous voice, in the horror genre, to do this vocal." Jones' then-wife, Peggy Lipton, who knew Vincent Price, suggested Price for the vocal part, which Price agreed to do.
"Thriller" is considered a disco-funk song. Set in the key of C♯ Modern Dorian, its instrumentation consists of synthesizer, guitar, trumpet, flugelhorn, saxophone, flute and trombone. The song has a moderate tempo of 120 beats per minute. The lyrics and sound effects on "Thriller" pertain to frightful elements and themes.
"Thriller", along with other songs from Thriller, was recorded by Jackson over the course of eight weeks, in 1982. Jackson recorded the song at Westlake Recording Studios on Santa Monica Boulevard in Los Angeles, California. Bruce Swedien, the song's engineer, said of the song being recorded,
When we started 'Thriller', the first day at Westlake, we were all there and Quincy walked in followed by me and Michael and Rod Temperton and some of the other people. Quincy turned to us and he said, 'OK guys, we're here to save the recording industry.' Now that's a pretty big responsibility – but he meant it. And that's why those albums, and especially 'Thriller', sound so incredible. The basic thing is, everybody who was involved gave 150 percent … Quincy's like a director of a movie and I'm like a director of photography, and it's Quincy's job to cast . Quincy can find the people and he gives us the inspiration to do what we do.
Swedien and Jones stated that Vincent Price recorded his introduction and voice-over rap for the song in two takes; Jones, acknowledging that doing a voice-over for a song is "difficult", praised Price and described his recording takes as being "fabulous". Swedien said of Jackson recording the song, that, "I tried all sorts of things with Michael – for instance, he would sing the main vocal part and we'd double it one time and then I'd ask him to step away from the mic and do it a third time and that really changed the acoustics in the room so it gave Michael's vocals a unique character … We recorded some of those background vocals in the shower stall at Westlake."
Throughout the song, sound effects such as a creaking door, thunder, feet walking on wooden planks, winds and howling dogs can be heard. Bruce Cannon, a sound effects editor for "Thriller", said that, "Things like the lightning may have come from old Hollywood movies – we'll never know which movies – but the best sound-effects editors do go out in the desert and find a coyote, so I have a feeling that was a real howl."
The backing track, especially the bassline, has certain similarities to the 1981 number-one R&B hit "Give It to Me Baby" by Rick James. The bass part was made from two modified Minimoogs playing in unison. File Hashes