Thriller

Happy TUNEBACK TUESDAY!! Today is the special HALLOWEEN EDITION and we’re tuning it back to the uber-classic Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”! I vividly remember the first time I saw this music video as a young kid in the ’80s. It scared the living crap out of me. Both the werewolf (or werecat) scene and MJ’s zombie eyes gave me nightmares for months. It is still, to this day, one of the best music videos ever made.

ORIGINAL RELEASE DATE: January 23, 1984

TRIVIA: “Thriller” was the seventh and final single released from his 1982 studio album of the same name. The 14-minute music video was first shown on December 2, 1983. The song was not released as a single until January 23, 1984.

Contrary to reports of $800,000 to $1 million production budgets, director John Landis stated that the music video was made for $500,000. Within the same excerpt of Moonwalk, Jackson noted how he personally financed much the short film for “Thriller” out of his own pocket. Due to all the technical details of production and the nature of the video, the budget nearly doubled in costs.

Jackson also said of making the music video, in an interview that aired on December 11, 1999, for MTV’s 100 Greatest Videos Ever Made:

“My idea was to make this short film with conversation … 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.”

BONUS VIDEO: Back in my university days, we performed “Thriller” at the opening of a new club at the university. I’m the guy next to “MJ” wearing suspenders.

Happy Halloween!! See you next Tuesday!

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