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How Michael Jackson's "Thriller" Changed the Pop Music Game

"Cause it's Thriller! Thriller Night!" Just hearing that will automatically send a lot of people to the dancefloor, no matter what age you are. It's simply one of those songs that are iconic, so much so that not dancing to it, regardless of the occasion, is almost a travesty. But beyond its roles in 80s-themed parties and wedding receptions, Thriller had a much bigger impact on the pop music industry.

From its famous music video to the much-repeated dance moves, here are how Michael Jackson's "Thriller" deserves any music lover's reverence. 

Paved The Way for Cinematic Music Videos

It had a story, riveting scenes, some memorable dialogue, and more. When it was newly released, "Thriller" was light years ahead of its time. Back then, music videos just featured the singers singing their songs against whatever backdrop they could find. Sure, some of them had plots, but none did it as masterfully as Jackson did with this single. With every passing second, even with the sick track playing, you couldn't help but feel invested in the story at hand. At times, it even freaked out a lot of people, while it definitely freaked out some kids too. And so, with "Thriller," the cinematic music videos were born. 

Normalized Thematic Songs Again

Back in the early 20th century, songs were practically about anything. Some even had their own narratives, like "Miss Otis Regrets (She's Unable To Lunch Today)," which talks about (or rather sings about) a socialite who was murdered by the mob, hence she's "unable to lunch today,". It was an unusual art form that led to many great songs, but through the years, this way of songwriting sort of faded. Fortunately, "Thriller" was a hit and so allowed songwriters to write such hits again. This time, the song wasn't just about love or heart loss, but rather of a frightful night that was "thrilling." 

Popularized the Red Leather Jacket

Michale Jackson, apart from being the 'Prince of Pop,' was also one of the most influential style icons of his day. He contributed so much to fashion through his unique style. There was the sequinned glove (only on one hand, of course!), the bedazzled military jacket, the big-shouldered 1930s inspired suits and more. But in "Thriller," one item of clothing stood out and became a sensation: the red jacket. Crafted in premium leather, a geometric V-form on the front torso, and its distinct high collar, the jacket allowed men, especially tough men, some more flamboyancy in pop music. And it's also a rad jacket in of itself! 

Set the Standard for Iconic Dances

Before Madonna's Voguing, Beyonce's booty-shaking "Single Ladies," or even Miley Cyrus's twerking, Michael Jackson enamored and with his zombie-like Thriller dance. It was even immortalized by that memorable scene in "13 Going On 30". But even without that movie moment, fans still remember, whether they can do it themselves or not, that iconic dance. It paved the way for other pop superstars to step it up with their own movements to make their own songs that much more memorable. And so now, there are loads of other dances put forth by current pop stars. A standard Michael Jackson set with "Thriller." 

Did this post make you want to listen to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” again? I don’t blame you! It’s a great piece of music history that deserves to be played over and over. Heck, I’m listening to it right now! 

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