Patterico's Pontifications

11/30/2007

Is Thriller the Best Album Ever?

Filed under: Music — DRJ @ 10:56 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Yahoo notes that Michael Jackson’s album Thriller is 25-years-old this week and asks if it was the “Best Album Ever”:

Thiller had just nine songs on it. Of those nine songs, seven reached the top 10. If you break down those seven top 10 tracks, five entered the top five, two of which even hit number one. Talk about getting your money’s worth.”

I’ll defer to our musically-inclined host but I think it might be.

— DRJ

UPDATE BY PATTERICO: Music is, of course, a matter of taste, and people will have different reactions to the question: “Is Thriller the Best Album Ever?”

That said, the correct answer is “no.”

UPDATE BY DRJ: Heh. I knew you’d say that.

32 Responses to “Is Thriller the Best Album Ever?”

  1. I don’t know if it’s the best album ever, but Thriller is certainly one of the most entertaining. Not least because of the cameos– Eddie Van Halen, Paul McCartney (whom I’ve read no longer will even speak to Jackson), and the great departed horror actor Vincent Price.

    For best album ever, my vote would go to these guys and this album, from right here in LA County (and recorded here as well). Although what they’ve become in the years since is, like Jackson, also kind of sad.

    qdpsteve (cd214a)

  2. well, it was a smash hit, thats for sure.best ever? dont know if i’d go that far

    james conrad (7cd809)

  3. As a 60s kid, Sergent Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band is #1.

    Perfect Sense (b6ec8c)

  4. Bruce Springsteen’s “Born To Run”, Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” and David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” are the bubblegum more to my taste.

    nk (09a321)

  5. The Best Album Ever is Lola vs. Powerman and The Moneygoround, Part One by The Kinks.

    Everybody knows that.

    David Ehrenstein (4f5f08)

  6. And still no Beatles on iTunes until next year. I wanted to get “When I’m 64″ because my mom and I were singing it and ended up with a John Denver version that is too frightening for words.

    MamaAJ (788539)

  7. The Best Album Ever is Lola vs. Powerman and The Moneygoround, Part One by The Kinks.

    Great record, but not the best album ever. Probably not even the best Kinks album ever – although it’s hard to pick a best Kinks album, honestly.

    Missy (40b673)

  8. Well that’s what makes horse rafes, missy.

    Other candidates for best album, IMO include Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys, Song Cycle by Van Dyke Parks, Good Old Boys by Randy Newman, Let It Bleed by The Rolling Stones, Desertshore by Nico, Strange Days by The Doors, The Beatles (aka “The White Album”) by The Beatles and of course The Velvet Underground and Nico.

    David Ehrenstein (4f5f08)

  9. The White Album came to mind…and Sticky Fingers. Beach Boys are way up there for me, but Pet Sounds doesn’t fully encapsulate their greatness – it doesn’t have the joy of the earlier songs. Velvets, eh. Too much style over substance. The appeal fades as I grow older (no surprise really).

    And yes, that’s what makes horse races. Isn’t it a given in a thread like this that people’s opinions will differ? But it’s fun to bat this stuff around….

    Missy (40b673)

  10. MJ? No. Sorry. The final days of payola made that album such an overplayed radio and video monstrosity. (Don’t forget, it was released at the height of MTV’s video heyday.) It undoubtedly has some of the best videos associated with it, but the songs were mediocre.

    Favorites from those people not of the Baby Boomer generation or fetishists of the music thereof:

    Def Leppard “Hysteria”
    Nirvana “Smells like Teen Spirit”
    “Cracked Rear View” Hootie and the Blowfish

    MunDane (d3328f)

  11. Well, how many of those big hits from Thriller do you hear today?

    Compare to another smash hit, Boston’s debut album.

    Track listing:
    “More Than a Feeling” – 4:46
    “Peace of Mind” – 5:02
    “Foreplay/Long Time” – 7:47
    “Rock and Roll Band” – 3:00
    “Smokin'” (Bradley Delp, Scholz) – 4:20
    “Hitch a Ride” – 4:13
    “Something About You” – 3:48
    “Let Me Take You Home Tonight” (Delp) – 4:43

    Of those 8 songs, 7 see regular airplay on classic rock radio.

    And that record? Platinum, 17 times over.

    However, that doesn’t mean it’s the greatest ever, but it was damn near as successful commercially.

    I think the greatest album ever was “A Night At The Opera” by Queen. Not as many hit singles, perhaps, but it has the GREATEST SINGLE EVER, “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Since you couldn’t get an unedited version of that song on a ’45, the only way to have it was to buy the album (in the same way you had to buy Led Zeppelin IV to get “Stairway to Heaven,” and by the way that album has as much a claim to a greatest ever title as any other). Effectively, the album was a SINGLE. But I digress. “Night At The Opera,” hand’s down.

    otcconan (bf4e61)

  12. Actually, now that I think about it, I’ll put up my listing of the greatest 5 albums of all time.

    Queen – A Night At The Opera
    Led Zeppelin – IV
    The Beatles – Revolver
    Pink Floyd – Dark Side of the Moon
    Rush – Hemispheres

    otcconan (bf4e61)

  13. Other candidates for best album, IMO include Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys

    Wow David! We agree on something.

    Good Old Boys by Randy Newman

    Classic line: “We’re rednecks, we’re rednecks… we don’t know our ass from a hole in the ground…” :-)

    qdpsteve (cd214a)

  14. Randy Newman is a very great and completely unique songwriter. All his songs proceed from characters and images they evoke are as razor sharp as those found in late-period Bresson.

    David Ehrenstein (4f5f08)

  15. Lest we not forget, “Appetite For Destruction” by Guns ‘n’ Roses, was released 20 years ago this year, and sold 16 million copies.

    But it only really spawned 2 big hits: “Sweet Child ‘O Mine” and “Paradise City.”

    otcconan (bf4e61)

  16. Off The Wall is a better Michael Jackson album than Thriller, but better than either of those is Ramones by The Ramones.

    Jackie is a runt
    Judy is a punk
    They both went down to Berlin
    Joined the Ice Capades

    JVW (477e5a)

  17. Randy Newman is a very great and completely unique songwriter. All his songs proceed from characters and images they evoke are as razor sharp as those found in late-period Bresson.

    Most people know him only for “Short People.” But anti-Bush types still get a kick out of hearing “Political Science,” with lines like this:

    Asia’s crowded and Europe’s too old
    Africa is far too hot
    And Canada’s too cold
    And South America stole our name
    Let’s drop the big one
    There’ll be no one left to blame us

    We’ll save Australia
    Don’t wanna hurt no kangaroo
    We’ll build an All American amusement park there
    They got surfin’, too

    If I had to pick the best album of all time, it would be something like “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway,” by Genesis, or “Hemispheres” by Rush, or “A Passion Play” by Jethro Tull.

    Patterico (faeccf)

  18. Randy Newman is a very great and completely unique songwriter.

    True Newman’s great David, but the late great Warren Zevon also managed to horn in a bit on the humor and outrageousness quotient as well. (In fact I’ve heard Zevon described as a harder-drinking, -drugging and -rocking version of Newman.) As in Excitable Boy, Mr. Bad Example, and of course the world-famous Werewolves of London.

    Well, he went down to dinner in his Sunday best
    Excitable boy, they all said
    And he rubbed the pot roast all over his chest
    Excitable boy, they all said…

    qdpsteve (cd214a)

  19. another vote for sergeant pepper. seriously, thriller? somebody here has got commercial success confused with artistic influence and merit.

    assistant devil's advocate (bff5d8)

  20. qdpsteve, you left out one interesting track from Excitable Boy: Lawyers, Guns and Money.

    Paul (36cd46)

  21. Dave Brubeck – TAKE FIVE!

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  22. And leave us not forget this Newman classic that he wrote about a past disaster and sang so memorably on TV in the wake of a recent one

    “What has happened down here is the winds have changed
    Clouds roll in from the north and it started to rain
    Rained real hard and it rained for a real long time
    Six feet of water in the streets of Evangeline
    The river rose all day
    The river rose all night
    Some people got lost in the flood
    Some people got away alright
    The river have busted through clear down to Plaquemines
    Six feet of water in the streets of Evangelne
    Louisiana, Louisiana
    They’re tyrin’ to wash us away
    They’re tryin’ to wash us away
    Louisiana, Louisiana
    They’re tryin’ to wash us away
    They’re tryin’ to wash us away
    President Coolidge came down in a railroad train
    With a little fat man with a note-pad in his hand
    The President say, “Little fat man isn’t it a shame what the river has done
    To this poor crackers land.”
    Louisiana, Louisiana
    They’re tryin’ to wash us away
    They’re tryin’ to wash us away
    Louisiana, Louisiana
    They’re tryin’ to wash us away
    They’re tryin’ to wash us away
    They’re tryin’ to wash us away
    They’re tryin’ to wash us away”

    David Ehrenstein (4f5f08)

  23. Well, it sure beats the aptly-named album that followed it.

    Xrlq (8b1564)

  24. Nonsense. The rock album of all time is either The White Album or The River, depending on the mood I’m in. Pop album would probably be one or another by Madonna. (And Justin Timberlake’s latest album seems to be making a serious effort at besting MJ in the number of hits category.)
    But the best album ever?
    Has to be this thirty eight minutes and twenty six second of pure music, humming and all
    There’s a reason Amazon stocks thirteen different versions of it, fifty two years later. Will they do that for MJ in 2035?

    kishnevi (ba7408)

  25. I’m sorry but I never hear any of those hit songs on the radio today. I wonder why.

    Alta Bob (be261c)

  26. If this is the best album ever, does that make “Titanic” the best movie ever?

    Kevin Murphy (0b2493)

  27. If I had to pick the best album of all time, it would be something like “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway,” by Genesis…

    The distinction between EP and LP is lost on our younger generations. An album (LP) must be taken as the whole. Certainly Billy Jean and Thriller were good tracks but an album they did not make. Tull’s Thick as a Brick and Green Day’s American Idiot are albums whereas Red Hot Chili Peppers Blood Sugar Sex and Magik and MJ’s Thriller are just a compilation of singles.

    I dont know what the ‘best’ album is, but I do know that if I were to have ten and only ten platters (album/CD) for the rest of my life, the Lamb would be one. (Beethoven’s 5th or 9th, Pearl Jam’s first, Pink Floyd Wish you were here, Type O Negative’s October Rust would also populate that list.)

    bains (50814e)

  28. You’re still a Bell Biv DeVoe fan, right Pat?

    C'mec ci (b8c7e2)

  29. def leppard—pyromania
    foreigner—4
    fleetwood mac —rumors
    ac-dc—back in black
    ac-dc—highway to hell

    the struggler (027630)

  30. How about THE PARTRIGE FAMILY?or HERMINS HERMITS,and the unforgetible WEIRD AL YAKLOVICH

    krazy kagu (b3aac5)

  31. One of the joys of going to some of the places I read, such as this place, or Powerline, is that the conversations go in other directions, especially music…

    All of this made me go into my extensive album collection and do some looking, and back into my iPod for even more listening…thanks to all

    reff (99666d)

  32. But, Randy Newman would not be accepted in the mainstream today if the next line of “Rednecks” was broadcast…and that is the crime of political correctness…they would miss the entire meaning of the song….

    reff (99666d)


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