Michael’s Top 5 Music Videos for his Birthday!
He was a musical legend. He was a dancing phenomenon. He still is “The King of Pop”. He is none other than Michael Jackson. Born on August 29, 1958, Jackson took the music industry by storm from a very young age. Whether performing with his less talented brothers in the Jackson 5 or as a solo artist, Michael not only topped music charts but was also an innovator in the music video medium. In honor of Michael birthday, DMG Entertainment highlights Jackson’s top five music videos. Get ready to practice your moonwalk because you won’t get enough of these classics.
“ROCK WITH YOU” (1979)
Michael Jackson later music videos are known to have a budget that could support a small country. However, how did Jackson earn such trust? By making smash hit music videos with peanut-sized budgets. “Rock with You” marked the beginning of Michael Jackson’s solo career. Shot at Los Angeles’ 800 Stage, director Bruce Gowers utilized a smoky space tunnel, laser projectors, and a sequined suit to make Michael shine.
From beginning to end, the camera focuses on Jackson’s electrifying performance while surrounded by a vortex of lasers and smoke. Despite this music video’s limited budget, Gowers still managed to relay a crucial message: Michael Jackson had arrived.
“SMOOTH CRIMINAL” (1988)
Inspired by THE THIRD MAN (1949) and Fred Astaire, director Colin Chilvers and Michael Jackson transformed an ordinary music video into a 42-minute extravaganza. The pair not only envisioned the video’s gangster melodrama style but also crafted one of Jackson’s most famous dance moves – the lean.
Filled with fedora-wearing mobsters, clever choreography and one incredible coin toss, “Smooth Criminal” captured the imaginations of viewers worldwide. Want to know how Jackson did the famous lean? Chilver secured Jackson’s heels to the ground and attached his torso to a piano wire.
“BILLIE JEAN” (1983)
“Billie Jean” was already the top single on America’s top-selling album back in 1983. So, how could director Steve Barron bring that same magic to TV? A step-activated illuminating sidewalk! In the music video, Michael walks through an almost surreal downtown city as he effortlessly evades the paparazzi and lights up the set. This music video was not only an artistic achievement but also a racial equality landmark.
“Billie Jean” smashed through MTV’s rock-focused playlist and became one of the first music videos to feature an African-American artist. Want to know how the sidewalk lit up? An electrician had to turn it on by hand and perfectly time it to Jackson’s steps.
Who knew gang rivalries could be settled with a subway jazz routine? “Bad” is what happens when you combine Michael Jackson and Martin Scorsese to create an 18-minute version of WEST SIDE STORY (1961). Filmed in a subway station near Harlem, Michael and his gang danced off against Wesley Snipes and his gang. So who wins this battle of bad? Jean jackets and red roller-skates.
After this, ‘bad’ meant ‘good’ and the world was never the same. Here is a fun fact: While working on the “Bad” video, Scorsese invited Jackson to his house for a home cooked meal. The chef? Scorsese’s mother.
This is far from a surprise. To this day, “Thriller” remains the gold standard of music videos and completely revolutionized the way artists, studios, and viewers thought of the medium. From Hollywood-quality special effects to the 13-minute duration, the monster-movie themed music video had a budget that made CBS Records President Walter Yetnikoff swear up a storm. In the “Thriller” video, Michael and former Playmate Ola Ray transport us to a 1950s horror film. What starts off as an innocent date quickly escalates to a yellow-eyed werecat, a dancing zombie mob, an iconic red jacket and a surprise ending.
MTV had to air “Thriller” every hour just to keep up with the skyrocketing demand. The video also earned numerous recognitions, such as the MTV Video Vanguard, a National Film Registry by the Library of Congress selection, a Best Longform Video Grammy and a Guinness World Record award for most successful video of all time.
Happy Birthday Michael! Thanks for the music, the videos, the dancing, and most importantly, the best gif of all time.
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