Weekend Listening: Michael Jackson

13 February 2016 by 10 Comments

weekend listening Weekends are an amazing time to go record shopping or to go for a long drive with the windows down and the radio loud. Weekend Listening gives you music for all of your upcoming adventures.

Listen while you read (volume may be loud):

Michael Jackson Thriller

My interest in Michael Jackson started with “Billie Jean”.

I had the misfortune of being born late enough that I didn’t clue into Michael Jackson until the media had turned him into a freakshow. (No, I don’t want to hear your opinions about what MJ may or may not have done–I read through the case files and I’m satisfied in my own opinion and his acquittal.) I was born the year after Thriller came out and went to kindergarten the year after Bad came out; by the time I started to notice music in any real way, “Black or White” was his hit single and that wasn’t enough to engender a lifelong love of Michael Jackson’s music in me.

It wasn’t until college when I worked at Starbucks that I really noticed his music. “Billie Jean” was on our music rotation and I grooved on it. A lot. I acquired the mp3 and it regularly featured in playlists and mix tapes–but because I’m a weirdo about music, I never took that song as an opportunity to listen to his other music. I was content with my one nugget of MJ for over a decade.

(I know. I’m really bizarre about new-to-me music. I don’t even know how to introduce new music to myself. It takes an alchemy that I don’t have the formula to.)

I think the bridge for me was getting into post punk and new wave, even though MJ’s music obviously isn’t in either of those categories. Specifically New Order, who I got into because my husband played them all the time and who, like Michael Jackson, have a lot of disco influence underlying their early work. I loved New Order from the start; the mix of electronic music and guitar was what I always wanted electronic music to sound like. It was a sound I had been seeking for a long time. My tastes changed pretty hard during this process–I used to listen to Dylan, James Taylor, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles (all of whom I still love). Now I am waist-deep in New Order and Echo and the Bunnymen, David Bowie and The Velvet Underground.

It’s been 13 years since I left college. I’ve gone from folksy art rock to funky, disco-y, punky rock as my musical mainstay. I was ripe for a conversion, and a conversion I got from out of the blue: one day recently, I was telling a friend on Twitter to indulge in a food thing. I linked her the video for “Eat It” by Weird Al. Then, I watched the video. “Hm,” I thought. “I wonder how close that is to the actual ‘Beat It’ dance sequence.” So I clicked over to “Beat It” for comparison.

This was (checks Twitter) on Feb 2 and I have been listening to Michael Jackson every day since then. To the point that my husband is making fun of me.

Those bass lines. Those beats. Jackson’s dance moves. That red jacket. The West Side Story influence (it was his fave movie). I was entranced as fuck. It only took me 33 years to see what all the fuss was about, but I get it now.

(Also, how cute is young MJ?)

I know I’m probably one of the last people who was alive in the ’80s to have gotten on this train, but I’m glad I finally found my ticket. So join me–have a listen to the playlist that I’ve been obsessed with, or listen to your favorite MJ album. If you have a favorite MJ album, let me know in the comments.


Susie is the Bitch-in-Chief at IB and is also a contributor at Book Riot. She's an ice cream connoisseur, an art fanatic, a cat-mommy of three, and a wife. She runs the @thebooksluts Twitter account and may be slightly addicted.

10 thoughts on “Weekend Listening: Michael Jackson

  1. Thriller will always be my favorite MJ album. It came out when I was in grade school and ripe with receptivity to it. “Billie Jean” became and remains one of my favorite danceable tunes of all time.

  2. Yesssss I love this! I had a cassette tape of “Dangerous” that I listened the crap out of when I was a kid. My parents had MJ records but we didn’t really dig into the record player much. It wasn’t until shortly after he passed away that my family as a whole actually got into a MJ groove and started to listening to all of his old stuff; and I saw a lot of music videos I hadn’t before. He was an incredible performer and dancer. You can tell when you watch him perform too that he absolutely loved it, and that’s pretty cool to see too. :)

    • YES. He looks so overjoyed. I love it whenever he shouts “Go on, girl!” in “The Way You Make Me Feel” because he sounds exuberant.

  3. I LOVE MJ. The first movie I ever saw in movie theaters when i was a kid in Peru was Moonwalker (bizarre but totally worth a watch if you can find it), and I was mesmerized by all the amazing dancing and music. His dancing at times is so hard to understand, he always seemed larger than life to me

  4. I lovvvve the Remember The Time video with MJ, Eddie Murphy, Iman and Magic Johnson! Gorgeous. I’m old so I have loved MJ since the Jackson 5 days. The ABC album gets you moving. My favorite album is the Jackson 5 Christmas album. I play it every year.

    Still can’t believe he’s gone..😢

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