Michael Jackson

1982: Epic EK 38112

  1. Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’
  2. Baby Be Mine
  3. The Girl Is Mine (with Paul McCartney)
  4. Thriller
  5. Beat It
  6. Billie Jean
  7. Human Nature
  8. P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)
  9. The Lady In My Life

Really I only have this for the opening track, which is of course kick-ass fun when you’re on the dancefloor. The title track is a gas too, especially very loud on headphones, but I can’t hear it without thinking of that bit in the video where the zombies are doing the hands-up left/right/left move, and that always cracks me up. The less said about Tracks 3 and 9 the better, and I remain undecided on “Billie Jean” even after all these years…I didn’t care for it much when it came out but concede that its success might have turned me off even if the song was good.

There is so much amazing energy in “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ that it’s positively unnerving at times to listen to. It’s so tight, so hot, so cool, so riddled with hooks—it is just not fair to play this track unless you fully intend to let your intended listeners absolutely melt down in a prolonged dancing frenzy. Despite the fact that the song never leaves its two-measure drum/bass pattern, it develops to almost cinematic proportions and gets closer to epic the louder you can play it (or dance to it). That it ends after only six minutes is cruelty enough (or mercy, if you’re on a dance floor and starting to hyperventilate from trying to give form to all the passion and energy in the track) without adding to it all the fact that the lyrics are, frankly, elusive. But when you’re pouring sweat amid gyrations atop a loudspeaker, who cares?