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Thriller 40 - Thoughts, Opinions, etc
May 08, 2024, 08:39:29 PM
Ok so I've noticed that there is quite literally ZERO mention about Thriller 40 on the forum, and while yes this isn't really the typical fan site and all that jazz, I thought, why don't I step in and be the first to say something.
 
 I can't believe it's been exactly 3 years since the album was first announced, and I was so hyped for it that I told all my teachers about it, so much to the point one of my classmates were annoyed with me lmao. However, hours before the official announcement itself, I remember seeing the pre-order up on Target and I was like, huh? Because look at that logo, so much fans including me were confused. I personally thought it was some sort of fan made bootleg that somehow got bypassed certain things and made its way onto the site, but I was wrong. Later on that day, maybe around 10am, the anniversary album was announced, and of course the controversy following it's $3 dollar ass logo as well, and I was NOT happy about it. But I tried to think positive about it because I hoped for a remastered Hot Street, Nightline (Nite Line), Got The Hots, Carousel, and She's Trouble along with the debut of the long awaited and wished for original version of Behind The Mask. I pre-ordered the album either later that day or early in the morning the next day. When the song announcements began in August or September 2022, I remember fan remakes on how the original version of Behind The Mask sounded were getting taken down by the Estate which left a lot of fans theorizing that the true original version of the song would be featured on Thriller 40, and we found ourselves to be correct when the official MJ Twitter account announced the song's inclusion. Behind The Mask wasn't the only song getting taken down as Starlight was as well, and already released outtakes from the sessions were having their music tag changed to "Track 2" and etc so not only did we know which songs were going to appear on the second disc but also where they would be placed on the tracklist, which was a complete giveaway. What completely caught me by surprise was the inclusion of The Toy, and while I never heard the song before, I was very aware of it's existence as me and an ex-friend of mine once chatted about it on a Discord VC, this was during a period where I was extremely interested in Michael's unreleased catalog, and I knew very well of the songs origins as well (which I will get into later on), and the main lyrics of the song which I thought was very, ahem ahem, funny to say the least  ;D, I found about the songs inclusion in a rather interesting way as I found out before the song was announced via tampering with the dates on the Behind The Mask reveal image url which led to the next reveal. I remember getting access to the album just 4 days before its official release, due to private collector connections. I remember hitting play on What A Lovely Way To Go and being so.... disappointed. A snippet of a Mark Ronson 2010 remix of the song for the Michael album leaked online in early 2020, so I was already familiar with how the song (at least partially) sounded. However I was expecting some sort of The Lady In My Life type ballad, what I heard was no where near what I imagined and I wish I could have mean't that in a good way. It's not even a bad song, it can be a vibe to listen to sometimes, but I was expecting a Hot Street & Nightline type level song. The leaked and available Thriller outtakes prior to Thriller 40 were such bops that they represent the expectations Michael and Quincy had for Thriller when making it. In the 80s, if you released Hot Street, Nightline, Carousel, Got The Hots, and She's Trouble as singles for an album, they wouldn't have sounded like unreleased songs, they were good enough bops to be released but they aren't as strong as songs like Billie Jean, Beat It, Wanna Be Startin' Somethin', Human Nature, and P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing). Even the solo demo for The Girl Is Mine is single worthy. So when I heard the stuff on Thriller 40 I had every right to feel disappointed because this did not sound like the same material I've heard before.
 
I can never say I was exactly thrilled with what we got, considering there was no Hot Street or Nightline and the new songs were mediocre at best, along with the unneeded addition of Can't Get Out Of The Rain which was originally a b-side on The Girl Is Mine single, but had NOTHING to do with the original Hayvenhurst Thriller recording sessions, and was a cheap ad-lib'd version of the chorus from You Can't Win on loop. But I will say, I did enjoy the remastered Starlight demo, the original mix of Behind The Mask with unreleased lyrics, the remastered final version of She's Trouble, the inclusion of The Toy & Who Do You Know, and Got The Hots & Carousel finally being in print on CD again, and I enjoyed having Sunset Driver on a physical official release that wasn't as expensive as The Ultimate Collection.
 
The problem with Thriller 40 itself isn't entirely the Estate's fault however, they didn't have access to the original Westlake Thriller recording sessions because of an ongoing feud with Quincy Jones. Therefore most of the new songs on Thriller 40 weren't done in the Westlake studio but in Michael's personal home studio, and therefore weren't necessarily for the Thriller album itself besides Who Do You Know, What A Lovely Way To Go, and Behind The Mask. Who Do You Know wasn't even recorded when Michael was working on Thriller, he recorded it in 1980 and the song eventually got considered for Thriller and eventually for Victory as well. The Toy however, wasn't recorded nor considered for Thriller at all; according to Michael in a court deposition in 1984, he recorded the song for a Richard Pryor movie with the same name, but he never finished working on it at the time because he feared it would have intertwined with his work on Thriller, however the song did later on evolve into the song Best Of Joy as we all know, according to copyright registrations the song was recorded in 1981. What A Lovely Way To Go's origin is a bit messy, Michael said in the 1993 Mexico Court Deposition that he wrote it before Off The Wall, and it was titled What A "Lonely" Way To Go as the speaker told him, but then his Estate says it was written in the late 1970s and was revisited for Thriller, but it's unknown for sure whether this demo was recorded while Thriller was in the works. She's Trouble was the only new Westlake song that was put on Thriller 40, and this song was allowed by Quincy because he gave the go for Sony to release it along with Hot Street, Nightline, Carousel, Got The Hots, and Starlight back when the Special Edition CDs were in the works. It's unclear why Hot Street and Nightline weren't on Thriller 40, maybe it's because The Estate is saving it for another release such as another Michael/Xscape type album or a Thriller 50, and I can only hope for that because Michael really wanted Hot Street on Thriller because it was one of his favorites but it never made it on because Quincy and Rod Temperton thought it wasn't strong enough, so it would be a shame if the song went to waste and never give it the attention Michael thought it deserved, but if Michael is alive, then maybe he is holding it back for a bigger special release one day  ;). I think the biggest controversy that came out of the songs was the inclusion of Sunset Driver, and that's because it has been promoted as Off The Wall outtake due to it's track placement on The Ultimate Collection and the way it has been advertised as an Off The Wall era song on Michael Jackson The Experience. However, the truth is that the song was written and demo'd for Off The Wall in 1978 before being shelved and then either re-recorded or remixed for the Thriller album, even the booklet for The Ultimate Collection states it was recorded in 1982, so why the era mix up? Overall, Thriller 40 didn't exactly live up to my expectations, and heck, even though Someone In The Dark wasn't recorded for Thriller, I'd like it on there since it was on the Special Edition, and since the Special Edition is out of print, it would be a great way to profit on the content that was once on there.
 
As for the promotion, Thriller 40 barely got any compared to Bad 25. Yes we got the 4K music videos for Thriller and Beat It but what about Billie Jean? And the Immersive Experience events (which I sadly couldn't attend to) but according to those who attended, it wasn't really much, though I will say the one in New York looked pretty cool; we also got the documentary along with its private showing in some international places, but even that was messy because the documentary wasn't even finished at the time, and we had to wait a whole year later just to get it which was even more embarrassing. And we can't discuss the promotion without talking about that sexy hot logo.... if only. The original Thriller logo itself is iconic and it just screams professional and fancy, the way they butchered it without even using it as a source/base was pathetic and it caused a huge uproar within the fan community. BUT, considering the possible hoax, it wouldn't be out of the pocket for Michael to pull something off like this to gain attention and to have people talking, and if that's the case then it worked but now you'd have your fans hating your Estate even more than they did before, and they aren't even ungrateful, they just want your legacy to not be misrepresented and I stand by that. I did like the other Thriller re-releases like the SACD (which I also own) and the Target exclusive Thriller vinyl with the crappy logo slipmat (which I also own). There was the One-Step vinyl but that was too expensive and I heard it was a scam later on, and there was the Walmart exclusive vinyl with an alternate photo of Michael shown in the gatefold of the original vinyl and the crappy logo, and I wanted to buy that at the time for collecting sake and I still want to to some extent, but I already have Thriller on vinyl (being the slipmat release) and recently my record player broke so  :P, BUT, I already have 4 copies of Thriller on CD which means I have 5 copies of Thriller altogether, so the more the merrier I guess. It was nice that the Estate (or Michael himself tee-hee) did give into the fan critic and changed the logo to a more suitable one that represents the legacy of the Thriller album more appropriately, but I feel like it still could had even been better considering how amazing the Bad 25 logo looked like. They also gave Thriller 40 a glitter covered slipcase which is cool, but in Europe apparently the release there didn't have glitter on the slipcase but a grainy gray covering instead that resembles static, which is pretty meh. One thing I would have liked the Estate to do was a Thriller 40 Deluxe box set like the one Bad 25 had, with the digital deluxe on a 3rd disc and a 4th disc with soundboard audio of a Victory Tour concert along with a DVD of the concert including the 4K music videos and other moments from the Thriller era such as Motown 25, the Pepsi commercials, and maybe an awards compilation. A poster using any 1982-1984 photoshoot would have been a nice addition as well but maybe I'm asking for too much now. I Just Can't Stop Loving You did have a single re-release on CD and Vinyl with Don't Be Messin' 'Round as a second bonus track/B-side to promote Bad 25, they could have done the exact same thing with The Girl Is Mine, using the remastered Can't Get Out Of The Rain as a B-Side like the original release did, it's also worth noting that both songs were the first singles for the albums they came from so it would have looked very consistent too if y'know what I mean.
 
Overall, Thriller 40 could have been way more better if a lot more promotion and effort was put into it, I think it lacked a lot of love and care and it came off to be more of a quick cash grab than a way to represent the history and legacy of the greatest selling album of all time. It is rumored that Sony forced the Estate into doing this release, which could back up on why the release didn't have the wild promotion that projects like Xscape, Scream, Michael, Bad 25, etc, but it's still no excuse when it comes to promoting artists like Michael FUCKING (his true middle name  8)) Jackson. Do better or do nothing at all to be honest, hopefully one day, Hot Street and Nightline will get the respect they deserve and we will hear more unreleased tracks recorded during the Hayvenhurst Thriller sessions one day, whether it be through leaks or  w e l l  d o n e  releases. I remember Chicago 1945 and Dream Away leaking in an amateur recording quality the same week Thriller 40 dropped and I enjoy both those songs more than any song off the second disc of Thriller 40, despite the crappy quality. Chicago 1945 has leaked in CDQ after the Brad Sundberg Laptop Theft of 2023 however, and I've probably listened to that more than I have listened to anything off Thriller 40, but I don't completely ignore the songs because I'd still listen to The Toy and Who Do You Know every now and then. In the end it is what it is, I can't say it's better than nothing at all, but I will say it's nice to hear some new music from Michael. I keep in mind that I will be nostalgic for all of this one day, that looking back, this was a very important part in my life as an MJ fan because it was the first time I was witnessing the release of new music by Michael, as I became a fan in 2019 and around that time, there were no new releases. The waiting, the hype, and the journey of it all is something I hope I will be able to witness again one day, and considering the upcoming biopic on the horizon, I might not be realizing it in the moment (or maybe I am since I'm typing this :P) but I really might be re-experiencing it right now, though I will say I haven't been as hyped about the biopic as I was with Thriller 40, and that's probably because of the new music that came with Thriller 40. However, Prince did say he's going through his dad's vault to find an unreleased track to use to help promote the biopic, let's just hope the Biopic does what Thriller 40 didn't do, surpass my expectations.
Last Edit: May 10, 2024, 07:14:08 AM by AndreaArts
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"She's an icon, she's a legend, and she is the moment, now come on now..." - Wendy Williams (Mother)

 

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