Wendy Rush

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Okay my mind is blown right now. Listening to this feels like we’re stuck in some weird parallel universe. Did you know that Michael Jackson‘s Thriller (the song) wasn’t always called that? In fact, Jackson recorded the iconic song with very different lyrics. We know this thanks to the new release of Thriller 40 (the album), which dropped earlier this month. Thriller 40 was a collaboration between Jackson’s Estate and Sony Music. It celebrates the 40th anniversary of the original album’s release, which was on November 29, 1982.

Thriller 40 not only has the original album, but also a second disc with a lot of extras. Some of those extras include music never before released. Some stuff that Jackson was working on before he died. Other stuff that just never made it to print. One such song is called Starlight.

The titular song was written by Rod Temperton, who wrote four songs for Jackson‘s previous album Off The Wall. Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones liked his work so much that they invited him back to work on the new album. The songwriting powerhouse came back with a song that had a really catchy hook. The lyrics, at that time, were “we need some starlight, starlight sun.”

Yeah, try to sing that last line to the tune of Thriller. Obviously it fits, but it’s weird, right? The album that sold so many copies and won eight Grammy Awards. The album that went 34x platinum. The song that became the face of Halloween. Almost never was. A world without Thriller. Without the Thriller dance. Without flash mobs doing the Thriller dance! Nope…Don’t like it.

Thank goodness for the insight of Quincy Jones. As producer on the album, he agreed with Michael Jackson that every song had to be amazing. So the duo sent Temperton back to rework the lyrics on the song. Temperton didn’t get his flash of genius until he was on his way back to the studio the next day. That’s the day Starlight became Thriller (soultracks.com).

Listen to this demo of Starlight. It’s weird to have Michael Jackson sing these lyrics to the Thriller tune.

Wendy Rush, 96.3KKLZ Las Vegas

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Michael Jackson Is Back On Top With New Music

Michael Jackson knocked the music industry off its feet back in 1982. That was when his mega-successful album Thriller was released. It is arguably one of the most-successful albums off all time. To date, it has garnered over 100 million sales worldwide. It landed Michael Jackson a record-breaking eight Grammy Awards including Album of the Year in 1984. It also broke the record for American Music Awards with Jackson also picking up eight at the 1984 American Music Awards ceremony.

In 2008, Thriller was inducted into the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress. And was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in the same year. In 2021, Thriller was certified 34x platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America. It is the second-best selling album of all time in the United States, second only to the Eagles Greatest Hits album.

November 29 marks the 40th anniversary of the album’s original release. To commemorate the milestone, Sony Music and Jackson’s Estate released Thriller 40 this month. And there are events worldwide that are celebrating the album’s success. Including a one-time only screening of the original Thriller documentary in select theaters (michaeljackson.com). Some cities across the globe are also throwing fan event parties and pop-up events.

Thriller 40 isn’t just a reissue of the original album. It also has some extras. It will include the original album, but a second disc as well. The second CD has ten never-released tracks on it that Michael was working on before his death. 4K quality versions of the short films “Beat It” and “Thriller” are also being released in honor of the anniversary.

After Thriller 40‘s release on November 18, the album climbed back up the Billboard Charts. According to ratedrnb.com, it jumped to No. 7 on the Billboard 200 chart this week. That was an impressive 108 spot leap from No. 115 last week.

To refresh our memory, here’s the track list from the original Thriller. Which one was your favorite? And check out the bottom of the list for extras from Thriller 40!

Wendy Rush, 96.3KKLZ Las Vegas

  • 1. Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'

  • 2. Baby Be Mine

  • 3. The Girl Is Mine (ft. 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

  • EXTRAS from Thriller 40

  • Got The Hots (Demo Version)

  • Carousel

  • Sunset Driver (Demo)

  • Who Do You Know (Demo)

  • The Toy (Demo Version)

  • Starlight (Demo)

  • Behind The Mask (demo)

  • Can't Get Outta The Rain

  • What A Lovely Way To Go

  • She's Trouble

  • P.Y.T (Pretty Young Thing) Demo Version

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