The King of Pop-Michael Jackson-may have left our world, but the resonance he created in the music industry is still felt today. From back-to-back ‘greatest hits’ and killer dance moves, Michael Jackson has solidified himself as one of the most influential artists of all time. Among his many works of wonders, there’s this crowning jewel titled “Thriller.”
Thriller was the title of his sixth studio album released in 1982 and in in came the seventh and final single “Thriller.” Released on January 23rd, 1984 as an official single, “Thriller” was first premiered as a 14-minute video on November 14, 1983. And to this day, it is considered one of the most influential works of Pop music in history.
Watch “Thriller” Music Video by Michael Jackson
“Thriller” song contains material running for roughly 3 and a half minutes and the music video has footage for almost 14 minutes. It is justifiable to identify the “Thriller” video as more of a short film than a music video. This is the only music video to be inducted into National Film Registry by the Library of Congress. It is estimated that the music video sold over 9 million copies worldwide, which is one of the highest sales records to date.
Playboy Centerfold model Ola Ray played Michael Jackson’s girlfriend in the “Thriller” video.
Song Meaning, Lyrics Review and Music Video Review of “Thriller”
The music video starts off at Ola Ray and Michael Jackson taking a ride in the night and their car breaking down in the middle of nowhere. They get out and walk on. MJ proposes to the girl and she accepts. Everything goes beautifully until MJ decides to make the big revelation;
“I’m not like other guys…”
Ola Ray takes this as a sweet sentiment, but the moonlight reveals the true nature of Michael Jackson. He is a werewolf. The transformation from human to the werewolf is shown amazingly in the music video, supported by shrill screams of Ola Ray in the background. The werewolf chases Ola Ray to kill her and when he is just about to do that, the scene cuts to an entirely different realization. It was just a movie Michael and Ola Ray were enjoying.
The “Thriller” song starts after 5 minutes into the video.
It’s close to midnight
Something evil’s lurking from the dark
Under the moonlight
Michael Jackson sets the atmosphere for the thrill that’s about to be unleashed. Midnight is the symbolic time range for all evil things. Darkness has fallen and we are all scared of the darkness to some extent. The moon has risen and you can only see the shadows things that were during daylight.
The shock and awe of “Thriller” begins now…
You see a sight that almost stops your heart
You try to scream
But terror takes the sound before you make it
You start to freeze
As terror looks you right between your eyes
In the darkness, you see something that you just cannot comprehend. You are in shock. You try to scream but words and sounds fail you. The person has frozen out of the terror looking in his eyes. There’s nothing you can do!
Interesting fact about this song is that it has not one but three choruses. The first chorus goes something like this.
‘Cause this is thriller
And no one’s gonna save you
From the beast about to strike
You know it’s thriller
You’re fighting for your life
Inside a killer
Thriller tonight, yeah
These lyrics can be interpreted as just a beautiful depiction of the scene unfolding in a horror situation. Or these can be further rooted into religious and cult strings. Maybe MJ foresaw this and decided to encode the following message at the beginning of the “Thriller” music video.
“Due to my strong personal convictions, I wish to stress that this film in no way endorses a belief in the occult.”
An artist should not have to justify or fight for his beliefs. But this was the result of popularity and all the buzz around the rising King of Pop-the African American-Michael Jackson.
“Thriller” is all about building the hype…
You hear the door slam and realize there’s nowhere left to run, You feel the cold hand and wonder if you’ll ever see the sun
You close your eyes and hope that this is just imagination
Girl but all the while
You hear a creature creeping up behind
You’re outta time
MIJ builds up the tension using these nicely drawn lyrics. The victim in the situation is cornered. She closes herself in a room and the door is slammed. There’s nowhere to run.
‘Cold hand’ is an expression for death, and when the cold hand touches you, you wonder if you’re ever going to see the daylight again. In most scary situations we tend to close our eyes, pray, and hope that it’s all just a dream. No matter what you do, the dangers lurking around are real. You are running out of time.
Cause this is thriller, thriller night
There ain’t no second chance against the thing with forty eyes, girl
Thriller, thriller night
You’re fighting for your life inside of killer, thriller tonight
Michael Jackson plays between the scenes now. He calls it a “thriller thriller night”-but there are two scenarios unfolding. One in which where Michael Jackson is out on a date with his girl, Ola Ray and the other which is the movie. MJ and Ola Ray leave the movie early in the song, but who am I to say which is happening where, because MJ has already played with our illusions once in the video. So Michael Jackson could be referring to the thriller genre movie they were watching, or to the thrilling night the couple was having.
‘The thing with forty eyes’ is a comical reference to the monster that’s been chasing the girl. Often in comics, monsters are depicted with a large number of eyes.
Night creatures call
And the dead start to walk in their masquerade
There’s no escaping the jaws of the alien this time
They’re open wide
This is the end of your life
When the night calls for it’s creatures, the dead start to walk in their dresses. It’s funny how this is totally plausible, if walking dead was plausible. The dead are buried in full suites, so should the dead walk, they’d be in full suites and dresses-much like a masquerade.
Aliens are a classic horror theme. The popular ‘Alien‘ movie had come out three years prior to the release of “Thriller” by Michael Jackson. A prominent part of the alien in the movie was it’s long, ugly and deadly jaws.
Verse 3 of “Thriller” takes a different tone…
They’re out to get you, there’s demons closing in on every side
They will possess you, unless you change that number on your dial
Now is the time for you and I to cuddle close together, yeah
All through the night
I’ll save you from the terror on the screen, I’ll make you see
If “Thriller” gets any religious at all, it’s in the third verse. MJ sings that the demons will possess you unless you change the ‘number on you dial.’ This can be interpreted in several ways. One explanation would be that you will go to hell (or suffer in the afterlife) unless you change your ways in this life. This could be closer to the real meaning behind those lyrics. The other interpretation would be drawn out of the classic horror movies on exorcism. Many of the horror movies have to do with a victim being possessed by a demon and having to call a priest or an exorcist to get rid of the demon.
In the next line, I believe, MJ drags us back to the movie theater. When his girlfriend gets scared of the thriller movie, she gets closer to him and cuddle. Or MJ could be represented as the light or savior in the darkness, and the victim’s embrace of the light during the dark times is explained in these lines.
The last line of verse 3 is quite mystical too. MJ refers to the ‘terror on the screen’ which is obviously a reference to the thriller movie the couple was at. But then again it could refer to all the horrible things on TV those/these days. MJ has been very clever at jumping the timelines here.
Chorus 3 of “Thriller” is freaky…
That this is thriller, thriller night
Cause I can thrill you more than any ghoul would ever dare try
Thriller, thriller night
So let me hold you tight
And share a killer, thriller, chiller
Thriller here tonight
Cause this is thriller, thriller night
Girl I can thrill you more than any ghoul would ever dare try
Thriller, thriller night
So let me hold you tight
And share a killer, thriller
I’m gonna thrill you tonight
Now MJ is back in the reality with his girlfriend. He talks about making love to her. Here a “thriller night” would obviously mean having sex. A ‘ghoul’ is an undead creature that roams the graveyards and I have no clue why MJ says he can make better love to her than a ghoul would. Maybe it’s symbolic. Maybe he means that he is able to give her a better relationship than a dead, cold and lifeless one. I will open this lyrics to discussion and you comment your opinions below.
Vincent Price’s Horror Voice in “Thriller”
At the middle of the music video and the end of the song comes a narrative done by a man who was famous for thriller movie commentary. It’s an epic deep voice and Vincent Price was famous for his voice. The narrative goes something as follows;
Darkness falls across the land
The midnight hour is close at hand
Creatures crawl in search of blood
To terrorize y’all’s neighborhood
And whosoever shall be found
Without the soul for getting down
Must stand and face the hounds of hell
And rot inside a corpse’s shell
Darkness falls on the land at 6.30 in the evening. So Vincent is not referring to the environment getting dark when he says ‘darkness falls across the land.’ He is referring to something much more than just the lights going out. At middle of the night only the demons and evil lurk the land and that’s the darkness he is referring to.
Vampires and the undead crawl out of their sleeping shells at midnight, in search of blood. They only spread terror and foul stench in the neighborhood.
Vincent Price says those who are found by these undead creatures will be killed and preyed upon. And those who are not willing to surrender their souls to the darkness will have to fight the hounds of hell. But then he says those who wish to stand up to them will have not much chance of survival. He says those souls will rot inside a corpse.
Vincent Price continues his narrative…
The foulest stench is in the air
The funk of forty thousand years
And grizzly ghouls from every tomb
Are closing in to seal your doom
And though you fight to stay alive
Your body starts to shiver
For no mere mortal can resist
The evil of the thriller
There’s a disgusting smell when the darkness overtakes the land of the living and spread terror. The funk? How does funk get in the middle of this terror story? Because at the end of all this we come to the realization that “thriller” had all this time meant the urge to dance. Or that’s what some people believe it to be. The whole meaning behind this epic story-line is that nobody can resist the urge to funk. ‘Evil of the thriller’ is a difficult statement to comprehend. The word ‘evil’ may have been used to say that the urge to dance is too great that every human being caves in. But if it doesn’t mean that, MJ could have referred to it being the mortal sins that humans conduct-and they are evil in their nature.
Hence, we come to the dramatic end of “Thriller” song and the music video. Michael Jackson delivers a breathtaking dance routine in the music video that has earned so much applause over the years.
“Thriller” is seasonal…
Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” is one of those songs that will never fade away from the memory. “Thriller” music video is considered as THE song for Halloween times. It is one of those songs that surges every year during the Halloween holidays. That is the extent of cultural impact the song and the video has had.
With that final remark, we close down this lengthy article on Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” review. The King of Pop will forever live among us with amazing music work such as these.
We would like to hear your opinion on the song, and we would love for you to analyze the song lyrics. Let us know if you think something should be interpreted differently and we will make it a discussion. Also if you have more to add to this article, you can comment below and we will consider adding it.