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Lesson Transcript

Top 10 American Songs—"Thriller"
The song that redefined the way music videos were made, "Thriller," remains one of the most popular songs of all time. It would be hard to find a person who hasn't seen the video or heard the song. "Thriller," taken from the album of the same name, made Michael Jackson the King of Pop. The album and the song exceeded expectations and became one of the biggest hits of Jackson's career.
The song was written by Rod Temperton. Originally titled "Starlight," its chorus was changed to the famous "thriller, thriller night" after the title of the song was changed. Rod Temperton had come up with the name for Jackson's previous album, Off the Wall, so producer Quincy Jones again asked him to come up with something special. So Temperton chose "Thriller" and then changed the song's lyrics to suit the new title.
Another striking feature of the song is the spoken word piece at the end of the song. Temperton claimed that he had thought about it, but it was actually Quincy Jones' wife who came up with the idea of using Vincent Price's voice. Price agreed and then spoke the well-known final part.
Musically and lyrically, the song builds up a fearful theme that is well suited to its title. This theme became more pronounced when the iconic music video came out. Many sounds, such as a creaking door, wind blowing creepily, and dogs howling in the night were included in the song. The signature bass line, like in many of Jackson's early 80s hits, is instantly recognizable. The song was received very well by both critics and the listening public, and reached number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100.
A $500,000 video, directed by John Landis, was made for this song. Unlike the other music videos of the time, it was a whole thirteen-minute short film with a storyline based on the lyrics of the song. Michael Jackson's costume and dancing in the video have been imitated and parodied many times. It can be said that the video is the reason that this song became such a massive hit.