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by Mosi Reeves

May 16, 2014

Michael Jackson Post-'Thriller'

by Mosi Reeves  |  May 16, 2014

There are 30 good songs in this playlist. That fact alone should bury the myth that Michael Jackson fell off after Thriller.

Sure, there are four tracks from his recent, not bad Xscape, and at least three of those tracks -- two versions of "Love Never Felt So Good" and "Loving You" -- sound like they originated during the Thriller sessions. And we won't try to call [Bad] an underrated classic, though there are plenty of critics who have done that. But it has some strong material, whether it's the raw synth-funk aggression of "Smooth Criminal" (and session outtake "Al Capone") or the disturbing rock power ballad "Dirty Diana." Similar claims could be made for Dangerous, "In the Closet" and "Remember the Time"; HIStory, "You Are Not Alone" and "They Don't Care about Us"; and Invincible, "You Rock My World" and "Butterflies." And let's not forget that during his post-Thriller glow in the mid-'80s, any cameo could launch a hit, whether it was backing vocals on Rockwell's "Somebody's Watching Me," giving his Jackson brothers a career boost on Victory, or singing alongside Paul McCartney on "Say Say Say."

It's a body of work so impressive that we had to omit a few things like, uh, "Black or White." (Go watch the video instead.) So while it's arguable that MJ didn't make another classic after Thriller, how many artists can say they topped the biggest-selling album of all time? Thriller was not only a global sales peak that has never been equaled, but a legacy that only Michael could bear. Given the material here, he didn't do too badly with the burden.

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