Which Michael Jackson Video Do You Prefer: “Billie Jean” or “Thriller”?

Matt Dolloff, CBS Radio Boston

Michael Jackson created no shortage of classic hit singles in the ’80s and ’90s, and performed in some of the greatest music videos ever made. Two of the very best of all-time both come from Thriller: “Billie Jean,” with the iconic light-up tiles, and the title track with its epic zombie dance number. Which video do you prefer?

If “Thriller” isn’t regarded as one of the best the music videos ever made, it’s considered the greatest. At the time it was the most expensive music video ever made – reports of the budget range from $800,000 to $1,000,000, but director John Landis says it was $500,000 – as an investment designed to return the album to No.1 status (it was less than a year old at the time).

Not only did the video help shoot the album back to dominance on the charts, it set a new standard for music video production. It was unprecedented at the time to combine music with movies in such a way that a song could be expanded into a 13-minute short. And it wasn’t just zombies, werewolf effects and Vincent Price that made it such a spectacular achievement. MJ’s mid-song dance number with a group of zombies is one of the most iconic moments in music video history.

Despite the lofty status of “Thriller,” perhaps Michael Jackson fans prefer videos less cinematic. “Billie Jean” is the logical counterpart to the former’s big spectacle with a more simple presentation. It’s mostly Michael doing what he does best on top of tiles that light up as he touches them.

The dance moves included MJ’s iconic “moonwalk,” which helped the video propel Thriller to even bigger heights. The video is credited with bringing MTV to a worldwide audience and officially ushering in the music video revolution.

After deliberating, pick your choice for which video you’d prefer between “Thriller” and “Billie Jean.” Of course there are other great videos from Michael Jackson, but these two are the most revered in his career. Which one would you rather watch?


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