Today, August 29, would have been Michel Jackson’s 57th birthday. Though he died unexpectedly in 2009, the legacy he built over 45 years in the industry is stronger than ever.
We all know Jackson was a game changer. From the very beginning he stood out among his brothers as a talent that could not be denied, and when he finally went solo, Jackson’s innovative moves and boundless creativity led him straight to the top.
Dubbed the King of Pop, Michael Jackson would go on to release 10 studio albums (plus 2 released posthumously), sell nearly 200 million albums, perform to countless sold out shows, and record the greatest selling album of all times.
While Jackson’s recording prowess remains unmatched, his videos ushered in a whole new era in the music industry.
So what are our favs?
Here are 5 Michael Jackson videos that changed the game forever.
#1 Rock With You
From Off the Wall, Jackson’s first studio album away from Motown, Rock With You featured a new sound, a new look for Jackson, and some fancy (at the time) special effects.
Thriller was so good, and so scary, it almost got Jackson booted from the Jehovah’s Witnesses. A first of its kind, Thriller was the first video to premiere on MTV and also sold more than 9 million copies on its own. After Thriller–which was truly a short film, not a video—Jackson’s creativity bloomed and his videos became a must-see event.
#3 Beat It
Beat It, and its epic dance scene, almost never happened. Jackson’s record company refused to foot the bill, so he invested $150,000 of his own money to bring his vision to life. Filmed on L.A.’s skid row, Beat It also featured more than 100 real members.
Coming in at around 18 minutes, the short film was written by novelist Richard Price (Clockers), directed by Martin Scorsese, and starred a then-unknown Wesley Snipes. Bad featured Jackson’s signature choreography, but took music video storytelling to a whole new level.
Janet and Michel together?!?!??! The world wasn’t even close to being ready!
#6 Smooth Criminal
Two words: the lean! Smooth Criminal continued Jackson’s music video dominance, but kicked it up a notch by introducing a dance move people are still trying to recreate.
#7 Remember the Time
Remember the Time featured so many stars it was hard to keep up. I still remember sitting in front of my TV with my entire family watching the premiere and marveling at the fact that Jackson got Eddie Murphy, Magic Johnson, and Iman to be in the video (and he kissed Iman!). Then came Remember the Time’s iconic dance scene with so many beautiful Black folks dressed like African kings and queens….and lawd, it was GOOD!