Our review of “Thriller 40”, the Paramount+ documentary on Michael Jackson’s cult album

The thrilling story of Michael Jackson’s best-selling album of all time, the 40th anniversary of which the pop world is celebrating.

“In the history of the recording industry, there is a before-Thriller and a post-Thriller”recalls music critic Steven Ivory in the preamble to “Thriller 40”, a major documentary signed by the other American specialist in the history of pop, Nelson George (The Get Down, Dear Mama…).

Produced on the occasion of the fortieth anniversary of the release of the album Michael Jackson the best-selling of all time (70 million copies), the film looks back on the creation of a social phenomenon which everyone says that, if it were to be born again, it would certainly experience the same extravagant fortune…

Read alsoA collector’s album and documentary for the 40th anniversary of Michael Jackson’s Thriller

For what ? Because it’s a myth. In her doctoral thesis devoted to the star, French musicologist Isabelle Petitjean demonstrates how he knew how to refuse all compartmentalizations to become a total artist. How he became a legend. And how it managed to transcend borders, to unite social cles, genders, generations and peoples.
The album Thriller, whose hit of the same name has just made a resounding return to the charts, placing itself in fourteenth place in the British top 50 and whose Beat it has had 1 billion views on YouTube for a few days, is therefore a myth in the myth. As this documentary also attests.

“Musical symbiosis”

“I don’t know anything as timeless, as baroque, eclectic and accomplished as this album. Its nine titles are the remarkable symbiosis between funk, post-disco, soul music, soft rock, R&B and pop. At 24, Michael had it all figured out…”, notes the director in an interview. Unpublished images, exclusive interviews, making of clips, numerous testimonies (director John Landis, friend of the star and director of the clip ThrillerWill.i.am from the Black Eyed Peas, Usher…) …

The story is fascinating. The replacement of the work in its edifying context, both culturally and societally. The comments are rich. The editing, so American but so effective. As for the music, it is unforgettable. In the vein of musical documentaries made particularly popular by the emergence of platforms, “Thriller 40” places itself, thanks to the richness of its content, among the best.

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