By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
When the Grammy Awards ostensibly snubbed Michael Jackson’s groundbreaking 1979 album, Off The Wall, the then-fledgling King of Pop vowed that voters at the Recording Academy would not ignore what he would offer next.
On November 30, 1982, just over three years later, Jackson released Thriller, which earned him a then record-breaking 8 Grammy Awards, including “Album of the Year.”
To commemorate the 40-year anniversary of Thriller, the Jackson estate and Sony Music Entertainment said they’re celebrating the artistic vision that anchored the biggest selling album of all time with a new official documentary.
Directed by Nelson George, the film promises to take fans back in time to the making of the album and release of revolutionary short films that redefined the music video format and captivated audiences globally.
“Billie Jean” remains the most streamed Michael Jackson song and “Thriller” is the only music video that has been inducted onto the elite National Film Registry of the Library of Congress.
According to a news release, the documentary features never-before-seen footage and candid interviews.
The currently untitled documentary chronicles the point in Jackson’s career that launched the singer into mega-stardom and created a pop culture phenomenon that is woven through the culture and continues to influence the worlds of music, television, dance, fashion and more to this day.
“The release of Thriller redefined Michael Jackson, taking him from teen star to adult superstar, who composed memorable songs, sang beautifully and reached the highest level of on-stage performance,” Nelson George said in the release.
“The album, and the short films they inspired, created a new template for marrying music and image. It’s been a privilege to explore this extraordinary album and revisit its magic.”
When a fledgling MTV, which programmed white rock artists almost exclusively, refused to play the video for “Billie Jean” Epic Records persisted.
Once the wall came crashing down, MTV’s ratings soared, and a door was opened for a generation of African American artists.
“He was MTV’s Jackie Robinson,” said cultural critic Touré, who appeared this week on the National Newspaper Publishers Association’s Let It Be Known to promote his new show, Masters of the Game.
The second studio album by Jackson as a solo artist on Epic Records, Thriller captured a record 12 Grammy nominations and a record-setting eight wins.
Since its debut, Thriller has sold over 100 million albums worldwide, and was the first album to be certified triple diamond by the RIAA.
“Michael opened and explored emotional depths and pushed the boundaries of sonic innovation on Thriller,” John Branca and John McClain, Jackson’s estate executors, proclaimed in the news release.
“In the process, he breached destructive barriers in the music industry and literally united the world through his music: there isn’t a place on this planet that hasn’t been exhilarated by the music of Michael Jackson.”
“This documentary’s exploration of Michael’s process and impact is revelatory.”