10 songs that made Michael Jackson the 'King of Pop'

From the kid in Jackson 5 to the King of Pop - Michael Jackson.

Michael Jackson, the King of Pop, would have turned 61 on Thursday. Here are 10 songs that defined the singer's life, struggles and undeniable talent.

1. I Want You Back from Diana Ross Presents The Jackson 5
The first big hit from the Jackson brothers who rocked the pop world in the 1960s. The album, Diana Ross Presents the Jackson 5, released on Oct. 7, 1969, and topped the Soul singles chart for four weeks. It stayed on top of the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart for the week ending Jan. 31, 1970.

2. Billie Jean from Thriller

The beginning of the 'moonwalk' era and the white sequinned glove, Billie Jean was the song that trademarked the Jackson style of pop. Written and composed by MJ himself, this song earned him two Grammys, an American Music Award and topped the Billboard Hot 100 for seven weeks. The performance of this song on the TV special Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever earned him an Emmy nomination.

3. Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough from Off the Wall
The song that won Jackson his first Grammy for male solo singer and his first American Music Award. Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough was his first music video as a solo artist. Written and composed by Jackson, the video was directed and produced by Nick Saxton. It was released in July 1979.

4. Smooth Criminal from Bad
The song introduced the world to Jackson's "anti-gravity lean". The idol, who had already established his prowess as a dancer, demonstrated a move that seemed impossible - his upper body was able to lean forward 45 degrees while his feet stayed rigid. The stunt was done using cables and a harness for the video and special shoes hooked to the ground for live performances. Nevertheless, the lean still required immense athleticism.

5. Jam from Dangerous
The music video of the song featured NBA basketball legend Michael Jordan and was featured on the Chicago Bulls' 1992 NBA Championship video Untouchabulls. Jam was Jackson's opening number throughout his Dangerous World Tour.

6. Leave Me Alone from Bad
Jackson was the subject of many rumours and paparazzi troubles in the late 1980s. This song released in 1989 was Jackson's playful response to those who tried to drown him in allegations and rumours. The video is complete with animations, strong lyrics and a ride into Jackson's own mind.

7. Childhood from HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I
"Have you seen my childhood?" are the first words of the lyrics. The singer then narrates the pain that he endured as a child. The song is set in a dreamland where children explore the world on boats floating in the air while Jackson sits singing on a rock. He does not move throughout the song, which shows how much he wants the audience to listen to his voice.

8. Man in the Mirror from Bad
This is believed to be one of Jackson's favourites. The video's visuals show Martin Luther King Jr, suffering children in Africa, Adolf Hitler, the Kent State shootings, Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and other historical figures. He is mostly absent from the video appearing only briefly near the end.

9. Heal the World from Dangerous
Released in 1992, this song's video shows montages of violence around the world and how children have been affected by it. From children wounded in war to ones playing football in front of a tank, the scenes conclude with them coming together and holding candles to 'heal the world'. The song is a message of peace sent to the world from Jackson.

10. Thriller from Thriller
With a Grammy for Best Video, four MTV Video Music Awards, a People's Choice Award and USA's National Film Preservation Board award, this song is Jackson at his peak. It was the song and album that screamed to the world that the King had arrived. The song featured a spoken-word sequence from horror actor Vincent Price.

 

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