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What Makes Michael Jackson's “Thriller” Video So Iconic?

Everyone knows the iconic dance move from “Thriller”, the one where you put your arms out like zombie claws and walk back and forth in a spooky zombie fashion. But haunting choreography isn’t all that makes the “Thriller” video so iconic.

How it Started:

Michael Jackson saw the 1981 film An American Werewolf in London and became a huge fan. Jackson called the film’s director John Landis (better known for comedy movies such as Animal House, The Blues Brothers, and Trading Places) about his idea for a “Thriller” video. Landis agreed to do a short film without even hearing Jackson’s song. Jackson agreed, and the two would go on to make history.

The Idea for the Story:

Landis said Jackson was a gifted 25-year-old Michael Jackson“who wanted to be turned into a monster, just for fun.” Little did Landis know, the young artist would soon be turned into the King of Pop. “The big thing was to give him a girl,” says Landis, noting that Jackson didn’t interact with women in his other music videos (“Billie Jean” and “Beat It”). So Landis wrote a script where Jackson would go on a date with a girl, then transform into a werewolf.

Thriller’s Reception

The video’s reception was monumental, spurring round-the-clock showings on MTV. Audience ratings increased tenfold when MTV started playing “Thriller.” Album sales more than doubled, making “Thriller” the number 1 LP of all time (current sales worldwide: an estimated 110 million).

“Thriller” was the first music video to be inducted into the National Film Registry. The dance has become an annual ritual in cities across the world. The record being Mexico City, where 12,937 people dressed up in ghoul makeup and costumes to dance to Jackson’s tune.

If you've ever wanted to learn the iconic choreography, come to Jordan Mac Studios Halloween Costume Party / Michael Jackson "Thriller" Dance Class on November 2nd at 7:30 PM!




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