Complete List Of Michael Jackson Albums And Discography

Michael Jackson Albums

Feature Photo: Vicki L. Miller / Shutterstock.com

In the pantheon of pop music, Michael Joseph Jackson holds an unassailable position, an icon whose brilliance spanned across music, dance, and fashion, earning him the moniker “King of Pop.” Born on August 29, 1958, Jackson’s odyssey from a child prodigy with the Jackson 5 to a solo virtuoso reshaped the contours of modern music and entertainment. With a career that stretched over four decades, his influence permeates a myriad of music genres, testament to his universal appeal and groundbreaking artistry.

Jackson’s trajectory to stardom was meteoric, beginning with his foray into the limelight in 1964 alongside his siblings in the Jackson 5. His solo career, initiated under the aegis of Motown Records in the early ’70s, burgeoned with the release of “Off the Wall” in 1979, a harbinger of his unparalleled success. The zenith of his career, perhaps, was marked by the 1982 masterpiece “Thriller,” an album that not only shattered sales records to become the best-selling album of all time but also cemented Jackson’s place in the annals of music history. The album “Bad” further etched his legacy, becoming the first to spawn five US Billboard Hot 100 number-one singles.

Jackson was not just a musical genius; he was a pioneer in using music videos as a potent artistic and promotional tool, breaking racial barriers on MTV and elevating the music video to an art form with iconic videos for “Beat It,” “Billie Jean,” and “Thriller.” His subsequent works, including albums like “Dangerous” and “HIStory,” continued to push the envelope, blending his musical genius with his flair for visual storytelling.

Despite his monumental success, Jackson’s life was not devoid of controversy, marked by periods of intense scrutiny over his personal life, relationships, and appearance. Allegations of sexual abuse in the ’90s and early 2000s clouded his reputation, though he was never found guilty. Tragically, his life was cut short in 2009, just as he was poised for a momentous comeback with the “This Is It” concerts. His untimely death from an overdose of propofol sent shockwaves around the globe, sparking a massive outpouring of grief and a resurgence in his music’s popularity.

Jackson’s legacy is immortalized by his record-breaking sales, with over 400 million records sold worldwide, and a plethora of awards that include 15 Grammy Awards and 39 Guinness World Records. His indelible impact on music and culture is further acknowledged by his multiple inductions into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, among others, solidifying his status as one of the most significant cultural figures of the 20th century. In the annals of pop music history, Michael Jackson remains an unparalleled figure whose artistry continues to inspire generations of musicians and fans alike.

STUDIO ALBUMS

Got to Be There

Released January 24, 1972

In the early ’70s, amidst the whirlwind of Motown’s golden era, a young Michael Jackson emerged not just as a member of the sensational Jackson 5, but as a solo artist poised to redefine pop and R&B. His debut solo album, “Got to Be There,” released on January 24, 1972, marked the beginning of a remarkable journey that would see Jackson evolve from a child prodigy to the undisputed King of Pop. Crafted in the hallowed studios of Motown in 1971, this album was a bold step for Jackson, showcasing his versatility and raw emotional depth across a diverse set of tracks.

“Got to Be There” is a mosaic of pop and R&B, with a runtime of 35:45 that encapsulates the early essence of Jackson’s solo career. Under the guidance of producers Hal Davis, The Corporation, and Willie Hutch, and the executive oversight of Berry Gordy, the album became a testament to Jackson’s unparalleled talent and the innovative spirit of Motown. The album weaves through a range of tempos, from the reflective cadence of Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine” to the upbeat bounce of “Rockin’ Robin,” showcasing Jackson’s ability to navigate diverse musical landscapes with ease.

The album’s promotion was a strategic masterpiece, with the title track “Got to Be There” making waves as Jackson’s debut solo single in October 1971, setting the stage for the album’s release. Singles like “Rockin’ Robin” and “I Wanna Be Where You Are” quickly climbed the charts, cementing Jackson’s status as a solo artist with a distinct voice that resonated with audiences far beyond the reach of the Jackson 5.

Critically, “Got to Be There” received a mixed reception, with some hailing it as a slick and artful extension of the Jackson 5’s magic, while others viewed it as an eclectic mix that showcased Jackson’s range but lacked cohesiveness. Yet, tracks like “Rockin’ Robin” and the heartfelt “I Wanna Be Where You Are” stood out, earning accolades for their vibrant energy and emotional depth.

Commercially, the album was a triumph, peaking at number 14 on the US Billboard 200 and securing a top three spot on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. Its enduring appeal was underscored in 2013, when it was certified Gold by the RIAA, a testament to Jackson’s lasting impact on music and popular culture.

In 2009, “Got to Be There” was remastered and reissued as part of the “Hello World: The Motown Solo Collection,” a 3-disc compilation that offered new generations a window into the dawn of Michael Jackson’s solo career. With over 1.5 million copies sold worldwide by 2016, “Got to Be There” remains a pivotal chapter in the story of a young artist who would go on to redefine the boundaries of music and performance.

CD Track Listings:

  1. Ain’t No Sunshine
  2. I Wanna Be Where You Are
  3. Girl Don’t Take Your Love from Me
  4. In Our Small Way
  5. Got to Be There
  6. Rockin’ Robin
  7. Wings of My Love
  8. Maria (You Were the Only One)
  9. Love Is Here and Now You’re Gone
  10. You’ve Got a Friend

Ben

Released August 4, 1972

In the lush landscape of early ’70s Motown, Michael Jackson’s sophomore solo album, “Ben,” released on August 4, 1972, emerged as a poignant chapter in the young prodigy’s evolving artistic narrative. Coming off the heels of his debut, “Got to Be There,” Jackson was still riding the wave of success with the Jackson 5 when he ventured deeper into his solo journey with “Ben.” This album, while receiving a spectrum of critical feedback, found its stride on the charts, particularly in the United States where it nestled comfortably within the Billboard 200’s top 10, marking a significant milestone in Jackson’s burgeoning career.

The album’s eponymous lead single, “Ben,” a tender ballad dedicated to a rat, of all muses, soared to the pinnacle of the US Billboard Hot 100 and captured hearts internationally, topping the charts in Australia and making significant inroads in other global markets. This track not only showcased Jackson’s emotional depth and vocal maturity but also earned him his first taste of solo chart-topping success, both domestically and abroad. Despite plans to release “Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool” as a follow-up single, the idea was shelved for reasons left to the annals of music history.

“Ben” stood out not just for its chart performance but also for its eclectic mix of covers and original compositions, a testament to Jackson’s wide-ranging musical influences and his ability to imbue each track with his unique charm. From the funk-infused rendition of “My Girl” to the introspective take on “You Can Cry on My Shoulder,” the album traversed a diverse soundscape, anchored by Jackson’s unmistakable voice.

The recording sessions, spanning from late 1971 to early 1972, were a collaborative effort involving a roster of seasoned producers and songwriters, including the likes of Mel Larson, Jerry Marcellino, and the legendary Smokey Robinson. This collective creative force, under the executive guidance of Berry Gordy, crafted an album that, despite its mixed critical reception, showcased Jackson’s growing prowess as a solo artist.

Critics offered varied perspectives on “Ben,” with some lauding its depth and the emotional resonance of tracks like the heartwarming “Ben” and the reflective “People Make The World Go Round.” Others, however, felt the album lacked the cohesive spark of Jackson’s debut. Yet, tracks such as “What Goes Around Comes Around” and the Stevie Wonder cover “Shoo-Be-Doo-Be-Doo-Da-Day” were highlighted for their vibrant energy and Jackson’s engaging delivery.

Commercially, “Ben” not only outperformed Jackson’s debut in the U.S. but also marked a significant moment as his first album to break into the top 10 on the Billboard 200, a harbinger of the superstar he was destined to become. The album’s international chart presence and its subsequent silver certification in the UK underscored Jackson’s growing global appeal.

In the aftermath of Jackson’s untimely passing in 2009, “Ben” experienced a resurgence, charting once again and reminding the world of the enduring legacy of a young artist whose emotional depth and musical talent knew no bounds. “Ben,” with its mix of soulful ballads and upbeat numbers, remains a poignant snapshot of Michael Jackson at a pivotal moment in his extraordinary journey from child star to global icon.

CD Track Listings:

  1. Ben
  2. Greatest Show on Earth
  3. People Make the World go Round
  4. We’ve Got a Good Thing Going
  5. Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool
  6. My Girl
  7. What Goes Around Comes Around
  8. In Our Small Way
  9. Shoo-Be-Doo-Be-Doo-Da-Day
  10. You Can Cry on My Shoulder

Music & Me

Released April 13, 1973

In the crucible of Motown’s hit factory, Michael Jackson’s “Music & Me,” his third studio foray, landed with a quiet resonance on April 13, 1973. This album, a mosaic of introspective ballads and mellow grooves, stands as an understated chapter in Jackson’s early solo voyage, markedly distinct from the exuberant rhythms of the Jackson 5. Crafted amidst a period of personal and vocal transformation for the then 14-year-old prodigy, “Music & Me” was a poignant testament to Jackson’s evolving artistry, albeit it became his least commercially successful release under the Motown banner.

The album’s creation was shadowed by Jackson’s own aspirations to mirror the creative autonomy of his Motown contemporaries, Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder, yearning to infuse the record with his own lyrical narratives. However, the Motown machine, known for its tight reins, steered clear of this, leaving Jackson to navigate the album’s direction within the confines of the label’s commercial blueprint. This friction ultimately fueled the Jackson family’s later departure from Motown, seeking a platform where Michael’s creative visions could soar unbounded.

“Music & Me” was delicately orchestrated by a quartet of arrangers, including Dave Blumberg and Freddie Perren, who together wove a tapestry of lush arrangements that cradled Jackson’s tender vocals. Despite its subdued commercial performance, the album was later encapsulated in the 2009 “Hello World: The Motown Solo Collection,” a triptych compilation that sought to rekindle the early embers of Jackson’s solo endeavors.

Promotional efforts for the album were constrained by Jackson’s commitments with The Jackson 5, leaving the Stevie Wonder cover “With a Child’s Heart” to lead the album’s charge as a single. This track, with its heartwarming innocence, resonated modestly on the charts, capturing a glimpse of Jackson’s capability to stir emotions through his evolving voice. The album’s other selections, though less commercially impactful, were nonetheless emblematic of Jackson’s journey through the complexities of adolescence and artistry.

Critically, “Music & Me” traversed a spectrum of receptions, with some commentators noting the album’s lack of cohesive identity, while others found charm in its subdued simplicity and Jackson’s heartfelt delivery. Tracks like the contemplative title song and the achingly beautiful “With a Child’s Heart” were lauded for showcasing a more mature, introspective Jackson, navigating the precipice of adulthood both in life and music.

The album’s legacy is a mosaic of what-ifs and might-have-beens, a snapshot of a young artist at the cusp of finding his voice in the cacophony of the music industry. “Music & Me” remains a reflective pause in the meteoric trajectory of Michael Jackson’s career, a gentle reminder of the tender soul behind the burgeoning superstar.

CD Track Listings:

  1. With a Child’s Heart
  2. Up Again
  3. All the Things You Are
  4. Happy
  5. Too Young
  6. Doggin’ Around
  7. Euphoria
  8. Morning Glow
  9. Johnny Raven
  10. Music and Me

Forever, Michael

Released January 16, 1975

In the mid-70s, amidst the glitter and groove of Motown’s golden era, Michael Jackson’s “Forever, Michael” emerged as a poignant prelude to his monumental career. Released on January 16, 1975, this album marked the end of Jackson’s formative years with Motown, serving as a bridge to his groundbreaking “Off the Wall.” Crafted under the aegis of Motown’s stalwarts like Eddie Holland, Brian Holland, and Hal Davis, “Forever, Michael” shimmered with funk and soul nuances, hinting at the superstar Jackson was destined to become.

At the tender age of 16, Jackson was navigating the turbulent waters of artistic transition. With “Forever, Michael,” he veered towards a smoother soul sound, a departure from the bubblegum pop that had catapulted the Jackson 5 to stardom. This album, however, was a quiet affair on the charts, finding modest success in the United States but failing to ignite globally. Despite its lukewarm commercial reception, the album was a critical darling, showcasing Jackson’s burgeoning maturity as an artist.

The album’s promotion was a subdued affair, with singles like “We’re Almost There” and “Just a Little Bit of You” making ripples rather than waves on the charts. Yet, these tracks underscored Jackson’s evolving vocal prowess and his uncanny ability to infuse soul into pop. The album’s later years would see a resurgence, particularly with the posthumous reissue in the “Hello World: The Motown Solo Collection,” casting a retrospective glow on Jackson’s early solo efforts.

Critics, from The Village Voice to AllMusic, lauded “Forever, Michael” for its earnestness and the subtle sophistication of its arrangements. The album was seen as a testament to Jackson’s transition from the boy soprano of yesteryears to a tenor with a rich emotional palette. Tracks like “One Day in Your Life” would later become anthems, their delayed success a testament to Jackson’s timeless appeal.

In the grand tapestry of Jackson’s career, “Forever, Michael” stands as a delicate thread, a reminder of his early promise and the vast potential that lay ahead. As the final curtain on his Motown chapter, the album is a bittersweet ode to the end of an era and the dawn of a legend. With “Forever, Michael,” Jackson bid farewell to his boyhood, stepping into the limelight that would soon engulf the world in his brilliance.

CD Track Listings:

  1. We’re Almost There
  2. Take Me Back
  3. One Day in Your Life
  4. Cinderella Stay Awhile
  5. We’ve Got Forever
  6. Just a Little Bit of You
  7. You Are There
  8. Dapper Dan
  9. Dear Michael
  10. I’ll Come Home To You

Off the Wall

Released August 10, 1979

In the waning days of the 1970s, amidst the glittering decay of disco and the burgeoning swell of pop’s new wave, Michael Jackson delivered “Off the Wall,” an album that not only redefined his career but also reshaped the landscape of music itself. Released on August 10, 1979, through Epic Records, this was Jackson’s inaugural venture with the legendary Quincy Jones, a partnership that blossomed during their collaboration on the film “The Wiz.”

“Off the Wall” was an audacious blend of disco, pop, funk, and R&B, sprinkled with elements of soft rock and the allure of Broadway ballads. The album’s lyrical canvas painted a wide array of themes, from the euphoric highs of escapism and hedonism to the more introspective realms of loneliness and romance. A testament to Jackson’s evolving artistry, the record featured contributions from an array of musical luminaries including Stevie Wonder, Paul McCartney, and Rod Temperton, alongside Jackson’s own songwriting prowess on three of the tracks.

Jackson, having already released four solo studio albums with Motown, was no stranger to the spotlight. Yet, with “Off the Wall,” he yearned to break free from the constraints of his previous works and the Jackson 5 moniker, aiming for a sound that was distinctly his own. The album soared to the top of the charts, peaking at number three on the Billboard Top LPs & Tapes and securing the number one spot on the Top Black Albums chart, where it reigned supreme for 16 weeks.

The commercial success of “Off the Wall” was unprecedented, with five singles catapulting into the public consciousness. “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” marked Jackson’s triumphant return to the top of the Billboard Hot 100, a position he hadn’t occupied since “Ben” seven years prior. The album’s sustained chart dominance was further solidified with hits like “Rock with You” and “She’s Out of My Life,” making Jackson the first solo artist to boast four top 10 singles from the same album on the Billboard Hot 100.

Critically, “Off the Wall” was lauded as a seminal work, a disco-era masterpiece that would stand as a precursor to Jackson’s magnum opus, “Thriller.” The album’s influence permeated the music industry, selling over 20 million copies worldwide and achieving a 9× Platinum certification by the RIAA in the US. At the 1980 Grammy Awards, Jackson’s efforts were recognized with a win for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male for “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough,” and an induction into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2008 further cemented its legacy.

“Off the Wall” marked a pivotal moment in Jackson’s career, a bold declaration of artistic independence and a harbinger of the unparalleled heights he would achieve in the years to follow. It was not just an album; it was a cultural moment, a dazzling fusion of sound and style that would forever alter the course of pop music.

CD Track Listings:

  1. Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough
  2. Rock With You
  3. Workin’ Day And Night
  4. Get On The Floor
  5. Off The Wall
  6. Girlfriend
  7. She’s Out Of My Life
  8. I Can’t Help It
  9. It’s The Falling In Love
  10. Burn This Disco Out

Thriller

Released November 30, 1982

In a transformative moment for music history, Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” erupted onto the scene on November 29, 1982, courtesy of Epic Records. With Quincy Jones at the helm, fresh from their success with “Off the Wall,” the duo was primed to redefine pop music’s landscape. Jackson, driven by a vision where each track would stand as a hit, ventured beyond the then-waning disco scene to embrace a rich tapestry of genres, from funk and synth-pop to rock and R&B, all while weaving in themes that mirrored the complexities of his own life.

Recorded in the hallowed halls of Westlake Recording Studios in Los Angeles, with a modest budget of $750,000, the album’s creation spanned several months in 1982. It marked a significant departure for Jackson, showcasing a more mature sound that resonated with both critics and fans alike. The album’s ambition was clear: to shatter musical boundaries and expectations.

Upon its release, “Thriller” skyrocketed to the pinnacle of the US Billboard charts, setting a new benchmark with a staggering 37-week reign at number one. Its influence was undeniable, with seven hit singles that included the likes of “Billie Jean” and “Beat It,” each finding a home within the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100. The album’s innovative use of music videos, particularly for “Thriller,” “Billie Jean,” and “Beat It,” revolutionized the medium, turning them into indispensable tools for artistic expression and promotion.

By the end of 1983, “Thriller” had not only become the best-selling album of the year globally but had also etched its name in history as the best-selling album of all time, a title it proudly holds to this day. Its impact extended beyond sales, breaking down racial barriers in the music industry and solidifying Jackson’s status as a global icon.

The album’s critical acclaim was matched by its awards haul, sweeping eight Grammys in 1984, including Album of the Year. It wasn’t just the music world that took notice; Jackson’s influence reached the corridors of power, leading to a celebrated visit to the White House.

“Thriller” wasn’t just an album; it was a cultural phenomenon that reshaped the music industry, setting new standards for production, marketing, and cross-genre appeal. It served as a blueprint for artists and producers, signaling the dawn of a new era in pop music. The legacy of “Thriller” endures, a testament to Jackson’s genius and his unparalleled contribution to the fabric of global pop culture.

CD Track Listings:

1. Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’
2. Baby Be Mine
3. The Girl Is Mine
4. Thriller
5. Beat It
6. Billie Jean
7. Human Nature
8. P.Y.T (Pretty Young Thing)
9. The Lady In My Life

Bad

Released August 31, 1987

With the release of “Bad” on August 31, 1987, Michael Jackson didn’t just drop an album; he detonated an explosion of pop, rock, and R&B that reverberated through the very foundations of the music industry. Under the aegis of Epic Records, Jackson reunited with Quincy Jones for this, their final magnum opus together, crafting an album that was both a departure from and a continuation of their groundbreaking work on “Thriller.”

“Bad” was the culmination of two years of meticulous labor, a period during which Jackson honed his songwriting, co-producing all but two tracks and steering his musical voyage into uncharted territories. The album’s sound was a bold fusion of pop, rock, funk, and soul, intertwined with cutting-edge digital synthesis that marked a new era in recording technology. Thematically, Jackson delved into a tapestry of subjects from the perils of media bias and racial profiling to the more tender realms of romance and the universal quest for self-improvement.

This era also saw Jackson metamorphose in image; the softer contours of his “Thriller” days gave way to a sharper, more enigmatic persona, mirroring the edgier undercurrents of the album itself. “Bad” wasn’t just an auditory experience; it was a visual and cultural phenomenon, further amplified by the cinematic “Moonwalker” and the electrifying Bad World Tour, which shattered records to become the highest-grossing solo concert tour of the ’80s.

The album’s rollout was nothing short of historic, with a record-breaking five of its singles rocketing to the top of the charts. The anticipation, fueled by the half-decade hiatus since “Thriller,” was palpable, and the reception did not disappoint. Upon its release, “Bad” soared to the zenith of charts worldwide, heralding yet another epoch in Jackson’s reign as the undisputed king of pop.

Critics and fans alike lauded the album, particularly highlighting Jackson’s vocal dynamism and the lush, intricate production. “Bad” not only garnered a slew of Grammy nominations but also etched its name in the annals of music history with a string of awards, including a historic win for Best Engineered Recording – Non Classical and the inaugural Billboard Spotlight Award, underscoring its unprecedented success on the charts.

Beyond its commercial triumphs, “Bad” stands as a testament to Jackson’s enduring influence on pop culture and his unyielding pursuit of musical innovation. It’s an album that not only defined an era but also transcended it, securing its place among the pantheon of albums that have indelibly shaped the landscape of modern music.

CD Track Listings:

  1. Bad
  2. The Way You Make Me Feel
  3. Speed Demon
  4. Liberian Girl
  5. Just Good Friends – featuring Stevie Wonder
  6. Another Part of Me
  7. Man In the Mirror
  8. I Just Can’t Stop Loving You
  9. Dirty Diana
  10. Smooth Criminal
  11. Leave Me Alone

Dangerous

Released November 26, 1991

In the pantheon of pop, Michael Jackson’s “Dangerous” stands as a thrilling enigma, a sonic juggernaut that veered sharply from the King of Pop’s well-trodden path. Released on November 26, 1991, by Epic Records, this album was a radical departure from Jackson’s previous work, “Bad,” showcasing a Jackson unafraid to experiment and redefine his artistry. Without Quincy Jones by his side, Jackson instead enlisted a diverse cadre of collaborators, from new jack swing pioneer Teddy Riley to rock guitar virtuoso Slash, to craft an album that was as eclectic as it was bold.

“Dangerous” wasn’t just an album; it was a cultural moment. The record pulsated with a mix of R&B, pop, and the burgeoning sounds of new jack swing, while also weaving in threads of funk, hip-hop, and even classical music. Jackson’s lyrical prowess shone through, addressing pressing issues of racism, poverty, and the environment, all the while maintaining his trademark allure in songs of love and longing.

The album’s production was a high-wire act of innovation, employing cutting-edge technology and unconventional sounds—from the roar of vehicle horns to the clatter of chains—creating a soundscape that was as gritty as it was glamorous. Jackson’s foray into rap and his use of beatboxing added layers of urban edginess to the album’s texture.

Upon its release, “Dangerous” catapulted straight to the top, not just clinching the number one spot on the US Billboard Top Pop Albums chart but also achieving global dominance. It was an instant commercial behemoth, selling five million copies in its first week worldwide and eventually becoming one of the best-selling albums of all time with over 32 million copies sold.

The album spun off a record-breaking nine singles, including the anthemic “Black or White” and the haunting “Who Is It,” showcasing Jackson’s unparalleled ability to create hits that resonated across the globe. The “Dangerous World Tour,” which accompanied the album, was a spectacle of pop pageantry that grossed $100 million, further cementing Jackson’s status as a live performer par excellence.

Critics were captivated by “Dangerous,” hailing it as a masterstroke of musical genius that pushed the boundaries of pop music. It was lauded for its audacious blend of styles and its thematic depth, earning Jackson four Grammy nominations and a slew of other accolades.

In the years since its release, “Dangerous” has continued to be revered as a milestone in Jackson’s illustrious career and a touchstone in the evolution of pop music. It stands as a testament to Jackson’s fearless creativity and enduring impact on the music industry, proving that the King of Pop was not just a moniker, but a mantle well earned.

CD Track Listings:

  1. Jam
  2. Why You Wanna Trip On Me
  3. In The Closet
  4. She Drives Me Wild
  5. Remember the Time
  6. Can’t Let Her Get Away
  7. Heal The World
  8. Black Or White
  9. Who Is It
  10. Give In To Me
  11. Will You Be There
  12. Keep the Faith
  13. Gone Too Soon
  14. Dangerous

HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I

Released June 20, 1995

Michael Jackson’s “HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I” isn’t just an album; it’s a defiant roar, a sonic manifesto from a man cornered by scandal and fighting back with the only weapons he knew: his music and his genius. Released on June 20, 1995, this double disc set was a bold statement in the face of adversity, a blend of Jackson’s greatest hits and his raw, unfiltered response to the tumultuous events that had shadowed his life since the late ’80s.

The first disc, “HIStory Begins,” was a retrospective, a victory lap of Jackson’s unparalleled hits, while the second, “HIStory Continues,” was a grenade lobbed into the heart of a public and media landscape that had turned hostile. This was Jackson as we’d never seen him before: vulnerable, angry, and unapologetically confrontational, addressing everything from environmental devastation to societal injustice, personal isolation, and the voracious appetite of a media that had dubbed him “Wacko Jacko.”

Jackson wasn’t alone in this sonic crusade. The album boasted an eclectic guest list including his sister Janet, basketball giant Shaquille O’Neal, guitar legend Slash, and the indomitable Notorious B.I.G. The music spanned genres with reckless abandon, from R&B to pop and hip hop, laced with hard rock and funk rock’s raw energy. But it was the themes that set “HIStory” apart, with tracks like “Scream,” “They Don’t Care About Us,” and the haunting “Earth Song” serving as Jackson’s counterpunch to the allegations and media frenzy that had ensnared him.

The album’s release was a cultural event, debuting at number one across the globe and spawning seven singles, including the record-setting duet “Scream” with Janet and the hauntingly beautiful “You Are Not Alone.” Yet, it was tracks like “D.S.,” a thinly veiled jab at Jackson’s prosecutor, and “Tabloid Junkie,” a rebuke of media sensationalism, that truly encapsulated the album’s defiant spirit.

“HIStory” wasn’t without its controversies, most notably the backlash over “They Don’t Care About Us” and its alleged antisemitic lyrics, a charge Jackson fervently denied, leading to a revision of the song in later pressings. Despite this, the album solidified Jackson’s prowess, earning him a Grammy for “Scream” and an American Music Award, among others.

The subsequent HIStory World Tour was a spectacle unlike any other, a testament to Jackson’s enduring appeal and the global resonance of his music and message, grossing over $165 million and marking Jackson’s final concert tour as a solo artist.

“HIStory” was more than an album; it was Michael Jackson’s personal vindication, a document of a man confronting his demons and the world’s accusations with the artistry and passion that had defined his career. It remains a pivotal chapter in the saga of a pop icon, a testament to resilience, and a powerful reminder of the man behind the headlines.

CD Track Listings:

Disc 1: HIStory Begins/Greatest Hits: HIStory, Volume I

  1. Billie Jean (from Thriller, 1982)
  2. The Way You Make Me Feel (from Bad, 1987)
  3. Black or White (from Dangerous, 1991)
  4. Rock With You (from Off the Wall, 1979)
  5. She’s Out Of My Life (from Off the Wall, 1979)
  6. Bad (from Bad, 1987)
  7. I Just Can’t Stop Loving You (duet with Siedah Garrett) (from Bad, 1987)
  8. Man in the Mirror (from Bad, 1987)
  9. Thriller (from Thriller, 1982)
  10. Beat It (from Thriller, 1982)
  11. The Girl Is Mine (duet with Paul McCartney) (from Thriller, 1982)
  12. Remember the Time (from Dangerous, 1991)
  13. Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough (from Off the Wall, 1979)
  14. Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ (from Thriller, 1982)
  15. Heal the World (from Dangerous, 1991)

Disc 2: HIStory Continues

  1. Scream (Duet with Janet Jackson)
  2. They Don’t Care About Us
  3. Stranger In Moscow
  4. This Time Around
  5. Earth Song
  6. “D.S.”
  7. Money
  8. Come Together
  9. You Are Not Alone
  10. Childhood
  11. Tabloid Junkie
  12. 2 Bad
  13. HIStory
  14. Little Susie
  15. Smile

Invincible

Released October 30, 2001

“Invincible,” Michael Jackson’s swan song album, dropped on October 30, 2001, via Epic Records, marking his final masterpiece before his untimely demise in 2009. This monumental album not only showcased guest spots from legends like Carlos Santana, the Notorious B.I.G., and Slash but also traversed a musical landscape encompassing R&B, pop, and soul. The album delved into themes close to Jackson’s heart – love, romance, the harsh glare of media scrutiny, and pressing social issues, all wrapped in his signature musical brilliance.

Crafting “Invincible” was no walk in the park. The production, an opulent and intricate affair, saw the collaboration of ten record producers and a legion of over 100 musicians. Jackson, in his quest for perfection, embarked on this multi-genre odyssey in 1997, painstakingly fine-tuning it until mere weeks before its grand unveiling. With a staggering $30 million poured into its creation, “Invincible” stands as the priciest album ever produced as of January 2024. Yet, in a twist, Jackson opted out of touring, widening the rift with Sony Music Entertainment, and sparking a series of controversies that would shadow the album’s release.

Upon its release, “Invincible” conquered charts worldwide, clinching the number one spot on the Billboard 200 in the US and in ten other countries. The RIAA certified it double platinum by January 2002, with global sales surpassing eight million copies. The lead single “You Rock My World” made a splash on the US Billboard Hot 100 and snagged a Grammy nomination for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance in 2002. Other singles like “Cry” and “Butterflies” also found their way to the audiences, with “Speechless” being promoted in South Korea.

Despite its commercial success, “Invincible” was met with mixed reviews initially, with some critics not shy to dub it Jackson’s most critically panned work. However, time has been kind, with more recent assessments acknowledging its innovative qualities, particularly its early forays into dubstep. In a posthumous nod to its enduring appeal, Billboard online readers crowned it the best album of the 2000s decade in 2009.

The album’s gestation period was marked by what can only be described as a Herculean effort from Jackson. Starting in 1997, he toiled away, meticulously layering tracks with Rodney Jerkins at the Hit Factory in Miami, among other locations. Jackson, ever the visionary, sought to infuse the album with fresh, “edgier” sounds, diverging from his earlier work. The final product, a testament to Jackson’s relentless pursuit of musical evolution, featured contributions from a who’s who of the music industry, including Teddy Riley, Babyface, and R. Kelly, culminating in an album that was as diverse in its sound as it was in its thematic exploration.

“Invincible” was more than just an album; it was a statement, a reflection of Jackson’s tumultuous relationship with the media and the personal trials he faced. From the defiant “Unbreakable” to the introspective “Speechless,” inspired by a simple water-balloon fight, the album traversed the emotional spectrum. Songs like “Privacy” took a jab at the invasive press, while “The Lost Children” and “Earth Song” highlighted Jackson’s humanitarian concerns. The album even included tributes, most notably dedicating the project to Benjamin “Benny” Hermansen, a young victim of a hate crime, underscoring Jackson’s advocacy for judging one’s character over the color of their skin.

The rollout of “Invincible” was anything but smooth. Planned as Jackson’s grand comeback, the album’s promotion was stifled by his escalating disputes with Sony Music, particularly with Sony Music CEO Tommy Mottola, whom Jackson accused of exploitative practices. This corporate tussle led to the premature cessation of the album’s promotion, leaving many potential singles unexplored and the album’s full potential untapped.

In its aftermath, “Invincible” has emerged not just as Michael Jackson’s final studio offering but as a testament to his undying influence on the music landscape. It encapsulated the King of Pop’s enduring legacy, his unyielding spirit in the face of adversity, and his unparalleled ability to meld a myriad of musical styles into something truly transcendent. “Invincible” stands as a bittersweet finale to a career that forever altered the fabric of music and culture worldwide.

CD Track Listings:

  1. Unbreakable (with The Notorious B.I.G.)
  2. Heartbreaker
  3. Invincible
  4. Break of Dawn
  5. Heaven Can Wait
  6. You Rock My World
  7. Butterflies
  8. Speechless
  9. 2000 Watts
  10. You Are My Life
  11. Privacy (with Slash)
  12. Don’t Walk Away
  13. Cry
  14. The Lost Children
  15. Whatever Happens – with Carlos Santana
  16. Threatened

Michael

Released December 10, 2010

In a posthumous homage that stirred both anticipation and controversy, “Michael,” the first all-new assemblage of Michael Jackson’s work since 2001’s “Invincible,” hit the shelves on December 10, 2010. This ambitious project, released by Epic Records and Sony Music Entertainment, not only marks a poignant chapter in the saga of the King of Pop but also invites a myriad of voices, including Akon and Lenny Kravitz, to contribute to Jackson’s enduring legacy.

“Michael” made its grand entrance onto the music scene, securing the number three spot on the US Billboard 200 and earning Platinum certification by the RIAA in the United States. Its sonic journey is propelled by singles like the evocative “Hold My Hand” and the rhythmic “Hollywood Tonight,” both complemented by visually striking music videos that add depth to Jackson’s posthumous narrative.

However, the album’s creation, a $30 million endeavor marked by the collaboration of over ten record producers and 100 musicians, was shadowed by a veil of controversy, particularly regarding the authenticity of Jackson’s vocals on tracks like “Breaking News.” This debate led to a significant decision in 2022 when “Keep Your Head Up,” “Monster,” and “Breaking News” were pulled from the album’s streaming and physical versions, a move that reverberated through Jackson’s fanbase and the music industry alike.

The album, anticipated as a comeback, was a labor of love that began in 1997 and stretched until just weeks before its release, making it the longest production span in Jackson’s career. Despite its fraught journey to release, including a leaked single and debates over Jackson’s vocal authenticity, “Michael” serves as a mosaic of genres, from R&B and pop to rock and funk, all carrying the thematic weight of love, societal critique, and personal trials.

Among the album’s tapestry of tracks, “Hold My Hand,” a heartfelt duet with Akon, stands out not just for its melody but for its thematic resonance of unity and friendship, a theme dear to Jackson. Yet, the album is not without its critics, with some collaborators and family members questioning the release of unfinished works, suggesting it went against Jackson’s perfectionist nature.

The album’s artwork, a vibrant oil painting by Kadir Nelson, encapsulates Jackson’s multifaceted career, with symbolic nods to his transformations and trials. Yet, even here, controversy left its mark with the removal of Prince’s symbol from the cover, sparking discussions about artistic integrity and posthumous collaborations.

Despite the controversies, “Michael” remains a testament to Jackson’s enduring influence and the complex interplay between his artistic legacy and the machinations of the music industry. It’s a reminder that even in absence, Jackson’s voice continues to resonate, sparking debates, inspiring listeners, and challenging the boundaries of music and storytelling.

CD Track Listings:

  1. Hold My Hand – featuring Akon
  2. Hollywood Tonight
  3. Keep Your Head Up
  4. (I Like) The Way You Love Me
  5. Monster – featuring 50 Cent 
  6. Best of Joy
  7. Breaking News
  8. (I Can’t Make It) Another Day – featuring Lenny Kravitz
  9. Behind the Mask
  10. Much Too Soon

Xscape

Released May 9, 2014

“Xscape,” Michael Jackson’s second venture into the posthumous release realm, dropped like a thunderbolt on May 9, 2014, via Epic Records, MJJ Music, and Sony Music Entertainment. As the tenth project to emerge from the Sony/Motown vaults since Jackson’s untimely departure, “Xscape” carved its niche, debuting #1 globally and showcasing a modern twist on the King of Pop’s unreleased gems.

Under the watchful eye of Epic’s chairman L.A. Reid, “Xscape” was meticulously crafted, entrusting the legendary Timbaland to marshal a squad of studio wizards including Jerome “J-Roc” Harmon, Rodney Jerkins, and Stargate, breathing new life into eight of Jackson’s tracks. This ambitious endeavor not only leveraged Sony’s colossal network for promotion but also saw “Slave to the Rhythm” catapult into the limelight, thanks to Sony Mobile’s Xperia Z2 campaign.

Distinguishing itself, “Xscape” features both a standard edition with contemporized tracks and a deluxe package, offering a rare glimpse into the original recordings spanning two decades, from the ’80s through to the early 2000s. The album’s unveiling was nothing short of spectacular, with a holographic Jackson performance at the 2014 Billboard Music Awards bringing the audience to its feet.

Chart-wise, “Xscape” soared, clinching the number two spot on the Billboard 200 and topping the R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart in the U.S. Its lead single, “Love Never Felt So Good,” a duet with Justin Timberlake, marked Jackson’s return to the top ten of the Billboard Hot 100, a feat not seen since 2001. The album’s reception was warm, with critics nodding to its fresh take on Jackson’s sound and it soon bagged a gold certification from the RIAA.

“Xscape” wasn’t just an album; it was a bold statement, a blend of Jackson’s timeless vocals with cutting-edge production. Despite some controversies over vocal authenticity on certain tracks, the album stood as a testament to Jackson’s enduring legacy, proving that even years after his passing, the King of Pop’s influence on music was far from fading. “Xscape” wasn’t just a posthumous release; it was a celebration of Michael Jackson’s undying spirit in the world of music.

CD Track Listings:

1. Love Never Felt So Good (recorded 1983 during the Thriller era)
2. Chicago (recorded March 1999 for Invincible)
3. Loving You (recorded 1985 During the Bad sessions/Thriller Era)
4. A Place With No Name (recorded 1998 for the Invincible album)
5. Slave to the Rhythm (recorded 1990 for the Dangerous album)
6. Do You Know Where Your Children Are (recorded 1986 – 1990 during the Bad sessions and also for the Dangerous album.
7. Blue Gangsta (recorded 1998 – 1999 for Invincible)
8. Xscape (recorded 1999 – 2001 for Invincible)

 MICHAEL JACKSON LIVE ALBUMS AND DVDS

Live at Wembley July 16, 1988

Released September 18, 2012

CD Track Listings:

This Is It

Released September 18, 2012

CD Track Listings:

1. “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin'”
2. “Jam”
3. “They Don’t Care About Us”
4. “Human Nature”
5. “Smooth Criminal”
6. “The Way You Make Me Feel”
7. “Shake Your Body (Down To The Ground)”
8. “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You”
9. “Thriller”
10. “Beat It”
11. “Black Or White”
12. “Earth Song”
13. “Billie Jean”
14. “Man In The Mirror”
15. “This Is It”
16. “This Is It (Orchestra Version)”

MICHAEL JACKSON SELECT COMPILATION ALBUMS

There are close to forty official Michale Jackson compilation albums all just repeating the same songs. The ones below are the best and most different of the lot.

The Best of Michael Jackson

Released August 28, 1975

CD Track Listings:

One Day in Your Life

Released March 25, 1981

CD Track Listings:

  1. One Day in Your Life
  2. Don’t Say Goodbye Again – The Jackson 5
  3. You’re My Best Friend, My Love – The Jackson 5
  4. Take Me Back
  5. We’ve Got Forever
  6. It’s Too Late to Change the Time
  7. You Are There
  8. Dear Michael
  9. I’ll Come Home To You
  10. Make Tonight All Mine

18 Greatest Hits

Released June 1983

CD Track Listings:

  1. “One Day in Your Life” (from Forever, Michael)
  2. “Lookin’ Through the Windows” (from Lookin’ Through the Windows)
  3. “Got to Be There” (from Got to Be There)
  4. “Doctor My Eyes” (from Lookin’ Through the Windows)
  5. “Ben” (from Ben)
  6. “ABC” (from ABC)
  7. “We’re Almost There” (from Forever, Michael)
  8. “Skywriter” (from Skywriter)
  9. “Rockin’ Robin” (from Got to Be There)
  10. “Happy” (from Music & Me)
  11. “Ain’t No Sunshine” (from Got to Be There)
  12. “I’ll Be There” (from Third Album)
  13. “I Want You Back” (from Diana Ross Presents The Jackson 5)
  14. “The Love You Save” (from ABC)
  15. “We’ve Got a Good Thing Going” (from Ben)
  16. “Mama’s Pearl” (from Third Album)
  17. “Never Can Say Goodbye” (from Maybe Tomorrow)
  18. “Hallelujah Day” (from Skywriter)

Farewell My Summer Love

Released May 8, 1984

CD Track Listings:

  1. “Don’t Let It Get You Down”
  2. “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me”
  3. “Melodie”
  4. “Touch the One You Love”
  5. “Girl You’re So Together”
  6. “Farewell My Summer Love”
  7. “Call on Me”
  8. “Here I Am (Come and Take Me)”
  9. “To Make My Father Proud”

Masters – The Millennium Collection:
The Best of Michael Jackson

Released 2000

CD Track Listings:

  1. Got to Be There
  2. I Wanna Be Where You Are
  3. Rockin’ Robin
  4. People Make the World go Round
  5. With a Child’s Heart
  6. Happy
  7. Ben
  8. We’re Almost There
  9. Just a Little Bit of You
  10. One Day in Your Life
  11. Music and Me

Number Ones

Released November 18, 2003

CD Track Listings:

  1. Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough
  2. Rock With You
  3. Billie Jean
  4. Beat It
  5. Thriller
  6. I Just Can’t Stop Loving You
  7. Bad
  8. Smooth Criminal
  9. The Way You Make Me Feel
  10. Man in the Mirror
  11. Dirty Diana
  12. Black or White
  13. You Are Not Alone
  14. Earth Song
  15. You Rock My World
  16. Break of Dawn
  17. One More Chance – unreleased
  18. Ben

The Essential Michael Jackson

Released July 19, 2005

CD Track Listings:

Disc 1:

  1. I Want You Back
  2. ABC
  3. The Love You Save
  4. Got to Be There
  5. Rockin’ Robin
  6. Ben
  7. Enjoy Yourself
  8. Blame It On The Boogie
  9. Shake Your Body
  10. Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough
  11. Rock With You
  12. Off The Wall
  13. She’s Out Of My Life
  14. Can You Feel It
  15. The Girl Is Mine
  16. Billie Jean (Single Version)
  17. Beat It (Single Version)
  18. Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ (Single Version)
  19. Human Nature (Album Version)
  20. P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)
  21. Thriller (Single Version)

Disc 2:

  1. Bad
  2. I Just Can’t Stop Loving You
  3. Leave Me Alone
  4. The Way You Make Me Feel
  5. Man in the Mirror
  6. Dirty Diana
  7. Another Part Of Me
  8. Smooth Criminal
  9. Black or White
  10. Heal the World
  11. Remember the Time
  12. In The Closet
  13. Who Is It
  14. Will You Be There
  15. Dangerous
  16. You Are Not Alone
  17. You Rock My World

Scream

Released September 29, 2017

CD Track Listings:

  1. This Place Hotel (a.k.a. Hearthbreak Hotel)
  2. Thriller
  3. Blood on the Dance Floor
  4. Somebody’s Watching Me
  5. Dirty Diana (2012 Remaster)
  6. Torture
  7. Leave Me Alone (2012 Remaster)
  8. Scream
  9. Dangerous
  10. Unbreakable
  11. Xscape
  12. Threatened
  13. Ghosts
  14. Blood On The Dance Floor X Dangerous

Complete List Of Michael Jackson Albums And Discography article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2024

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