Thriller — 25th Anniversary Edition |

CRITIC’S CHOICE

R&B-POP

You don’t have to go any further than the Top 10 of this week’s pop charts to appreciate the monumental impact of Thriller. On her dance hit “Don’t Stop the Music,” current pop It Girl Rihanna, who wasn’t even born when Michael Jackson moonwalked his way to history, rips the “ma ma se, ma ma sa, ma ma coo sa” refrain from “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’.” It’s a shrewd move, but all it makes me think is how much fresher—and fiercer—the source sounds, even today. On the 25th anniversary reissue, “Beat It” still rocks, “Billie Jean” still burns, and the title tune, with its so-wacko-it’s-genius Vincent Price rap, still thrills. The new remixes by will.i.am and Kanye West make the mistake of messing with iconic material. But Senegal-born singer Akon enriches the African flavor of “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’,” turning it into a funky world-beat jam.

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