Michael Jackson's "Thriller" may be the best-selling album of all time, but it faces stiff competition when it comes to the king of pop's best work.
Four albums into his solo career, a then 20-year-old MJ had been struggling to recapture the Jacksons 5's commercial success. It all changed when the gloved one began working with legendary producer Quincy Jones.
Together, the pair worked on three LPs: "Off the Wall," released in 1979; "Thriller," released in 1982; and "Bad," released in 1987. While all three are considered classics, the "Off the Wall" Vs. "Thriller" debate has been going on for well over 25 years. The former went on to sell 20 million copies worldwide, peaked at no. 3 on the U.S. charts and generated two no. 1 singles, "Rock With You" and "Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough." The latter marked Jackson's first no. 1 record as a solo artist and catapulted him into another stratosphere. Seven out of the LP's nine tracks reached the Top 10, including two back-to-back no. 1s, "Billie Jean" and "Beat It." The album is estimated to have sold over 100 million units worldwide to date.
Commercial success aside, the general consensus is usually torn when it comes to picking the better MJ album. To let Quincy Jones tell it, "Wall" edges "Thriller" as Michael's ultimate masterpiece.
"I’m proud of both of them, don’t get me wrong," Jones told BET.com. "But, we had musical bridges in 'Off the Wall' and a lot of things of that nature, 'Thriller’ too, you know, it’s just different. But, I like all of them. Once you do them, you gotta like them."
Fans who favor "Off the Wall" often debate that it tells a more complete story than "Thriller." "Absolutely, I’d agree with that," Jones said.
Surprisingly, Jones, who has also produced for the likes of Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan and Aretha Franklin, among many others, initially wanted to give Michael's material to another legendary singer.
"Michael was singing about a real romance with a woman, so much so that he cried," Jones revealed. "I was saving the song for [Frank] Sinatra and I gave it to Michael, ‘cause I wanted to hear him sing about a real, true, warm relationship. He was very affected. He cried, every take he made, he cried. I just left it on the record."