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Thriller vs Purple Rain

April 22nd, 2016 Leave a comment Go to comments

Tonight I’ve had Thriller square up to Purple Rain, track vs track. The best-selling album of all time versus the most perfect pop album of the decade. It’s an unfair contest.

 

thriller

 

Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ vs Let’s Go Crazy
Great opener by Michael is blown out of the water by a work of great innovation and energy. There are a couple of songs on Purple Rain which Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ might have beaten, but not Let’s Go Crazy. 0-1

 

purple rain

 

Baby Be Mine vs Take Me With U
MJ delivers a decent filler track that is competently produced. Prince wins this already in the intro with those great drums; and then those strings later in the song. No contest. 0-2

 

thriller-back

 

The Girl Is Mine vs The Beautiful Ones
Michael sings this like a nursery rhyme and climaxes with the “I’m a lover not a fighter” line while he “argues” with Macca. Prince goes falsetto on our asses and then climaxes with that explosion of emotion. Emphatically Prince’s point. 0-3

 

purple rain-back

 

Thriller vs Computer Blue
Jackson’s excellent title track meets Purple Rain‘s least strong track (still, Computer Blue’s guitars!). Point Jacko. 1-3

 

thriller-label

 

Beat It vs Darling Nikki
I love Darling Nikki (and how it sent Tipper Gore over the edge), but Eddie Van Halen’s guitar solo… With a heavy heart, I give it to Beat It. 2-3

 

purple rain-label1

 

Billie Jean vs When Doves Cry
The heavyweight clash, and it’s a no brainer. Billie Jean gives us dancability; When Doves Cry gives us layers and layers of genius. 2-4

 

thriller-label2

 

Human Nature vs I Would Die 4 U
I love Human Nature dearly, but I Would Die 4 U is so utterly joyous. Plus, I have the mental image of Prince’s hand actions and that beatific smile when he performs the song in the film. 2-5

 

purple rain-label1

 

P.Y.T. vs Baby I’m A Star
Oh so easy. If Baby I’m A Star doesn’t get you moving, you might as well check yourself into a mortuary. 2-6

 

purple rain-inner sleeve

 

The Lady In My Life vs Purple Rain
It’s like Brazil against Germany in a World Cup semi-final. Almost fittingly, the final score is 2-7

In fairness, I expect Off The Wall would beat Dirty Mind or Controversy handily. But then, Sign ‘O The Times would utterly destroy Bad

And as we are thinking of Prince, may I direct you to the warmest tribute I’ve read, by the British music journalist Simon Price on The Quietus.

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  1. James
    April 23rd, 2016 at 00:19 | #1

    ‘Off the wall’ is FABULOUS, although I’d make a case for it being just as readily the work of Quincy Jones and Englishman Rod Temperton as Michael jackson’s work. By ‘Thriller’, it’s parody. I don’t know if I would have framed it terms of ‘jumping the shark’ at the time, but with ‘Thriller’, Jackson jumps the shark.

    ‘Off the wall’ remains a work of soul/funk/R&B genius. ‘Thriller’ is fluff and nonsense, and Jacko was never essential again.

    By contrast, Prince is hotting his stride with ‘Purple Rain’, and (for me) there isn’t an album thereafter that isn’t ‘essential Prince’. Yes, the triples, the ‘throwaways’ and the experiments (Kim Basinger produced album, anyone?)…all have a sense of pushing the envelope. (By comparison, Brian Wilson produced an American Spring/The Honeys album…garbage at the time, a period curio/masterpiece now…The Beatles were producing ‘minor’ albums on Apple, all great works now -from the McCartney/Harrison led Badfinger albums to Ringo signing John Tavener and issuing ‘The Whale’, a foresight into modern British, contemporary classical music).

    After ‘Off the Wall’, Jackson was a cartoon, his own caricature. After ‘Purple Rain’, it was onwards and upwards in an artistic sense (if not commercial sense) for Prince.

    Either way, though, we’re grateful for some of Jacko’s solo stuff, and most of Prince’s discography, and they were both lost far, far too early. I’m grateful to both (born within weeks of one another, born within days in Prince’s case for me- ) for positively soundtracking my teens and twenties. I lost interest in Jacko by the time of ‘Thriller’, but stuck with Prince until now.

    http://www.salon.com/2016/04/22/princes_feud_with_michael_jackson_the_intense_rivalry_leading_up_to_a_kind_of_a_superstar_way_of_saying_fk_you/

    There’s an interesting, thoughtful report on their rivalry via the link.

  2. Webbie – Football and Music
    April 23rd, 2016 at 01:46 | #2

    Can’t argue with you about the score there. Spot on.

  3. Tim
    April 27th, 2016 at 15:33 | #3

    How about comparing Off The Wall and 1999?

  4. halfhearteddude
    April 27th, 2016 at 22:12 | #4

    I think Off The Wall would win. But imagine the first two match-ups:

    Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough vs 1999
    Rock With You vs Little Red Corvette

    I wouldn’t want to referee those bouts.

  5. D’angel
    May 1st, 2016 at 23:01 | #5

    wow you are bs and you know it human nature beats out any song off of purple rain

  6. Tim
    May 2nd, 2016 at 19:31 | #6

    @D’angel
    Yeah…No… It doesn’t…

  7. D’angel
    May 3rd, 2016 at 00:31 | #7

    @Tim
    yeah it does purple rain is awesome but prince after 91 never had a commercial or known hit contrast that with mj he had a known or top ten hit up to 2001

  8. D’angel
    May 3rd, 2016 at 00:33 | #8

    @James
    you obviously have no taste in music if you think jackson its not jacko stop callin him that plus thriller was huge its a fact best selling album jackson had less album then prince but they were all sellers prince never had a good album after diamond and pearls

  9. Tim
    May 3rd, 2016 at 16:58 | #9

    Known to you….

    Prince was nominated for Grammy’s in 2004, 2005, 2007,2008, and 2010.

    He won 2 in 2005 and one in 2008.

  10. halfhearteddude
    May 3rd, 2016 at 21:12 | #10

    Ah, punctuation and capital letters.

    Jacko only ever had two really good albums. Bad was worthy of the name, and most of followed was dross. Not that Prince exercised great quality control after the mid-90s, so there was a lot of stuff that ought to have remained in the vaults.

  11. boe jack
    May 17th, 2016 at 22:39 | #11

    whoever did this is a hardcore fan of prince , no way billie jean loses to when doves cry ….billie jean beats doves cry all day

  12. boe jack
    May 17th, 2016 at 22:42 | #12

    Michael Jackson music is completely better , and I can deal with his singing … prince alwas screamed like a lil girl mane , if I wanted to listen to a female, I would’ve jammed a Stephanie mills or something, Alicia keys,…. prince sung like somebody , fucked the shit out of him lol

  13. D
    May 22nd, 2016 at 06:26 | #13

    @halfhearteddude
    If you say so dude bad had 5 number one hits and every album after that sold 20 mill and plus

  14. D’angel
    May 23rd, 2016 at 11:15 | #14

    @halfhearteddude
    if you say so the facts counter your opinion

  15. D’angel
    May 30th, 2016 at 10:06 | #15

    @James
    what are you talking about?

  16. Justin
    June 9th, 2016 at 04:24 | #16

    I agree that Purple Rain wins, but it would’ve been a little closer if I was judging. PYT would’ve beaten Baby I’m a Star, and honestly Billie Jean vs. When Doves Cry is such an insane battle that I might’ve just had them tie.

  17. Justin
    June 9th, 2016 at 04:26 | #17

    As much as I think Purple Rain is a better album objectively, Thriller is so ubiquitous that it almost feels wrong to say it loses to anything.

  18. Captain EO
    June 20th, 2016 at 08:21 | #18

    Both great albums. However the people have spoken Thriller is the Greatest selling album and won the most grammy’s

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