Michael Jackson’s pop-culture defining Thriller music video helped usher in MTV era of music yet the song itself isn’t even among his top 50 Billboard charting hits, according to Billboard. Below we list Jackson’s best charting hits of his almost mystical music career as determined by Billboard. The selections aren’t as obvious as it may seem. His collaborations with former Beatle Paul McCartney have generated the most chart success for Jackson.
The widely-coined “King of Pop” is recognized as one of most successful entertainers of all time. Debuting in the music spotlight in 1964 as the front man and youngest sibling of Motown’s popular boy group the Jackson 5 before kicking off a solo career in 1971. Jackson became a transformative figure within music and pop culture with the release of his 1982 Thriller album and its supporting videos, which not only spawned the 14-minute horror cinematic opus that was the “Thriller” video but also MTV defining hits for chart toppers like “Billie Jean” and “Beat It”. Thriller would go on to be recognized as the greatest-selling album of all-time with over 100 million copies of the album sold, but Jackson, while still amassing a dizzying amount of fame as a performer (he’s garnered countless awards and has sold more than 750 million albums worldwide from Thriller and his other solo projects including Off the Wall (1979), Bad (1987), Dangerous (1991), and HIStory (1995)) also became as much of a caricatured celebrity for the bizzare headlines was linked to.
10. The Girl Is Mine (1982)
Michael Jackson & Paul McCartney
“A duet with McCartney, the song was released in October 1982 and quickly debuted on the Hot 100 at No. 45, eventually rising to No. 2. “The Girl Is Mine” also famously kicked off an incredible run of hits from the “Thriller” album.”
9. ABC (1970)
The Jackson 5
Billboard: “In somewhat of a case of chart fortune-telling, it was perhaps fitting that the Jackson 5’s second Hot 100 No. 1 dislodged the Beatles’ second-to-last No. 1, “Let It Be,” from the top of the chart, as arguably the most influential group in the history of pop music symbolically passed the baton to the format’s future King.”
8. I Want You Back (1970)
The Jackson 5
Billboard: “Michael Jackson’s six-decade tenancy on the Billboard charts began the week of Nov. 15, 1969, when the then-11-year-old and his four brothers entered the chart at No. 90 with “I Want You Back.””
7. Man In The Mirror (1988)
“When “Man in the Mirror” reached No. 1 on the Hot 100 in 1988, Jackson became the first artist in the chart’s history to pull four No. 1 songs from one album.”
6. Dancing Machine (1974)
The Jackson 5
“”Dancing Machine” was the final Hot 100 top 10 for the group on Motown Records, as the act departed the label for Epic in 1976, re-christened as The Jacksons.”
5. Rock With You (1980)
Billboard: “Jackson’s third No. 1 spent four weeks in the Hot 100’s top slot, the longest of any of his singles at the time.”
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4. Beat It (1982)
Billboard: “The dancefloor gem tallied 25 weeks on the Hot 100, the most by any single in Jackson’s career solo or with the Jacksons.”
3. I’ll Be There (1970)
The Jackson 5
Billboard: “This single was the last and longest-reigning (five weeks) of four consecutive Hot 100 No. 1s in 1970 for the brothers from Gary, Ind.”
2. Billie Jean (1982)
Billboard: “”Billie Jean” propelled the singer to a true worldwide sensation. With seven weeks at No. 1, the song introduced the “Thriller” album to the masses.”
1. Say Say Say (1983)
Paul McCartney & Michael Jackson
Billboard: “At six weeks, “Say” marks Jackson’s second-longest reign at No. 1 on the Hot 100. While “Billie Jean” spent one more week at No. 1 and two more weeks on the Hot 100 than “Say Say Say,” Jackson’s collaboration with McCartney spent more weeks in the top 10 (13 to 11), the top 20 (16 to 12), and the top 40 (18 to 17) than “Jean” did, making it his all-time biggest hit on the Billboard charts.”
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