Michael Jackson‘s “Thriller” is associated with Halloween, whereas Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker is one of the most famous musical compositions about Christmas. Despite this, Jackson cited The Nutcracker as an influence on Thriller and another one of his albums. During an interview, Jackson discussed the impact The Nutcracker had on him when he was a child.
Michael Jackson wanted ‘Thriller’ to be a pop album similar to ‘The Nutcracker’
Jackson was the King of Pop — but that didn’t stop him from drawing inspiration from other genres. According to the New York Post, Jackson cited Tchaikovsky as an influence in an Ebony interview. “Ever since I was a little boy, I would study composition,” Jackson said. “And it was Tchaikovsky that influenced me the most.”
Jackson wanted Thriller to have a certain similarity to The Nutcracker. “If you take an album like Nutcracker Suite, every song is a killer, every one. So I said to myself, ‘Why can’t there be a pop album where … every song [is a hit]?’ So I always tried to strive for that.”
Michael Jackson compared 2 of his other albums to ‘The Nutcracker’
According to the LA Times, The Nutcracker also influenced one of Jackson’s subsequent albums: Dangerous. “I wanted to do an album that was like Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite,” Jackson told Ebony. “So that in a thousand years from now, people would still be listening to it.
“Something that would live forever,” Jackson added. “I would like to see children and teenagers and parents and all races all over the world, hundreds and hundreds of years from now, still pulling out songs from that album and dissecting it. I want it to live.”
During a 2001 interview with ABC News, Jackson brought up The Nutcracker again. He felt the success of Thriller cast a long shadow over his current album, Invincible. He noted that music could become popular after it’s initially considered a failure. “When The Nutcracker Suite was first introduced to the world, it totally bombed,” Jackson said. “What’s important is how the story ends.”
The way the world reacted to ‘Thriller’ and ‘Dangerous’
Thriller became one of the albums that defined the 1980s and pop music in general. The album lasted a staggering 500 weeks on the Billboard 200. It spent 37 of those weeks at the top of the chart. Two of the songs from the album, “Beat It” and “Billie Jean,” hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Dangerous was a hit as well. It lasted on the Billboard 200 for 120 weeks, topping the chart for four weeks. The album produced a No. 1 single: “Black or White.” Thriller and Dangerous are two of Jackson’s classic albums. They might not be the same if The Nutcracker hadn’t inspired Jackson to shoot for the stars.
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