Damien Barling: The Definitive Top 10 Michael Jackson Songs

Jason nearly caused a fight in the studio by comparing Matthew Stafford’s status as a quarterback (good, but generally considered well outside the top 10) to Michael Jackson’s classic, Dirty Diana (good, but not in anyone’s Top 10). Wrong Jason Ross. Very wrong. Not only is Dirty Diana in my Top 10, it’s in my Top 5. This became a show long conversation that spread through various buildings and even different radio stations. Here, on what would be his 59th birthday, for your listening and viewing pleasure, is the definitive Top 10 list of Michael Jackson songs.

10) Will You Be There – Dangerous, Free Willy

The spoken word at the end of this song is enough to bring tears to your eyes. The choir drop in during the climax of this song is really what makes this one incredible.

9) Ease On Down The Road – The Wiz Soundtrack

This song, along with You Can’t Win, are the bright spots in a movie that should be great but is frustratingly long.

8) Beat It – Thriller

I guarantee at some point very soon you’re going to see me wearing this iconic jacket.

7) Rock With You – Off The Wall

I guarantee at no point will you see me wearing an outfit like this one… probably.

6) Off The Wall – Off The Wall

The perfect song. You can chill to it. You can dance to it.

5) Smooth Criminal – Bad

One of the best songs to dance and the video contains one of my favorite dance routines of all time. I practiced the lean for years!

4) Thriller – Thriller

The greatest music video ever made. My mom rented me “The Making of Michael Jackson’s Thriller” more times then makes logical sense. I would regularly run to a different room when he turned to a werewolf and regularly rewind the dance routine in hopes of memorizing it. Its impossible to hear the song and not visualize the video.

3) Dirty Diana – Bad

What in the world was Jason Ross thinking???? Matt Stafford??? Dirty Diana was Michael’s edgiest song at the time. While questions fueled if it was about Diana Ross, Michael has said it was about particularly aggressive groupies. The heavy guitar makes it reminiscent of Beat It. The song is a lot closer to the Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers category then Matthew Stafford.

2) The Way You Make Me Feel – Bad

An incredible dance record. I frequently yell, “Hey pretty baby with the high heels on”. I don’t recommend doing that at work.

1) Man In The Mirror – Bad

The definitive Michael Jackson song. So much heart. So much emotion. This song will never not be relevant and relatable. I chose the Moonwalker version of the video because the official release isn’t much fun too watch. This live version is a tremendous reminder of Michael’s brilliance.

BONUS TRACK

Here’s some quick background – I’ve listened to Michael Jackson my entire life. He’s the reason I love music. Which means he’s the reason I got into radio. Therefore, he’s the reason The Lo-Down exists today… So blame him. Between the Jackson 5, bootlegs, remixes, concerts, and unreleased records I have over 1,000 Michael Jackson songs in my iTunes library. I have various bootleg concerts from the Victory tour, the Bad tour, and the HIStory tour. I was devastated when he passed away. I had left KSFM in Oct of 2008. Michael Jackson died in Aug of 2009 and my former Program Director called me and asked me to come in with my collection of music. What he didn’t tell me is he was going to put me in the studio and let me be a part of the tribute that was taking place for the next several hours.

I mentioned on The Lo-Down there were some songs I really liked that have never been released fully mastered and mixed down. Here’s a couple of my favorites…

Carousel – Originally recored for the Thriller album

Lady In My Life – Obviously this is on the Thriller but take a listen for the 2 unreleased verses.

 

 

 

Comments

One Comment

  1. Wow… Can’t argue with some of those choices, but you are missing out some of Michael’s best and most mature, and socially conscious content, in my opinion! Only one song from Dangerous, and none from HIStory or Invincible!!. Carousel was official released on the 1982 Thriller ‘Special Edition’ album. If we’re talking demos, I’d definitely put ‘We’ve Had Enough’ on the list. It’s up there with ‘They Don’t Care about Us’ and ‘Earth Song’ but thus far has only been released on the Ultimate Collection.

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