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Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' turns 30: How zombies changed pop music's tune

thriller michael jackson

CBS Records/Epic

"Thriller," Michael Jackson's sixth studio album, was released Nov. 30, 1982. 

The fame-changing chart-killing record celebrates 30 years on Friday, and to underscore the album's achievement, Billboard revisited the exceedingly grim context of its release.

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Jackson's previous record, "Off The Wall," had been a success by all widely accepted measures, but that was 1979. 

In 1982, the near-radioactive fallout of disco, combined with the mass-migration of mass-appeal listeners from AM Top 40 to FM stations, led to segregated audiences splintering along musical sub-genre lines.

More to the point, "Thriller" was released at a time when "black artists [were] being ghettoized on urban contemporary radio, while disappearing from pop radio," says Billboard.

Precision targeting of audiences meant that radio stations needed to avoid playing anything that fell outside their target listeners' most narrowly-defined tastes...In all of 1982, only two No. 1 records on the Billboard Hot 100 were by black artists.


Bat sounds: Beach Boys begin Dodgers partnership with opening day national anthem


Photo by The West End via Flickr Creative Commons

The Beach Boys will be performing the national anthem at the L.A. Dodgers opening day game next week, it was announced Tuesday. With both celebrating 50-year anniversaries, a season-long partnership has developed between the stadium and the California-est of summer icons.

The season of famdom overload will include co-branded merch with 50th anniversary logos of both the Boys and the stadium, as well as "Beach Boys Night" on May 18 when the Dodgers play the World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals. There will be fireworks. And also, there will be fireworks.

"It's very special to us that we get to celebrate our 50 years alongside the Dodgers, a team we all love," the Beach Boys said in a statement. "Generations of fans have supported our music just as much as their boys in blue and we're very happy to celebrate both L.A. traditions at Dodger Stadium this opening day."