This piece in The Root proclaiming Thriller “the album that saved pop music” says that its real impact wasn’t its impressive sales, but its music: “It was daring and inventive and—incredibly—all of its gambles paid off.” Elsewhere I’ve read the claim that every song on the album is a masterpiece.
Every song? I’m enjoying all the Michael Jackson nostalgia as much as anyone. I’ve searched for the YouTube tributes, walked across town listening to Bad on my iPod, and sang along in line at local hot dog joint Ben’s Chili Bowl as the whole place went wild for “I Want You Back.”
But I can’t help but point out that there’s one song on Thriller that The Root article doesn’t mention, a song so awful that even amid this post-mortem nostalgia I can’t bear to listen all the way through. Yes, I am talking about “The Girl is Mine,” a duet with Paul McCartney that must be the worst song with which either man has ever been associated.
Yet even Rolling Stone’s review from way back pulled its punches:
His raw ability and conviction make material like “Baby Be Mine” and “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’” into first-class cuts and even salvage “The Girl Is Mine.” Well, almost.
Yeah, not even almost. Any song that includes the lyrics “the doggone girl is mine” cannot be salvaged. Thanks, Michael Jackson, for all the good times, and may you rest in peace, but it diminishes the best of your work to pretend that off tracks like “The Girl is Mine” belong in the same league.