I don't want to spoil this week's Snake Draft but we pick music videos with Rone and obviously Thriller is at the top. You could very easily argue it's a 1st-round pick in a Snake Draft of just 1st-round picks and nobody would reasonably take the other side. If you have never watched all 13 minutes and 42 seconds of this cultural masterpiece then ignore the fact that you're a massive outsider and start watching right now. I'll be here waiting some notable observations:
- Thriller (the album) is the single greatest selling album of all time with about 66 million confirmed sales. It was released in November of 1982 and was Jackson's 6th studio album. It achieved instant commercial success on the backs of Beat It and Billie Jean amongst many other jams. It had done about 10 million copies in the first 6 months, but trailed off towards the end of it's first full year settling at about 13.5 million copies. MONSTER first year. So Michael goes to his record label and asks them to front some cash to make a movie. How much? A lot. About $1,000,000 for a music video for Thriller. They instantly said no.
- The budget was so high because he wanted to do it with John Landis. He's known for directing a bunch of awesome shit like Animal House, Blues Brothers, Trading Places. In this case Michael had just seen An American Werewolf In London (1981) and desperately wanted to recreate the comedy-horror theme with Landis in a short film for Thriller. Landis agreed but the budget was completely out of proportion. 10-20x what you'd spend at that time. Besides, the album was trending down. His label told him it was old news. Thriller was the album's 7th single anyways.
- Michael goes to MTV and asks for the money. He really wants to make it but they say No Way. Then Showtime comes in and gives him about $500k because they're a new channel looking for some publicity. Jealous, MTV jumps on board to split the distribution. Michael allegedly put a considerable amount of money himself because he really, really wanted to dance with a bunch of zombies under the direction of John Landis. They ended up making it.
- Just two weeks after the music video drops, sales for the album go up about 43% FOR THE YEAR at an astounding 20 million copies. Another 3 months later and it was up to 30 million. Album was trending down around Thanksgiving then he went out and sold another 16 million copies before St. Patrick's day.
- Ladies and Gentlemen this is why he's the king of pop. He took over the world at a time when you had to lick postage stamps to go on an envelope so you could mail in a handwritten order form with a check and pray to God that 4 weeks later your VHS would show up undamaged. It was downright impossible to be nationally relevant on your own accord, much less a cultural icon. Yeah he was legit but it's stories like this that reinforce his genius.
-Go hear about more about music videos on this week's Snake Draft. Warning: things get a little horny.