One of the most prolific entertainers of all time, Michael Jackson had a career spanning five decades. His experimentation with genres and sounds lead to him crossing over from an R&B artist to a worldwide pop phenom, selling over 750 million records worldwide. His success made him one of the most successful entertainers in history. Best known for his dance moves and the signature moonwalk, Michael Jackson’s unique style of vocals and diversity led to him being considered the “King of Pop” (a nickname Elizabeth Taylor gave him). His musical genius made him one of the most successful musicians in history. He has one of the most extensive discographies, consisting of ten studio albums, two posthumous releases, 34 compilation albums, and one live album. This article will attempt to rank all ten of Michael Jackson’s solo studio albums.
10. Music & Me (1973)
Things were tough for Michael at the time of this release. He was 15 at the time, at the peak of adolescence. His voice was changing, completely altering the cherubic vocals he’d overdubbed on his first two albums. He was undergoing a significant shift in his career that sort of rendered his music career obsolete. The album had its moments, but it wasn’t without its fair share of cheesy ballads and lesser-quality songs. It was more of a stepping stone, bridging the gap between his bubblegum pop days and the darker, funkier melodies he’d become known for.
9. Forever, Michael (1975)
“Forever, Micheal,” first post-Motown album, Michael finally got to have some creative input on this album. His father was no longer with the company, which allowed Michael to spread his wings a little more, but it still falls flat compared to his later albums. It felt like he wanted an easy transition from bubblegum pop to soul, but it didn’t quite blend seamlessly. His vocals are still outstanding, making up for some mediocre or underwhelming production. It was a step in the right direction that led to bigger and better things; however, this album isn’t just as strong as his later albums.
8. Michael (2010)
The king of pop returned with this posthumous release in 2010, a year after his death. The album contained Michael Jackson’s previously unreleased tracks, finished by his collaborators and family. While many of the songs in the album are said to have been recorded by Michael Jackson himself, most of his fans agree that the album was a cash-in on his death. Some even accused the producers of using notes from other singers to finish tracks. Regardless of the controversy surrounding this album’s production, lyrics and vocals were still outstanding.
7. Dangerous (1991)
“Dangerous” is Michael Jackson’s eighth studio album, produced by Jackson, Bruce Swedien, Teddy Riley, and Bill Bottrell, released in November 1991. The album marks the first time Jackson began working with other producers since The Jacksons and is widely regarded as the beginning of the new sound heard in Jackson’s later solo work. While his previous effort, “Bad,” contained moderate to massive hits, Dangerous spawned seven top ten singles on the Billboard Hot 100 chart – more than any other studio album in history. The Dangerous album sold over thirty million copies worldwide and is one of the best-selling albums of all time.
6. HIStory: Past, Present, and Future – Book I (1995)
Both halves of this album were released as two separate albums. It’s a pretty unfair assessment to compare them because they are both so radically different from each other, but I have finally managed to combine the two into one review. The first half of HIStory is a return to Michael’s pop era and features genre-blending songs, along with heavy dance beats. This album doesn’t have the same “wow” factor as his earlier albums, but it is still a solid effort. The second half of HIStory is better known as Blood On The Dance Floor, an experimental collection of disco-electro tunes that are very different from what Michael Jackson had been releasing up to that point. It has a very distinct sound, and it’s not really a great representation of his talents as an artist, but it does have some bangers on there.
5. Thriller (1982)
This album is best known for its massive singles, but the album itself goes beyond what you hear on the radio. Each track on the album is a classic, featuring some of Michael Jackson’s career’s best dance beats and melodies. There isn’t really any filler to be found either, and each track brings something new to the table, making Thriller an album that every fan should listen to. After all these years, this album is still one of Michael Jackson’s best works and will be remembered as a staple in music.
4. Off The Wall (1979)
Off The Wall is Michael Jackson’s fifth studio album, released in 1979. It is the first album on which Michael Jackson collaborated with other producers. It went on to be a huge commercial success and was one of the best-selling albums of all time when released. It has sold over 20 million copies worldwide, becoming one of the top-selling albums in music history. Despite his young age at the time, Michael Jackson’s voice was very mature, and he knew how to convey his emotions in each song perfectly. The album went on to win many awards, including a Grammy for Album of the Year.
3. Bad (1987)
In his seventh studio album, Michael Jackson features a range of genres and styles, from hard rock to disco. The Bad album was one of the most anticipated albums ever, considering it had been five years since Thriller. Michael Jackson had begun working with other producers on this album, including Quincy Jones and Rod Temperton. This album contains massive hits like Smooth Criminal, Bad, The Way You Make Me Feel, Man in the Mirror, Dirty Diana, and Leave Me Alone. Overall, it is a great listen, not just because of its hit songs but because he was really trying to push his boundaries with this album. It is one of the most diverse albums in his discography, and it’s a shame that he didn’t explore this style more often.
2. Invincible (2001)
Invincible is Michael Jackson’s last studio album before his death in 2009. It was highly anticipated as it had been six years since HIStory and his previous studio album, Blood on the Dance Floor, was very experimental. Invincible wasn’t as successful as his previous works, but it is a pretty solid album. The first half of the album can be a bit dull at times due to Michael Jackson trying too hard to create an urban sound and not succeeding; however, the album’s second half features some of his best work.
1. Got to Be There (1972)
Michael Jackson showed us that he was already a master of the recording process in his debut album. Everything from his vocals to his songwriting is outstanding, and there isn’t any filler on this album. The entire album showcases Michael Jackson’s bright potential as an artist, which you can tell even at such a young age. His voice is so unique, and every song is instantly placed in your head. My favorite track Rockin’ Robin was later covered by Michael Jackson himself as well as countless other artists.