Thriller is the sixth studio album by American singer and songwriter Michael Jackson, released on November 30, 1982, by Epic Records. It was produced by Quincy Jones, who had previously worked with Jackson on his 1979 album Off the Wall. Jackson wanted to create an album where “every song was a killer”. With the ongoing backlash against disco, he moved in a new musical direction, resulting in a mix of pop, post-disco, rock, funk, and R&B sounds. Thriller foreshadows the contradictory themes of Jackson’s personal life, as he began using a motif of paranoia and darker themes. The album features a single guest appearance, with Paul McCartney becoming the first artist to be featured on one of Jackson’s albums. Recording took place from April to November 1982 at Westlake Recording Studios in Los Angeles, with a production budget of $750,000.
Thriller explores genres including post-disco,funk,pop, and rock. According to Steve Huey of AllMusic, it refined the strengths of Off the Wall; the dance and rock tracks are more aggressive, while the pop tunes and ballads are softer and more soulful. The album includes the ballads “Human Nature“, “The Girl Is Mine” and “The Lady in My Life“. The funk tracks “Billie Jean” and “Wanna Be Startin’ Something'”, and the disco songs “Baby Be Mine” and “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)“.
“P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)”, credited to James Ingram and Quincy Jones, and “The Lady in My Life” by Rod Temperton, gave the album a stronger R&B direction; the latter song was described as “the closest Jackson has come to crooning a sexy, soulful ballad after his Motown years” by J. Randy Taraborrelli. Jackson had already adopted a “vocal hiccup” (first used in 1973 on “It’s Too Late to Change the Time“), which he continued to implement in Thriller. The purpose of the hiccup—somewhat like a gulping for air or gasping—is to evoke emotion, be it excitement, sadness, or fear.
However, when K.Le DaVincci got his hands on the instrumental of the Lady in my Life, he had to spit bars on it.