Listener defines classic music

By Chris Schmaedeke, QCS managing editor

I recently watched Michael Jackson’s “This Is It” and it got the wheels turning in my brain.

Classic albums, artists and songs always need to be remembered.

This thought crossed my mind as I watched and listened to Jackson perform hit after hit from his “Thriller” album. “Thriller” was released in November 1982 so I was just about 3 years old but I still appreciate the greatness that was this album. I own the special edition of the CD as well as an actual record that was recently given to me by my grandma back in Colorado. I have never played the record by the way.

What really defines a classic album is the question?

Is it how many records have been sold? “Thriller” has sold over 110 million copies worldwide and that number continues to grow after Jackson’s death. Those numbers are huge but sales do not make any album a classic.

Is it how many singles are big hits? “Thriller” had seven singles released with only “Billie Jean” and “Beat It” hitting No. 1, but all seven ended up in the Billboard top 10. That is a lot of hit singles for any album but all of Jackson’s albums had big hits on them. His album “Bad” had five No. 1 singles but it is not referred to as a classic as much as “Thriller.”

What really makes an album classic is its staying power and its effect on culture and society as a whole. “Thriller” changed music and is still selling and being played all over the world. Seeing the movie made me realize that fans still love Jackson’s music. His personal lifestyle can be questioned until the end of time but one thing that cannot be questioned is the fact that he made a classic album.

The staying power of “Thriller” has been amazing. Not a Halloween goes by that you don’t see the music video or hear the song. People across the world have been trying to imitate the “Thriller” dance and people have been trying to break records for the most people doing the famous dance at once. Fans always remember the red leather jacket worn by Jackson in the “Beat It” video or who has not made the joke that “There is no need to fight … we will just dance to Beat It.” My brother and I even acted out part of the video at my wedding when the song was played.

It is all about being iconic. It has an impact on society as many musicians quote it as their inspiration and the album has lasted generation after generation.

“Thriller” is the classic album in my eyes but other albums could be for other music listeners. Maybe a classic album to you is something by The Beatles or Elvis Presley or the Rolling Stones or Garth Brooks or whatever your taste.

No matter what music you listen to on your iPod or on CD or on tape or even maybe still on record, listeners should appreciate the classics. Every time I hear “Thriller” I remember how great it really is and reminds me what it means to be a music lover.