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Before "Thriller," "Starlight"
June 22, 2011 5:35 PM   Subscribe

The title track on Michael Jackson’s hit album “Thriller” began life as a very different song - called “Starlight.” WNYC's Soundcheck gives us a listen.
posted by Fofer (26 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
...no mere mortal can resist the evil of the starlight!
posted by not_on_display at 5:51 PM on June 22, 2011


I can't view that at work. Is it at all related to this?
posted by nzero at 5:53 PM on June 22, 2011


The song has a more anthem-y feel to it.
posted by jabberjaw at 5:56 PM on June 22, 2011


He really changed the lyrics just to have an excuse to use Vincent Price. I don't blame him.

Nzero, no. I kind of wish it were related to this though.
posted by MrFTBN at 5:59 PM on June 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


That's not a "very different song." It's virtually identical in both the music bed and the vocal melody and performance. The lyrics are different and there are a few very minor arrangement differences. But if anyone familiar with Thriller heard Starlight without any introduction, they would instantly recognize it as Thriller with different lyrics.

Is it actually MJ singing, or a studio singer hired to do the demo?
posted by The World Famous at 6:01 PM on June 22, 2011


It's always amused me that the greatest selling record of all time (by far) has this execrable dialogue on it
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 6:04 PM on June 22, 2011


That version is bad, it's bad. It's really, really bad.
posted by punkfloyd at 6:04 PM on June 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Also instead of Vincent Price, the original version had Doug Henning reading from his dream journal.
posted by justkevin at 6:19 PM on June 22, 2011 [9 favorites]


Starlight sounds like another Jackson song about himself. He's a little darling misunderstod by a world that doesn't understand him, yet through billions at him. Right.
posted by Yakuman at 6:21 PM on June 22, 2011


Shamon
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 6:27 PM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


very weird and cool to hear michael jackson sing out of tune.
posted by mexican at 6:38 PM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


very weird and cool to hear michael jackson sing out of tune.

A lot of people wonder what makes even the best singers sing flat now and then. When they say, "Why, why?", I prefer to tell them that it's human nature.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:44 PM on June 22, 2011 [13 favorites]


Weird how conditioning makes the music sound creepy and Halloweenish, even without the Thriller words, and the original lyrics just seem wrong, even though those were the ones that were first written.
posted by Gordafarin at 6:56 PM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, man. That is weird. It sounds like a zombie singing a song about Xanadu or something. Still, I'm totally glad to have heard it.
posted by to sir with millipedes at 7:42 PM on June 22, 2011


It's a rip-off of the far superior "Voulez Vous" by Abba. The "Starlight" version makes that abundantly clear.
posted by Faze at 7:51 PM on June 22, 2011


Whoa, this show/podcast is great. I just subscribed on iTunes. Thank you for submitting this episode and making my commutes a little bit better.
posted by rageagainsttherobots at 7:51 PM on June 22, 2011


Yeah, the "very different song" description is kind of weird. How about "had different lyrics"?
Other than that, it sounds like a demo for the same song.
posted by bongo_x at 8:06 PM on June 22, 2011


> Yeah, man. That is weird. It sounds like a zombie singing a song about Xanadu or something. Still, I'm totally glad to have heard it.

That's a pretty good capsule review of the entire album.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:13 PM on June 22, 2011


It's a rip-off of the far superior "Voulez Vous" by Abba.

Your opinions are bad, and you should feel bad.
posted by speicus at 10:12 PM on June 22, 2011


Dollars to doughnut (as my musicology prof. used to say... )In 100 years, Michael Jackson is better known for "Starlight" than for "Thriller."

I love it. This is awesome.
posted by The Potate at 10:25 PM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I dunno, Starlight seemed rather weak, almost venturing into 80s Prince/Morris Day and the Time territory.
posted by bwg at 2:37 AM on June 23, 2011


This is awesome. I have a hearing loss, so for a long time I didn't know MJ was singing "thriller"... It sounded like "real life" but I wasn't too into MJ and didn't really investigate. :)
posted by autoclavicle at 4:38 AM on June 23, 2011


Starlight seemed rather weak, almost venturing into 80s Prince/Morris Day and the Time territory.

Was it weak, or comparable to 80s Prince/Morris Day and the Time? Because it can't be both.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:42 AM on June 23, 2011 [9 favorites]


Interesting to hear. though from the OP I was expecting "a whole different song" not just a change in the chorus lyrics. What makes "Thriller" Thriller (ie the drums, bassline and the squiggly bits) are already there in the Demo. they just changed a few lyrics.

speaking of MJ though - its a shame everything went so quickly downhill after that. i've always though everything album after Thiller was absolute rubbish..
posted by mary8nne at 5:27 AM on June 23, 2011


Hm. Like everything else about Michael Jackson, "Starlight" has a bit of an uncanny valley feel to it. It's almost the song that you know and love, but something's not quite right about it...
posted by schmod at 7:33 AM on June 23, 2011


i've always though everything album after Thiller was absolute rubbish..

Please don't tell me that you're hating on Free Willy! Such poignant and heartbreaking lyrics when viewed within the context of MJ's life. "Hold me, like the River Jordan..."
posted by autoclavicle at 5:05 AM on June 24, 2011


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