AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - NOVEMBER 10: Michael Jackson performs on stage during is "HIStory" world tour concert at Ericsson Stadium November 10, 1996 in Auckland, New Zealand.

When it comes to measuring the level of creativity and innovation that Michael Jackson brought to the industry, no one tops his achievements. Having started from humble beginnings in Gary, Indianapolis, he soon became the shining star in the Jackson 5  with his brothers Jermaine (later replaced by Randy), Tito, Marlon, and Jackie.

Signed to Motown Records, the brothers became a household name in the music industry after opening up for Diana Ross in 1969 and later releasing their first single, “I Want You Back.” Ross later bestowed the honor of inducting them into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997. But, it was Michael’s vocals that got them in the door, his rendition of “My Girl” swept a local talent competition in 1966 and casted a light on the brothers. The Jackson 5 went on to make 16 studio albums together with hits, “ABC,” “The Love You Save,” and “I’ll Be There.”

Michael later ventured out onto his solo career and Off The Wall made him a major superstar and Thriller arguably made him the biggest star on the planet.

We remember Michael Jackson by ranking his top 20 music videos that made him the King of Pop.





  • 20. Jam, 1992

    Michael Jackson and 6x NBA champion Michael Jordan teamed up for an explosive performance in Jackson’s 1992 music video, “Jam.” David Kellog, the director of the video, said they shot in an abandoned neighborhood in Chicago near where Jordan’s team the Chicago Bulls were playing at the time. Kellog noted that seeing the two performers complement one another was a sight to see per Rolling Stone. “They’re arguably the best physical performers in each of their areas of performance. And that was sort of the charm of it really.”

  • 19. You Are Not Alone, 1995

    The romantic ballad featuring Jackson and his then-wife, Lisa Marie Presley, were both topless on a beach showing off a small clip inside their very public marriage. Presley and Jackson who were on the cover of every gossip magazine at the time, divorced a year after the video was shot. The song, even though it is not one of Jackson’s most memorable went straight to No. 1 on the Billboard charts. Jackson asked R. Kelly to write the ballad for him after Jackson heard Kelly’s “Bump and Grind.”

  • 18. Don't Stop Until You Get Enough, 1979

    “Don’t Stop Until You Get Enough” was Jackson’s first solo video shot by Nick Saxton who would later go on to direct Rick James’ “Super Freak” and “Give It To Me Baby.” This video uses a mixture of Jackson’s signature technique of mixing old and new technology and bellows in comparison to his later work but showcases his emerging talent in the music video sector.


  • 17. Human Nature, 1982

    From the Thriller album, “Human Nature” was the album’s fifth single. “Human Nature” has been covered and sampled by numerous artists, including Miles Davis, SWV, Nas, Jason Nevins, and Boyz II Men. David Paich, the synthesizer on the song spoke on how he trusted the group to handle the song per Michael Jackson: All the Songs: The Story Behind Every Track“Michael was very involved in it, and he’s a perfectionist,” said Paich. “He was always in the room with us, privately, saying, ‘I just want you to have total freedom to do whatever you want. Just think of Michelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel – do whatever you need to do here. Sky’s the limit.'”


  • 16. They Don't Care About Us, 1996

    Legendary director, Spike Lee, and Jackson traveled to Brazil to shoot the “They Don’t Care About Us” music video. Jackson’s stardom brought a lot of attention to Salvador da Bahia and Rio de Janeiro favela Dona Marta where at the time (1996), there was a lot of drug activity. Claudia Silva, a press liaison for Rio’s tourism office said per Rolling Stone, “There are no drug dealers anymore, and there’s a massive social project. But all the attention started with Michael Jackson.”


  • 15. Dirty Diana, 1987

    “Dirty Diana” was one of the five songs from Bad that hit No.1.  Jackson told the story of how he met Princess Diana to Barbara Walters and ensured that the song was not about the royal but about “groupies” that would follow him around.  In the interview, he said that he actually performed the song in front of her when she came to his concert. When asked if he would play the song Jackson said,  “I took it out of the show in honor of her royal highness. She took me away and she said, Are you going to do ‘Dirty Diana’? So, I said, ‘No I took it out of the show because of you.’ She said, ‘No! I want you to do it. Do the song. And she told me it was an honor to meet me. And I said, ‘It’s an honor to meet you.'”


  • 14. You Rock My World, 2001

    “You Rock My World” was the lead single off of Michael Jackson’s final studio album Invincible that released in 2001. In the video, comedian Chris Tucker plays alongside Jackson as his wingman in a bar that ends them up in a choreographed bar brawl for the attention of Jackson’s love interest. The video won the NAACP Image Award for Best Music Video in 2001.

  • 13. Remember The Time, 1982

    The fantasy Egyptian-style video was artistically crafted by the legendary Boyz N the Hood director John Singleton. Singleton who passed in 2019 said in an interview with Rolling Stone, “[Michael] said, ‘Whatever you want to make this as cool as possible, let’s do it. Let’s get Eddie Murphy. Let’s get Magic Johnson,'” says Singleton. Johnson had recently revealed he was HIV positive. “Michael said, ‘We have to put Magic in this video.’ I’ll always remember that.”

  • 12. The Way You Make Me Feel, 1987

    According to the book Jacksons Number Ones, he wrote this song after his mother Katherine asked him to write a song with “a shuffling kind of rhythm.” This was the first song that featured a love interest in the video, Tatiana Thumbtzen, who Jackson was in a relationship with at the time. Later on, he would feature high-profiled models such as Naomi Campbell in “In The Closet” and Iman in “Remember The Time.” “The Way You Make Me Feel” is the third of five consecutive No.1 singles from Bad.

  • 11. Man In The Mirror, 1987

    “Man In The Mirror” was released in 1987 from Jackson’s Bad album which spoke on the topics of oppression, homelessness, hunger, and police brutality around the world. The video notably includes images of the racial tensions happening in the U.S. over Jackson’s vocals. Rolling Stone claimed it to be “a powerful statement to deliver to personality-driven MTV.” “Man In The Mirror” is the fourth of five consecutive No.1 singles from the album making Michael the first artist to achieve this milestone. Rolling Stone claimed it to be “a powerful statement to deliver to personality-driven MTV.”

  • 10. In The Closet, 1992

    “In The Closet” showcased Jackson and model Naomi Campbell in a hot dusty desert. The simplicity yet sexually-charged performance was one of  Jackson’s best. “It’s not about outrageous sets and 50 dancers this time,” said director Herb Ritts per Rolling Stone. “Its really about bringing Michael’s energy out in a new way.”

  • 9. Leave Me Alone, 1989

    Jim Blashfield who directed the innovative music video with Jackson had a unique approach to its final editing. “Blashfield and his team of animators shot Jackson on 35mm film, had those images turned into stills, then cut figures out with X-Acto knives and layered them by the dozens,” per Rolling Stone. This video was shot in three days but took nine months to get the final product.

  • 8. Black or White, 1991

    “Black or White” was a video that incorporated unusual characters that you would never see in a video together such as Simpson’s  Bart Simpson, Macaulay Culkin battling Norm from Cheers, and a couple of lions. In this expensive infamous video of Jackson being transformed into a black panther, which cost the legend $100,000 to complete per Rolling Stone, the singer nabbed John Landis, the director from “Thriller” to complete this mash-up of odd events.

  • 7. Beat It, 1983

    Another famed red jacket makes an appearance in Jackson’s 1983 “Beat It.” The non-violent anthem won him an American Music Award in 1984. Jackson wrote the hit himself and worked it out with his producer Quincy Jones. “I wanted to write the type of rock song that I would go out and buy. But also something totally different from the rock music I was hearing on Top 40 radio,” per Rolling Stone’s Top 500 issue.

  • 6. Rock With You, 1979

    Bruce Gowers, the director behind Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”, “created a smoky space tunnel in an L.A. soundstage for Jackson and his sequined suit to shine,” per Rolling Stone. Gowers mentioned that the budget for the film was only $3,000 and “If you look at it, there’s nothing there but a laser and Michael Jackson.”

  • 5. Smooth Criminal, 1988

    The centerpiece of Jackson’s 1988 film Moonwalker, British director Colin Chilvers and Jackson coined his second famed dance move, a gravity-defying lean. To achieve this move, Chilvers who won a Special Achievement Academy Award in Visual Effects for his work on the 1978 blockbuster Superman, “affixed Jackson’s heels to the ground and kept him from toppling over with piano wire,” per Rolling Stone. “Smooth Criminal” went on to win the People’s Choice Award for Favorite Music Video in 1989 and be nominated for three VMA awards in the same year.

  • 4. Scream ft. Janet Jackson, 1995

    “Scream” is known probably as the most expensive video made, totaling $7 million for the spaceship dystopian per Rolling Stone. The uniqueness is however between the two siblings who were superstars in their own right at the same time. The director, Mark Romanek, commented on the relationship between Michael and Janet, “obviously [they] had a deep affection and love for one another and were very excited to finally dance together on camera for the first time. There was some very healthy and good-natured sibling rivalry going on there in that scene.”

  • 3. Billie Jean, 1983

    “Billie Jean” was already a No. 1 single before it even aired on MTV, but its cultural impact made it a continued success per Rolling Stone. The music video is often credited with breaking the color barrier on MTV, which debuted on August 1, 1981. The video marked a monumental pivot in introducing more Black faces into the network rotation, most notably Prince. British New Wave video director Steve Barron said per Rolling Stone, “We shot that first take, got to the end, and everyone – up in the gantries, eating their sandwiches, reading the paper, painters working on another set – just burst into applause. We all just knew we’d seen another era of superstar.”

  • 2. Bad, 1987

    Jackson and renowned director Martin Scorsese teamed up to direct the 18-minute music video that explored the urban and racial challenges in the 1980s based on the shooting of Edmund Perry per IMBd. The video was shot in Harlem and included award-winning actor Wesley Snipes in the first scene followed by West Side Story-style combat dance staged in a Brooklyn subway station. “We went over schedule; it was two and a half weeks of the dance sequence alone,” said Scorsese per Rolling Stone. “I was mesmerized by it. The video monitor made us all dancers.”

  • 1. Thriller, 1983

    Michael Jackson’s 14-minute “Thriller” revolutionized the music video game forever. It was the first of its time to include story-telling and cinematics in a long-form piece and to be awarded for its creative innovation as it was the first and only music video to be inducted into the Library of Congress’ prestigious National Film Registry per Library Of Congress. The album Thriller went on to best-selling album in the world for 30 years with over 100 million units sold worldwide per Billboard. The video won for Best Performance Video, Best Choreography, and Viewers Choice at the first MTV Video Music Awards in 1984 per IMDb. Thriller recently was just awarded 34x certified platinum.

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