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Top 10 Michael Jackson Songs

VO: Rebecca Brayton
August 29th marks Michael Jackson's 55th Birthday. The multitalented artist was one of the greatest entertainers that ever lived and he had the incredible music, dance moves and writing skills to prove it. For this list, we’ve based our song choices on a mix of chart success, song quality, critical acclaim and popularity. We’ve also excluded duets, collaborations, covers and songs with the Jackson 5. Join as we count down our picks for the top 10 Michael Jackson songs.

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He was the King of Pop, the Gloved One or simply, MJ. Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 Michael Jackson songs.

For this list, we’ve based our choices on a mix of chart success, song quality, critical acclaim and popularity. We’ve also excluded duets, collaborations, covers and songs with the Jackson 5.

#10 – “Black or White” (1991)

The first single off Dangerous’ treated listeners to an unforgettable medley of pop, rock and dance. Add a powerful message about race, a rap breakdown and some heavy metal guitars, and this worldwide chart-topper made MJ the first artist with a Billboard Hot 100 number one in the ‘70s, ‘80s’ and ‘90s. Its music video also made history when 500 million tuned in for its television premiere.

#9 – “The Way You Make Me Feel” (1987)

The way this song makes us feel is in love! Thanks to its funky R&B, blues harmonies and pop flavors, Bad’s third single took us on a rhythmic and romantic journey straight to the top of the Billboard Hot 100. Its sexy music video had the King of Pop flaunting his incomparable dance moves while trying to win over a beautiful woman – which he does, of course!

#8 – “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” (1979)

As the first solo single from his first non-Motown album, “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” proved Michael could find success when he took over singing and songwriting duties. By capitalizing on the disco era, the upbeat chart-topper melded pop and funk with an unforgettable melody and won Jackson his first solo Grammy. It also introduced many vocal techniques that would later become his trademarks, including his unmistakable falsetto.

#7 – “Rock with You” (1979)

Jackson followed up his first single from Off the Wall with this pop, funk and R&B-infused track. Thanks to its sensual beat, smooth vocals and carefully arranged strings and horns, this number-one song makes you want to rock with Michael all night. As one of the biggest and probably last smashes of the disco craze, “Rock With You” also had us boogie-ing with its simple, sparkly but effective music video.

#6 – “Smooth Criminal” (1987)

Even though we’re not quite sure who Annie is, and whether of not she is – in fact – okay, there’s no way you’ll ever forget the fusion of funk, dance and pop that made “Smooth Criminal” one of MJ’s signature tunes. You’ll also probably never forget seeing the Gloved One break out the anti-gravity lean in the video to this fast-paced Jackson-penned number.

#5 – “Man in the Mirror” (1988)

Though he was most known for his versatile vocals and unrivalled choreography, Jackson also used music to convey powerful themes. So “Man in the Mirror” wasn’t the entertainer’s fourth straight chart-topper off Bad for nothing: by skillfully incorporating a gospel choir, the Grammy-nominated tune simultaneously enhanced its pop, R&B and soul flavors and strengthened its inspiring theme.

#4 – “Bad” (1987)

While clad in black leather and leading a group of street dancers, Michael really showed us who’s bad. Martin Scorsese’s music video for the title track of his 1987 album was the perfect accompaniment to the song’s dance pop: it not only confirmed that Jackson could adapt his style to suit the music, but it also allowed him to display his cool moves in the process. The song itself also became a number one smash.

#3 – “Thriller” (1983)

Whether it’s the red leather jacket, those dancing zombies, or Vincent Price’s haunting voice-over, you can’t help but think of the music video when it comes to this song. While a creepy bassline and some synthesizer gave “Thriller” a supernatural feel, it’s the song’s catchy chorus and funky disco sounds that thrill us most. The title track was also the best-selling album’s seventh Billboard Hot 100 top-ten single.

#2 – “Beat It” (1983)

Though he was known more for pop, soul, R&B, disco and funk, Jackson showed he could rock hard with “Beat It.” By mixing heavy guitars, including Eddie Van Halen’s driving solo, with rhythm and blues and an unforgettable backbeat, Thriller’s third single topped both the pop and R&B charts. The success of the Grammy-winning tune and the popularity of its much-aired music video also helped make Michael an international superstar.

#1 – “Billie Jean” (1983)

With its unmistakable bass line and Michael’s trademark vocal hiccups, “Billie Jean” so captivated music fans that it topped the Billboard Hot 100 for seven weeks. Its perfect blend of dance, pop and R&B cemented Jackson’s place in music history while its video helped popularize MTV and shatter racial boundaries. MJ further solidified his pop culture presence when he busted out the moonwalk during a television performance celebrating Motown.

Do you agree with our list? What’s your favorite Michael Jackson song? Be sure to subscribe to for more entertaining top 10s.

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