Michael Jackson is known as the King of Pop for good reason. From his incredible dancing to his outstanding short films to his amazing style, he proved his worthiness of the title. However, more than all of that, it's his music that helps him keep the title first and foremost. Jackson's discography has taken him from boy to man, from teen idol to King of Pop. It's a fascinating look at the growth of a person and an artist.
We have decided to rank every Michael Jackson studio album from his early Motown days to his adult life. Not included are posthumous releases like "Michael" or "Xscape," since these weren't put together by the artist himself. So please enjoy our ranking of every studio album by the King of Pop.
10. "Forever, Michael"
Jackson's last studio album for Motown includes the beautiful song, "One Day In Your Life." The remarkable thing about this album is Jackson's evolving voice. It's almost a hybrid between his voice as a kid and the King of Pop we would all discover later. To hear Jackson at this pivotal stage in his life is a real treat.
9. "Got To Be There"
Jackson's first solo album was released at the height of his success with the Jackson 5. Out of all his early solo Motown albums, this features the most recognizable hits. From "Rockin' Robin" to "I Wanna Be Where You Are" to the title track, this one is a classic.
This was Jackson's second solo album released under Motown. The highlight of the album is the title track which became one of Jackson's signature songs. It was taken from the 1972 film "Ben" and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song. Jackson's ability to convey such emotion at an early age was one of his many talents.
7. "Music & Me"
"Music & Me" is such a simple song, yet that's what makes it so powerful. It's the kind of song whose message would be true to Jackson throughout his life. "With a Child's Heart" is another sweet song whose message also seemed to always resonate with Jackson. This album was heartfelt and further cemented Jackson's early reputation as an extremely talented singer.
In what would be Jackson's final album, he offered plenty of gems. The brilliant track "Whatever Happens" features the legendary Carlos Santana on guitar. Slash also makes a return on the song "Privacy." The Notorious B.I.G. appears posthumously on the track "Unbreakable." Rodney Jerkins produced a portion of this album, including the hit single "You Rock My World." The song "Speechless" might just be the album's best song, soaking the listener in sweet sentimentality. While it isn't as memorable as Jackson's previous efforts, it's still a good album.
5. "Off The Wall"
When Jackson moved to Manhattan to film "The Wiz," he met Quincy Jones and spent a lot of time at Studio 54. Both of these moves would serve as pivotal sources of inspiration for this album. "Off The Wall" was Jackson's first adult solo album. It's a brilliant slice of the disco era, with Jackson enthusiastically coming into his own. From the grooving "Rock With You" to the vulnerable "She's Out Of My Life," what Jackson provided here was a mere preview of what was to come.
This album remains the best selling album of all time and for good reason. It was the album that single-handedly changed the course of popular music. The music world wouldn't be what it is today without Jackson's influence during this era. From breaking racial barriers on MTV to his moonwalk on Motown 25 to the 13-minute short film for the album's title track, this is what iconic truly means. There's also the music. There's the beautiful "Human Nature," the grooving "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'," and the catchy "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)."
3. "HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book 1"
After a horrific period where Jackson was accused of child molestation, he emerged with, arguably, his most personal album. The album's opener, "Scream," not only allowed Michael to duet with his superstar sister Janet, but gave him the chance to vent at a media who were against him. He discussed police brutality on "They Don't Care About Us," isolation on "Stranger In Moscow," and greed on "Money." Jackson was even tackled environmentalism before it was widely focused on with "Earth Song." Out of all Jackson's albums, this one feels relevant more so now than when it was first released.
There are many rock albums which sound like they were made for a stadium concert. This album would be the pop/dance equivalent. Jackson's "Bad" album has a euphoric production style that fit perfectly with Jackson's debut solo tour at the time. Jackson pleads for unity on "Another Part of Me," calls for social change on "Man In The Mirror," and chastises groupies on "Dirty Diana." There's also the title track, the short film for which saw Jackson dancing in a Brooklyn subway station. "Smooth Criminal" has become one of Jackson's most famous songs and short films, the latter of which featured a gravity-defying lean.
This album was originally supposed to be a greatest hits with some new material. Instead, Jackson decided to make an entire new album. It turned out to be the right move, because "Dangerous" serves as Jackson's artistic peak. From the music to the visuals, everything about this album is the absolute best. Jackson paired up with Teddy Riley to make New Jack Swing all his own. From "Jam" to "She Drives Me Wild" to "Can't Let Her Get Away," Jackson took this genre and more than left his mark on it. He goes gospel on "Will You Be There," which is one of his most beautiful songs. There's also the moving "Gone Too Soon" and "Heal The World," which should tug at every listener's heartstrings.