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Last Updated: Friday June 26 2009 10:18 GMT

Michael Jackson: A taste of his music

Michael Jackson performing in 1993

Michael Jackson was one of the biggest entertainers the world has ever seen.

Famous for most of his life, he sold millions of records and set countless trends in music, dance and fashion.

His biggest hits were released earlier in his career, including the album Thriller, which was released back in 1982 and is the biggest selling album of all-time.

Here's a selection of his most memorable hits.


This was Michael Jackson's first chart hit and came when he was just 11 years old.

He recorded it alongside his brothers in their group, the Jackson Five.

In 2004, it was ranked 120 in a list for the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, in American music magazine Rolling Stone.


This iconic hit of the 1980s is from the world-famous Thriller album.

For millions of fans it's instantly recognisable from the first thud of the kick drum, something that was intended by producer Quincy Jones.

Apparently, Quincy told his sound engineer to create a drum sound no-one had ever heard before.

BEAT IT - 1983

Michael Jackson worked with a rock star called Eddie Van Halen on this track in 1983.

The mixture of pop and rock on Beat It was seen by many to be ground-breaking.

Speaking about the track later, he said: "I wanted to write a song, the type of song that I would buy if I were to buy a rock song.

"That is how I approached it and I wanted the kids to really enjoy it - the school kids as well as the college kids."


Although it's considered to be one of Michael Jackson's signature tunes, it was actually written by British musician Rod Temperton.

The song is probably best-remembered for its music video, showcasing movie horror, complete with spooks and ghouls.

But critics say it's also one of Michael Jackson's most inventive - from including creepy film sound effects to Vincent Price's spooky graveside rap.


A song that many saw as a comment on Michael Jackson's state of mind, Man In The Mirror was also one of his most critically-acclaimed singles.

It starts with Michael's voice as little more than a whisper. He seems vulnerable, broken and unsure as he tells himself "I'm going to make a change". But as the music builds, so does his determination.

By the end of the track, he is backed by a gospel choir, screaming his chorus at the top of his voice.


Black Or White was described by Michael Jackson's record company as "a rock 'n roll dance song about racial harmony".

It was one of the biggest radio hits of the 1990s and showed his ability to mix musical styles, in this case hard rock, dance, pop and rap.


This was a Christmas number one in the UK in 1995 and was to be Michael Jackson's last mainstream hit over here.

It was written as a protest against environmental destruction.