Nearly a decade after his death, Michael Jackson’s music has certainly not been forgotten. The King of Pop’s Legacy remains firmly cemented, with his signature hits often heard on the radio, in bars and restaurants, at major sporting events and festivals, and on thousands of Spotify playlists.
Everyone knows the words to “Beat It,” remembers the iconic music video and moonwalk to “Billie Jean,” recognizes the disco funk of “Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough,” and the music video for “Thriller.”
Michael Jackson had 13 Hot 100 #1s as a solo artist and 25 Top 10 songs. You’d be hard pressed to find someone who can’t name at least a few Michael Jackson records, but because of the enormity of his hit singles, many of his most brilliant songs went overshadowed.
Here are the best Michael Jackson deep cuts you may never have heard…
Penned by Marsha Ambrosius, “Butterflies” is an incredible R&B jam about the most exciting moments of falling in love. Released as the second single from Jackson’s 2001 Invincible album, the track performed respectably on the charts, and despite only being released for airplay and not commercially, it still peaked at #14 on the Hot 100. But the emotion Michael delivers over a stripped back arrangement is goosebump-inducing.
Baby Be Mine (1982)
Jackson’s magnum opus, Thriller, was jam-packed with so many hits, that only two songs on the album were not made singles: “The Lady of My Life” (which would later be sampled in the LL Cool J smash “Hey Lover”) and “Baby Be Mine.” The latter was a funky groove that sat second in the Thriller tracklisting sandwiched between mega hits “Wanna Be Startin Somethin” and “The Girl Is Mine.” But “Baby Be Mine” truly holds its own with a catchy hook, infectious production, and a flirtatious spirit. I dare you not to dance around your house grooving to this one.
Fly Away (1987)
I didn’t hear this song until a few years after the Bad album was re-released in 2001 with special bonus tracks that didn’t make the original cut. “Fly Away” was one of them, and it’s a damn shame, because the song is gorgeous. It’s catchy, it’s refreshing, it’s fun, and it’s absolutely worth looking up.
Break of Dawn (2001)
Michael Jackson had such an innocence to his personality that his lyrics often tended more toward flirtation than down-n-dirty sex. But by the release of his 2001 album Invincible, Jackson was a grown-ass 43 year old man. “Break of Dawn” doesn’t sound as awkward as it should with its overtly sexual content. It’s a genuinely viable babymaking, sex-playlist worthy jam.
Liberian Girl (1987)
Granted, the hook is pretty simplistic: “LIberian girl, you know that you came and you changed my world.” But there is something hypnotic about this album cut from the Bad album that may have to do with the mysterious, exotic production. The song builds, and by the climactic ending, Jackson’s soulful vocals make you believe that this Liberian lady must really be somethin! (Hot tip: the music video is a real who’s who of 80s celebrity cameos).
By Rory Arnold, Contributing Writer