Michael Jackson Songs: The 20 Most Loved

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He is, without doubt, one of the biggest selling solo artists of all time (beaten only by rock 'n' roll legend Elvis Presley, the daughter of whom he actually married) and became a global phenomenon after embarking on a solo career from his childhood band the Jackson 5. Whilst he has held the record for the biggest selling album of all time with 'Thriller' for a number of years and has evermore growing sales nearly four years after his death, we thought we'd collate together the global favourite Michael Jackson songs from The Pop Star's back catalogue. 

We would like to emphasize that we understand that our top 20 songs may have been different had we looked at other nations' music charts, but this list is based on a point system racking up the number of weeks his singles topped the charts in the US, the UK, France, Spain and Australia only. 

20. Heal the World (1992)

Heal The World Artwork

It is without doubt that Michael Jackson was an avid philanthropist and this song is probably his hit that most reflects this. The video features the poverty and misery among children in third world countries, predominantly Burundi. It also shares its name with his own charitable foundation that he set up to help some of these children and was donated for use as the anthem for the James Bulger Red Balloon Center; a safe haven for bullied children run by the mother of the murdered toddler who the charity is tribute to. It was rather appropriately performed by Ciara at the 2009 BET Awards to pay homage to the star following his passing in June that year.
Watch the video for Heal The World

19. The Girl Is Mine [ft. Paul McCartney] (1982)

The Girl Is Mine Single Cover

This is the third collaboration MJ had with former Beatle Paul McCartney and appeared on his coveted 'Thriller' album. Although it wasn't one of his most popular works, it reached global recognition and earned its number one spot on the Spanish charts for 3 weeks. It became the subject of two lawsuits, however, when Fred Sanford alleged that Jackson used material from his song 'Please Love Me Now' and when Reynaud Jones and Robert Smith claimed that the track and two other Jackson songs bared close similarity to their own efforts. The lawsuits were later dismissed in Jackson's favour. In 2008, will.i.am remixed the track for 'Thriller 25', though it was slammed by many music critics.
Listen to The Girl Is Mine

18. One Day In Your Life (1981)

One Day In Your Life Single Cover

'One Day In Your Life' featured on Jackson's fourth solo studio album 'Forever, Michael' released in 1975 and shares its name with his second compilation record. Although the track didn't do so well in the US charts, over in the UK it stayed at number one for 2 weeks when it was released as a single 6 years after its album appearance making it the sixth best-selling single in 1981. Cuban singer Gloria Estefan performed the track in her Liverpool concert during the 90 Millas World Tour while R&B star Kyla also covered it for her album 'Heartfelt' in 2007.
Watch the video for One Day In Your Life

17. Dirty Diana (1988)

Dirty Diana Single Cover

This was one of Jackson's more rock-infused singles and appeared on his album 'Bad'. Similarly to 'Billie Jean', it incited much speculation as to what it was about with some suggesting that it was about his close friend Diana Ross and others suggesting it concerned another friend of his, Diana, Princess of Wales. However, co-producer Quincy Jones confirmed that, as with 'Billie Jean', 'Dirty Diana' was also about groupies. Princess Diana did personally tell MJ that it was her favourite of his songs which prompted him to sing it at a performance at Wembley Arena. The song was at number 1 in the US for 1 week and entered the charts again in 2009 following his death after an increase in digital downloads.
Watch the video for Dirty Diana

16. Thriller (1984)

Michael Jackson Thriller Single Cover

The title single from his 1982 album, 'Thriller' became a huge hit with its voice-over from horror legend Vincent Price and typical horror sound effects like those of a 50s movie and it remained at number 1 in the French charts for 3 weeks plus a further 1 week in Spain. However, the actual song was massively surpassed by the accompanying music video which won Jackson 3 MTV Video Music Awards and global recognition. It features a narrative with MJ on a date with a pretty girl at the movies before running into an army of zombies who perform the iconic 'Thriller' dance routine. The dance has been copied numerous times appearing in films including 'Donga', 'Coming to America' and '13 Going on 30' as well as being famously re-enacted by some prison inmates in Cebu, Philippines in a YouTube video that went viral. Strangely, in spite of the very thematic nature of the song and video, the single cover remains the most shocking thing leaving no indication of the song's concept whatsoever. 
Watch the video for Thriller

15. The Way You Make Me Feel (1987)

Michael Jackson The Way You Make Me Feel Single Cover

From the excellent ironically titled 'Bad' album, this track has been quite a favourite with cover artists. It is one of MJ's more romantic numbers, topping both the US chart and the Spanish chart at number 1 for a week each. It was notably performed after his death by John Legend and a devastated Stevie Wonder at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 25th Anniversary Concert, and Stevie has been covering at his shows ever since. The late Whitney Houston also sang the song on her I Look to You Tour the following year and Rihanna featured some of the track's lyrics for her own song 'Nobody's Business'.
Watch the video for The Way You Make Me Feel

Next page: 'Smooth Criminal', 'Man In The Mirror' and others

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77lotusflower's picture


I wasn't expecting this order

1 year 5 months ago
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rosemary moly gomes's picture

rosemary moly gomes

Elvis or who u r want to suggest...MJ is.....is MJ.So we don't care what they say.

1 year 8 months ago
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corlista's picture


Elvis never left the United States. Michael was a global entertainer whose influence was felt all over the world and still is. There's no comparison.

1 year 8 months ago
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YANNI54's picture


Are you people at Contactmusic all on crack?? Which part of global do you need to get someone to explain to you? Michael Jackson by passed Elvis in record sales, in the amount of money made, and in time spent in show business. WHY is it so hard for all of you so called experts to just admit it once and for all that MICHAEL JACKSON WAS NOT ONLY NUMBER ONE BUT HE WAS BETTER THAN ELVIS AND THE BEATLES. This man started as a young child genius and continued until the day he died 40 years later. Even you had to admit he is/was "A GLOBAL PHENOM", which is something Elvis wished he could have done. There was nothing that MJ didn't do in the entertainment business from singing, writing, acting, humanitariun, a scholar. He was without a doubt the most wonderful man, son, brother, uncle and father. Shaking your hips like Elvis doesn't put you in front of all the accomplishiments of Michael Jackson which is still continuing to this very day. If you can't admit that then the time has come for you to quit!!

1 year 8 months ago
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riversbend's picture


MJ is the biggest selling solo artist--globally. He fared much worse in his own country than Elvis Presley, however (where after all the media lynching took place--that boy had to be kept down.) Presley was not the songwriter or innovator that Jackson was but he was extremely prolific, churning out close to 100 albums, considerably affecting quality. Given Jackson's originality, superior talent, groundbreaking contribution, and lasting influence on other artists, it seems likely his sales will in time surpass those of Elvis even in the good ol' USA.

1 year 8 months ago
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vallieegirl's picture


Can you please explain AND provide proof of how Elvis is the biggest selling solo artist of all time when Michael Jackson has the world's top album selling of all time? I don't understand how you came up with that determination.

1 year 8 months ago
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vallieegirl's picture


Can you please explain AND provide proof of how Elvis has beaten Michael when he has best selling album in the entire world? That statement doesn't make sense to me.

1 year 8 months ago
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