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 best 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)
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)
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' 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)
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)
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)
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