#7: Michael Jackson, ‘Thriller’ (1982) vs. Nirvana, ‘In Utero’ (1993)


Unfortunately, this battle presents a moral problem. There is a long and disturbing history of serious accusations against the late Michael Jackson, most recently in the 2019 HBO documentary “Leaving Neverland”.

While some of the allegations are unresolved, and may be forever, the sheer volume of damning information is impossible to ignore (including the fact that one case was settled with a massive $25 million pay-out). And it makes it extremely difficult to write objectively about the artist’s work. While it has often been the critic’s approach to “separate the artist from the art”, we at VanJam are not prepared to do that in this extreme and, let’s face it, creepy, case.

So what to do about it? We considered making In Utero the default winner. But because, technically, Michael Jackson has not been convicted – and still has his many defenders – this solution did not seem appropriate.

So we are declaring this a non-battle. It never happened. No winner. No loser. No points. The battle tally and earned points below remain the same as after battle #8..

Now, because JS did spend some time with In Utero, he does wish to share a few thoughts:

My pre-battle experience with In Utero was limited only to the hits. I overdosed on Nevermind and was ‘Nirvana tired’ by the time In Utero came out. I couldn’t escape the hits though. I remember thinking that songs like “Heart Shaped Box” were more mature than those in Nevermind. It was easy to see that the songwriting had advanced, which made me think “oh boy, they have gone rock-pop”. After listening to the full album, I was pleasantly surprised that much of the dirty, noisy, screamy alt-punk in Nirvana still remained. A lot of grunge, I think, doesn’t stand the test of time. In Utero does.


WINNER: None (0 points)


80s: 19

90s: 24

80s: 52
90s: 63

Next week’s post – #6: Bruce Springsteen, ‘Born in the U.S.A.’ (1984) vs. Pearl Jam, ‘Ten’ (1991)

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