Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Before there was "Thriller," there was "Starlight"

[Rod] Temperton's first version was titled "Starlight", with the chorus lyric: "Give me some starlight / Starlight sun". The production team, led by Quincy Jones, felt the song should be the title track, but that "Starlight" was not a strong album title. Instead, they wanted something "mysterious to match Michael's evolving persona". Temperton considered several possible titles, including "Midnight Man", which Jones felt was "going in the right direction". Finally, he conceived "Thriller", but worried that it was "a crap word to sing ... It sounded terrible! However, we got Michael to spit it into the microphone a few times and it worked."

With the title settled, Temperton wrote lyrics within "a couple of hours". He envisioned a spoken-word sequence for the end of the song, but did not know what form it should take. It was decided to have a famous voice from the horror genre perform it, and Jones' then-wife, Peggy Lipton, suggested her friend Vincent Price.