It seems quite ironic to me that the author, despite the title, has never actually met Michael Jackson. In fact, this admission comes as the very first sentence of the book. With this out of the way, the book focuses on the long-running (10 years, to be exact) West End show, Thriller Live!, how it was conceptualised and how it has come together.
Written by Gary Lloyd, the director and the choreographer of the stage show, the book doesn’t quite read like an autobiography, but a collection of diary entries, essays, press releases and more; and it starts with the day of Jackson’s shocking death. It is safe to say that Jackson was gone too soon, and Lloyd artfully explores how this affected him, and others involved with him professionally and personally. Lloyd jumps from decade to decade, talking about the day he was born, his childhood, the influence of Jackson’s music on his upbringing and his life to this day.
Having said all that, I am struggling to decide who this book is catered for. Big fans of Jackson would not be able to uncover what was behind the mask or feel closer to the King of Pop in any way. Fans of the stage show would potentially find the details of the show’s inception mildly fascinating, but at the risk of being eaten alive or sounding like a monster, in no shape of form does this book feel necessary.
I appreciate the amount of cultural impact Jackson’s music had over several decades. And this book does a decent job at showing how and why Jackson’s legacy lives on 10 years after his death. However, the book feels overly long and without any real point.
It would be naïve to expect a book that is focused on how a stage show came about and how it’s been doing since then to be groundbreaking. However, the writing style is chaotic at best, and dangerously distracting at worst. It’s not a bad read, but just like I said before, it’s not necessary. It’s human nature to want to tell how one’s achieved something as big as Thriller! Live, however this doesn’t quite feel like the right medium to do so.
Now, go back and count how many Michael Jackson song titles I’ve dropped in this article. Spoiler alert: it’s eleven.