The top 20 Michael Jackson songs of all time

Michael Jackson has an incredible back catalogue but which is The King of Pop's best song?

It goes without saying, that Michael Jackson had a recording discography like few others. From his time in The Jackson 5 as a young man to when he became a bonafide superstar solo artist, he proved himself as a pop titan over and over again.

Though this does nothing to settle which masterpiece is his finest piece of work. Some say the best Michael Jackson songs are the disco-led bangers – and some say his epic love songs show the King of Pop at his finest. Ultimately, they’re all pretty special, so we’ve tried our very best to decide just which one is tops.

All the classics, like ‘Thriller’, ‘ABC’, and ‘Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough’ are all right up there – but which one has come out on top? Get our ranking of the 20 best Michael Jackson songs of all time.


120. ‘Leave Me Alone’, (Bad, 1987)

No Merchandising. Editorial Use Only Mandatory Credit: Photo by c.Everett / Rex Features ( 949745f ) Corey the Chimp with Michael Jackson at Universal City Studios, Florida Michael Jackson c.Everett / Rex Features
On the official Radio 1 UK chart, the song peaked at Number Two, held from the top spot by Simple Minds’ ‘Belfast Child’, and was the 44th best-selling single of 1989 in the UK. Pic: Getty

219. ‘They Don’t Care About Us’, (HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book 1, 1995)

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 7: Singer Michael Jackson (C) gestures to the crowd at the conclusion of his opening number at the 1995 MTV Video Music Awards 07 September held at Radio City Music Hall in New York. Jackson and sister Janet Jackson have been nominted for 11 awards for their video "Scream." AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images) AFP/Getty Images
The song remains one of the most controversial pieces Jackson ever composed. In the US, media scrutiny surrounding alleged anti-semitic lyrics were the catalyst for Jackson issuing multiple apologies and re-recording the album, altering the lyrics for that particular track. Pic: Getty

318. ‘P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)’, (Thriller, 1982)

Singer Michael Jackson dances on stage during his Victory Tour at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. AP/Press Association Images
The original demo of the song was totally reworked into a more uptempo beat by James Ingram and producer Quincy Jones. Janet and La Toya provide backing vocals in the guise of the P.Y.T.s. Pic: PA Photos

417. ‘Off The Wall’, (‘Off The Wall’, 1979)

382639 01: Entertainer Michael Jackson poses with his pet boa constrictor September 15, 1987 in the USA. Jackson, who was the lead singer for the Jackson Five by age eight, reached the peak of his solo career with 1982''s "Thriller," the best-selling album of all time and recipient of eight Grammy awards. (Photo by Liaison) Getty Images
Title track from the album, it became Jackson’s third Top 10 single from ‘Off The Wall’, which eventually had four Top 10 singles – Jackson was the first artist to accomplish this. Pic: Getty

516. ‘Can You Feel It’, (Triumph, 1981)

Michael Jackson 1972 in London with Jackson 5 (Photo by Chris Walter/WireImage) WireImage
Co-written by Michael and brother Randy for the group The Jacksons, this was voted one of the 100 best videos of all time in a poll to mark the 20th anniversary of MTV. Pic: Getty

615. ‘Rock With You’, (‘Off The Wall’, 1979)

UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 01: MADISON SQUARE GARDEN Photo of JACKSON FIVE and Michael JACKSON, Michael Jackson performing on stage - Jackson 5 Triumph tour (Photo by Ebet Roberts/Redferns) Redferns
This song helped Jackson score one of the first Billboard Number One singles in the '80s, as well as one of the last big hits of the disco era. According to Billboard, the song was the fourth biggest single of the decade. Pic: Getty

714. ‘Black Or White’, (‘Dangerous, 1991)

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Rex Features ( 559163b ) Michael Jackson MICHAEL JACKSON IN CONCERT AT WEMBLEY STADIUM, LONDON, BRITAIN - 1991 Rex Features
This single is considered the biggest selling rock song of the '90s. Written, composed, and arranged by Jackson with the rap lyrics by Bill Bottrell, the video featured a young Macauly Culkin as the kid playing the loud music at the start. George Wendt (Norm from Cheers) played the father. Pic: Rex Features

813. ‘Dirty Diana’, (‘Bad’, 1987)

UNITED KINGDOM - AUGUST 18: Photo of Michael JACKSON; Michael Jackson performing on stage, finger pointing up - Dangerous Tour, (Photo by John Gunion/Redferns) Redferns
Jackson hired Billy Idol’s former guitarist Steve Stevens to back him on this track. In an interview from the special edition of ‘Bad’, Quincy Jones later confirmed that it was about groupies – some media speculation point this song to Diana Ross, who Jacko was believed to have been having an affair with him at the time. Pic: Getty

912. ‘Blame It On The Boogie’ (1978)

Michael Jackson performing with The Jacksons in New Orleans, LA on October 3,1979. Ebet Roberts
Originally released in 1978 both by English singer-songwriter Mick Jackson as well as, in its most famous version, by The Jacksons. As the tracks battled for position in the charts, the press hailed it ‘The Battle Of The Boogie’. Pic: Getty

1011. ‘Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin'’, (‘Thriller’, 1982)

TOKYO - SEPTEMBER 14 : Michael Jackson performing on stage during his "Bad" World Tour in Tokyo,Japan on the 14th of September 1987. (Photo by Dave Hogan/Getty Images)UK NEWSPAPERS OUT WITHOUT PRIOR CONSENT FROM DAVE HOGAN. PLEASE CONTACT SALES TEAM WITH ENQUIRIES Getty Images
This single was originally intended for release on ‘Off The Wall’, but was not recorded until the 1982 sessions for ‘Thriller’. The song is about rumours surrounding the star, and contains a reference to Billie Jean. Pic: Getty

1110. ‘Bad’, (‘Bad’, 1987)

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‘Bad’ was originally intended as a duet with long time rival Prince. Quincy Jones, in an interview included in the special edition of ‘Bad’, said that Prince told Jackson and him that he had not wanted to participate because “it would be a hit without (him)”. Pic: Rex Features

129. ‘I Want You Back’, ('Diana Ross Presents The Jackson 5’, 1969)

The Jackson Five (From left) Tito , Marlon, Jackie , Michael and Jermaine Jackson perform on "The Ed Sullivan Show." CBS /Landov LANDOV/Press Association Images
‘I Want You Back’ was the only single to be released from the album, and has sold six million copies worldwide. It was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999, and ranked 120 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. Pic: PA Photos

138. ‘Man In The Mirror’, (‘Bad’, 1987)

File photo dated 30/03/1985 of pop star Michael Jackson wearing an old policeman's helmet in London. The singer has been taken to hospital in California, reports said tonight. PA Wire/Press Association Images
The video for the single is a notable departure from Jackson’s other videos. Featuring footage of various news events of the time, Jackson appears in a brief clip towards the end of the video in which he can be seen donning a red jacket and standing in a large crowd. Pic: PA Photos

147. ‘The Way You Make Me Feel’, (‘Bad’, 1987)

November 15, 1991 file photo of Slash and Michael Jackson (Photo by L. Cohen/WireImage) WireImage
Michael wrote this song at the request of his mother, Katherine, who wanted a song with “a shuffling kind of rhythm”. It was the third consecutive Number One single from his album 'Bad' in the US. Pic: Getty

156. ‘ABC’, (‘ABC’, 1970)

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This single peaked at Number Eight in the UK, and like most of the early Jackson 5 hits, ‘ABC’ was written and produced by ‘The Corporation’ – a team composed of Motown chief Berry Gordy, Freddie Perren, Alphonzo Mizell and Deke Richards. Pic: Getty

165. ‘Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough’, (‘Off The Wall’, 1979)

LONDON -1983 : Michael Jackson at the BPI awards to collect an award on behalf of Barbra Streisand held in London 1983.(Photo by Dave Hogan/Getty Images) Getty Images
This track was the first solo recording over which Jackson had creative control, and was his debut single released under Epic Records. The musical piece also won him his first solo Grammy and American Music Awards. Pic: Getty

174. ‘Smooth Criminal’, (‘Bad’, 1987)

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‘Smooth Criminal’ was the centrepiece for Jackson’s short film 'Moonwalker', featuring Joe Pesci. The effect in the video when Jackson and his dancers lean forward (‘Anti-gravity lean’) was achieved using special harnesses with wires and magnets. Pic: Getty

183. ‘Thriller’, (‘Thriller’, 1982)

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Featuring a guest soliloquy from Vincent Price, ‘Thriller’ is considered one of Jackson’s signature songs, but only peaked at Number 10 when it was released. The mini-film music video accompanying it was the most expensive of its time, costing $500,000, and Guinness World Records listed it in 2006 as the most successful music video ever, selling over 9 million units. Pic: Rex Features

192. ‘Beat It’, (‘Thriller’, 1982)

Michael Jackson on set of his video "Beat It" in downtown Los Angeles (Photo by Barry King/WireImage) WireImage
Eddie Van Halen was finally drafted in to add the distinctive overdriven guitar solo, but it took a couple of attempts - he initially thought the phone calls from Quincy Jones were pranks. Van Halen ended up recording the part for free. Pic: Getty

201 ‘Billie Jean’, (‘Thriller’, 1982)

Michael Jackson poses on stages in 1984 during the Jacksons' Victory Tour. (AP Photo) AP/Press Association Images
Written by Jackson and produced by Quincy Jones, this track was almost removed from the album as Jones disliked it. The song's lyrics refer to a real-life experience, in which a mentally ill female fan claimed that Jackson fathered one of her twins. Pic: PA Photos