Although his 1979 multi-platinum breakthrough, Off the Wall, was already Michael Jackson’s fifth solo album—after his bro-band run with the Jackson 5 and then The Jacksons—it didn’t achieve the pop-crossover goals that the singer desperately wanted. So, in true all-conquering fashion, the future King of Pop set out to beat himself when Thriller was released on November 30, 1982. And with his trusted producer Quincy Jones back behind the boards, Jackson—just 24 years old—delivered his crowning achievement, one that even he would fail to top. Thriller held the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Album charts for 37 nonconsecutive weeks, and spawned seven singles—all of them smashes, including the chart-toppers “Billie Jean” and “Beat It.” Thriller would then sweep the Grammys, and eventually become one of the best-selling albums of all time. Most crucially, it defined the modern pop blockbuster, creating a blueprint for everyone from Usher and Justin Timberlake to Beyoncé, and, yes, his own baby sis, Janet Jackson. From the Paul McCartney-blessed pop of the hit first single “The Girl is Mine” to the Eddie Van Halen-revved head-banging of “Beat It,” Jackson’s crossover moves opened up the eyes and ears of the industry—and audiences around the world—to what music could sound, look, and feel like if we blurred those old color lines. “Billie Jean” is a gripping psycho-study of the paranoia and persecution that the superstar was already feeling—yet it still maintains the mysterious allure of an artist who we never really got to know. Meanwhile, the album’s opening throwdown, “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’” is Jackson at his fiercest and funkiest, picking up right where Off the Wall left off—and shoring up his R&B bona fides. Then there’s the title track, a spooky spectacular that’s impossible to separate from its iconic video—and that still thrills us every single Halloween.