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Thriller is most popular Michael Jackson song in UK 

5 March 2009

PRS for Music

1984 hit still beats the rest and has little known British connection

As Michael Jackson announces he is coming back to the UK to kick off his comeback tour, PRS for Music today reveals it is his old favourites that the British public still love. Top of the pops for Jacko-songs is still Thriller with over 2.6 million downloads in 2008 alone.

The UK’s 10 favourite Michael Jackson songs:

  • Thriller
  • Billie Jean
  • Beat It
  • You Rock My World
  • Man In The Mirror
  • The Way You Make Me Feel
  • Smooth Criminal
  • Bad
  • Black or White
  • Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough

Source: PRS for Music

Thriller released in 1984 has another British connection as the song writer was not Jackson as many believe but actually little known Cleethorpes resident and PRS for Music member Rod Temperton.    Originally named ‘Starlight’ and then ‘Midnight Man’ the title Thriller only came to Rod at the last minute and the rest is history. Still one of the most famous videos of all time the song has received a new lease of life by becoming the signature tune and internet smash for dancing Filipino prisoners at CPDRC (Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center) including front man gay transvestite Wenjiel! 

Billie Jean comes in at number two in the chart, a song that was remixed 91 times before the final version and is based on the bizarre accusation from a female fan that Jackson fathered one of her twins.

The chart was compiled using PRS for Music’s unique performance database which is used to make accurate royalty payments to songwriters, composers and music publishers.

Commenting on the results, Ellis Rich, Chairman of PRS for Music, said: ‘It’s fantastic that Michael Jackson has chosen the UK to launch his comeback tour and I can’t wait to see the king of pop. I think Cleethorpes’ connection to one of the greatest pop songs of all times is something that town can be very proud of’.  

Michael Jackson has announced a summer residency at the O2, home of the British Music Experience (BME). PRS for Music is the official music industry partner of the BME, aiming to raise awareness of the value of music to the UK.


Famous Cleethorpes Residents: 

  • Rod Temperton, ‘Thriller’ songwriter
  • Shirley Crabtree, former UK wrestler known as 'Big Daddy'
  • Actress Vivean Grey aka 'Mrs Mangle' from long running Australian soap
  • Neighbours
  • Actress Patricia Hodge who starred in 'The Elephant Man' and 'Rumpole of the Bailey'


About PRS for Music

PRS for Music represents the rights of over 125,000 songwriters, composers and music publishers in the UK. As a membership organisation it ensures creators are paid whenever their music is played, performed or reproduced, championing the importance of copyright to protect and support the UK music industry. The UK has a proud tradition of creating wonderful music that is enjoyed the world over and PRS for Music has been supporting the creators of that music since 1914.

PRS for Music provides business and community groups with easy access to nearly 15m songs through its music licences. In an industry worth over £4.1bn, PRS for Music is uniquely placed to be a voice for music and music creators. Collecting £621.5m in 2016, PRS for Music is one of the world’s most efficient combined rights organisations. With over 100 representation agreements in place globally, PRS for Music's network represents over two million music creators.

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