Michael Jackson's best albums ever, ranked in order of greatness

29 June 2022, 13:46 | Updated: 4 August 2023, 15:07

Michael Jackson's best albums ranked
Michael Jackson's best albums ranked. Picture: Michael Jackson/Epic/MJJ/Sony/Motown/CBS

By Tom Eames

Michael Jackson released 10 studio albums in his lifetime, from his childhood Motown days to his world-conquering pop classics.

The King of Pop left behind a truly fantastic music legacy, and his songs live on since his death in 2009.

But what are his greatest ever albums? Here's his very best in order:

  1. Music & Me (1973)

    Michael Jackson - Music & Me
    Michael Jackson - Music & Me. Picture: Motown

    Not a bad album by any means, but Michael Jackson's third solo album came at a tricky period of his career.

    His voice was changing as he was hitting puberty, and while it was a more mature record, Motown wouldn't allow him to include his own compositions yet like his heroes Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye.

    Best songs: 'With a Child's Heart', 'Happy'

    Michael Jackson - Happy (With Lyrics)

  2. Forever, Michael (1975)

    Forever, Michael
    Forever, Michael. Picture: Motown

    This would be Michael's final album with Motown before he and his brothers quit for CBS Records.

    It saw Michael take on a more soulful sound as he grew into his teens, but he was still being throttled creatively when he must have been bursting at the seams.

    Best songs: 'One Day in Your Life', 'Dear Michael'

    Michael Jackson - One Day In Your Life (1976)

  3. Ben (1972)

    Michael Jackson's 'Ben'
    Michael Jackson's 'Ben'. Picture: Motown

    Michael's second solo album (and his second in 1972) was the last before his voice started to deepen, and so still had that classic Jackson 5 style to it.

    Perhaps a strange title choice - choosing the title of the song 'Ben', which has been nominated for an Oscar.

    Best songs: 'Ben', 'Shoo-Be-Doo-Be-Doo-Da-Day', 'My Girl'

    Michael Jackson - Ben

  4. Got To Be There (1972)

    Got To Be There
    Got To Be There. Picture: Motown

    Michael was only about 12 years old when he recorded his debut solo album while still in the Jackson 5. Yet you could tell from his voice what a talent he was, and he could manage it on his own.

    It's a slick production, and his best from his early Motown years.

    Best songs: 'Rockin' Robin', 'Got To Be There', 'Ain't No Sunshine'

    Rockin' Robin The Jackson 5 Five 1972 Michael Joseph Jackson 08-29-1958 To 06-25-2009

  5. Invincible (2001)

    Invincible. Picture: Epic/Sony

    'Invincible' gets an undeserved bad rep. It's only this low because of just how good the other five albums were!

    While it only spawned a couple of singles and it came out during a difficult time for Michael, both professionally and personally, as an album it's an underrated pop record from the early 2000s.

    Best songs: 'You Rock My World', 'Cry', 'Butterflies', 'Break of Dawn'

    Michael Jackson - You Rock My World (Official Video - Shortened Version)

  6. Dangerous (1991)

    Dangerous. Picture: Epic

    For his first album of the 1990s, Michael took on the New Jack Swing style that was in vogue, and made it sound incredibly slick and powerful.

    While some of it may sound a bit dated in comparison to his other albums, you still can't deny its place in pop history.

    Best songs: 'Remember the Time', 'Black or White', 'Gone Too Soon', 'Will You Be There'

    Michael Jackson - Black Or White (Official Video - Shortened Version)

  7. HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I (1995)

    HIStory. Picture: Epic/Sony/MJJ

    Michael went all out for this album, releasing a double record - one was the greatest hits collection, while the other was a brand new studio album. We're not sure what happened to 'Book II' though?

    Taking just the new album on its own, and was a brilliant LP in its own right, spawning several massive singles and creating a rather angry collection that's perhaps his most personal ever.

    Best songs: 'Earth Song', 'You Are Not Alone', 'Scream', 'They Don't Care About Us', 'Stranger in Moscow'

    Michael Jackson - Stranger In Moscow (Official Video)

  8. Off the Wall (1979)

    Off the Wall
    Off the Wall. Picture: Epic/CBS

    Michael left Motown and was finally let loose on his first album with Epic Records, alongside Quincy Jones as co-producer.

    Focusing on a sophisticated disco-R&B sound that has never dated, Michael instantly showed the world what an incredibly talented person he was, with irresistible pop masterpieces.

    Best songs: 'Don't Stop Til You Get Enough', 'Rock With You', 'Off the Wall'

    Michael Jackson - Don’t Stop 'Til You Get Enough (Official Video)

  9. Thriller (1982)

    Thriller. Picture: Epic

    Just pipped to the post, is the world's best-selling album of all time. And it's utter pop brilliance.

    This was the album where the world stopped and realised that Michael Jackson is the greatest popstar on the planet. Not so much an album with a general theme, but rather its own greatest hits compilation of banger after banger.

    Best songs: 'Beat It', 'Thriller', 'Billie Jean', 'Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'', 'Human Nature', 'PYT (Pretty Young Thing)'

    Michael Jackson - Beat It (Official Video)

  10. Bad (1987)

    Bad. Picture: Epic/CBS

    How the hell can anyone beat 'Thriller'? Oh, just make an album that's even better, that's all.

    Bad just beats 'Thriller' to our top spot, because it not only has as many classic hits on one collection, but as a whole it all fits together just that little bit better.

    In the five years between albums, Michael's life had totally transformed, and he proved that he wasn't just a flash in the pan. An entertainer at his absolute peak.

    Best songs: 'Bad', 'The Way You Make Me Feel', 'Liberian Girl', 'Another Part of Me', 'Leave Me Alone', 'Man in the Mirror', 'I Just Can't Stop Loving You', 'Dirty Diana', 'Smooth Criminal'.

    Michael Jackson - The Way You Make Me Feel (Official Video)