16. "Human Nature"
One of Jackson's most vulnerable R&B ballads had a surprising origin – the rock band Toto, of "Africa" and "Hold the Line" fame. Some of the band played on Thriller, including keyboardist Steve Porcaro. Late in the sessions, Jones was still hunting for songs, so Toto sent over a couple of demos. But at the end of the tape was an unfinished instrumental that caught Jones' ear. "There was this dummy lyric, a very skeletal thing," he recalled, "but such a wonderful flavor." Jones sent it to lyricist John Bettis, who also co-wrote tender hits like the Carpenters' "Top of the World" and Madonna's "Crazy for You." The result perfectly fit Michael's shy, breathy vocals, even if the plot involves hitting the clubs and snagging a one-night stand ("If this town is just an apple," he sings, "then let me take a bite"). Though it was a last-minute addition to Thriller, "Human Nature" became its fifth single and a Top 10 summer hit. It returned to the charts 10 summers later as SWV's 1993 Number One R&B hit "Right Here/Human Nature," from Free Willy, a kiddie movie about a killer whale.