7. "Beat It" (1983)
If "Billie Jean" established what Michael's feet could do, "Beat It" took care of the rest – the red leather jacket, the mix of sensitive and macho, the movie-musical choreography, a fame so massive it seemed to engulf the pop world itself. Director Bob Giraldi gave the video its edge, thanks to a knife-fight climax. "On the second take, I gave a real switchblade to my AD and told him to quietly substitute it for the dancer's rubber knife," said Giraldi. "[The other dancers] were backing away from the knives – really backing away – because they were actually afraid."