Michael Jackson’s Latest Album To Be Released In May

April 2, 2014
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This Monday, Epic Records announced eight previously unheard Michael Jackson songs will be released on a new album entitled ‘Xscape’ in May.

Fans can preorder Xscape on iTunes as of today and it will be in stores around the world on May 13th, the company said.

Named after a Rodney Jerkins-produced song recorded during the sessions for Jackson’s last proper album, Invincible, and now reworked by Jerkins for the new album, Xscape is an attempt to ‘contemporise’ songs from Jackson’s huge archive.

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CEO of Epic Records, LA Reid, has brought in producers Timbaland, Stargate, Jerome “J-Roc” Harmon and John McClain in a bid to do just that.

“Michael left behind some musical performances that we take great pride in presenting through the vision of music producers that he either worked directly with or expressed strong desire to work with,” Reid said.

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The shock and sadness of losing one of musical history’s greatest and most influential entertainers aside, when Michael Jackson died on June 25th five years ago, right before the start of his comeback ‘This Is It’ tour, it felt like we’d watched the build up to a cracking football match, only to turn the TV off at kick off.

The ‘This Is It’ tour began with the promise of 10 dates at London’s O2 Arena in 2009 but the tickets sold out in less than an hour, prompting concert promoters AEG Live to add 40 more.  The ticket sales broke numerous records, Jackson’s music sales started a steep resurgence.  The first 10 concerts alone would have earned the (then ‘broke’) entertainer approximately £50 million.

The world was still in love with everything about the man, the possibility to make money from the brand was endless and the hype was palpable.

But when that runaway train of excitement crashed, I, along with millions around the world, struggled to accept Jackson had gone. I still do.

It’s unsurprising, then, that anything ‘new’ released posthumously from Jackson’s vast back catalogue of work is snatched up faster than you can say “royalties”.  Hearing new music from the King of Pop is like discovering a new planet.

The eight ‘new’ tracks on Xscape, however, aren’t really that new. They’ve been floating around on the internet as bootleg versions for some years now. MJ Fans have already heard the likes of “Slave To The Rhythm” (which at one point –  weknowtheDJ readers will recall –  featured vocals from Justin Bieber, although according to reports coming back from the listening party held recently, the version with Bieber won’t feature on this latest mix, which is a shame as it sounded incredible – listen here).

Hosted by UK DJ Trevor Nelson, and very much under the hush-hush, the listening party invited various journalists to a hotel in Knightsbridge, London, where the Timbaland-infused ‘new’ MJ creation was played to them via a mobile phone. Yes, you read that right.  One of the all-time great music-makers had his latest material showcased through a Sony mobile phone played over some speakers (which according to the MD of Sony UK, was to show off the mobile phone’s excellent sound quality). Well, as much as MJ embraced new ways of making and delivering music, one can’t help but feel it’s a marketing push too far.  Jackson labored for hours over his music, he was a notorious perfectionist. The idea of the end product being presented in that way strikes me as something he would never have approved of.  And, considering the journalists present noticed the lack of sound quality, the poor man is probably turning in his grave.

Furthermore, MJ’s posthumously released material hasn’t always been greeted with enthusiasm from the purists who say leave well alone, and some believe he wouldn’t necessarily have wished for this music to see the light of day – that he may not have considered it good enough.  Still, there are plenty more who remain thoroughly excited at the idea of some new potential ‘classics’ to enjoy.

Whether an album constructed to suit a next level ‘idea’ of what MJ’s music should sound like will please anyone other than a record label looking for a cash-in, remains to be seen.

But I have to admit, I’m already buying the hype, after all, it’s Michael Jackson (but perhaps, not as we know him).

-Lucy Jenkins

@LUCYJENKlNS

 

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