New Old Music From Michael Jackson on XSCAPE

May 19, 2014
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On May 13th it was announced that Epic Records would release Michael Jackson’s posthumous album XSCAPE, which would feature unreleased gems from the Jackson vault. Executive Producer L.A. Reid introduced the album at a listening party at Rockefeller Center.

“This isn’t record company greed, it’s art,” Reid said. “Some people say these are just outtakes left on the cutting room floor, but ‘Wanna Be Starting Something’ was written for Off the Wall. ‘Billie Jean’ almost didn’t make it!”

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Every music artist known to man has numerous songs that don’t make the cut for an album, for various reasons. Michael Jackson is the most successful recording artist in history, and the world will always know him as The King of Pop — his vault must have been packed! Reid was given access to curate from four decades of material – songs with finished vocals by Jackson. Reid then joined forces with other producers to “contemporize” the songs without compromising Jackson’s artistic integrity and authentic essence. Producers of the album include Timbaland, Rodney Jerkins, John McClain, and Stargate. The album contains eight tracks written between 1983-1999. However, to satisfy the die-hards and purists, the Deluxe album provides both an original and a “contemporized” version of each song. Oh, and don’t forget the short documentary for good measure.

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While the untouched versions are a delight to hear, their contemporary counterparts (for the most part) are nowhere near a disappointment. Since disco and soul are trendy as ever, the production work on songs like “Love Never Felt So Good” (LNFSG) sounds like it fits right in with current times. LNFSG, the safest song on the album, is the only song with three versions: The Original Version, The “Contemporized” MJ Only Version, and The Featuring Justin Timberlake version. With only eight tracks on the album, some were undoubtedly cut from the final lineup. In particular, a version of “Slave To The Rhythm” featuring Justin Bieber, as well as an untitled track that reportedly would have featured vocals from D. Angelo and Mary J. Blige are missing. Whereas MJ’s first posthumous album, Michael (2010) seemed rushed, this one is more critically curated and has more artistic merit.

John McClain and John Branca, co-executors of Michael Jackson’s Estate said, “Michael was always on the cutting edge and was constantly reaching out to new producers, looking for new sounds. He was always relevant and current. These tracks, in many ways, capture that spirit. We thank L.A. Reid for his vision.”

Help Michael Jackson climb the charts once again by getting XSCAPE on iTunes now.

~ Jenni Moore (@JenniferKayMo)

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