On June 25, 2009, the world lost one of the greatest entertainers in the history of music. Michael Jackson, the undisputed King of Pop, suffered what was essentially a drug overdose of grand proportions. Despite MJ’s personal pitfalls, his music has been off the wall, thrilling, bad, dangerous and invincible. Now, some 18 months later, Epic Records is releasing a 10-track set of tunes recorded by Michael before his untimely death.
At first listen, the simply-titled Michael album appears to be a cheap attempt at capitalizing off of his fame and not really a credible offering of music that Michael would’ve approved. The intense speculation surrounding this new project is about whether all of the vocals on this album actually belong to MJ. To date, superproducer Teddy Riley (as well as many other longtime collaborators) continues to support the claim that it is indeed Michael Jackson’s voice. The lead single, “Hold My Hand” produced by Akon, is classic MJ material on a basic level. However, Akon at times overpowers the track with his own signature vocals. Michael definitely wouldn’t have allowed that to happen if he was still alive. Other tracks like the big-city-bright-lights “Hollywood Tonight” and the sickeningly-repetitive “Best of Joy” are void of Michael’s traditional high-pitched adlibs we’ve come to expect from this musical perfectionist. It begs the question of whether this is truly what Michael Jackson would have wanted the world to hear. Nonetheless, Michael actually isn’t entirely incomplete from a composition standpoint. Legendary rocker Lenny Kravitz wrote and produced “(I Can’t Make It) Another Day”, which finds Michael somewhat in his edgier element. He sounds alive with his usual vocal dynamics and the blaring electric guitar riffs. It sounds like a song he actually enjoyed recording. The album closes with a tender acoustic number called “Much Too Soon”. MJ croons about a lesson-in-love learned much too soon after she’s gone away. There is likely a subliminal message here as we lost the King of Pop much too soon.
It’s important to note that Michael Jackson is a musical genius who will never be forgotten and cannot be duplicated. As we all witnessed in the 2009 film This Is It, Michael always had to have a say-so when it came to his art and how it would be portrayed. Sadly, it’s apparent that he wasn’t able to do so with Michael. He’s one of the very few artists in history, if not the only artist, whose posthumous work will never compare to his older material… not by a long-shot. No record label can recreate that MJ magic without the man himself. Hopefully, this lesson will be learned sooner than later before his legacy is completely tarnished. Rest in peace, Michael…
About the Writer
With nearly a decade of experience in programming content for Music Choice (24/7 music channels, cable-on-demand shows, website and cell), Akim Bryant has just begun to scratch the surface of journalism having already written for GIANT and The Source magazines as well as a number of start-up publications. This self-professed R&B junkie also has a strong knack for the art of interviewing. Be on the lookout for his semi-autobiographical debut novel coming out in 2012.