More Than a Year After His Death, A New Michael Jackson Album


Well, as you know Michael Jackson passed away more than a year ago, but what luck- he left behind dozens of songs that had never been released.  Therefore, "Michael" is only the first posthumous record of what is expected to be several.  Did anyone consider that there might be a reason why some of these songs were never released?  No?  Okay, go ahead and slap them on a bunch of new records. 

Actually, I take that back. (how does he sneak into everything I write these days?) swears that Michael called him a couple months before he died and was very upset that one of his unfinished songs had been leaked on the internet, so Will has been outspoken in his opposition to the album.  Michael was famously known to be an obsessive perfectionist with respect to his work, so it seems a little underhanded to be releasing his songs not knowing how or whether he would have completed and released them.  He may well be rolling over in his bedazzled grave about the whole thing.

"Michael" isn't terrible; it's just not that great.  Maybe it's partly that I'm kind of over the whole pre-pubescent vocals since he was over 50 when he died, or maybe it's that the album isn't as awesome as we know Michael had the potential to be.  I was in high school when "Thriller" was the hottest record on the planet- literally- so it's not that I don't have a special spot in my heart for him.  I've read that he basically spent his whole post-Thriller life trying to replicate its success, which is always a struggle after a hit of that magnitude (I would imagine- no personal experience). 

There are a number of guest appearances on this album: Akon, Fifty Cent (really?) and Lenny Kravitz.  A bit of digging revealed that Lenny Kravitz actually wrote and produced the song and played all the instruments on his track with Michael, and they did in fact record it together, resulting in what Lenny describes as "one of the most amazing musical experiences" he's ever had.  Akon and Michael also recorded their song together (resulting in the aforementioned track leaked to the internet).  Fifty Cent, on the other hand, was called into action after Michael died, although he had apparently been approached by Michael about the song prior to his death. 

I think (and I don't believe I'm the only one) that Michael's more successful songs are the dance songs, rather than the ballads.  As my son who spent three years in show choir explained, a ballad is "designed to make the audience cry".  I don't know if that's Webster's definition, but I didn't like "Ben" 30+ years ago and I don't much like the slower songs on this album.  Who knows if Michael was alive whether he'd say, "No, 'Best of Joy' is boring; it needs more glitter!"

Songs I liked: "Behind the Mask" and "(I Like) The Way You Love Me".  Songs I thought were okay: "Monster", which is the song with Fifty Cent, and "(I Can't Make It) Another Day", which is the song with Lenny Kravitz.  And that is four of the ten songs on the album.  For those of you keeping score at home, I liked two, thought two were okay and was indifferent about six.  The album was $11.99 for those ten songs, and if Michael was alive today I would tell him that is too expensive, but obviously people like me are willing to fork over the money for it anyway. 

I thought, naturally, that there wouldn't be any videos for this album since Michael is dead and all.  False!  Akon saw to it that the most heartwarming feel-good video ever was released for "Hold My Hand", and I have to say the video gives the song more personality than it had on its own.  Now I must head straight to church and give confession for speaking ill of our fallen king.  I just don't think this would have been what he wanted, though.  Let Michael and his music rest in peace.



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