Michael Jackson – Michael
Sunday, 2nd January 2011
Michael Jackson remains a controversial figure in death and it would be naïve to think that the posthumous album Michael would be any different. Even before its release, the new album was blasted by an onslaught of criticism from those closest to the late King of Pop. While Katherine Jackson, Quincy Jones and will.i.iam have slammed the album’s authenticity, long-time producer Teddy Riley has stood by its release. Although the family’s allegations must be treated with consideration, nevertheless, it is important to set aside the hearsay and judge the music itself.
With some tracks dating back to the Thriller era and more recent material recorded with producer pal Eddie Cascio, Michael is a unique compilation featuring collaborations from Akon, 50 Cent and Lenny Kravtiz. Always a perfectionist, it is questionable whether Jackson would have wanted such a scattered set of unfinished songs released to the public. As an incohesive body of work that is stranded somewhere between the old and new, Michael fails to pack the punch of a successful comeback album that the singer strived for in his later years.
The first single ‘Hold My Hand’ is a mediocre ballad that is nostalgic in its sentiment yet modern in its sound. Over-produced, the singer’s vocals take a back seat on this Akon-ised duet. The album picks up with the fame-themed ‘Hollywood Tonight’, an outtake from the Invincible sessions. One of the better efforts on the album, the catchy song has the singer beat boxing over an infectious melody that finishes on an encore of whistling. ‘Monster’ featuring 50 Cent is resonant of a hit-track like ‘Thriller’; however, this Cascio-produced dance groove fails to deliver the goods with its weak chorus and heavily produced sound effects
From the bubble-gum blandness of ‘Best of Joy’ to the sexy aggressions of ‘Another (I Can’t Make It) Day’, the album shows off the singer’s tonal versatility that can be heard in all its colours on the album. The latter song, a collaborative piece with Dave Grohl on drums and Lenny Kravitz on guitar, has the singer rocking out with a blitz of falsetto “woo-hoos.” While ironic, ‘Behind the Mask’ is a fast-paced dance track that will hook you within an instant with its strong vocals and funky rhythms. In a similar fashion, ‘Much Too Soon’ is a beautifully sang ballad with soft strings and stripped-back tone that hails from the Thriller era.