Michael Jackson’s Unreleased Music Could Date Back Decades

Among songs that could come out after singer's death are collaborations with Queen's Freddie Mercury.

With reported worldwide sales of more than 9 million albums , [artist id=”1102″]Michael Jackson[/artist] has already proved worthy of his self-imposed King of Pop title in the weeks since his death. But his former boss at Sony Music, Tommy Mottola, says that there could be much, much more Jackson music released from the vaults in the years to come, some of it stretching all the way back to the singer’s early 1980s heyday.

Following up on earlier comments he’d made to The Associated Press regarding the “dozens and dozens” of Jackson songs in the vaults , former Sony Music chairman and CEO Tommy Mottola told Time magazine this week that the unpublished music from the singer could trickle out for years.

In addition to the two new albums Jackson was reportedly working on at the time of his death — a classical instrumental piece and a pop album with songs produced by Will.I.Am and Akon — as well as the many extra tracks that Jackson recorded for his solo studio albums, Mottola said the possibilities for new releases are endless.

Mottola — with whom Jackson famously feuded in the early 2000s — said Jackson routinely recorded more songs than he’d need for his legendary albums. “Let’s say 12 or 13 songs end up on the album; Michael could have possibly recorded 15, 20 or 30 songs,” Mottola said. “This would probably go for every album he recorded and probably predating [Sony] to his Motown days.” Because Jackson was always trying to expand his sound and work with the hottest producers of the day, Mottola said there are a “plethora” of songs from those producers that were never released.

And, even though they didn’t make it onto Jackson’s albums, Mottola said some of the songs could represent the singer’s “best work.” Those releases don’t even take into account the possibility of remixing Jackson’s catalog or releasing a live album, which Jackson never did during his lifetime.

“There were so many recordings, and so many of them were great,” he said. “It doesn’t mean these [unreleased] songs were any less great; it just happened to be the other songs that were picked.”

Among the songs that were reportedly slated for the follow-up to Jackson’s final studio album, 2001’s Invincible, was the leaked Akon collaboration “Hold My Hand.” Various outlets have reported that Jackson had a stash of 100 or more unreleased songs at the time of his death, but spokespeople for the Jackson family have not returned requests for comment on that figure.

“He never stopped having artistic curiosity, which is a testament to a great artist,” Ian Halperin, author of the just released unauthorized biography “Unmasked: The Final Years of Michael Jackson,” told MTV News. “He never stopped trying to push the envelope when it came to art. He had almost 200 unreleased songs. He did leave a large, unpublished library, and I said [in the book] he willed it to his children and a bit to charity.

“The beauty of Michael Jackson as an artist is that he never stopped until the day he died,” Halperin continued. “When some of his songs are released, you’re gonna see a different type of artist. … He had one regret with his career, that’s he never released cutting-edge material that he felt reflected him. And that’s why he kept writing poetry and experimenting with all kinds of producers and trying to expand his creative horizon. And when some of these songs are released, I think you will see that.”

Also making the rounds since Jackson’s death on June 25 is a clip of an alleged collaboration with late Queen singer Freddie Mercury, which was recorded before the iconic glam rocker’s death in 1991. The song, called “There Must Be More to Life Than This,” is a sweeping, string-laden, saccharine ballad in which the two singers entwine their falsettos for a lament about life’s injustices.

The posting of the song has raised the ire of Queen guitarist Brian May, who recently lashed out on his blog about the “music thieves” who posted the “leaked” track. May also wrote that the pair recorded several songs together at Jackson’s house in the mid-1980s. “Amusingly, after Freddie and Michael had spent some time together recording, Freddie came back and played us the work in progress, and he remarked that Michael had come up with a great album title … Bad,” he wrote. “A little later, Freddie smiled his wicked little conspiratorial smile, and said, ’I have a perfect idea for our album title — you may love it or hate it … but think about it … we can call it … wait for it … Good!’ ” May said the songs, which include “State of Shock” and “There Must Be More to Life Than This,” have never officially “seen the light of day.”

While AEG Live boss Randy Phillips has said that the promotion company could release a live DVD and/or CD of Jackson’s rehearsals for the This Is It concerts at London’s O2 Arena, music industry Web site HITS Daily Double reported on Thursday that AEG may not actually have the rights to issue Jackson’s recordings.

“Insiders say Phillips had led AEG to believe the company had the rights to use Jackson’s image and songs in a prospective documentary culled from rehearsal footage, and had been dismissive of Sony Music regarding the concerts until realizing he needed Sony to complete production of the shows,” HITS reported. “Since Jackson’s death, he’s learned that AEG doesn’t have the rights and is negotiating with Sony Music to get them in time to release a DVD prior to Christmas — because what good is a Jackson documentary that contains none of his hits?”

A spokesperson for AEG did not return requests for comment at press time, and representatives for Sony have repeatedly declined to discuss the potential repackaging of Jackson’s music.Given the tremendous interest and volume of Jackson’s music that has changed hands since his death three weeks ago, it’s likely that like the strong posthumous careers of Jimi Hendrix, Tupac, Elvis and the Notorious B.I.G., Jackson’s music will be with us for years and years to come.

For complete coverage of the life, career and passing of the legendary entertainer, visit “Michael Jackson Remembered.”

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