Whether or not you’re happy about it, a new Michael Jackson album is arriving December 14. And while the beleaguered pop superstar died before the project could be completed, a team of producers who Jackson was working with over the past five years helped finish the collection, taking unfinished demos and crafting them into songs for Michael, the first posthumous set from MJ.
The album is equal parts eagerly anticipated and highly controversial, with some fans and artists, including will.i.am , lashing out over the material. Last week, MTV News listened to a preview of Michael, featuring contributions from 50 Cent, Teddy Riley and Lenny Kravitz, among others. The LP was thrilling at times but suffered at other points without the King of Pop’s magic touch.
1. “Hold My Hand”
This sweeping number, also produced by Akon, is as updated as MJ could ever sound without being present; the track honors Jackson’s vocals, leaving the track to serve as the sound bed to his soaring voice.
2. “Hollywood Tonight”
A dated sound makes the Teddy Riley-produced number sound like a discarded contribution to Jackson’s Blood on the Dance Floor: HIStory in the Mix collection.
3. “Keep Your Head Up”
The-Dream’s right-hand man, producer Christopher “Tricky” Stewart, serves Jackson a track that’s bakery-fresh, making for a song as stirring as “Heal the World.”
4. “(I Like) The Way You Love Me”
Former Ne-Yo producer Theron “Neff-U” Feemster leaves MJ’s legacy in apt hands, as the Grammy-winning musician cooks up a track that’s as thrilling as anything the explosive star has ever sang.
(featuring 50 Cent)
This hard-charging track is as aggressive as “Scream” musically with its snappy drums and driving bass; “New Jack Swing” kingpin Teddy Riley adds just the right touch of boom-bap for 50 Cent to deliver his trademark taunts in tandem with MJ’s grunts.
6. “Best of Joy”
This soaring number was one of the last tracks Jackson worked on during his lifetime while preparing for his comeback shows in London; the song reflects the spirited mood MJ was in, as it’s brimming with a liveliness not seen from the superstar since his first solo offerings.
7. “Breaking News”
Overwrought with Jackson’s paranoia for the tabloid media and pumped with enough synthesized sounds to make the Situation turn in his glow stick, this one falls flat in comparison to the standout selections on the set.
8. “(I Can’t Make It) Another Day” (featuring Lenny Kravitz)
Clashing sounds, from heavy guitar riffs to funky chords, make this track miss the mark despite the boundless possibilities in the pairing of Jackson and Kravitz.
9. “Behind the Mask”
MJ sampled the Yellow Magic Orchestra’s track of the same name for this one, which shows promise but sounds like it could have used the Gloved One’s added attention.
10. “Much Too Soon”
Overbearingly melancholy, this Jackson track pushes emotion onto the listeners when the singer’s sullen voice could have delivered without the leering musical attempt to draw out feeling.
Are you looking forward to the posthumous MJ collection? Let us know in the comments!