The second posthumous Michael Jackson album is slated to hit stores on November 21. But unlike last year's Michael, which featured unreleased tracks from the late pop icon, Immortal will serve as the soundtrack to the just-launched Cirque du Soleil show of the same name. The album, sorry, "musical tapestry," is entitled Michael Jackson The Immortal World Tour, and it will feature reworked versions of some of Jackson's most beloved hits, mash-ups and never-before-released outtakes of the late King of Pop's tunes.
Among the latter is an alternate take on the Jackson 5 staple "ABC" and a choir-assisted rendition of "They Don't Care About Us."
The visually stunning show — in the tradition of previous Cirque musicals featuring the music of Elvis and the Beatles — kicked off in Montreal on Sunday and is slated to travel throughout North America and the rest of the world. It will hit 60 North American cities before wrapping up in June in Chicago and taking up a residency at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas.
Cirque writer/director Jamie King recently told Billboard that the idea was to be as inventive as possible with the MJ arrangements, treating them like Cirque did the "Love" soundtrack to the Beatles show, in which the Fab Four's tunes were reshaped in previously unheard ways to create a seamless mixtape of trippy sounds.
"Definitely all the hits that the fans want to hear are there," King said. " 'Beat It,' 'Thriller,' 'Wanna Be Startin' Somethin' ' — the big, iconic songs are there, with some other songs mixed and matched throughout. There's some younger Michael in there as well, 'Ben,' the Motown stuff. ... It's a mixed bag of tricks in terms of songs. It's a music-driven show, so we're making sure the music is the narrative that drives us and takes us on the journey."
The collection will come in several versions, including a deluxe $50 set that features the CD, a T-shirt and show program. It will feature more than 40 of Jackson's greatest hits. In a statement, Kevin Antunes, musical designer of the Cirque du Soleil show, added, "Michael's legacy as the greatest entertainer of our lifetime is inspiring beyond words. It was clear from the start that Michael's voice and overall musical essence was the sole/soul source of creative energy driving the project. From the studio to the stage, there's an undeniable integrity and resolute truth in Michael's vocal performances that are highlighted in the Immortal arrangements. It was built with love and respect for Michael's music, his family and his millions of fans around the world."
Among the songs included on the deluxe version are: "Working Day and Night," "Ben," "Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground)," "Beat It/ Jam/ State of Shock," "Remember the Time/ Bad," "Man in the Mirror," "Can You Feel It/ Don't Stop Til You Get Enough/ Billie Jean/ Black or White," "Human Nature/ Speechless," "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'," "I'll Be There," "Gone Too Soon" and "Is It Scary/ Thriller/ Ghost/ Somebody's Watching Me/ Threatened."
In other MJ news, in the midst of the manslaughter trial of former Jackson physician Conrad Murray, the Michael Forever tribute concert is slated to take place in Cardiff, Wales, on October 8. The show, hosted by Jamie Foxx, will feature performances from the Black Eyed Peas,
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ristina Aguilera, Ne-Yo, Cee Lo Green, Jennifer Hudson, Leona Lewis, Craig David, Pixie Lott, Alexandra Burke, Alien Ant Farm, Motown legend Smokey Robinson and the first live performance by Jackson sibling LaToya in more than 20 years.