If yesterday’s exclusive, the Timbaland-produced “Blue Gangsta,” was like a mash-up of Bad-era MJ and signature snaky Tim beats, “Xscape” has a similarly classic sound.
The Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins beat is low and rumbling, with an urgent vocal from MJ about escaping from the prying “electric eyes” of surveillance culture and relationship pressure.
“No matter where I am I see my face around,” Michael sings. “Everywhere I turn, no matter where I look/ The system’s in control, it’s all ran by the book/ I’ve got to get away so I can clear my mind/ Xscape is what I need.”
Jackson climbs from his familiar falsetto to an almost growling lower register during the song, which is spiked with bright horn blasts.
Like the other eight songs on Xscape (due out May 13), the title track was put together based on full vocal takes recorded by the late singer between 1983 and 1999.
Combined with the first released track — the disco-leaning “Love Never Felt So Good” — and the darker “Gangsta,” “Xscape” is proof that Xscape is shaping up as a kind of sampler of Jackson’s best recorded looks.
Jackson’s MTV artist page features a treasure trove of classic material, including a performance of “Bad” from the 1988 MTV Video Music Awards, “Will You Be There” from the MTV10 anniversary special and a 1996 interview in which MJ talks about the inspiration for his landmark hit “Thriller.”