Posthumous albums are a tricky thing. On the one hand, we love to get new material from an artist who is no longer with us. On the other, well, sometimes those tracks are better left in the vaults.
Luckily, from the sounds of what we’ve heard so far, the second Michael Jackson album to hit stores since the singer’s 2009 death, the eight-track Xscape, is the treat MJ fans have been waiting for.
So, while you’re waiting for your copy to download this morning, check out eight reasons why you should be psyched about Xscape.
1. Major Players Were Involved
In addition to the heavy lifting from Epic Records boss L.A. Reid, among the producers on the album are such ace hit-makers as Rodney Jerkins, Stargate and Timbaland and J-Roc, who’ve made smashes with everyone from Justin Timberlake to Selena Gomez, Rihanna, Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga and Janet Jackson.
2. The Songs Touch Almost Every Era Of MJ’s Life
The vocals on the album were recorded between 1983 and 1999, stretching from one of the most artistically vibrant periods in Jackson’s career. That means that Jackson began the demos shortly after releasing his monumental 1982 album Thriller and kept at it until just before dropping his final studio effort, 2001’s Invincible.
3. MJ Was Prolific
During his prime, Jackson would often book several studios at once and work up to 18 hours a day on tracks. But for this project, the concept was to only work with finished vocal tracks. For instance, when MJ was working on “Slave to the Rhythm” in 1989, he sang the vocals 24 times straight through without a break to make sure he got them right.
4. There’s More Where That Came From
According to a Billboard report on the making of the album, there were 24 songs that the Jackson estate found with full vocal runs, which were then narrowed down to 20, 14 and the final eight that appear on the album. In other words, we may still get another release or two from the vaults.
5. Where Are Freddie And Justin?
There have been multiple leaks over the years of snippets from songs Michael recorded with late Queen singer Freddie Mercury, but none of those tracks made the cut. Queen guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor said last year that they were working on some of those songs, but they did not make the cut. Also left off was a leaked version of “Slave to the Rhythm” with added vocals from Justin Bieber.
6. Justin T Is On Board, Though
There are two versions of the disco burner “Love Never Felt So Good,” on the album. One features just MJ’s vocals, and the other (on the deluxe version) has added new lines from Justin Timberlake that prove the pair’s voices were a perfect match.
7. Your Mom Might Love That One
In fact, “Love Never Felt So Good” is one of the older songs in the mix and the co-writer is an old-timey crooner from the 1950s your mom, or grandma, might have Stanned over. Yes, Paul Anka, of “Put Your Head on My Shoulder,” “Diana” and “My Way” helped Jackson finish that tune way back in 1983.
8. Maybe You’ve Heard It All Before, But Not Like This
Most of the songs on Xscape have leaked out in some form or other over the years, but none of them sounded like they do now. A quick listen to the funky Timbaland-produced “Blue Gangsta,” is proof that the producers really did strip back everything but the original vocals in an attempt to give each track a contemporary feel.