Despite surrounding controversy over as to whether or not these tracks should have seen the light of day at all, it appears that Sony has put together a solid effort in releasing the first posthumous Michael Jackson CD of new material after all. In the beginning, there was even controversy over as to whether or not the three tracks recorded at the home of Jackson friend Eddie Cascio in 2007 were even Jackson’s voice. When even some family members questioned the tracks’ authenticity, it set off a divide between even some of the late pop star’s biggest self professed fans. As the date for the album’s release has drawn closer, those previous doubts have settled and many are now without a doubt that the voice of the three Cascio tracks are indeed Jackson’s. The first single from the album, Hold My Hand is a track that was previously recorded in 2007 for one of Akon’s albums and features Akon’s vocals about the same(if not more) throughout the track. While it’s a good first single, it’s also the only track out of the 10 on the album that doesn’t credit Jackson as a writer.
The album’s 2nd track, Hollywood Tonight is a fast paced pop track that features Jackson beat-boxing and singing in a deeper tone similar to that of 2000 Watts from the Invincible album. It’s a good, solid track that’s been well received by critics and many fans, although I don’t really see it as a single. The third track on the album is Keep Your head up, a softer song that kind of fits with the times of economic uncertainty and ends with the classic Jackson sound of a choir in the background towards the end, definitely a possible single in waiting.
The album’s fourth track, (I like) The Way You Love Me was previously released on Jackson’s Ultimate collection a few years back, but it still remained unknown to a mass of the public. The new version is a bit different and starts out with a call from Jackson to his studio engineer describing how he’d like the song to begin. The song features Jackson’s vocals at their best and I’m guessing it was recorded sometime around Invincible. The next track, Monster is the second Cascio track featured on the album and begins with a horrifying scream then paves its way into a jamming pop beat that’s really edgy. We hear Jackson croon about how he feels he’s been unfairly treated by the media & tabloids as he sings, “you give them your all, they’re watching you fall”. The track also features 50 cent, who’s rap was posthumously added to the track (and it goes well with the song).
The next soft song on the album is Best of Joy, which I believe is probably the best song featured on the album. It’s also believed that the recording of this song took place shortly before Jackson’s death in 2009. It just has a feel-good vibe to it. I hope this is released as a single. Breaking News is a track I’m not too keen on. I mean, it’s decent but I don’t think it was worthy enough to be released on this album. It sounds like producers took a rough vocal demo and added layers and layers of sounds over it. (I can’t make it) Another Day is a track that’s edgy rock and has a similar rock vibe to it like Dirty Diana, Give Into Me, and Privacy, except it’s definitely better than the latter 2. Kravitz’s backing vocals mix well with Jackson’s. Although the track was leaked online in early 2010, this version is an improvement as the guitars during the chorus are a whole lot edgier.
Behind the Mask is a track that was probably recorded around the Thriller era. Jackson’s vocals sound similar to that time period. This is a song that was originally released by Yellow Magic Orchestra in the late 70’s, picked up by Jackson’s keyboard player in the early/mid 80’s and released as a solo track. Jackson is credited with writing the lyrics for the song (The song was an instrumental originally). It definitely has that 80 vibe to it, but it’s really nothing like anything we’ve heard from Jackson before. You get a feel of video game music featuring funky instruments overlaid by backing vocals from elctronic robots. It’s a neat vibe for sure. The album closes with another track, Much too Soon(possibly recorded during the 80’s as well). It’s a sweet & soft song featuring acoustic guitars and has a similar vibe as for as lyrical content to that of She’s out my life. Overall, the producers on this album did a good job of making these tracks(which expand throughout 3 different decades) fit together in a way the seems satisfying and thrilling for the listener. If you’ve got a way to hear the album in with a good quality sound system, go for it. Simply listening to it streamed online over computer speakers doesn’t do it justice.
Overall Rating: 4/5 Stars