Michael Jackson’s Posthumous Album ‘Xscape’ Reviewed
Since Michael Jackson’s demise in 2009, hardly a year has gone by without at least one posthumous album release, bloating his catalogue with anniversary re-issues, soundtracks, compilations and the last retreat of the remix albums. We’re still raving about that amazing Billboard Award’s hologram performance. The computer-generated performance of the King of Pop dancing and singing a new song, Slave to the Rhythm, off his posthumous album Xscape prompted an emotional standing ovation from the crowd.
This latest retro-fitting of the Jackson legacy follows the 2010 release, Michael, in compiling previously unreleased material. But where Michael “brought to completion” tracks which Jackson had been working on just prior to his passing, Xscape is built around eight vocal tracks he recorded in his golden years between 1983 and 1999.
The album is already hit, peaking No.1 in UK charts and sales of Michael Jackson’s “Xscape,” have been running neck-in-neck with The Black Keys’ “Turn Blue,” putting them on a collision course for this week’s No. 1 album spot in USA.
It has been executive produced by Epic CEO LA Reid, and is the newest anthology of unreleased material since 2010’s Michael. Reid curated a collection of songs from Jackson’s records, and worked with the likes of Timbaland, and others to sound as if he’d just shown up to make a new record in a contemporary style.
The one keeper on Xscape is its opener, “Love Never Felt So Good,” which is its oldest song ( dates from 1983) and also the one that’s been in spread the longest. Written by Jackson and Paul Anka, it initially surfaced on a 1984 Johnny Mathis album. It’s got the best Jackson vocal here, too. The original take, which is mostly just his voice, fingertips and a piano, showcases the kind of gravity-defying singing-for-pleasure that we scarcely heard from him in the post-Thriller era.
The deluxe version of Xscape appends a Timbaland-produced remix of “Love Never Felt So Good” on which Justin Timberlake sings along with the old tape, featuring disco flourishes borrowed from Jackson’s “Working Day and Night.” It sounds pleasant like an echo of good Michael Jackson, but the fact that sampling an even earlier Jackson song makes it sound more contemporary.