Michael is already stuck in my head.
A 29,070 square-foot poster of the album cover was erected in Middlesex, England. It broke the Guinness World Record for the largest poster in the world.
Michael is MJ's first posthumous album to be released. It's a full-length album of new material featuring Akon, 50 Cent, Lenny Kravitz and Dave Grohl on drums. When asked about his 2001 "comeback" Michael said that he never stopped working on music. Some of the music was written and recorded as late as 2009.
Two songs were done during the *Thriller era. Artists are constantly releasing new albums which include a few songs from their vault. Besides, who wouldn't want to look inside Michael's vault? It's a real treat to hear theThriller-era songs. Both take me back to the music of The Jacksons. One disco track and one acoustic lullaby with guitar, string orchestra, harp, accordion and harmonica.
Joe Jackson isn't happy about the album release. As Michael said to Oprah, "I love my father but I don't know him." We can't know how Michael would have presented this music if he was here. The album cover is a collage of MJ through the years. I imagine Michael would have have wanted completely new artwork to match the new music.
Will.i.am said it was disrespectful to release unfinished material. Some family members question whether we are hearing Michael's voice. Teddy Riley explained, "With the Melodyne (audio editing software) we actually move the stuff up which is the reason why some of the vibrato sounds a little off or processed, over-processed. We truly apologize for that happening, but you are still hearing the true Michael Jackson." When I listened to the songs he produced I thought it was merely a creative production choice to process Michael's voice.
On the Lenny Kravitz tune, which was not produced by Riley, there's a line where MJ's voice has digital artifacts. I don't know if that was intended. If you get undesirable artifacts from an editing program the engineer should try using a different program or using an analog solution to get the desired result.
Even though Michael does most of his backing vocals he has traditionally done duets and used backup singers on his albums. So I've never expected all 50 vocal tracks to be his voice only. If I'm hearing a voice that I don't recognize I'd simply figure it was a background singer. I think people are being hyper critical because it's a posthumous album. These aren't things that would have raised an eyebrow if he was still alive. Ultimately Michael is very vocally present on these songs.
I don't think they used a ghost singer. But if they did have gaps to fill and another singer came in for one line here and there it wouldn't be much different than Prince's "1999". In verse 1 we hear one harmony part at a time. This was decided during mixdown. It was originally recorded to have all the harmony parts played together, but opted to single each part out for each line. So effectively you're hearing a background singer doing the lead vocal. It works.
As a fan, I'm just glad to have these songs even if Michael didn't oversee the final product. Overall critics say the album is better than expected. Some of the criticism is the same stuff they said about his last albumInvincible, which I loved. Some reviewers like the new album better than Invincible. Difficulties aside, if you love the spirit and music of Michael Jackson then you'll want to hear this album.
In "Breaking News", a track that was recorded in 2007, it's strange now listening to him sing about people wanting to read his obituary. But then, everybody uses that kind of imagery including Michael's own "Gone Too Soon", "Thriller", "Heaven Can Wait", "Ghosts", "Threatened". Mostly I think the horror imagery was always intended to entertain the young music buying public. I get that impression from his comment when he was giving testimony in a court case over copyright ownership. You can see that video, Clips From - Michael Jackson: The Interviews: Vol. 2.
When Michael sings songs about his attacks such as, "Scream", "Privacy", "Breaking News", "Why You Wanna Trip On Me", and "Tabloid Junkie", I feel that these are gifts. While there are universal themes of respect and freedom he manages to keep it personal by providing insight into his life. That's songwriting gold! Universal yet personal.
Greg Kot of the Chicago Tribune:
At least one critic — the Associated Press' Nekesa Mumbi Moody — was extremely enthusiastic about the material on Michael. "Michael should then be judged for what it is: a snapshot of Jackson's musical thought process — Photoshopped and airbrushed, but still enjoyable," wrote Moody. "Michael does nothing to detract from Jackson's amazing legacy and, if anything, gives us a little bit more to cherish, however imperfect."
I revisited "This Is It". Everybody on the tour described Michael as being strong, energetic and on top of his game. But after his death the media stated the opposite of what was being said by the people who knew and worked with him until the end. Just watch "This Is It" and the Special Features on the DVD.