The proclaimed last album from Michael Jackson, Michael released last week.
Being an MJ fan, (the King and Queen of Pop will always be MJ and Madonna for me) I wanted to see if Michael had any of the magic we’ve all come to expect from the King of Pop.
Scandals circulated this album, crying that this wasn’t what Michael would have wanted, to release an album without his approval, and that it wasn’t even his voice. This album would have come out regardless if he would have wanted it or not, and it did. I’m sure Tupac will have new songs coming out in the next few years as well. After death, these icons don’t have a say what will be released. Is this right or wrong? Can’t really say, but I think it’s important to remember from which context this album came out of.
I don’t know if this album will cure the insatiable need of MJ music the public has been digesting since his passing. I think it will please the die-hard fans, and for the rest of the public? I think they will buy it to complete albums and only a few songs will somewhat come close the the collection of classics MJ has accumulated over his 45 year career.
Now, for the songs.
The single released, “Hold My Hand” is your typical slow jam, uplifting song. In that respect, the song is good, tolerable. The title, “Hold my Hand” sounds like an afterthought tribute to the King. Written before he passed, but after his passing, the song has a reminiscent feel, as if MJ wrote it for his fans. It’s a great tribute song that wasn’t originally written to be a tribute song.
As pretty and light as the song is, I’m disappointed to hear Akon all over the song. I know it’s a duet, but I really don’t want to her Akon in one of his typical songs. Akon makes the song forgettable. I rather hear Michael sing the whole song in its entirety.
Next is “Hollywood“. “Hollywood” seems to be a theme in the ‘album’ (I don’t even know if these collection of songs were meant to be released together in the same album). The intro is slightly reminiscent of the Dangerous album, “Who is It” (one of my favorite MJ tracks). I’m not too thrilled with this song. It’s ok, the chorus is catchy, but nothing ground breaking here. Also, in the more upbeat songs, for some reason, MJ’s voice is lowered and the production made louder. It just sounds like MJ’s voice is compressed with a reverb to give it a slight retro feel to it. I rather hear MJ’s voice loud and clear. I’m just not sold on the production at all.
With “Keep your Head Up”, “(I Like) The Way You Love Me” and “Best of Joy” these three are the slow songs, we can hear MJ’s voice more clearly, as it should be. These songs will please fans of “You Are Not Alone”, “Childhood” and “The Lost Children”. These songs are for those who are fans of the slower MJ ballads. These songs aren’t classics, but for fans of the genre, it will suffice. “(I Like) The Way You Love Me”, is probably the best out of the slow songs. Uplifting and cute.
“Monster” comes in to shake things up a bit. The album placement is a little weird, between all the slow songs, this should have been after “Breaking News”. Anyways, this is my favorite track on the album. This song reminds me of the Blood on the Dance Floor album with almost an 80s touch to it. After “Thriller” MJ was one of the only artists that I know that wrote about scary themes. MJ explains the scary theme in Blood on the Dance Floor and Invincible albums with songs like “Blood on the Dance Floor”, “Ghost”, “Is it Scary”, “Scream Louder”, “Morphine” and “Threatened”. “Monster” is one of the many sequels to “Thriller”. The verses have enough breathing room and the pre-chorus with the chorus vocals are a very good build-up to the chorus. 50 Cents’ rap, eh, it’s fine. Again, sounds like the Invincible album and “Jam” with raps inserted within the song.
Next comes “Breaking News”, this one when I first heard it, was boring. It’s kind of growing on me. The song doesn’t really pick up until 2 minutes at the chorus. This song follows a theme MJ has been touting since 1989’s “Leave Me Alone”, with other songs with the exact same theme of being tabloid fodder in “Tabloid Junkie”, “Why You Wanna Trip on Me”, “Privacy” and I’m sure I’m missing something else. Michael Jackson, as everyone knows, has had mostly a hate relationship with the media. Although, MJ is one of the only artists that actually addresses how they feel about the media. Even after death, his life is still making news. His life was “on display” as his lyrics explain, and this was definitely something Michael had to battle for the majority of his life.
“(I Can’t Make it) Another Day” with Lenny Kravitz, is when the album finally starts to pick up. This one is catchy, something I can imagine on the radio, and Lenny Kravitz is a great artist for MJ to collaborate with. A little “Dirty Diana” feel to it. Just a little.
“Behind the Mask” has a very nice saxophone jazz intro to the song. The synths sound 80s. I think it works. At first it sounds a little old. This song literally sounds like it could have come off of the Bad album. The post chorus has a 70s robot reverb going on. Man, if you like MJ’s 80s songs, this song will fit right in seemlessly.
The album ends with “Much too Soon” This one is a classic. Very fitting and sad.
The best singles off of this album:
Monster, Behind the Mask, Much Too Soon, (I Can’t Make It) Another Day, (I Like) The Way You Love Me.
This album definitely needs time to grow on you. It needs room to breathe and settle in. At first glance, I wasn’t liking it. It’s growing on me, the only classic, would be “Much Too Soon”. “Monster” is my favorite track and over time, I’m interested to hear how this album will be revered by the public.