Michael Jackson – Xscape
The phrase “posthumous album” is often enough to perturb any discerning music fan. The fact that Xscape is the second such example from an artist with a legacy as dearly loved as Michael Jackson should set alarm bells ringing. Gladly, even the offcuts from the King of Pop have enough charm and sparkle to show up today’s pretenders.
Clearly Jackson didn’t have another Thriller or Off the Wall hidden up his sleeve in the event of tragedy, but Xscape showcases a collection of tracks that never made the final press of his canon as a solo artist. Whether he would have wished the material he ultimately deemed not up to scratch to be released is another question, given Jackson’s reputation for perfectionism. Nevertheless, a host of producers, most notably Timbaland, were enlisted by chairman of Epic Records L.A Reid in order to polish and collate the songs that would make up the album.
Lead single and album opener Love Never Felt So Good is undoubtedly the jewel in the crown – unsurprisingly, given its roots, co-written by legendary crooner Paul Anka between Thriller and Bad, and befitting of either album. Slave to the Rhythm, performed recently to acclaim at the 2014 Billboard Music Awards by a holographic Michael Jackson, can be readily identified as being Dangerous era, although A Place With No Name seems to plagiarise Jackson’s own intro to Leave Me Alone while riffing on America’s 1971 hit A Horse With No Name.
Chicago and Loving You bounce along nicely, though the catchy but awkward Do You Know Where Your Children Are details a girl’s escape from a sexually abusive father figure, perhaps demonstrating why the track hadn’t previously come to light. Blue Gangsta hits a bum note, a flat and forgettable R&B effort, before the title track – shorn from Jackson’s final album Invincible – ends the album with a fittingly punchy coda.
Limited to only eight tracks and with a running time clocking in at less than 35 minutes, the album is clearly not a holistic experience, disjointed by songs that span genres and eras alike. Though Xscape is not quite a thriller, it certainly isn’t bad, and is enough to remind us exactly why Michael Jackson won’t be dethroned as the King of Pop.
Xscape was released on 9th May 2014. For further information or to order the album visit Michael Jackson’s website here.
Watch the video for Love Never Felt So Good here: