Michael Jackson, Michael Album Review
A chilling moment occurs during the opening of “(I Like) The Way You Love Me”, one of few enchanting offerings on Michael Jackson’s first posthumous album, Michael. “Okay, this is the tempo and this is the melody...drums!” the late King of Pop directs through what sounds like a voicemail message, just before singing the song’s opening bars and unleashing a furious beat-box intended for the song’s drum pattern. The beat-boxing blends lovely right into the wispy flutes and sublime piano keys that give the track it’s classic uplifting MJ sound. It’s a moment that’s surprising and exhilarating, allowing us to hear Michael’s voice in it’s most organic, providing perhaps a final glimpse of his artistic meticulousness.
At 41 minutes in length, Michael is brief and shrouded in controversy -- much like the life of the icon himself. Consisting of a mishmash of unused and half-finished material stored away in the crevices of the most expensive catalog in history -- arranged as ably as possible by a team of Jackson collaborators -- charges of inauthenticity rained in almost immediately after the release of it’s first single earlier this year.
“Everybody watching the news on Michael Jackson / They wanna see that I fall because I’m Michael Jackson,” he charges at the media on “Breaking News,” retaliating against the intense scrutiny that’s become synonymous with his name. “You say you love me but it’s hard to see / Because when he’s in your arms you’re throwing rocks at me / Who do you love?” he demanding of a fronting flame on “Behind The Mask,” an electronic rush of quintessential Michael Jackson shinning through the second-hand meddling.
Michael absolutely has it’s moments, though. Ballad, “Keep Your Head Up”, carries a “Heal The World” vibe in arrangement with it’s flowing orchestration and a triumphant choir that grows anthemic by songs end. The Teddy Riley-produced “Monster” thumps and rumbles all the way to immediate head-nod and 50 Cent’s guest verse adds just enough grittiness to the track’s raucous guitar strings and bass line. “Best Of Joy” bursts with inspiration as Jackson’s falsetto eerily speaks directly to the legacy of his music on millions of people worldwide: “Wasn’t it I who carried you around / When the walls kept tumbling down...I am forever / I am forever / We are forever”.
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