Michael Jackson’s second posthumous album, Xscape, hit music shelves this past Tuesday. I streamed the whole album on YouTube a couple of days after its release to see if it was worth the buzz. As usual, the King of Pop never ceases to amaze me.
Two versions of the album were released, with one having the material in original form whereas the deluxe version contains the updated versions of the songs. The album consists of eight previously unreleased songs that Jackson recorded sometime between 1983 and 1999. Antonio “L.A.” Reid and superproducer Timbaland executive produced the album and recruited other producers, including Norwegian production team StarGate and Rodney “Darkchild” Jenkins, to rework and contemporize the material.
Right off the bat, I feel in love with the lead singles “Loving You” and “Love Never Felt So Good,” which also featured a duet version with Justin Timberlake. “Chicago” also captivated me, with its soothing mid-tempo flow and imaginable storyline. The original versions of these songs take me back to the vintage 80’s & 90’s Michael, even brought me to a misty-eyed point occasionally.
I even found myself bouncing to the Timbaland and Darkchild-touched versions of “Slave to the Rhythm,” “Blue Gangsta,” and “Xscape.” “Slave to the Rhythm” was performed live at the 2014 Billboard Music Awards this past sunday, by a true-to-life hologram of the King of Pop.
I was kind of thrown off by “A Place with No Name” and “Do You Know Where Your Children Are” though. These two sounded, in my opinion, a little depressing and dramatic. The last thing I needed was to be in a somber mood listening to his album. With the exception of these two, Xscape still fires from all cylinders.
As Xscape skyrocketed to the No. 1 spot in over 50 countries, this album is a perfect reminder that the Michael continues to live on through his legacy: music. I recommend you give it a listen, you won’t be disappointed.