If you listened to the media, the music press, you'd be inclined to think this album is appalling.
It's not appalling. It is a somewhat patchy record but on first hearing it's certainly more than merely listenable and is sprinkled with catchy hooks and typical Jackson pop.
Clearly there are many ethical arguments against the album. This isn't the first time though an artists been treated in this way after death, so at some point we have to just accept it and listen to the music.
The ten tracks serve as a sample of all that MJ does musically. There's a gospel track, an anti press track, a ghost and ghouls track, a rock track etc etc.. they've covered all bases basically. As I say, most the tracks are good. Not exceptional, but good.
Hold My Hands fine, if a bit Akon heavy for me. Clearly trying to dip into the Man in the mirror feel it's very run of the mill in comparison but more than listenable.
Hollywood Tonights a more upbeat track, quite a late 90's boy band sound. It has some nice hooks but essentially the chorus becomes a little repetitive. Its a good jack swing beat though.
Keep Your Head Up is one of those Jackson good will songs, featuring a gospel choir, it reminds you of Cry or On The line. It builds to a heartwarming gospel and strings play out but as a song, it never quite hits the heights of something like Will You Be There.
I Like The Way You Love Me is a very easy listening pop song. Like Best of Joy, later in the album, it really reminds me of a Janet Jackson track.. like Whoops Now or others from that time.. it maybe has a key change or two too many but is essentially a fine background track but nothing ground breaking.. its pleasant.. no more no less.
Monster reminds me of 2000 Watts most. Its okay, it isn't great. The rap by 50 Cent isn't terrible.. the raps on Invincible or Dangerous weren't great either but they work I guess don't they?.. They break up the beat and song and, well.. add their 50 Cent (excuse the pun).
Best of Joy is apparently the last track MJ worked on before dying and is, as I said earlier, much like a Janet Jackson track from the 90's.. very easy FM radio from back then.. a "Roll down the windows of the car and drive by the sea with your friends" kind of thing.. It's very middle of the road but sweet enough..
Breaking News is personally my least favourite track. Its also the most contentious, what with the talk of it not being entirely MJ's voice but possibly Jason Malachis... whether it is or isn't, it just isn't that great a track. Its lyrically one of Michaels shouting at the press for talking about him. What started well with Leave Me Alone, the songs of this ilk have got worse with every record.. Why You Wanna Trip On Me was better than Tabloid Junkie and then Privacy was the worst track on Invincible.. and this is the worst track on Michael.
I Can't Make It Another Day with Lenny Kravitz is a good track. It doesn't entirely fulfil it's potential but should of been worked on and put on Invincible back in 2001 for sure. Its got good rock vocals from MJ, a funky groove.. its cool..
Behind The Masks by far the best track for me. The long known about track from the Thriller sessions, this versions full of funk and energy and its just great to hear MJ singing to a classic Disco beat again one last time!! His vocals for the verses are great to hear, when exactly they were recorded I'm not sure but they're great. Full of personality, passion and dripping in class. Its a great track.. the best MJ track released since maybe Blood On The Dance Floor.
Much Too Soon closes the record in a sweet final ditty. A pretty tune with Acoustic accompaniment, the record finishes with MJ almost saying goodbye in that heart tugging falsetto only he seems to get away with.
Overall, as I say, this record is NOT a musical disaster. Indeed I reckon many casual fans will actually far far prefer this record to Invincible. It's certainly been put together as a "something for everyone" record. It won't offend anyone thats for sure, if anything it may be too middle of the road. In a way, I suppose this is the most contrived, aimed at the pop market MJ record since the eighties. Dangerous, History and Invincible had MJ very much steering the ship as to what was on the disc.. this is clearly a record companies record.
As to whether its MJ or Jason Malachi singing Breaking News or Best of Joy.. who knows..
Whether its right or wrong to release these tracks when MJ hasn't had final say on it is neither hear nor there now, they're out I'm afraid..
Personally, as a big Jackson fan I was always going to end up getting these tracks. I don't agree with the record 100% but frankly its inevitable, a precedent hasn't been set by this by any means and to be honest I want to hear whatever there is, he ever created.. good, bad or ugly, they all, for me atleast, help paint a more complete picture of him, the man, the artist.