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18. Bionic supersonic MJ
on 12 May 2014
It is ironic that, while he was alive, his releases were rare, but now every couple of years or so, something new or old sees the light of day. "Michael" was released in 2010, just a year after his shocking death, a hastily assembled collection that included relatively recent outtakes, causing speculation and controversy as to whether it was all original Michael Jackson songs, and if it was actually him singing on the record. "Xscape" is the second posthumous release, featuring 8 unreleased songs from 1983-1999, 6 of which hardcore fans may have already heard over the years. Worked on by a team of producers including Darkchild, Timbaland and Stargate, it is clear that these old tracks were lovingly and respectfully "contemporised". What is even clearer, surprising even, is that, although unfinished, most of them have more joy and range than the rather constipated material showcased on his last studio record, "Invincible", enhancing rumours of the pressure he was under when recording that album, and the events following its release.
"Xscape" represents a bionic Michael Jackson. The voice, the lyrics, the melodies, the feeling, they are all Michael. The rest is all built around this man, who is encased in gleaming technological machinery. MJ, a hopeless perfectionist, was competing with himself, so it is fascinating to compare the "modernised" tracks with the original demos included on the deluxe edition of "Xscape". This edition is really the one to go for, as it offers the essence of the artist behind these songs, plus, the documentary feature is quite interesting ( you, also, get a nice poster). Obviously, there are no hidden classics to be found here, this collection only adds some worthy songs to the MJ canon, like "Chicago", "Slave to the rhythm" and "Blue gangsta", reminders of his greatness. It is a blessing to have him sound alive again. Apparently there are another 4 albums to come according to the deal with Sony. Jackson was once pop's premier genius, any "new" material will only eclipse his past greatness, so he should be really left alone. HIStory has been written already.