A song Michae Jackson recorded 31 years ago was released May 2 as the first single from the upcoming Xscape album, the second release since his 2009 passing. Although fans might be excited to moonwalk to unheard material from the King of Pop—it makes you wonder why Jackson might have kept these tracks under wraps to begin with.
Eight previously unheard Michael Jackson songs, originally recorded between 1983—1999, including the recent single “Love Never Felt So Good,” will be released May 13 on the new album, and according to the label’s website, Epic Records wants to make sure each of Jackson’s his- tory-making unreleased tracks are “contemporized.” That’s why the likes of Rodney Jerkins, L.A. Reid (OutKast, Justin Bieber, Young Jeezy) and Timbaland (Justin Timberlake, Missy Elliot) were included in the production process. The leaked album snippets feature a strange mix of Jackson’s timeless vocal talent and modern additives such as autotune, excessive reverb and booming bass. A deluxe edition of Xscape will include a selection of the original recordings.
Much like the 2011 Island Records release Lioness: Hidden Treasures from deceased songstress Amy Winehouse, the commercial push to publish posthumous work from an artist begs the question of whether they are paying tribute and disrespectfully squeezing profits out of the death of beloved pop stars. The answer lies in the music.
There have been times in the past when a deceased artist’s “Best of ” album is released as an homage.
This usually happens when a record label carefully remasters an artist’s classic tracks and meticulously chooses unreleased material to highlight the artist’s talents, presenting the demos left behind in an artful, meaningful way. However, considering Jackson’s money-hungry estate releasing the album in conjunction with Epic Records, there is no guarantee that it will be a respectful tribute or a profitable grave dance.
Comparable to a furniture liquidation sale, record labels rush to find leftover material from late superstars, throwing it on the market before they become irrelevant instead of respecting their passing.