TIME TO CELEBRATE MICHAEL!
In a couple of days we will resume vindication work – we are human too and sometimes need to make a celebration. The release of Michael’s new album MICHAEL is so big an event that we definitely need to arrange a party on this occasion. We cannot expect anyone else to make it for us – so let’s do all by ourselves and together with Michael in the first place.
When Michael was writing those songs he was most probably hoping for a day when people would hear them – and this day has finally come. Just imagine how long he has been waiting for it and you will realize that it is a great day not only for us but for Michael as well.
Listen to him – Michael is here again, singing to us, talking to us, telling what he wanted to say but never had a chance to, so put everything aside and catch the magic of the moment….
Since the idea to celebrate has come to me only just now, no arrangements have been made for it. Let’s make it as natural as it can only be and compile it of all good pieces of news about Michael’s album that come our way these days.
The first news was sent by Olga. It is an update on I-tunes Music Charts for Michael in Europe, Dec. 13, 2010 where the album was released last week:
UPDATE ON I-TUNES MUSIC CHARTS for “Michael”
-Germany: #1 Belgium: #1 Denmark: #1 Italy: #1 Luxembourg: #1
-Switzerland: #1 New Zealand: #1 France: #1 Greece: #1
-Sweden: #2 Austria: #2 Australia: #3 Netherlands: #3
ITUNES STORE TOP 10 ALBUMS Dec. 14, 2010
Out of the 22 countries mentioned below MICHAEL is:
- No.1 in six of them,
- No.2 in another six countries
- No.3 in four more countries (15 countries altogether).
In Holland the album had 30.000 sales (gold) and in France 25.000 (gold) the first day of its release sometime last week. Today they also counted 25.000 in Netherlands (gold). In Greece is no 1 album in sales as we speak – it was released last Friday.
Susanne reports that a press release in Germany of Dec. 21, 2010 says the album has become No.1 in their country. Cheers to all Germans!
I proudly would like to let you know that “Michael” is a big success in Germany. It is #1 in the official German album charts of Media Control (leading market research enterprise incl. charts research).
Headline: ‘The “King of Pop” grabs the crown of the charts’.
It says that MJ returns to the throne of the album charts and that “Michael” shooted up to the top rightaway, now being the 7th #1 record of the King of Pop.Link of the press release: http://www.media-control.de/der-king-of-pop-schnappt-sich-die-krone-der-charts.html
Louise has sent information about Kadir Nelson, author of a cover picture for the album:
The California-based artist Kadir Nelson has been drawing Michael Jackson since he was eight years old. Now, his art work will grace the cover of Jackson’s posthumous album, “Michael”:
Other Michael’s friends who are also celebrating have turned the picture into a gigantic poster:
The album opens with “HOLD MY HAND”. Isn’t it something Michael Jackson is expecting of us right now ? To hold him by his hand? Especially when many of his supporters are so confused, lost and don’t know whom and what to believe…
HOLD MY HAND:
- “Hold My Ha and” is a simple, but powerful song that embodies so much of what fans loved about Michael Jackson. Intro is a variation of Pachelbel’s Canon in D Major (Jackson was an avid lover of classical music). Jackson’s vocal is understated, but effective, capturing a combination of joy, yearning, and sadness. The opening lyric (“This life don’t last forever…”) is a poignant reminder of the transience of life. This is a catharsis song for many listeners. There will always be a place and need for songs that bring people together, reminding us to love, bridge divides and connect.
Here are some more opinions and the first reviews:
Michael Jackson‘s new album, “Michael,” is out. I have my copy. And guess what? An electronics store in mid town Manhattan actually put a pile of them on sale today by accident. They were a week too soon– or “Much Too Soon” to quote a title from the new album. Anyway, after I told them, they put it away. My copy didn’t come from the store. (I was buying a camera.)
The best thing about the finished album: “Breaking News” is great. It’s all Michael singing all the way through it. Sony screwed up the mix on the Michael Jackson website last month, which sent his fans into shock. But the real mix is clearly Michael’s vocals from beginning to end. It’s a very good track.
The other tracks made with Eddie Cascio, first conceived by his brother Frank Cascio with co-writer James Porte, are excellent. Both “Keep Your Head Up” and “Monster,” the latter featuring 50 Cent, are destined for singles. Again, they are clearly all Michael. “Monster” is destined to be a Monster hit.
The other standouts are the Lenny Kravitz recording, “Another Day,” and “I Like the Way You Love Me.” The latter is a different version from the one known to fans, and on the video in this column. It’s been totally re-conceived. And it has a nice snippet of Michael talking on work tape. This also is so ready for radio play–it will be a welcome addition to the airwaves.
The sleeper track: a little funk number called “Behind the Mask.”
Considering all his complaining, I was surprised to find Michael’s nephew, Taryll Jackson, featured on a track. On the album’s liner notes, the album is dedicated to “Michael’s children, Katherine Jackson, and the entire Jackson family.”
Critics say Michael Jackson album better than feared
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – A sentimental video for Michael Jackson’s new single “Hold My Hand” was released on Thursday as music critics paid grudging respect to the first album of new Jackson material since his death 18 months ago.
Heart-tugging clips from the King of Pop’s performance archive, mixed with children singing and multicultural images of happiness, mark the four-minute music video for “Hold My Hand” — a duet recorded with R&B singer and producer Akon in 2007 that is the first official single on the album “Michael”.
It was released on Jackson’s official website, http://www.michaeljackson.com, ahead of the December 14 debut of “Michael” — a collection of 10 songs completed by various record producers after the singer’s sudden death in June 2009 due to an overdose of the anesthetic propofol and other drugs.
Despite media skepticism and some dissent within Jackson family ranks, early reviews largely found “Michael” better than expected, if below the perfectionist standards the “Thriller” singer might have wished for.
“He would not have released anything like this compilation, a grab bag of outtakes and outlines assembled by Jackson’s (Sony) record label,” said Rolling Stone. But the magazine acknowledged that the songs were recognizably Jackson songs, adding that “‘Michael’ can be compelling.”
USA Today said the collection of ballads, dance songs and R&B tracks, including collaborations with rapper 50 Cent and rocker Lenny Kravitz, “is a credible musical effort that can’t be dismissed” and contained a few treasures.
Entertainment Weekly awarded the album a “B”, calling it “certainly no great affront to his name”, while The New York Times said it was a “miscellany of familiar Jackson offerings: inspirational, loving, resentful and paranoid.”
Opinion in Britain — where Jackson had planned a series of 50 comeback concerts in the summer of 2009 — was generally more enthusiastic.
Music website NME.com said the track “Behind the Mask” was “an absolute revelation” on which “Jackson howls a solid-gold melody at his fearsome best.”
Telegraph newspaper critic Neil McCormick said Jackson “bursts with verve and confidence” and said the album “may well be Jackson’s best work since his Eighties glory days.”
“It is certainly a great deal better than anyone had the right to expect…Jackson is finally about to get the comeback he craved,” McCormick wrote.
“Michael” is the first album of new Jackson material since his disappointing “Invincible” in 2001, and the first in a $250 million deal between Sony and the executors of Jackson’s estate to release 10 albums of new material through 2017.
Jackson’s physician at the time of his death, Dr. Conrad Murray, has been charged with involuntary manslaughter, and he has pleaded not guilty to the charge.
(Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20101210/en_nm/us_michaeljackson_5
Dec: 6-12: Michael Jackson’s Posthumous Album: Tribute Or Classic?
Posted Sat Dec 11, 2010 2:44am PST by Billy Johnson, Jr. in That’s Really Week
Critics question how “Michael” could live up to the King Of Pop’s legacy since he was not around to have input on the final product.
But producers and collaborators who worked on the project feel confident that the world-renowned artist would approve of the material.
“I would say that this is a masterpiece,” long-time Jackson collaborator Teddy Riley told the Associated Press, comparing the record to Jackson’s best work, “Thriller” and “Off The Wall.”
Rock musician Lenny Kravitz, who worked on the album’s song “I Can’t Make It Another Day,” feels the same way about his contribution to the record. “I know he stood behind it, so I’m cool with what I did,” Kravitz told AP. “I was proud to put it out and knew that he’d be all over it, that he’d be really with it.”
John Branca, a former Jackson attorney and co-executor of the singer’s estate, believes “Michael” will be received as positively as Jackson’s “This Is It” documentary, which was in theaters four months after Jackson’s June 2009 passing.
Akon‘s perspective might best reflect the way the album should be perceived. “I wouldn’t compare this album to any of his albums,” Akon told AP. “The albums that he made up ‘til now were legendary … Mike at his peak, at the height of his creativity,” said Akon.
“This is not like a finished product that you can compare anything to,” he said. “It’s more of an album that you can hold onto to commemorate and appreciate his legacy.”
Posthumous Michael Jackson album leaves others to fill in the blanks
01:00 AM EST on Tuesday, December 14, 2010
By Rick Massimo
Journal Pop Music Writer
The album comprises the single “Breaking News” and nine more tracks “recently completed using music from the original vocal tracks and music created by the credited producers.” They include Teddy Riley, Theron “Neff-U” Feemster and Lenny Kravitz, according to the back cover.
In other words, the album tracks are demos — reportedly dating from the early ’80s to shortly before Jackson’s 2009 death — whose blanks have been filled in without his oversight.
That affects the final product, not surprisingly, in different ways. Some of these tracks feel skeletal: The opening “Hold My Hand,” with skilled but ultimately unnecessary guest vocals from Akon, truly feels unfinished, lacking in scope. You get the feeling that if Jackson had had a shot at finishing it off, there would have been more grandeur, as the gorgeous “(I Like) The Way You Love Me” makes clear by contrast. (A piece of that track was released on 2004’s “Ultimate Collection,” but is stunningly reworked here.)
On the other hand, Jackson’s more recent work (relatively, that is — he hadn’t had a disc of new material out since 2001’s “Invincible”) felt driven by his compulsions — to not only return to the charts but to dominate them, as well as to dish out body checks to the media stars who had covered his personal problems to distraction. And there’s some of that on “Michael” — “Monster” (despite a surprisingly strong cameo from 50 Cent) and the single “Breaking News” are too angry to groove, and “Hollywood Tonight” isn’t far behind.
But there are great moments as well, including the classic-sounding “Best of Joy,” with a lovely vocal performance; “(I Can’t Make It) Another Day,” with Kravitz in full force, is a rock anthem that manages to be chilly and future-driven, without sacrificing soul; and “Much Too Soon” is leavened with accordion and harmonica, a reminder that for all his dance-floor mastery Jackson could sing anything.
The questions remain: How close to finished are any of these tracks? How close to Jackson’s vision do the final products come? Would he have even released these songs? Would “Michael” have heralded an artistic and commercial comeback, or been another step in the frustrating decline of the man who basically redefined the role of pop star?
We just don’t know, but we have some beautiful music to listen to while we wonder. Which seems to be the answer to nearly every question we’ve ever had about Michael Jackson. http://www.projo.com/news/content/JACKSON_ALBUM_12-14-10_LDLF3IA_v12.3162208.html
The album hits stores in the UK. TOO GOOD TO MISS
Michael Jackson’s posthumous album ‘Michael’ is occasionally thrilling
Published: Tuesday, December 14, 2010, 7:00 AM
Once again, we hear him professing to abhor the media attention he lived with every day: “Everybody wanting a piece of Michael Jackson/Reporters stalking the moves of Michael Jackson.”
Once again, he tells us that he wasn’t who we thought he was: “Who is the boogie man you thinkin’ of?”
He had to live with the public’s obsession with him. Even in death, it won’t go away.
“No matter what, you just wanna read it again/No matter what, you just wanna feed it again,” he sings, accusingly, his pain sounding very real, not just the affectation of a superstar crying “poor me.”
“Breaking News,” recorded in the Franklin Lakes home where Jackson lived for three months in 2007, is from his posthumous album, “Michael.” The 10-track album, which also features two other songs recorded during his time in Franklin Lakes, is being released today amid yet another wave of Michael Jackson scandals.
Jackson’s brother Randy has claimed — without presenting any evidence — that the vocals on the album aren’t Michael’s. (If so, Epic Records found the world’s greatest imitator.) The Discovery Channel is planning to broadcast a reenactment of Jackson’s autopsy next month, in the United Kingdom. Executors of Jackson’s estate are squabbling with his mother.
The album itself is bound to set up another round of debate, too, about whether the producers and musicians called in to finish Jackson’s leftover tracks did right by him.
There are some choices that just don’t work: a clunky rap by 50 Cent on “Monster”; the corny cheering-crowd sound effects and lite-jazz sax on “Behind the Mask.” But the album is not a travesty, either.
“Much Too Soon,” believed to date back to the “Thriller” era, is a lovely, vulnerable ballad. “Hold My Hand,” featuring Akon (and starting with the eerie line, “This life don’t last forever”), is an irresistible pop song, as is “(I Like) the Way You Love Me” (previously available, in demo form, on the 2004 anthology “Ultimate Collection”).
“(I Can’t Make It) Another Day,” featuring Lenny Kravitz and Dave Grohl, is one of Jackson’s most convincing stabs at heavy rock, and “Behind the Mask,” if you can get beyond the cheesy production, is a psychodrama that can hypnotize you, much like “Billie Jean” did…
Michael Jackson’s ‘Michael’: A solid album
By Leah Greenblatt, EW.com
December 14, 2010 — Updated 1305 GMT (2105 HKT)
(EW.com) — Whatever creative evolution Michael Jackson intended for himself in middle age, we will never really know; his legacy now falls to the executors who control his vast musical estate.
One can understand, though, why the superstar went quiet after releasing his last album of new material, 2001’s respectable if ultimately underwhelming “Invincible.” A famously relentless perfectionist in the studio, he kept his post-“Invincible” recording sessions under wraps while peers like Prince and Madonna remained relatively prolific.
But death, as late icons from Johnny Cash to Tupac Shakur have shown us, can be a great motivator — at least for the beneficiaries left behind. Even before Jackson went on to become by far the best-selling artist of last year, the posthumous product rush seemed inevitable. Now, in addition to the MJ-themed videogame, docu-film, and Cirque du Soleil extravaganza, his estate has promised seven more releases over the next seven years.
The material on “Michael” is not by any means a deep dive into the Jackson archives; nearly all the songs are culled from the last five years of his life. Opener and first single “Hold My Hand” supplies the broad, pleasing fervor of an official theme song for a World Cup or Summer Olympics — an ideal repository for soaring choruses and generic lyrical uplift. “Hollywood Tonight,” from 2007, feels leaner and more urgent, crackling with Jackson’s trademark percussive shuffle and pop. The gospel-tinged bromide ”Keep Your Head Up” offers a well-intentioned but somewhat soggy lead-in to the feathery, sweet-toned swoon of “(I Like) The Way You Love Me.” Window-smashing theatrics juxtapose with airy, danceable coos and a rat-a-tat 50 Cent guest spot on ”Monster” (the beast in question, it turns out, is fame).
”Breaking News” delivers Jackson’s now-requisite anti-tabloid screed, albeit with satisfyingly melodic gall, while ”(I Can’t Make It) Another Day,” featuring Lenny Kravitz and Dave Grohl, galvanizes him further, yielding the album’s most genuinely fierce moment. The propulsive synths and vocodered trills on the otherwise intriguing ”Behind the Mask” seem oddly dated by sax flourishes — though perhaps that makes it a good companion to the lilting closer ”Much Too Soon,” an actual relic of the early ’80s (the track dates back to his “Thriller” days).
As musical epitaphs go, “Michael” is a solid album, arguably stronger than “Invincible” and certainly no great affront to his name. But it can be hard to listen and not wonder what he would have done differently — or if he would have wanted us to hear it at all. http://edition.cnn.com/2010/SHOWBIZ/Music/12/13/michael.jackson.ew/index.html?section=cnn_latest
Fans gather as Jackson’s new album hits stores
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
NEW YORK (WABC) — Michael Jackson’s new album comes out Tuesday, more than a year after his death.
Hollywood on the Hudson had a listening party Monday night for the music left behind by the late King of Pop. Just hours before the release of the album, called simply “Michael,” devoted fans gathered at Roseland Ballroom in Midtown.
And for the fans, it was a “Thriller” of a night – the chance to be among the first to hear new music from the legendary performer.
The first single is a duet with Akon called “Hold My Hand.”
“You know, the holding of the hands just unites everyone as one,” Akon said. “So ‘Hold My Hand’ was the whole thing. Let’s find a way, through music, that can get in these ears and pass this message down.”
Other guest stars on the record include rappers 50 Cent and Jay-Z.
Three tracks were recorded in the basement of a home owned by New Jersey family who befriended Jackson.
“What this album is, is the best they could do with the material they had,” said Christopher Farley, of The Wall Street Journal. “And it certainly falls short of Michael Jackson’s standards of perfection.”
Farley listened to an advanced copy of the album and talked with those close to the late superstar.
“What the representatives of the estate told me, they said it would’ve been a sin to sit on this material,” he said.
Fans surely would agree.
“Michael Jackson means everything to me,” one fan said. “His music is everything to me.”
More new music is better than no new music, even if it falls short of Jackson’s very best. And like it or not, look for more where this came from, because in the 18 months since he died, the Michael Jackson estate has earned $275 million in profit.
There were also concerns from members of the Jackson family who came forward to question the record’s authenticity. But Jackson’s record company hired experts to determine whether or not it was really him singing, and they are very confident the tracks are genuine. And they say there is at least another album’s worth of material left in the vaults.
(Copyright ©2010 WABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)
New CDs in Review (12/14/10)
By The Denver PostPosted: 12/14/2010 01:00:00 AM MST
It’s OK to seek solace in the warmth of Michael Jackson’s voice on “Michael,” his first CD of new material in nine years.
It’s also fine to feel dirty while listening to the disc, a collection of 10 songs cobbled together since the King of Pop’s unusual death in June 2009.
“Michael” creates a conundrum similar to that of the release of the film “This Is It” last fall, just a few months after Jackson’s death, and that is no coincidence. With the film, we couldn’t not watch it. Jackson remains that magnetic a personality. We, as a world, watched intently.
I saw the film in New Zealand in a theater packed full of Kleenex-wielding Kiwis in mourning. We were still in awe of his talent. And we felt guilty about viewing concert-rehearsal footage, because we were watching something he never meant for us to see.
The feel-good notes surrounding the release of “Michael” often try to sidestep the fact that these songs were finished posthumously. From the press materials: “Using the roadmap Michael provided with his notes, his voice and the creative ideas he had shared, they (the producers) took the songs left by Michael in various stages of production and completed the album. Here is Michael’s work, brought to life by them.”
It’s nice and all, but even Jackson’s casual fans are aware of the artist’s intense, perfectionist work ethic and his legendary, controlling personality when it came to his music. Is this really “Michael’s work?” Kind of. But should we settle for kind of?
If you’re the kind of fan who demands new MJ jams, you don’t have much choice. There are parts of “Michael” that sound like him. His recent work is marked by inconsistency, sprinkled with genius and riddled with anachronistic ’80s pop sensibilities — and “Michael” is all of those things.
His work with rapper 50 Cent is wildly incoherent, a missed attempt at Lady Gaga’s postmodern zeitgeist. But his collaboration with Lenny Kravitz, “(I Can’t Make It) Another Day,” is the strongest song on the record — a throwback to a “Bad”-era Jackson who still defined American pop/rock sensibilities.
There’s a difference between demo-ing a song — even bringing a track into post-production — and deciding to include it on the final product. Many artists will finish a song only to cut it from the record. Jackson was known for a discerning ear when judging his own work.
Yes, he was obsessed with his public image, but it’s hard to imagine a world where he would have let the ridiculous “Breaking News” out in its current form. And “Keep Your Head Up” has all the good intentions in the world, but it’s still a failed R&B jam.
The record’s anthemic single is “Hold My Hand,” a collaboration with Akon, and it’s a natural hit — thanks in part to the smart, modern, dub-tinged production that makes the song sound like something off a Rhianna record. Cheers to Akon for modernizing Jackson’s inimitable style — and to Kravitz, too, for lending his slinky brand of funk to the Jackson camp.
The Kravitz song, which features Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl on drums, helps bring “Michael” to an unusually strong close — with the help of “Behind the Mask,” a smart update on the Yellow Magic Orchestra song of the same name.
It’s not what we would have gotten from Jackson, but some fans will argue that it’s better than reissues of older material. Ricardo Baca http://www.denverpost.com/music/ci_16850155?source=rss
Michael Jackson’s new album Michael – exclusive track by track review
by Clemmie Moodie, Daily Mirror 2/12/2010
THE wait is over – and the biggest and most unlikely album of the decade is here.
I’ve had the first ever listen to Michael Jackson’s new collection of tracks, compiled 17 months after he died.
And the album, called Michael, is not half Bad – even if some of the vocals sound slightly less than Jackson-esque.
MJ’s brother Randy has said it’s not Michael on the record but after having an earwig myself, I am satisfied it really IS Michael Jackson.
His voice is unmistakable in the majority of tracks, including personal favourites, Monster and Hollywood Tonight. Now the late star, who died aged 50, is odds-on to trounce his rivals from beyond the grave.
Yep, it’s game on between Take That and Jacko as the Thriller star is tipped to land the No1 Christmas album slot.
HMV spokesman Gennaro Castaldo said: “There’s a huge chance Michael will sneak in and get the top spot from Take That.
“Take That have sold over one million copies already, but someone of Michael Jackson’s status, with his fanbase, has a massive chance of knocking them off. His fans are so excited – like Elvis it keeps adding to the MJ momentum.”
You just can’t Beat It.
A look back at Michael Jackson’s successful posthumous career
by Ashleigh Rainbird, Daily Mirror 2/12/2010
- June 25, 2009 Dies at rented mansion in LA.
- July 7, 2009 Memorial held in LA’s Staples Centre, right, featuring Stevie Wonder, Mariah Carey, Lionel Richie and Shaheen Jafargholi.
- March 16, 2010 Jackson estate signs new deal with Sony covering back catalogue.
- June 15, 2010 Song and dance game Michael Jackson: The Experience is announced for release, being the first to combine Kinect and PlayStation Move.
- June 21, 2010 Jackson reported to have made $1bn since his death, selling 35 million albums.
- June 25, 2010 Fans besieged his Hollywood Walk of Fame and family home on the first anniversary of his death.
- November 3, 2010 Cirque du Soleil announced Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour in October 2011 in Montreal.
- November 4, 2010 New album, called Michael, announced.
- November 15, 2010 First single from the album – Hold My Hand, a duet with Akon – is released.
- November 25, 2010 Pre-orders put Michael first in the run-up to the Christmas No1 album.
Jackson’s ‘Michael’ imperfect but worth it
By NEKESA MUMBI MOODY
The Associated Press
updated 12/13/2010 10:43:02 AM ET 2010-12-13T15:43:02
Anyone hoping that “Michael,” an album culled from Michael Jackson’s vaults, would rival “Thriller,” “Off the Wall” or even “Dangerous” will likely be disappointed when they hear the first posthumous release credited to the King of Pop.
But that’s not to say that “Michael,” consisting mainly of material Jackson was working on during the last two years of his life, should be considered a disappointment or an artistic letdown — especially if the listener accepts it for what it is, and that’s not a Michael Jackson album.
Had Jackson not died last year, chances are he’d still be working on a follow-up to his last album, 2001’s “Invincible,” spending millions of dollars and untold hours trying to come up with an album that would outdo Kanye, Beyonce and whoever else was ruling the charts at the moment. None of the songs on “Michael” had been completed at the time of his death, and there’s no way of knowing if the perfectionist Jackson would have deemed them worthy of the album he was trying to create — or thrown them into the discard pile.
“Michael” should then be judged for what it is: a snapshot of Jackson’s musical thought process — Photoshopped and airbrushed, but still enjoyable.
Jackson’s estate selected producers such as “Dangerous” producer Teddy Riley and Tricky Stewart (Beyonce, Rihanna) to put the finishing touches on the album’s 10 tracks.
It’s unclear how much studio wizardy was required to get the songs into top shape, but if “Hold My Hand” (the first single with Akon) is any indication, there wasn’t much. The song had leaked onto the Internet a few years ago, and while this version is more polished, Jackson’s vocals — tender, sweet but strong — sound almost identical to what circulated on the Web years ago. The ballad itself is saccharine and generic, but Jackson’s soulful performance gives it all the charm it needs.
Jackson co-wrote several of the songs on “Michael,” and the recurring themes that ran throughout Jackson’s work are evident here as he paints himself as the victim of the tabloids in “Monster” and “Breaking News,” two of the album’s weaker tracks. “Breaking News,” while it has noteworthy lines (“he wanna write my obituary” Jackson intones in one part), seems the most unfinished with nonsensical lyrics and a chorus that repeats Jackson’s name incessantly. “Hollywood Tonight” also warns of the dangers of seeking fame, this time with a young woman fooled by its lure.
There’s no song on “Michael” that will rank among Jackson’s best work, but there are a few that stand out. “(I Like) the Way You Love Me” is a groovy midtempo song that recalls a classic doo-wop sound; “Best of Joy” is a dreamy, airy track that features Jackson’s vocals at their heart-melting best, without a melange of sound effects and the vocal hiccups that often distracted the listener from that amazing voice; and “Keep Your Head Up” is a lovely inspirational anthem that accomplishes its mission with each listen.
We’ll never know whether “Michael” would have been anything close to the album that Jackson might have released had he lived, but by releasing these songs, fans can know that the King of Pop was off to a promising start.
“Michael” does nothing to detract from Jackson’s amazing legacy and, if anything, gives us a little bit more to cherish, however imperfect.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/40641295/ns/today-entertainment/
Michael Jackson Lives On at Roseland Ballroom
After much screeching, whining and jumping up and down, I was lucky enough to score VIP admission to last night’s party at Roseland Ballroom, commemorating Michael Jackson’s career and celebrating today’s release of the posthumous album Michael on Epic Records. The album features unfinished material recorded before Jackson’s death, and includes tracks featuring Akon, Will.I.Am and others.
Admission to the party was free but not guaranteed, even with a ticket. Though I didn’t actually see any screaming, crying or kicking, getting in the door required a little persistence and some willingness to ignore the demands of multiple police officers, no matter whose list you were on.
Inside, as DJ Cassidy spun Jackson’s greatest hits and tracks from the new album, shiny jackets, sparkly gloves, loafers and fedoras began to fill the room. Some attendees sported only one or two glimmering accessories, while others came fully decked out in impressive impersonator garb. The earliest to arrive took advantage of the opportunity to show off their crotch-grabs and moonwalks on the still-mostly-empty dance floor, complete with spotlights.
Upstairs, I ran smack into an old friend from high school and band camp: Kwabena Edwards. “What are you doing here?!?” I shrieked, before I managed to put two and two together. “Oh my God, Oh my God!” I said, “Are you dancing in the show?!? Oh my God!” After a hug and some more shrieking (on both ends), Kwabz excused himself to go perform in a professional dance troupe in the middle of the crowd.
“Michael always has and will always be one of the biggest inspirations in my life,” he told me later. “I do what I do for a living because of him. Tonight was the best night of my life and I would do it all over again for him. I love you Michael! Miss you!”
Kwabena’s words echoed the sentiment of the whole evening. Even if you’re not a nutjob like us, there’s an undeniable air of euphoria that Jackson fans bring to any celebration of his work. People from all walks of life dance together, and all the drama seems to fly out the window.
A drink or two after running into Kwabz, I went out for a smoke and ran into another familiar face: That of my boss, who promptly instructed me to drink more and start talking to minor celebrities. I had to make a fool of myself in front of some vaguely important people before he would allow me to make a fool of myself on the dance floor.
First, I spotted Danielle Staub, of The Real Housewives of New Jersey, and asked about her favorite Michael Jackson songs. (Known for being a massive bitch on TV, Staub was surprisingly friendly in person, but when I told her I was a reporter, she still yanked her publicist over to supervise our conversation.) “Thriller,” she said, and “back in the day, ‘Ben’ – the Jackson Five.” I asked her if she’d ever seen Jackson perform live. “Well I am 48, but shhhh! Don’t tell. I wore the glove.”
Next, I asked one of several massive bodyguards, surrounding a much smaller man, if the celebrity he was guarding was Akon. To be fair, it was dark, I was tipsy, and he was wearing a hat and sunglasses. But my pasty white ass was still very, very wrong. The client was Blackstreet member Teddy Riley, one of the co-producers Michael. I was disgusted with myself: “No Diggity” was, hands down, my favorite song of the ‘90s. Teddy told me his favorite MJ song is “Remember The Time”—surprise, surprise—one of the handful of earlier MJ songs he also helped produce.
Finally, I accosted Emil Wilbekin, former Editor-in-Chief of Vibe magazine. My editor and I couldn’t believe Emil’s claims that he’d never actually spoken to MJ in person, but he did tell me that he saw Michael in both the Jackson Five and in a Madison Square Garden performance just before 9/11. His favorite MJ song?“ ‘Off The Wall’ —no, wait—‘Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough.’”
Alas, the night stopped before we’d gotten nearly enough. The doors opened at 8, but the hall wasn’t full until around 9, and the music stopped promptly at 10:57. On the way home, my cab driver, Anthony, blasted Christmas carols on the stereo. After politely ignoring his request to take me out to dinner, I asked him if he liked Michael Jackson. He smiled enthusiastically, and shouted, “Of course! Everyone loves Michael Jackson!”
Photo courtesy of Wire Image. http://www.nypress.com/blog-7908-michael-jackson-lives-on-at-roseland-ballroom.html
Rehearsal an hour before the party:
Dance Highlights from MICHAEL NYC CD Release Party:
NEW JACKSON ALBUM OUT
9.43AM Tue Dec 14 2010
Crowds gathered at the launch of Michael Jackson’s new album at the Roseland Ballroom in New York.
His classic songs were played out while dancers performed to hits such as ‘Remember the time’ and ‘Billie Jean’.
Music producers Teddy Riley, Theron “Neff-U” Feemster and Eddie Cascio went there to launch “Michael” a ten-track album featuring collaborations with Akon, 50 Cent and Lenny Kravitz.
- “I think he would love it. I really do. It’s a great album. One song is stronger than the other and I think he’d be very happy. I think he’s smiling on all of us right now.”
Riley a friend of Michael Jacksons said:
- ” I think he would come out, wave his hand and go like this ‘I love you.'”
It’s the first album of new Jackson material since ‘Invincible’ in 2001. http://www.itv.com/news/new-jackson-album-out28673/
Michael Jackson’s MICHAEL Has King Of Pop’s ‘Spirit,’ producer says. “This feels like Michael, this feels like the spirit of Michael,” Teddy Riley tells MTV News.
Dec 14 2010 12:59 PM EST 1,109
By Jayson Rodriguez with reporting by Steven Roberts
Teddy Riley had a long-standing working relationship with Michael Jackson, and the producer said Jackson’s latest project, Michael, is as authentic an LP as any of the superstar’s past work.
“Oh, they’re gonna say this is him, that’s the first thing,” Riley told MTV News about fan’s anticipated reaction to the set. “And this feels good. This feels like Michael, this feels like the spirit of Michael. And we love him, that’s what they’re gonna say.”
The project, which arrived in stores and online Tuesday (December 14), is the first posthumous MJ collection since the singer died in June 2009.
Riley, along with Akon, Christopher “Tricky” Stewart (Mariah Carey, Beyoncé, The-Dream) and a host of other producers and songwriters were commissioned to complete the project, which was birthed from a spate of unfinished material in Jackson’s archives. In the past, Riley has helmed MJ’s Dangerous album, on which he produced “Remember the Time” and “Jam,” among other tracks.
For Michael, which Riley was called in to work on during the last three months of production, the former Guy and Blackstreet member had a handy trick to help him retrieve the vibe he shared with MJ.
“Just by bringing his spirit in the room, in the actual studio,” Riley explained. “I had his pictures all over the place. Time after time, I would [also] go back and forth to Thriller and listen to all the music to get the spirit and keep his spirit in the room. To keep the bad energy out of the room.
He was always about the good energy. Anytime there was a negative energy, nothing would happen. The computers would react, they would just go out.
There was serious spirits in the room. Shutting down computers. That was the problems we were going through. But when it felt good and the energy was good, everything went smooth and we got through the project.”
Randy Taraborrelli speaks about the new album with CBS news:
Michael Jackson’s ‘Michael’ Track-By-Track
by Jason Lipshutz with Gail Mitchell and Gary Graff | December 08, 2010 12:00 EST
Before his untimely death in June 2009, Michael Jackson had been formulating a new batch of material that would have served as the follow-up to 2001’s “Invincible.” Although Jackson would sadly never see the release of this group of songs, an all-star team of producers and collaborators was assembled to complete the King Of Pop’s vision and finish “Michael,” Jackson’s first posthumous album.
Set for a Dec. 14 release on Epic, “Michael” is bursting with pop hooks and Jackson’s unique vocal energy. The 10 tracks form an impressively cohesive disc that features production from C. “Tricky” Stewart, Teddy Riley and Theron “Neff-U” Feemster, and guest spots by Lenny Kravitz and 50 Cent. Most importantly, “Michael” maintains the uplifting tone that Jackson intended for this collection of songs: “He wanted to put out music that was positive enough to bring the world together,” says Akon, who duets on first single “Hold My Hand.”
Several of the album’s key producers and collaborators — including Akon, Riley and Stewart — talked to Billboard.com about the making of each track, and what it meant to contribute to a project as monumental as “Michael.”
1. “Hold My Hand” (Duet with Akon)
Akon originally wrote this uplifting single for himself, but after being tapped by Jackson to help piece together the King of Pop’s next album, the Senegalese singer decided that Jackson’s presence on the track was vital. “The song was pretty much finished, but his delivery creates a whole other environment — his tone and energy just made that record seem completely different,” says Akon, who ended up recording the song with Jackson in Las Vegas in 2008. “We decided we would make it his record featuring myself, because I felt like he’d give it more mileage, and the record would be so, so much bigger if it was a Michael Jackson record.”
2. “Hollywood Tonight”
A cautionary tale built around breakneck beats, “Hollywood Tonight” finds Jackson telling an intense story of a girl who lets glamour go to her head. The track sounds like Britney Spears’ “Lucky” crossed with Justin Timberlake’s “Lovestoned,” but co-producer Teddy Riley had Jackson’s own hits in mind when concocting its danceable sound. “I was looking at just doing the next level of ‘Billie Jean’ meets ‘Dangerous’ or ‘Doggin’ Me Around,'” says the producer, who previously worked with Jackson on tracks like “Remember the Time” and “Dangerous.” “It’s like one of those driving bass lines that you will remember.”
3. “Keep Your Head Up”
“Give me your wings so we can fly,” Jackson sings on this inspirational track, which feeds off of swelling backing vocals and slow handclaps at its conclusion. R&B producer C. “Tricky” Stewart was brought in to “add a last bit of polish” to the track, but he says that all of the components of a classic Jackson song were already in place. “It starts small, gets big and ends with a big choir and big drums-the Jackson sound that everybody has come to know and love,” says Stewart.
4. “(I Like) The Way You Love Me”
“(I Like) The Way You Love Me” begins with the audio recording of a voicemail Jackson left his engineer, in which he sings the hook and describes the drum arrangement of the track. The simple sketch eventually led to this blissful love song, which recalls “The Way You Make Me Feel” with its layered vocals and gentle percussion. “It’s a song he had in his heart for many years,” says Theron “Neff-U” Feemster, who worked with Ne-Yo and Jamie Foxx prior to co-producing the track alongside Jackson in Los Angeles. “I’m glad he trusted me enough to complete his vision.”
5. “Monster” (featuring 50 Cent)
After opening with a terrifying scream, “Monster” quickly unveils its stuttering beat as Jackson begins lashing out at those who see him as “an animal;” at its climax, the singer can only manage the painful question, “Why?”
Riley says that the harrowing song was too slow ( it is amazing that Riley says that – it proves my hypothesis that the record was sped up and this was what enhanced Michael’s vibrato!) this is when he first began working on it, and that he spent a while adding some funk to the darker themes. “I brought in guitars. I brought in bass. I brought in keys. I brought a lot of effects and sounds that kinda took it to the next level,” says Riley. The producer also worked with Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, who added a bruising verse to the song earlier this year. “Michael always wanted to work with 50,” says Riley. “He came right in and did what he does, and took it in another direction, and it came out incredible.”
6. “Best of Joy”
One of the last songs that Jackson worked on before passing away, “Best of Joy”‘s message of commitment takes on a new resonance in the wake of the singer’s death: “I am forever,” Jackson coos, adding, “We’ll never part/Our love is from the heart.” Feemster says that the track was completely finished before Jackson’s death, and that it was meant to be unveiled during his “This Is It” tour. “You can’t help but smile when you hear it,” the producer says of the song.
7. “Breaking News”
When it first debuted in early November, “Breaking News” presented a more defensive side of Jackson, who attacks the media for turning him into a “boogie man.” Recorded in the New Jersey home of co-producer Eddie Cascio in 2007, the song’s simmering beat and throwback feel can be credited to Riley, who claims responsibility for many of the song’s major musical elements. “‘Breaking News’ was a track that, when I first heard it, I wanted to take to the next level and make it very exciting, very interesting, and kind of change things up,” says Riley, “and we completed our mission doing that.”
8. “(I Can’t Make It) Another Day” (Featuring Lenny Kravitz)
After seven songs of R&B-influenced pop, “Michael” takes a left turn with this Lenny Kravitz collaboration, which develops an industrial rock groove that’s a bit reminiscent of Nine Inch Nails. “You’re the fire that keeps me warm!” Jackson bellows on the chorus, as guitars envelop his voice and Kravitz repeats the song title like a lullaby. Aside from Kravitz’s blistering solo on the bridge, “(I Can’t Make It) Another Day” is highlighted by some spectacular percussion courtesy of Dave Grohl.
9. “Behind The Mask”
This kinetic pop song was originally performed by Yellow Magic Orchestra before Jackson asked to add some lyrics to match the danceable beat. A saxophone solo soon segues into a series of electronic blips, and Jackson offers the command, “Take off the mask, so I can see your face!” while computerized backing vocals contribute to the tightly packed production. “Mask” is a must-listen if only because, out of all the songs on “Michael,” it holds the highest number of Jackson’s signature “hee-hee!” exclaims.
10. Much Too Soon
“Michael” ends with its most somber song, as “Much Too Soon” finds Jackson wistfully looking back on a relationship that he could not make work. “I’m hoping that my prayers will see, The day that you come back to me/But I guess I learned my lesson much too soon,” sings Jackson, who produced the song alongside McClain. Written around the time of the “Thriller” album, “Much Too Soon” stands as a powerful final reminder of Jackson’s emotional vocals and effortless songwriting.
‘Michael’ by Michael Jackson tops HMV Canada CD sales chart
Posted: 16/12/2010 10:30 AM
- The following is HMV Canada’s top 10 CDs based on national sales for the week ending Dec. 18.
1 Michael _ Michael Jackson
2 Glee: The Music: The Christmas Album _ Glee Cast
3 Loud _ Rihanna
4 Doo Wops & Hooligans _ Bruno Mars
5 Speak Now _ Taylor Swift
6 The Gift _ Susan Boyle
7 Glee: The Music: Season Two, Volume 4 _ Glee Cast
8 Greatest Hits _ Bon Jovi
9 Teenage Dream _ Katy Perry
10 The Beginning _ The Black Eyed Peas
Michael Jackson vs. Susan Boyle and Taylor Swift for No. 1 album
By Keith Caulfield Keith Caulfield – Thu Dec 16, 5:38 pm ET
LOS ANGELES (Billboard) – Michael Jackson’s first posthumous studio album is in a tight race for honors on next week’s chart with reigning champ Susan Boyle and former queen Taylor Swift, according to early industry prognostications.
Jackson’s “Michael” could move around 200,000 to 225,000 by week’s end on Sunday, December 19. But Boyle’s “The Gift” could also sell as many copies (if not more), as could Swift’s “Speak Now,” which is currently at No. 2. The Billboard 200 chart will be published on Wednesday.
Jackson’s last release, the “This Is It” compilation soundtrack, started at No. 1 a little over a year ago with 373,000 units, according to Nielsen SoundScan. However, it’s difficult to compare their relative sales fortunes since they are such different projects. “Michael” is a much-discussed assemblage of new recordings coming nearly a year and a half after his death, while “This is It” was essentially a greatest hits collection, released in conjunction with the popular concert documentary film.
Rev. Barbara Kaufmann has written in her blog about the new album:
“I am more interested in the message than the music. ‘Monster’ is an important message and particularly haunting given where it comes from. So I will say that ‘Breaking News’ is particularly important because it is Michael speaking from beyond the grave about what put him there.
When Michael says in ‘Hold My Hand’ This life doesn’t last forever I think he is talking to us. If you’re looking for Michael – he’s there. So is his real messsage. His last message”.
“Michael” sold 224,000 copies, about 25,000 less than the two women.
On the other hand, “Michael” was the highest debut album of the week according to hitsdailydouble.com. It outsold new CDs by R. Kelly and P Diddy by more than 100,000 copies. Around the world, however, Sony says it’s an international hit. (See further below.)
However, Jackson’s last album, “Invincible,” sold 363,000 copies in its first week, back on October 30, 2001.
Given the modest amount of money that went into marketing “Michael” and the huge sums wasted on P Diddy, you could say “Michael” is even a bigger hit.
What it lacks, though, is a break out hit. And the album still has not overcome the stigma of Jackson’s vocals possibly not being his–and they are.
Sony sort of screwed this up from the beginning. The version of “Breaking News” that was put on the website for streaming in November didn’t sound like Michael Jackson. It was in fact the wrong mix. This led the rabid Jackson fans to scream that they were being fooled.
It’s too bad: “Breaking News” is a great single. On the album, it’s clearly Michael Jackson singing all the way through the lead. Jackson fans are denying themselves a real treat if they think otherwise.
The real first single, “Hold My Hand,” with Akon, has not been a crowd pleaser.
Hindsight is always 20/20, but I do think Sony rushed the release. They had no marketing campaign, no focus, and a lot of negativity to overcome. If they’d waited til spring, some more thought could have gone into how to launch this CD.
“Michael” has plenty of potential singles. “Monster,” “Keep Your Head Up,” and “Another Day” are all great. But Sony’s going to have to implement some out of the box thinking to make them happen.
Around the world, “Michael” is a different story. Here’s a press release from Sony:
- # MICHAEL shipped Platinum in 14 territories including the United States, UK, Germany, France (2x), Italy (3x), Spain, Portugal, Poland, Russia, Belgium, Czech Republic (4x), Canada, Korea and the Middle East.
- # The album debuted at #1 in Germany, Italy, Netherlands and Sweden.
- # And on top of the # 1 album chart entry in Germany, sales of MICHAEL broke the country’s 2010’s first-week record with over 85,000 units sold.
- # Opening week sales of more than 113,000 in the U.K. scored the biggest opening week for a new Michael Jackson studio album since ‘Dangerous’ nearly 20 years ago.
- # In Japan, the album is the fourth Michael Jackson album to ever debut in the top 3, joining Bad, Thriller and last year’s “This Is It” companion album.
- # The album is in the top five in Belgium (#2), US (#3), Japan (#3), the UK (#4), France (#4), Denmark (#4). In the US, the album shipped platinum and debuted at #3 of the Billboard Album chart with just under 230,000 copies sold.
- # The album went Gold in 17 territories on arrival in Japan, China, Australia, Ireland, Austria, Netherlands, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, New Zealand, India, Philippines and Taiwan.
Weekly Chart Notes: Michael Jackson, Lonely Island, Reba McEntire
by Gary Trust | December 23, 2010 4:35 EST
RETURN OF THE KING: The late King of Pop makes a triumphant return to Billboard’s charts.
While “Michael” arrives at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 behind Taylor Swift‘s “Speak Now” (2-1) and Susan Boyle‘s “The Gift” (1-2), Michael Jackson‘s posthumous set claims top honors on R&B/Hip-Hop Albums.
The album is Jackson’s eighth No. 1 on the R&B/hip-hop album tally:
Peak Year, Title, Weeks at No. 1
1979, “Off the Wall,” 16
1983, “Thriller,” 37 (the longest reign in the chart’s 45-year history)
1987, “Bad,” 18
1992, “Dangerous,” 12
1995, “HIStory: Past, Present and Future Book 1,” two
2001, “Invincible,” four
2009, “Michael Jackson’s This Is It” (soundtrack), four
2011, “Michael,” one
Jackson ups his total to 94 cumulative weeks atop R&B/Hip-Hop Albums, the most among solo acts. Only the Temptations (109) have spent more time at the summit. Jackson has spent an additional 39 weeks at No. 1 with five leading albums as a member of the Jackson 5.
The arrival of “Michael” spurs a 65-39 jump on the Billboard Hot 100 for the set’s first radio single “Hold My Hand,” with Akon. The song is Jackson’s 38th top 40 hit on the Hot 100, breaking a tie with Neil Diamond. Among male artists, Jackson trails only Elvis Presley (80), Elton John (57), Stevie Wonder (46), James Brown (44), Marvin Gaye (41), Lil Wayne (41; see below) and Frankie Valli (39) for most top 40 charted titles among solo males.
“Hold My Hand” is Jackson’s first song to ascend to the Hot 100’s top 40 since “Butterflies” took flight to No. 14 in January 2002. With the new track’s advance, Jackson becomes the first artist to reach the top 40 on the Hot 100 in each of the ’70s, ’80s, ’90s, ’00s and ’10s.
In the amazing video below called “THE MAKING OF “MICHAEL” Michael’s friends and musicians speak of him with tenderness, love and nostalgia:
- “Michael said, “Let’s make some music that’ll change the world”,
- “He was a dream come true”
- “He made me better”
- “People will be blessed to hear it”
- “He sounds powerful and inspired”
- “Hearing his voice again and knowing that he is not with us any more … it’s tough, it’s tough”
- “It’s a great example how art, the art material will last longer than we will”
The video says: “After Michael Jackson’s passing it soon became clear to both the Michael Jackson Estate and Sony music that there was an obligation – not only to Michael’s fans, but to Michael himself – to keep this amazing music from gathering dust in the vault. It was decided, that album that was taking shape needed to be properly completed and released in a thoughtful, dignified way that would honor Michael’s legacy…”. Here is the 24 min video which is a must see for everyone:
And while the boycotters hail the news of Michael failing to be No.1 in the US – well, to each his own – we are thrilled by this news:
‘Michael’ is Jackson’s fastest selling studio album in 20 years
December 20th, 2010
‘Following the highly anticipated release on December 13th of Michael Jackson’s new studio album entitled ‘Michael,’ The King of Pop is once again dominating the UK charts.
This week the album achieves the biggest opening week for a new Michael Jackson studio album in the UK since ‘Dangerous’ in 1991, almost 20 years ago. Selling over 113k copies and entering at No.4, ‘Michael’ continues the musical legacy of Jackson that started over 40 years ago.
The album is Jackson’s 19th to reach the UK Top 10, while the lead single ‘Hold My Hand (Duet With Akon)’ extends Jackson’s incredible run of success to 55 UK Top 10 hits; his first being ‘I Want You Back’ in 1970, 4 decades ago.
Critics and fans have hailed the new album as ‘Brilliant’ with ‘Stunning collaborations’ and ‘Certainly worthy of the legacy of the King Of Pop;’ proclaiming that it ‘Bursts with verve and confidence with lots of inspirational, uplifting anthems and melodic, sweetly sung ballads.’
HMV’s Gennaro Castaldo adds to the phenomenon:
- “What was particularly evident this week was the large number of younger customers buying Michael’s album in our stores.
- Michael’s ability to inspire clearly remains undiminished, and I would say that we are witnessing the torch being passed on to a new generation of fans, who will continue to believe in the power of his music to ensure that his unique legacy remains secure.”
Michael Jackson has 9 UK No.1 albums and 9 UK No.1 singles.
the top-selling albums according to global
sales figures and national album charts
issue date: December 23, 2010
copyright (C) 2010 – all rights reserved
Michael Jackson – Michael
|1 / 2
|Susan Boyle – The Gift
Syco Music / Columbia – 455.000
|2 / 4
|Take That – Progress
Polydor – 414.000
* * *
March 2011 saw the release of a fantastic video “HOLLYWOOD TONIGHT”!
They slightly altered the beat, and they took out the spoken rap, but otherwise it’s the same great song!
Here is an exclusive report from Joe Vogel – author and music critic – about the song and making the video: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/joe-vogel/inside-michael-jacksons-h_b_834857.html
Posted: March 14, 2011 06:21 PM
Exclusive: Inside Michael Jackson’s “Hollywood”
Michael Jackson was so impressed with dancer, Sofia Boutella — star of the late icon’s new music video for “Hollywood Tonight” — he was ready to offer her the opportunity of a lifetime: the chance to dance alongside him on his This Is It concert series at the O2 Arena in London. Unfortunately, she was still under contract for Madonna’s Confessions Tour at the time and couldn’t get out of it. Seeing how disappointed Boutella was, Jackson turned to a couple of his collaborators and said: “I used to date Madonna. I should call her.”
While Boutella ultimately missed out on This Is It, she pays admirable homage to the King of Pop in his most recent posthumous video, which paints the story of a young, ambitious girl trying to make it in Hollywood without being swallowed by its trappings and illusions. It’s a well-worn tale, but is carried out tastefully by director, Wayne Isham, and sparked by the infectious energy and talent of Boutella. The video also reminds — along with recent MJ tributes on American Idol and Glee — how profound Jackson’s influence continues to be on new generations (many of whom only “discovered” him after his tragic death in 2009).
The song has a long and winding history. Jackson first put down a sketch of the lyrics in 1999 while staying at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Soon after, he began working out the music with longtime friend and collaborator, Brad Buxer (who co-wrote the song). The song traveled with them from Los Angeles to New York, Miami to Neverland, during the early Invincible sessions. Jackson and Buxer were pumping out some outstanding material around this time, including songs like “Beautiful Girl,” “The Way You Love Me,” “Speechless,” “The Lost Children,” “Shut Up and Dance” (a great dance track Jackson and Buxer worked on with Michael Prince and Eric Kirkland with echoes of Stevie Wonder and MJ circa Bad which, unfortunately, doesn’t have complete vocals) and “I Was the Loser” (a nice, melodic mid-tempo tune about lost love that is mostly finished), among others. A couple of years earlier Jackson and Buxer had also worked on artistic standouts like “Morphine” and “In the Back.”
Jackson loved parts of “Hollywood” — the opening Gregorian chant (his idea), the “westbound, greyhound” harmonies, the whistling in the outro — but stopped working on it once producer Rodney Jerkins came on board for Invincible.
Over the next ten years, however, he returned to the track numerous times. For the bass line, he was searching for something similar to “Billie Jean,” but distinct. “Do smooth muted bass on ‘Hollywood,'” he indicated in one note. His early demos feature two layered bass lines (Michael Prince added the “Billie Jean”-esque kick and snare in the last mix MJ requested). Jackson and Brad Buxer continued tinkering with it in Las Vegas in 2007. For a while, he liked the idea of ending with the sound of a bus leaving or arriving. Yet he ultimately decided to conclude with the whistling, since the juxtaposition was a bit awkward.
In October 2008, Jackson, now living in Los Angeles, asked recording engineer Michael Prince to put the latest mix of “Hollywood” on CD so he could listen to it and see what might be improved. Sadly, he never got around to working on it again.
The new single of “Hollywood” is truer to this last version than the album cut. Of course, Jackson had intended to keep working on it, which is why his estate and Sony originally brought in two of Jackson’s close collaborators, Theron Feemster (aka Neff-U) and Teddy Riley, to try to finish it. Feemster had the first crack and came up with some solid mixes; yet Sony didn’t feel it was quite right and subsequently gave Teddy Riley a shot. Riley’s production, which retained much of Michael and Brad’s demo (including the intro and outro) and elements of Feemster’s mix (including the fantastically funky guitar riff), became the album version.
After it was released, however, many fans voiced concerns about a) the over-processed vocals, and b) the lengthy spoken bridge. Jackson had, in fact, written lyrics for his own bridge, which were much darker than Riley’s. Jackson’s bridge reads:
She doesn’t even have a ticket
She doesn’t even have a way back home
She’s lost and she’s alone
There’s no place for her to go
She is young and she is cold
Just like her father told her so
While Jackson’s version highlights the tragedy and uncertainty of a dream deferred, Teddy Riley’s bridge opted for a more positive and tidy resolution. “With the bridge we kind of made her succeed,” Riley explained. “[She] completed her mission.”
Riley would have undoubtedly used Jackson’s version had their been vocals for it. Unfortunately, they were never recorded. With the new single, however, Sony decided to cut the spoken part completely and showcase instead some of the heightening drama and tension Jackson intended for this section. They used his beatboxing, his idea of swelling horns and strings, and his operatic vocal (pulled from a tape left running during a recording session in a hotel room). In addition to the bridge, the vocals on the new single are left un-processed and the production is scaled back. The result is a single that has a rawer, funkier, but less finished feel than the album version.
“Hollywood Tonight,” then, has gone through many incarnations: the several different demos Jackson recorded with Brad Buxer and Michael Prince, from 1999 to 2008; the two versions Theron Feemster worked on following Jackson’s death (one of which is reportedly quite impressive); the polished album version completed by Teddy Riley; and, of course, the new single. All are necessarily approximations to what Jackson would have ultimately put out in finished form. That’s the nature of posthumous releases. They will always be imperfect and they will always generate fierce debate.
But for most music lovers, we will take whatever new Michael Jackson we can get, whether demos, new mixes or remixes. “Hollywood Tonight” could be gathering dust in a vault; instead, it has people dancing in the streets.
This article is crossposted at The Official Blog of Joe Vogel. Joseph Vogel is the author of the forthcoming Man in the Music: The Creative Life and Work of Michael Jackson (Sterling 2011).
* * *
Another great piece of news is about the MICHAEL JACKSON IMMORTAL TOUR by Cirque Du Soleil:
The Canadian Cirque Du Soleil which is starting the Michael Jackson Immortal World Tour on October 2, 2011 in Canada and is then moving it to the US, has announced in March 2011 that it is adding more shows and expanding the tour to 17 more US cities. The new sale of tickets began on March 12 and five days later the show was already No.3 in the bestseller list according to http://www.ticketmaster.com/
Michael Jackson THE IMMORTAL World Tour Expanding to 17 New Cities, Adding Dates As Anticipation Grows
Wednesday, March 09, 2011
With anticipation growing for the launch of Michael Jackson The Immortal World Tour, Cirque du Soleil announced today it is adding 17 new cities to its tour in advance of its World Premiere October 2 in Montreal. In addition, new dates are being added to the existing schedule or extra seats released in more than 25 cities across North America.
About the show
A riveting fusion of visuals, dance, music and fantasy that immerses audiences in Michael’s creative world and literally turns his signature moves upside down, Michael Jackson The Immortal World Tour unfolds Michael Jackson’s artistry before the eyes of the audience. Aimed at lifelong fans as well as those experiencing Michael’s creative genius for the first time, the show captures the essence, soul and inspiration of the King of Pop, celebrating a legacy that continues to transcend generations.
The Immortal World Tour takes place in a fantastical realm where we discover Michael’s inspirational Giving Tree—a wellspring of creativity that illuminates for the audience Michael’s thoughtful inner world, offering new paths to express his love for music, dance, fairy tale and magic, and the fragile beauty of nature.
The underpinnings of The Immortal World Tour are Michael Jackson’s powerful, inspirational music and lyrics—the driving force behind the show—brought to life with extraordinary power and breathless intensity. Through unforgettable performances Michael Jackson The Immortal World Tour underscores Michael’s global messages of love, peace and unity.
John Branca, Co-Executor for The Estate of Michael Jackson, commented,
- “This will not just be a tribute to Michael’s musical genius, but a live entertainment experience that uses the most advanced technology to push every creative boundary as Michael always did. Having attended Cirque du Soleil performances with Michael, I know he was a huge fan. We are excited to be partners with Cirque du Soleil to give Michael’s fans a truly unique way to hear, see and feel Michael’s music.”
Guy Laliberté, Founder of Cirque du Soleil, commented,
- “Michael Jackson is the King of Pop and an all-time phenomenal artist, both timeless and contemporary. As a creative challenge, this project is the ultimate. Through the use of cutting edge technology, we will produce a Cirque du Soleil experience not only worthy of Michael but unlike any other we have created before. We are also so pleased that our longtime partner MGM MIRAGE has once again joined us in presenting another unique creative experience in Las Vegas. ”
John McClain, Co-Executor for The Estate of Michael Jackson, commented,
- “There will never be a multi-faceted entrepreneur, humanitarian and innovator like Michael and it is only befitting that this partnership be with Cirque du Soleil. No artist electrified the stage more than Michael did. We expect that his fans will come away from these Cirque du Soleil performances feeling the exhilaration of a Michael Jackson experience and with an even greater appreciation of his legacy.”
Daniel Lamarre, President and CEO of Cirque du Soleil added
- “We are honored and thrilled to be in partnership with the ultimate and most important record selling artist of all time. This association between two international entertainment brands promises to deliver to fans of both Michael and Cirque du Soleil unique artistic experiences”
Here is a video about the unique CIRQUE DU SOLEIL SHOW:
Another video gives the schedule of the performances:
Jamie King, Writer and Director of MICHAEL JACKSON THE IMMORTAL WORLD TOUR by Cirque Du Soleil talks about the show:
- “It starts with the music… The show is the reflection of Michael’s energy, essence and spirit…. When people leave the arena I want them to feel inspired, I want them to be excited, I want them to be celebrating Michael’s life. I also want them to leave knowing something more about Michael”.
ALL 47 PERFORMANCES ARE IN CANADA AND UNITED STATES ONLY. We envy you……
UPDATE (April 13, 2011)
Michael Jackson: The Experience tops 3 million sales
Thursday 7-Apr-2011 4:32 PM
Ubisoft dancing all the way to the bank
Michael Jackson: The Experience has sold over three million copies on Wii, PSP and DS.
Ubisoft told MCV it was “delighted” with the title’s success ahead of its arrival on PS3 and Xbox 360 next week.
UK marketing director Murray Pannell said: “We’re delighted with the sales success of Michael Jackson The Experience to date.
It’s a hugely fun and well-loved game in the UK. The Wii version has been extremely well received and we’re now looking forward to bringing the game to a wider group of consumers when it launches on Kinect and PS3 later this month.”
While the game received a poor 59% review score in ONM, its sales clearly justify Ubisoft’s faith in the genre.
In February, CEO Yves Guillemot said “there’s a good chance this dance segment can be strong for four or five years like Guitar Hero.”
[ Source: MCV ]
The latest edition of the Guinness World Records 2011 has been dedicated to the memory of Michael Jackson
And this is the ultimate accomplishment. Little girl being very excited about getting her “Michael cd” as Christmas present
UPDATE (3 JUNE 2011)
For Immediate Release June 2, 2011
MICHAEL JACKSON HITS #1
“HOLLYWOOD TONIGHT” TOPS BILLBOARD DANCE CLUB CHART THIS WEEK
New York, NY – The King of Pop crowns another chart this week as the hit song “Hollywood Tonight” lands at #1 on the Billboard Dance Club Chart. This is Michael Jackson’s eighth #1 Billboard Dance Club hit which puts him on the top of the list for most #1’s by a male artist. “Hollywood Tonight” joins Michael’s other number one dance hits including “Thriller,” “Bad,” “The Way You Make Me Feel,” and “Scream” which was his last #1 from sixteen years ago.
“Hollywood Tonight,” which USA TODAY said, “pulsates with Billy Jean-esque energy,” was written by Michael Jackson and Brad Buxer and the track was produced by Teddy Riley, Michael Jackson with Theron “Neff-U” Feemster as co-producer.
The striking video for the song features the work of award-winning director Wayne Isham, the genius of superstar choreographers Rich and Tone Talauega and stars the undiscovered talent of dancer Sofia Boutella. The clip can be viewed here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zjGtTUfPcI4&hd=1
MICHAEL, featuring “Hollywood Tonight,” is the unique collection of songs featuring Michael’s performances completed posthumously and released in December by the Michael Jackson Estate and Sony Music. MICHAEL was the #1 global album upon its release in December and has shipped over 3 million units worldwide making it one of the biggest albums of 2010. The album’s success continues to underscore Michael’s importance as a global icon and superstar, transcending cultures and languages.
More information can be found at www.michaeljackson.com
SOURCE: The Michael Jackson Estate™
Update (8 June 2011)
For Immediate Release June 8, 2011
THE WORLD UNITES ON NEW MICHAEL JACKSON VIDEO “BEHIND THE MASK”
Groundbreaking “Crowdsourced” Video to Debut on June 14th on Facebook.com/MichaelJackson
New York, NY – This spring, the Estate of Michael Jackson and Sony Music gave everyone around the world the opportunity to be a part of Michael Jackson’s video legacy with The Behind the Mask Project. This groundbreaking, global online casting call prompted people in all corners of the planet who love Michael Jackson’s music to shoot, upload and submit their own unique performances for inclusion in the video; the project elicited an unprecedented response from 103 countries in the world. And on June 14th, The Behind the Mask Project will be unveiled on www.Facebook.com/MichaelJackson .
Led by the creative team at @radical.media and acclaimed director Dennis Liu, TheBehind the Mask Project launched in March 2011 with a state of the art website http://behindthemask.michaeljackson.com loaded with simple tools that defined the different roles one could play. Upon entering the site, users selected an action like playing an instrument, singing a lyric, acting out a crowd reaction or demonstrating a classic MJ dance move. Then, using the site’s split-screen template, contributors were able to shoot their move right on the website or with their web cam and upload the clip at the precise time it occurred in the video.
Dennis Liu comments, “This has been the most exciting and fun project I think I’ve ever been involved in. It’s been such a privilege, and was incredibly moving to see so many people from all over the world join as one, their creative voices, dance and musical talents bound together by Michael Jackson’s spirit and incomparable artistry. We received submissions from the Sahara Desert to Venice Beach, from mountaintops to suburban backyards, with some shots featuring well over one hundred people apiece. All who participated delivered brilliantly.”
After submissions poured in from all over the globe they were carefully edited down by the director to the best 1600 submissions (including 50 kids and 36 animals). On June 14th, the 35 million Facebook fans of Michael Jackson will get the first look at this landmark video. New fans can log on to www.Facebook/MichaelJackson and click “Like” to view the video.
Technology journalist Natali Morris comments, “Michael Jackson was crowdsourcing his videos before crowdsourcing even existed. This project is a perfect way to honor his connection with his fans.”
The song “Behind the Mask” is a critic and fan favorite from MICHAEL – the unique collection of songs featuring Michael’s performances completed posthumously and released in December by the Michael Jackson Estate and Sony Music. MICHAEL was the #1 global album upon its release in December and has shipped over 3 million units worldwide making it one of the biggest albums of 2010. The album’s success continues to underscore Michael’s importance as a global icon and superstar, transcending cultures and languages.
Dennis Liu is an award-winning digital filmmaker at @radical.media. Dennis quickly made a name for himself winning awards for clients that include Apple and Microsoft and being honored in the renowned “Saatchi & Saatchi New Directors Showcase”. @radical.media is a global transmedia company that creates some of the world’s most innovative content and the home to @radical.media design+digital. @radical.media’s award-winning projects include the Academy Award®-winning documentary “The Fog of War”; the Grammy®-winning “Concert for George”; the Independent Spirit Award-winning “Metallica: Some Kind of Monster”; the award-winning digital experience “The Wilderness Downtown” for Google Creative Lab and Arcade Fire; the Grammy-nominated “The Johnny Cash Project”; the Emmy® and Golden Globe®-winning pilot episode of the hit series “Mad Men”; the Emmy®-winning “10 Days That Unexpectedly Changed America” for the History Channel; and five seasons of the critically acclaimed Sundance Channel series “Iconoclasts,” among others.
Twitter @michaeljackson #MJBehindtheMask
Source: The Michael Jackson Estate™
UPDATE 16 JULY 2011
MJ holds the Guinness World Record for the longest span of US Top 40 singles…39 years and 2 months! He first charted on the Billboard Hot 100 on November 6, 1971 with “Got To Be There” and last with “Hold My Hand” on January 1, 2011.