Michael Jackson - Michael

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"The nostalgia Michael's music carries for those millions of us worldwide is unfortunately the biggest problem with Michael."

A chilling moment occurs during the opening of “(I Like) The Way You Love Me”, one of few enchanting offerings on Michael Jackson’s first posthumous album, Michael. “Okay, this is the tempo and this is the melody...drums!” the late King of Pop directs through what sounds like a voicemail message, just before singing the song’s opening bars and unleashing a furious beat-box intended for the song’s drum pattern. The beat-boxing blends lovely right into the wispy flutes and sublime piano keys that give the track it’s classic uplifting MJ sound. It’s a moment that’s surprising and exhilarating, allowing us to hear Michael’s voice in it’s most organic, providing perhaps a final glimpse of his artistic meticulousness.

At 41 minutes in length, Michael is brief and shrouded in controversy -- much like the life of the icon himself. Consisting of a mishmash of unused and half-finished material stored away in the crevices of the most expensive catalog in history -- arranged as ably as possible by a team of Jackson collaborators -- charges of inauthenticity rained in almost immediately after the release of it’s first single earlier this year.  

“Everybody watching the news on Michael Jackson / They wanna see that I fall because I’m Michael Jackson,” he charges at the media on “Breaking News,” retaliating against the intense scrutiny that’s become synonymous with his name. “You say you love me but it’s hard to see / Because when he’s in your arms you’re throwing rocks at me / Who do you love?” he demands of a fronting flame on “Behind The Mask,” an electronic rush of quintessential Michael Jackson shinning through the second-hand meddling.   

Michael absolutely has it’s moments, though. Ballad, “Keep Your Head Up”, carries a “Heal The World” vibe in arrangement with it’s flowing orchestration and a triumphant choir that grows anthemic by songs end. The Teddy Riley-produced “Monster” thumps and rumbles all the way to immediate head-nod and 50 Cent’s guest verse adds just enough grittiness to the track’s raucous guitar strings and bass line. “Best Of Joy” bursts with inspiration as Jackson’s falsetto eerily speaks directly to the legacy of his music on millions of people worldwide: “Wasn’t it I who carried you around / When the walls kept tumbling down...I am forever / I am forever / We are forever”.

The nostalgia Michael’s music carries for those millions of us worldwide is unfortunately the biggest problem with Michael.  Jackson's progressiveness and laser-aimed focus on perfection was always the foundation of everything he ever did and resonated through every song he ever made. His meticulousness is what set him apart; how much he cared about every “Heee...heee!” and “Whoooo!”. And given the patch-work necessary to piece Michael together posthumously, it’s impossible to imagine that this is a collection of songs Michael intended to deliver.  

Teddy Riley, Tricky Stewart, Neff-U, Eddie Cascio and Akon worked impressively to re-create MJ’s untouchable sound, providing a sonically consistent, uplifting offering that conceptually detours from the darker undertones of History and Invincible. If anything, they’ve proved that they are masters at mimicking Michael Jackson.  

But when opening track “Hold My Hand” feels more like Akon featuring Michael Jackson than an a song that would actually be on a Michael Jackson album, the collaborative vision feels disingenuous. It feels inauthentic. And when that one chilling moment occurs at the beginning of “(I Like) The Way You Love Me”, where we hear The King of Pop give specific direction on the tempo and melody and that song brazenly fails to include the specific drum pattern beat-boxed on the voicemail, the entire project feels dubious -- no matter how many times “Hollywood Tonight” rocks through the New Year. No matter how cool it is to hear is voice once again.

Purchase "Michael" by Michael Jackson


  • Eminemfan

    Found walgreens selling it. Didn't buy it tho. Just more people trying to make money off a dead man.

  • Bruce M Edwards

    Im diggin the album... even if its not what michael intended to drop it still debunks alot of dtrugling artist who have no talent and just immitate someone else. Michael did his thing and just because of how huge he is people demand so much. I overall give mike 4.5 stars simply cause he was 40 summin when most of this was created and the fact that he's a pioner!!!!!

  • Money Matt

    Its just not like his old stuff :(...i really am upset i bought it.

  • Gemstar

    A 2? Really? I give it a solid 4. Mike didn't get to finish it but it still delivers.

  • ABS

    "But when opening track “Hold My Hand” feels more like Akon featuring Michael Jackson than an a song that would actually be on a Michael Jackson album, the collaborative vision feels disingenuous. It feels inauthentic" wooow, this song was originally set to be released in the name "Akon ft. Michael Jackson". This track was recorded at the sessions for Akon's 2008 album "Freedom". CD feels like unfinished, but it's not as bad to be rated "2 stars". It deserves at minimum "3 stars". Why? Because we have a chance to hear MJ. Kravitz didn't do anything special, but on this album even 50 Cent sound soo... good. For example in "Hollywood Tonight" MJ is so powered!

    • Pat Neeland

      So your rationale for this getting at least 3 stars is simply because it's a Michael Jackson album and/or simply because Michael Jackson is on it? Eesh.

  • bios

    JAY: i agree that Butterflies was quite good, mostly because it sounded different from any other song Jackson had written. 'Heartbreaker' and 'Invincible' were pretty edgy dance songs at the time, esp the former. 'You Rock My World' is probably my favourite Jackson single of the last 15 or so years. didn't impress me at first, but it's a grower. I'm tired of these anti-media type songs though, like 'Privacy', 'Breaking News', and 'Tabloid Junkie' etc. I hope B.News is the last one we hear.

  • enid p.

    its not a bad listen. it sounds like it was inspired by MJ. and i wish the folks at Sony would have promoted and sold it as that. i havent decided yet if i will spend my money on it.

  • prince

    this is a disgrace for music

  • Fossie

    R&B is bullshit !This is a hiphopforum and this MJ record was made mostly by hiphopproducers so what the fuck is your problem?

  • Photog.

    Die writer scum! nah just kidding I totally agree with this review. The authenticity of the album is in full question. I highly doubt Micheal would have excepted this vail attempt of a Micheal project to be released. The producers in-charge of this project were trying so hard to capture the essence of Micheal they to failed to capture his spirit. There is a lack of progression and innovation. This album was offensive

  • Real R&B

    Fuck does Hip HopDX know about R&B? You give fags like Lil Wayne & Drake better reviews when clearly they have no talent. Stop rioding the bandwagon and please do not ever review another R&B album without knowing what the fuck you are talking about. Michael Jackson is a legend and he deserves better than this failed attempt of a review!

  • bios

    Micheal Jackson's 'meticulous' approach to songcraft yielded questionable results in the last 15 years anyway. Just because you spent a long time working on something, it doesn't make it good if the ideas themselves are nothing special to begin with. see Guns N Roses 'Chinese Democracy' for proof of that. It's a well known fact that Jackson left most of the best songs off 'Invincible'. Teddy Riley has admitted it, and so has Darkchild and many others that worked on that record. He left off the hand dancefloor tracks to make way for more sentimental piffle. Jacko was really hung up on those disney ballads. the problem is it's not the 70's anymore. 'Invincible' and 'History' had their moments, but the last consistent M.J record was 'Dangerous', and as much as i liked the guy, i seriously doubt his new record would have been great even if he completed it.

    • jay

      I agree with part of what you are saying. I'm felling the upbeat tunes more than the ballads on this as well. Butterflies was fairly good from Invincible but Stranger In Moscow was his last great slower type of tune.

  • MP

    2 stars? C'mon ya'll! "Behind The Mask" was a 80's MJ track that was dope! All the songs he actually song on were cool to me. I do agree that MJ would have never put this album out with this particular tracklist. But I'm pretty sure later we'll get some really good albums from MJ...

  • 718rob

    this album is a disgrace, I'm riding with will.i.am.

  • HM

    Man if you are a real MJ fan you need to really hear this album. Because on a few songs thats not him singing, they don't feel like Michael at all. It's somebody else thats songing on a few of those records. I'm going to tell you which ones, just really listen to this album. You can tell if you really listen real closely. They using his ad libs and chants just to make you think it was really him, buts it's not. Listen to his old albums any of them you can feel him through his music, I feel nothing with this one here. We all love Michael Jackson but Sony is wrong for this one here.

  • MIO

    behind the mask,another day and much too soon are my favourites...This deserves more than 2 stars...and yeah "Give some wackass gangsta rapper 4 or 5 stars" True

  • Anonymous

    album is decent haters. go give some wackass gangsta rapper 4 or 5 stars

  • Joyce Terry

    It's a good album, better than "Invincible" better than most new albums released today. And it will help his kids and his estate, not all the money will go to Sony so get over yourself. Hollywood Tonight, Behind the Mask, The Way You Love Me, and I Can't Make It Another Day are my favorites.

    • STFU

      Fuk you measn get over yourself, maybe you should take your own advice and accept that some people have a diffrent opinion then you STFU

  • Urban

    Whats wrong with DX???The one who wrote this review needs to get his nose off the line....2 Stars,are u kidin me???I just listen the album(after I saw the review)cuz I coudnt belive this album can get only 2 stars and I was right,this is at least 4/5....death to that who wrote the review

  • SmartAss

    I don't plan on listening to this, but this review is terrible. It sounds like most of the songs you reviewed you dug for the most part. Yet somehow you end up giving it 2 stars? So you like the songs but give it 2 stars cause it feels too much like there 'mimicking MJ'. Whatev, I was just curious how the reviews would be for this...

  • ts5000

    r u fuckin serious hip hop dx this is atleast a 4 star album this is a good posthumous album just 4 that i'm not goin on here anymore for reviews