Does Michael Jackson’s second posthumous album Xscape live up to the moonwalker’s legacy or is it a feeble shot in the arm of the smooth criminal?
Nearly five years after his death comes a tribute to one of music’s most iconic legends. Xscsape, the second posthumous album of Michael Jackson, is a collection of his unfinished work pre-1999 brought together and worked on by Epic Records boss L.A. Reid and contemporised by Justin Timberlake, Usher, Stargate, Rodney Jerkins, John McClain, J-Roc and various other producers.
Unlike the first posthumous album Michael in 2010, which was 10 songs that Jackson wrote, recorded, and reworked from 2007 to 2009 but never got around to releasing, Xscape is bits and pieces of demo recordings done by the pop icon during his rise to stardom. Featuring 10 tracks, the album was released on May 9 and received mixed reactions from critics and fans. With songs such as ‘Love Never Felt So Good’, ‘Loving You’ and ‘Slave to the Rhythm’ recreating MJ’s magic and other songs not hitting the mark, the album has created more of an uproar in the global music world. Here’s what Bangalore’s MJ followers feel about the latest tribute to the moonwalker.
Aloysius John, who followed MJ all through his career, says unreleased work by MJ will always sell. “It’s something people will look forward to since these are never before heard songs. That is something special for them.”
He adds that the range of talent who worked on the album adds more value to it. “It will also get their fans in. The album should taper as a global phenomenon but you never know if these artistes will steal the show. If things go viral on social media then Xscape is sure to create a storm though.”
Musician Shalini Mohan, who grew up on MJ’s music, says as a die-hard fan, she knows the man is not there in the studio so there is definitely a difference in the music. “MJ has been in every phase of my life. He’s not there now. So it’s not going to be an MJ album. It’ll be a tribute. But nevertheless, I’m sure it will do well.”
This album is not produced by upcoming artistes who are trying to make a quick buck, affirms Shalini. “They are established world class artistes taking on MJ’s work and doing something good. So it does do justice to MJ.” Looking ahead, she says: “Unfortunately, there will be a lot of remixes in the future. He’s the only artiste whose hype can give that kind of ride. But I do hope there are no more albums like this. We should let this be the last.”
Dancer Xavier Prasad, who runs the Xavier Dance Studio, believes the album is a way of keeping his memory alive. “He’s come a hard way and struggled to the top to become famous. The album pays tribute to his endurance and spirit.”
Vineeth Vincent, a city-based beatboxer, says this doesn’t sound like him at all. “I don’t know if this is the direction Michael wanted to go in. I think we should remember him for who he was and the music he produced when he was around. That was what defined pop, not the new remixes.”
Not a total die-hard fan himself, Vineeth says a lot of people didn’t know he was a beatboxer. “Michael wrote his music over his beatboxing rhythm. I appreciate and respect that. He inspired many other styles and set a standard that no one can hit. That itself is a testimony for his legacy and should be left that way.”
Niveditha Joseph, another MJ fan and a singer, believes the songs in the posthumous album can never match up to Michael Jackson’s all-time hits.
“Though L.A. Reid and other producers have done a brilliant job of fine-tuning his unfinished and unreleased recordings, in my opinion Xscape is merely a fusion of leftovers made contemporary by modern day producers. Michael Jackson was a perfectionist and the release of songs that were thought to be mediocre by him is very controversial."
Xavier sums up: “Whether people like it or not, Michael and his music will endure forever. People who make a mark will never be forgotten. Even today, dancers emulate his style. We’ll always remember him and pass on his legacy to our children.”