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Opinion: Michael Jackson post-mortem release reads as ‘corporate money grab’

April 6, 2014

hollar.38@osu.edu

His life might be over, but MJ’s still singing.

Kind of.

Ostensibly, humans are the only species who contemplate their own inevitable march toward mortality, and it has become part of the human condition to rail against the temporal finiteness of our existence.

As such, our fascination with resurrecting dead pop stars isn’t a surprise.

First we brought back Tupac  as a hologram in 2012; now we’re releasing a posthumous record from the King of Pop.

The new album, titled “Xscape,” is set to be released in May — nearly five years after Michael Jackson’s death — and will feature eight songs that weren’t released when he was alive.

Color me skeptical, but the fact that the tracks weren’t released before he died might suggest they weren’t meant to be — because Jackson didn’t like them, because they’re really just not very good, or for any number of other reasons.

Further, the fact that the tracks weren’t released earlier and instead were timed to drop around the fifth anniversary of his death seems to whisper “corporate money grab.”

Still, whether the album is shameless profiteering of a dead star’s legacy or not, it’s obviously generating some buzz and will likely merit a listen once released. The tracks have been “contemporized” by still-living big name producers to give them “a more current sound,” according to USA Today. There’s potential for these to be the big summer anthems of 2014, and they might even be worth a spot in your iTunes library.

Or not. They could be crap. It was certainly a lazy idea to remix the songs – perhaps the execution will be similarly uninspired. We won’t know either way until May.

Personally, I’m hoping “more current sound” is really just music industry jargon for “dubstep remix.”

Dubstep — or perhaps, brostep — wasn’t a thing when Jackson died in 2009, was it? Is it still a thing now or am I clinging to a fad gone by?

Regardless of how the album turns out, it’s almost guaranteed to be a success: Jackson’s name will sell itself — just ask Cirque du Soleil.

Maybe the acrobats are on to something though: Maybe MJ is immortal.

Or if he’s not, at the very least, greed and lazy ideas are doing a great job at pretending.


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Comments (7)

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  1. Bob says:

    First there was Tupac? Really?
    Did you miss the hundreds of Elvis compilations and other releases since he died? Did you miss his performance with Celine Dion on X Factor USA a few years ago?
    What about Jimmy Hendrix many posthumous releases?
    what about Nat King Cole singing with his daughter on one posthumous single?

    No, Tupac was not the first.
    He wasn’t even the first ‘hologram’ – they used a victorian theatrical trick called ‘peppers ghost’, not a hologram at all but a mere projection.

  2. IrishLass says:

    Crap article with no real thought process!

    For a start, the Jackson brother’s had already talked about using a hologram of Michael for a concert they were going to do back in 2010 …The concert / tour was cancelled.

    Also, where were you when it was plastered ALL OVER the news a few years back, that Sony had made a deal with Michael’s Estate to release a number of posthumous albums over the next number of years? Did you forget about this, or were you visiting the moon at the time?

    1. These (regardless that some had been leaked…blame those people) are songs that have never been officially released – NOT rehashes, etc. 2. There is also an option to buy a Deluxe Version of the album, which contain both the mixed and the original, un-touched tracks…So what is the real problem?

    Furthermore, MJ always recorded lots of songs when doing an album …Some wouldn’t make it onto the album – Standard procedure – and those would be put in a vault. Sure, QJ didn’t want Billy Jean put onto Thriller, but MJ insisted…The rest is history with that one…And to think Billy Jean could have still been lying in that vault along with the others…There ya go!

    Lastly…Look at the Elvis Presley record label /Estate always re-releasing – re-packaging – remixing the same stuff and re-packaging again, for years and I don’t see articles about complaining that RCA and the Presley Estate are money-grabbing / greedy. Nobody says boo about that.

    As mentioned…These are not constant rehashes – The deal was made a number of years ago so shouldn’t be any big surprise here – The Estate and record company earn their percentage – Standard procedure – That’s the business deal end of it – That is the way it has always been done – Nothing new, shocking or sinister here. All record companies take their share – The artist takes their share and if the artist has passed on – then it goes to their Estate…and in THIS case – that should obviously include his children.

    Why are some suddenly complaining posthumous albums? Why are these releases suddenly sinister, shocking and causing some to whine like never before? Or… maybe its because it pertains to Michael Jackson, hey? …Different set of rules whenever it comes to MJ?

    Either way, it is already number 1 on the iTunes list…That is just for the pre-orders!

  3. Tom Cain says:

    Yes, it is crap. It is all about MJ’s money grubbing family trying to make the big bucks off his ashes.

  4. June Spengler says:

    The author of this “opinion” piece is perhaps too young young and uninformed to make any sense. MJ’s family does not run his Estate. Michael had the wisdom to appoint savvy businessmen to protect the legal and financial interests of his mother and three children. As for the album tracks, MJ wrote hundreds of songs. If they did not “fit” with a particular album, they were put away for future consideration. Sadly he did not stay with us long enough to personally release everything he composed. Xscape can be purchased with 2 CD’s, the second containing the original versions recorded by Michael himself. Most MJ demos are far superior to final releases by today’s “artists”.

  5. Fahad says:

    good day everybody,
    first of all, its not a first listen for us fans as we already have 6 of those 8 tracks as they were leaked a few years back and they are

    Xscape ( leaked way back in 2003 !! )
    A Place with No Name (was leaked recently back in 2013 )
    Do You Know Where Your Children Are
    Slave to the Rhythm ( original and not the justin briber crap )
    Blue Gangsta ( a number of versions were leaked )

    and all are in great finished quality

    second, even if it was new its sooooo ridiculous to call an 8 track cd an album these days, even mj himself won’t do less than 15 )

    third, its such a rip off to play around with the mj archives and not take more effort and time to include more tracks on each release.

    so we have nothing to enjoy but 2 tracks and maybe a bonus track and a cd with a new cover to call a new official album

    the only thing thats relieving is the fact that there will be a deluxe edition with the 8 tracks ( 2 for us fans ) in their original form

    lets just hope that we get different original versions than what we ( the fans ) already have ( maybe other versions mj worked on )

    peace out

  6. Fahad says:

    And for the record, leaving tracks not to be included on albums is not always because they suck and in any case u have ears too and sometimes what an artist or / some of the public doesn’t like doesn’t mean because it’s bad but because we have individual tastes

    If u live on the same planet the rest of us do then u know that even the much remixed 2010 posthumous mj album had great tracks in it like behind the mask which mj loved but couldn’t use because of legal matters

    Again like I said, we the real fans know and have 6 of the 8 tracks on the latest posthumous album and they are of the best especially do you know where Ur children are

  7. LL says:

    June said it best MJ was BRILLIANT leaving his estate to be managed by executors and not his greedy desperate family etc. The family’s lawsuit failed so now a record company needs to make money off what’s left (or what it has the rights to). Personally MJ (and Whitney) left enough of my faves I don’t need anything else. I love watching his (and bros) 30th Anniversary Special on TV One (so sad so much talent from that show is gone RIP)!

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