“Michael,” the first posthumous album of new material by Michael Jackson, is all filler, no “Thriller.”
Out Tuesday -- though its been easily available illegally online for over a week -- the 10-track release has, in typical MJ fashion, already been the center of a couple of controversies and a lot of anticipation.
That was the interesting part.
The sad part is the actual “Michael” album would be merely anticlimactic if it wasn’t so bad.
Let’s be dance floor clear, I do not mean “bad” like Jackson’s 1987 album “Bad.”
Even though "Bad" followed the overwhelming success and spotlight of “Thriller,” that was a record you could get into and behind. Besides “Behind The Mask,” a cover of the 1979 Yellow Magic Orchestra song that’s the closest thing on this album to those high-wire body moving classic MJ tunes, that’s not the case here. What seem to be clear is that the songs on “Michael” really should have been left in the vaults and crowded shoeboxes from which they came.
But as the first in a $250 million, 10-album deal with SONY, there was just too much money on the table to do that wasn’t there?
Too bad there’s no payoff.
Pulled out in the light in various unfinished stages by Teddy Riley and various other producers, the tunes just don’t groove and they really don’t move. Buried under too many guest stars like 50 Cent and Lenny Kravitz, too many genres and more than a little surgically applied Auto-tune, what the songs on “Michael” do is betray the limits of made-by-committee musicianship and studio wizardry.
The effort to feed the frenzy that resulted from the singer’s death on June 25, 2009 is understandable. The questions about whether that really is MJ’s voice on “Breaking News” were one thing. However, in the ravenous pursuit of more millions on Jackson’s vapor trails, what is more damning is that “Michael” betrays an almost complete lack of anything interesting or unique.
Alive or dead, that is, for the performer who reinvented popular music and reinvigorated dance, the gravest sin of all – being boring.
Yes, Jackson hadn’t released an album of new material since 2001’s “Invincible” and certainly the last decade of his life wasn’t kind musically, among other things, but for all the messiness in his life, his perfectionism in the studio never seemed to wane. Now that reputation is tarnished as well.
Long story short on “Michael.” -- where is Quincy Jones when you need him? Hell, where is Michael Jackson? Oh, that’s right … then let him rest in peace ... and dignity.