The King of Pop hasn’t gone. He was merely taking a rest.
Epic Records has finally confirmed the news that many Michael Jackson’s fans have been longing to hear: his first collection of posthumous material is nearly with us. The album, called Michael, will be released on December 14 (just in time for Christmas!) while next Monday sees a full track called “Breaking News” streaming on MichaelJackson.com for one week. (See TIME’s full coverage of Michael Jackson.)
What else do we know about this news that is as surprising as Brett Favre deciding to postpone retirement? The press release tells us that, “Unbeknownst to many fans around the world, Jackson was writing and recording songs continuously everywhere from a friend’s home in New Jersey to studios in Las Vegas and Los Angeles with a small group of handpicked collaborators.” As for the single, “Breaking News,” that was recorded in New Jersey in 2007 and was “recently brought to completion.” This might mean it was one of the songs Jackson was supposedly working on with producer Eddie Cascio.
Showbiz 411’s Roger Friedman reports that four of Michael‘s 10 or 12 songs will be from those Cascio sessions; the rest are set to be outtakes from Jackson albums, as well as a Paul Anka track called “Love Never Felt So Good.”
As for the album outwork, it was created by painter Kadir Nelson and features integral moments and people from Jackson’s life. From what NewsFeed can make out from the oil painting, most of those moments and people involve Michael Jackson. (See the last photos of Michael Jackson.)
Jackson’s last album was 2001’s Invincible, which received lukewarm reviews and didn’t shift anywhere near the amount of copies as some of his back catalog. Since then, he’d recorded tracks with the likes of Lenny Kravitz, Akon, and Will.i.Am (some of which were leaked) but his well documented legal and health problems ultimately resulted in his once prodigious output coming to a halt. And not everyone is onboard with the news. Speaking to the AP, Will.i.am said, “He was a perfectionist and he wouldn’t have wanted it that way. I don’t think that should ever come out. Now that he is not part of the process, what are they doing? Why would you put a record out like that?”
While we’ll never know if the “This Is It” tour would have ignited a creative spark within Jackson, the world’s ears will be keenly tuned to Michael to see if it could have augured well for the future or whether it was a continuation of his diminishing powers. At his peak, Jackson seemed to be touched by genius, as Off The Wall and Thriller effortlessly proved. But many feel that the King of Pop’s musical career died many years before the man himself.