New Jackson album: a thriller from beyond the grave?

Michael Jackson fans will this week finally get their hands on the pop icon's first record since he died, with huge sales expected despite lukewarm reviews and questions over its authenticity.

"Michael," due out Tuesday in the United States, comprises 10 songs the King of Pop was at various stages of completing when he died last year, and includes contributions from rapper 50 Cent, Lenny Kravitz and US singer Akon.

Two tracks have already been released online, the first of which - "Breaking News," a fierce protest at how the media hounded the scandal-tainted singer - sparked a fierce debate over whether it was really Jackson's voice.

Record company Sony - which plans to release a series of new Jackson albums - was forced to defend the album after fans and even some of Jackson's family members questioned the record's authenticity.

"We have complete confidence in the results of our extensive research as well as the accounts of those who were in the studio with Michael that the vocals on the new album are his own," it said in a statement.

Jackson's sister LaToya said bluntly that the record "doesn't sound like him." But more generally, purist Jackson fans question how some of the songs were completed, from material recorded sometimes several years ago.

At least one song, "Much Too Soon," was written at the time of Jackson's landmark 1982 album "Thriller," several stem from the time of his last album of new material, 2001's "Invincible."

The most recent track, "Band of Joy," stems from the months before Jackson's shock death in June, 2009 - he planned to keep working on it in London in between a series of sell-out concerts in July and August, producers say.

Jackson is credited as writer of all but two of the songs - "Another Day" by Lenny Kravitz and "Hold My Hand" by Akon, and producers are keen to stress how closely they kept to the singer's original intentions.

"While Michael was not there to complete the tracks as only he could, he had left behind a unique roadmap mapping out his creative vision in the form of notes and detailed conversations," they say in a 10-page media introduction, which spends two pages seeking to justify the album's authenticity.

Pre-release reviews of the new album - reportedly the first of a 10-album deal over seven years, although that is difficult to confirm - have been decidedly mixed.

"This is not a Michael Jackson album ... He would not have released anything like this compilation, a grab bag of outtakes and outlines assembled by Jackson's label," said Rolling Stone, although calling the album "compelling."

Entertainment Weekly gave it a "B" grade, saying: "As musical epitaphs go, Michael is a solid album, arguably stronger than Invincible and certainly no great affront to his name.

"But it can be hard to listen and not wonder what he would have done differently - or if he would have wanted us to hear it at all."

In Britain, music weekly NME's reviewer said the album was saved by the last two tracks: "Behind the Mask" which he describes as "brilliant" and the Thriller-era ballad "Much Too Soon."

"Oh, it isn't really very good, don't be under illusions of that. But compared with the unnecessary, inauthentic and insulting mess it could have been ... Michael' can actually be considered something of a win," he says.

But, perhaps inevitably, the album is already a bestseller with fans, much like last year's film "This is It," made from footage of rehearsals for the London shows.

The album - whose cover, in typical Jackson style, depicts him being crowned by cherubs with a biblical-looking star in the background - was number 11 in Amazon.com's top sellers this weekend, ahead of its actual release.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Judd Apatow’s make-it-up-as-you-go-along approach is ideal for comedies about stoners and slackers slouching towards adulthood
filmWith comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
Arts and Entertainment
booksForget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Off set: Bab El Hara
tvTV series are being filmed outside the country, but the influence of the regime is still being felt
Arts and Entertainment
Red Bastard: Where self-realisation is delivered through monstrous clowning and audience interaction
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
O'Shaughnessy pictured at the Unicorn Theatre in London
tvFiona O'Shaughnessy explains where she ends and her strange and wonderful character begins
Arts and Entertainment
The new characters were announced yesterday at San Diego Comic Con

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rhino Doodle by Jim Carter (Downton Abbey)

TV
Arts and Entertainment
No Devotion's Geoff Rickly and Stuart Richardson
musicReview: No Devotion, O2 Academy Islington, London
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film

film
Arts and Entertainment
Comedian 'Weird Al' Yankovic

Is the comedy album making a comeback?

comedy
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey in the first-look Fifty Shades of Grey movie still

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc, centre, are up for Best Female TV Comic for their presenting quips on The Great British Bake Off

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Freeman as Lester Nygaard in the TV adaptation of 'Fargo'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules

film
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'

film
Arts and Entertainment
<p><strong>2008</strong></p>
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>

film
Arts and Entertainment

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book

books
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

    The air strikes were tragically real

    The children were playing in the street with toy guns
    Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

    Britain as others see us

    Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
    Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

    Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

    Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
    How did our legends really begin?

    How did our legends really begin?

    Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
    Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

    Lambrusco is back on the menu

    Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
    A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

    A new Russian revolution

    Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
    Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
    Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

    Standing my ground

    If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
    Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

    Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

    The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
    The man who dared to go on holiday

    The man who dared to go on holiday

    New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

    For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
    The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

    The Guest List 2014

    Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
    Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

    Jokes on Hollywood

    With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on