by Michael Jackson


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Underneath it all, underneath all the keyboards and programmed rhythms designed to bring the music on Xscape into the 21st century, is this simple fact: the lead single, "Love Never Felt So Good," was co-written by Paul Anka, a superstar of another era who never quite made his presence known in the new millennium. Jackson didn't care. MJ loved old show biz and songcraft in equal measure and that love can be heard on "Love Never Felt So Good," along with the other seven songs on XSCAPE. Only the second major posthumous release in his catalog -- he passed in 2009 on the eve of an orchestrated comeback -- Xscape delves deep into that past, excavating songs that have been languishing in the vaults for various reasons since at least 1983 or perhaps later. Exact dates aren't published because Xscape isn't meant to be an archival release, it's designed to push Jackson back onto the charts, which means "Love Never Felt So Good" is constructed as a duet with Justin Timberlake, who is as eager as a puppy to sing with his idol. That he's not really trading lines with MJ doesn't matter; his presence is endorsement, ensuring chart attention which it might not have received. The deluxe edition of Xscape contains the original demos of the eight songs on this album -- it's a short record by any measure -- and, ultimately, these are fascinating in a way the finished tracks aren't; these spare voice and keyboard sketches are nevertheless full-bodied, so it's possible to imagine how the songs would've fit on Bad, Dangerous, or Invincible. Often, the demos reveal how strong Jackson's songwriting is -- they're so flexible, they could withstand any number of arrangements, which is why "Love Never Felt So Good" is so instructive. In its original voice-and-piano arrangement it's possible to hear its glitzy show biz roots via Anka, but the production -- supervised by L.A. Reid and Timbaland -- is clever, accentuating Off the Wall while being spare and clean enough to sound modern. This is especially true of the version of "Love," which is a duet with Justin Timberlake -- the show biz kid is happy to create an illusion -- but the entire affair is savvier than 2010's Michael, which was caught between the twilight of sentiment and commerce. Xscape considers Jackson's legacy quite carefully, deciding to emphasize the splashy soul and diluted disco of Off the Wall over the triumphant Thriller or any of the calculated records that followed in its wake. If he had lived, Jackson likely wouldn't have followed this path -- everything from Bad and beyond showed he was acutely aware of pop trends, often to his detriment (he'd hold himself back instead of engage) -- but that's also the appeal of Xscape. Timbaland and Reid evoke the Michael Jackson we all love and miss, finding songs that are worthy and giving them arrangements that are simultaneously nostalgic and modern. It's a difficult trick to pull off but they largely succeed, so Xscape is a worthy and memorable coda to Jackson's career.

Product Details

Release Date: 05/13/2014
Label: Epic
UPC: 0888430536623
catalogNumber: 305366
Rank: 27073

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Michael Jackson   Primary Artist,Background Vocals
Paul Anka   Piano
Jeroen DeRijk   Percussion
Jerry Hey   Horn,Leader
Wim Kok   Violin
Erica Miller   Violin
David Williams   Guitar,Soloist
Arlia de Ruiter   Violin
Emma Kummrow   Violin
Mark Ward   Cello
Marcel Schimscheimer   Bass
LaShawn Daniels   Background Vocals
Mieke Honingh   Violin
Ranaan L. Meyer   Bass
Julia Jowett   Violin
Arend Liefkes   Bass
Herman Van Haaren   Violin
Bastiaan Van Der Werf   Cello
Jennie Lorenzo   Cello
Sarah Koch   Violin
Norman Jansen   Violin
Annie Tangberg   Cello
Giorgio Tuinfort   Piano
David Barnett   Viola
Vera Laporeva   Violin
Luigi Mazzocchi   Violin
Mo'Horns   Horn
Dan Warner   Guitar
Tamae Lee   Violin
Michelle Bishop   Violin
Eliza Cho   Violin
Jesús Morales   Cello
Vera Van Der Bie   Violin
Franck Van Der Heijden   Conductor
Kevin Hissink   Guitar
Carlos Rubio   Violin
Elisabeth Liefkes-Cats   Violin
Davis Barnett   Viola
Renee Warnick   Viola
Charles Parker   Violin
Pauline Terlouw   Violin
Jonathan Kim   Viola
Dayna Anderson   Violin
Fredrik Strand Holland   Guitar
David Peijnenburg   Violin
Blake Espy   Violin

Technical Credits

Paul Anka   Composer,Producer
Babyface   Composer,Vocal Producer
Michael Jackson   Composer,Producer,Vocal Producer
Dewey Bunnell   Composer
Jeff Chestek   Engineer
Freeze   Composer,Vocal Producer
Larry Gold   String Arrangements
Michael Kane   Accounting
L.A. Reid   Composer,Producer,Vocal Producer
Daryl Simmons   Composer
John McClain   Producer,Executive Producer,Management
Jerome "J-Roc" Harmon   Producer
Rodney Jerkins   Composer,Engineer
Jim Bates   Public Relations
Kevin Roberson   Composer
Timbaland   Producer,Executive Producer
Mike Donaldson   Engineer,Vocal Editing
Jay Krugman   Marketing
Chris Godbey   Engineer
Stargate   Producer
LaShawn Daniels   Composer
Fred "Uncle Freddie" Jerkins   Composer
Mat Maitland   Art Direction,Images
Heath Kudler   Music Business Affairs
Paul Power   Engineer
Scott Seviour   Marketing
Daniel Jones   Producer
Mikkel Storleer Eriksen   Engineer,Instrumentation
Giorgio Tuinfort   Producer,drum programming
Brandon Jones   Engineer
David Byrnes   Legal Counsel
Tor Erik Hermansen   Instrumentation
John Branca   Executive Producer,Management
Fuko Chubachi   Art Direction
Franck Van Der Heijden   Orchestral Arrangements
King Solomon Logan   Producer
Demacio "Demo" Castellon   Engineer
Cory Rooney   Composer,Vocal Producer
Diana Baron   Publicity,Public Relations
Rutger "Ruffi" Kroese   drum programming
Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins   Producer,Vocal Producer
Matt Champlin   Engineer
Daniela Rivera   Engineer
Greg Morgan   Sound Design
Stephanie Yu   Music Business Affairs
Karen Langford   Legal Counsel
Lauren Ceradini   Publicity
Scott Carter   Marketing
Perry Jimenez   Engineer
Joel "Roosevelt" Katz   Legal Counsel
Howard Weitzman   Legal Counsel
Mike Sitrick   Public Relations
Alla Benyatov   Marketing

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