Michael Jackson – Xscape

December 24, 2014 at 12:24 PM | Posted in Michael Jackson | 1 Comment

ALBUM REVIEW
Michael Jackson – Xscape

1. Love Never Felt So Good
2. Chicago
3. Loving You
4. A Place With No Name
5. Slave To The Rhythm
6. Do You Know Where Your Children Are
7. Blue Gangsta
8. Xscape

♦ ♦ ♦

Xscape is the second posthumous album of previously unreleased tracks by American singer Michael Jackson, released on May 13, 2014. The album peaked at #1 in five countries all over the world and as of September 2013, the album has sold over 1,400,000 copies.

No MA without the Michael Jackson category, I know the whole blogging world concentrates more on K-Pop and J-Pop but I BREATHE Michael Jackson music, so that’s why he’s here. Thought a little explanation might help 😉

So, Love Never Felt So Good is the first track and it was also released as a single that features the amazing Justin Timberlake. I love both versions, the version on the album features just Michael and it really lets him shine the way he intended too. This song revives the disco/soul genre 2014 style with catchy music, maybe a little tame when you know MJ’s discography very well but it’s a good opener.

Chicago really brings out the grittier side of MJ’s music with its mysterious and foreboding ambience. It starts out a little quiet, but then Michael lets everything go and he sings out his anxiety about this woman who he thought loved him, but lied to him. The deep bass and slight R&B/hiphop influence makes this timeless and very enjoyable.

After that darker track, Loving You is on the lighter and cuter side. While everyone else goes out, MJ would rather enjoy time at home with his woman, that’s what he’s singing about. His light vocals sound great with the uplifting piano tune that plays throughout the song. Maybe not a song you would notice immediately the first time, but it’s definitely worth it.

A Place With No Name tells the story of a man stranded in the desert, who is then lured to ‘a place with no name’ by a mysterious woman. This compelling story has very good music to accompany it, with catchy synth loops to make the thing a bit bouncier than other tracks on the album. It’s not as ‘in your face’ as Chicago is, but it’s one of the best songs on the album for sure.

One of my other favorites must be Slave To The Rhythm, another track that is pure MJ, very similar to the work he released when he was still among us. Everything about this track is strong: the lyrics, the beats, and Michael’s vocals are best. Everything builds into this big explosion of music near the end of the song, loved it so much.

Do You Know Where Your Children Are continues that strong typical MJ sound with aggressive use of beats, synths and the first time an electric guitar takes more centre stage. This is another track that shows how important it is to actually listen to lyrics, the message grabs me and although the chorus is quite simple, it’s delivered in the most memorable and catchy way.

Timbaland gave Blue Gangsta the perfect futuristic twist. This track was probably dark themed already since Michael’s vocals are a lot edgier again, but this song was reworked in such a way that it fits right in the category with ‘Beat It’ and even ‘Thriller’. Deep R&B filled with low-end strings, horns and snap-back snares, it’s as fierce as it gets and I love it ❤

MJ was very enthousiastic about Xscape, ‘Wait til the world hears it’, he used to say to one of his producers. Michael sings about escaping and getting away from the system and ‘electric eyes’, something like ‘Leave Me Alone’ in the late 80s. This track beats the latter any time and I love how there are samples of ‘You Rock My World’ here, one of my all-time favorite MJ songs.

I actually bought my copy of this album when I was in the States this summer and I don’t regret a single dime I spent on it. I must have played it in the car more times than I can even remember so I know all the songs by heart now. It reminds me time and time again how much love I have for this amazing legend, something that will never go away. Actually, I think MJ is the only artist I feel such a connection to and I have always said that, if I ever have a son, I will name him Michael in honor of him. Crazy? Maybe, but that’s how big my passion for his music and everything he had to say is. This is more perfection than his previous posthumous album was ❤

Favorite tracks: Love Never Felt So Good | Chicago | A Place With No Name | Slave To The Rhythm | Do You Know Where Your Children Are | Blue Gangsta

OVERALL RATING
starstarstarstarstar
5 stars

MusicAddiction In The Mix: Michael Jackson

September 28, 2012 at 9:00 PM | Posted in !InTheMix!, Michael Jackson | Leave a comment

I decided to add a new kind of post to MusicAddiction to spice things up a bit: MusicAddiction In The Mix. In these posts, I’m creating 6 minutes mixes including songs with a certain theme. That theme could be an artist, a word, feeling or even a season, but the mix eventually forms one big song. It’s really fun so I hope you guys enjoy this as much as I do!

To commemorate the 25th anniversary of his seventh studio album Bad, the first theme of the Mix is Michael Jackson. Since I’m not only including songs from that album (the album review will come soon, a ‘Bad-overflow’ would be too much), this mix will include songs from the last 30 years of his career. That is, the Off The Wall era (1979) to one song from Thriller 25 (2008). These songs are the ones I enjoy most out of his entire discography, and I’ll explain to you why for each individual song below.

Listen to the mix here:

One More Chance
(00:00 – 00:30)

Opening the mix, we have the song One More Chance, which was the new song on his greatest hits album Number Ones (2003). Ever since I first heard this song I fell in love with the genuine lyrics and the softness of the music. It’s so much more melodic than Michael’s usual disco/pop style, and with that it actually was quite a breath of fresh air. Being a ballad, it’s almost autimatically one of his best tracks since Michael wasn’t only the King of Pop, he was also the King of Ballads to me. I included this song in the mix because it’s one of his most underrated songs in my opinion.

Whatever Happens (feat. Carlos Santana)
(00:30 – 01:00)
Another underrated song in Michael’s discography is from the likewise underrated album Invinceable (2001). That album features some very nice songs, some which feature a great oldschool beat and others being heartfelt. This one stays inbetween, since it’s a midtempo song with a nice beat but it’s lyrics are very pretty too. The best thing about this track is that it features the best guitar player ever: Carlos Santana. The magical chemistry between that man and his acoustic guitar is amazing, it gives the song such an unexpected Spanish flavor.

Rock With You
(01:00 – 01:30)
Being one of Michael’s most-loved songs ever, this one had to be included ofcourse. Released in November 1979 it definitely reflects the musical hype of that time: disco. With some influences of rock it creates one of the best tracks on his 1979 album Off The Wall. The arrangement includes bass, beats, synths and even some low pitched brass instruments every now and then to add a little extra to an otherwise standard Jackson song. Definitely one of his most enjoyable tracks.

Billie Jean
(01:30 – 02:00)
Do I have to explain myself with this one? I mean, it’s quite obvious why Billie Jean is featured here. Apart from that addictive bass line being some kind of a Hall and Oates copy (I Cant’t Go For That (No Can Do)), it’s one of the best songs in the category of simple arrangements. There’s simply the same music all the time, but something happens that makes it special. Groovy guitar riffs, that bass line and Michael’s vocals make Billie Jean an unforgettable addition to this mix.

Bad
(02:00 – 02:30)
Ofcourse, there’s the title track to this year’s big anniversary edition of Bad. The story behind this song is a startling one, since it’s about a boy from the hood that went to public school, returned during Thanksgiving and got killed by his jealous friends. His quote: ‘I’m bad, you’re bad, who’s bad, who’s the best?’ led to Michael writing this track. It became one of his best agressive tracks with a lot of oomph to it, and I love the fire that goes on.

Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough
(02:30 – 03:00)
I don’t think I’m gonna have to tell you guys what this song is like. Everyone that has heard a couple of Michael Jackson songs in his or her life knows this one, his first big break as a solo artist and therefore a milestone in his career. One of the best disco-funk songs ever, there’s no way I can ever get enough of this one. Michael displays his vocal tics a lot if you know what I mean, but that makes it even groovier.

Thriller
(03:00 – 03:30)
Probably his most original concept to date, and that includes the amazing short movie clip (definitely look it up on YouTube, it blows your mind). It’s so creepy with all the grizzly nighttime effects and Vincent Price’s scary vocals as he claims that ‘creatures crawl in search of blood to terrorize your neighbourhood’. I literally get shivers from this track but it’s in a good way, Michael’s music has never been better. Thriller was his definite peak.

Man In The Mirror
(03:30 – 04:00)
Michael’s own favorite song had to be included ofcourse, and it’s one of mine too, naturally. One of his gorgeous ballads, the message in this R&B/gospel inspired track is beautiful: ‘If you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and then make that change’. As the song progresses into this big arrangement with a lot of beautiful background vocals, I get some serious goosebumps and sometimes even a tear in my eye.

Earth Song
(04:00 – 04:30)
A song that can even loosen some more tears is the socially conscious Earth Song, a song everyone can sing along too thanks to the simple yet effective chorus. This is Michael’s plea to God about all the wrongs in the world, in which he sings about ‘this crying Earth, its weeping shores’. It has been my favorite Michael Jackson ballad ever since I was just a toddler, I remember always wanting to watch the video when it came up on MTV so this brings back some personal memories as well.

Smooth Criminal
(04:30 – 05:00)
My favorite uptempo, no doubt about it. The lyrics are pretty lame, true, I mean… Annie is not okay Michael x] BUT. The song is funky dance/pop at its best with a lot of hard beats and catchy basslines. Michael hits some amazing notes near the end of the song, and his overall vocals are simply the best. I can’t help but being a fangirl about this one. Not even the lyrics can ruin that, haha.

Scream (feat. Janet Jackson)
(05:00 – 05:30)
Michael didn’t do many collaborations, but when he did them they featured some of the best artists in the business: Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder and ofcourse his own sister Janet Jackson. The latter is featured in this song, and since they’re siblings their vocals sound so stunning together. Both felt right at home in this track, made during a difficult time when Michael had a bad relationship with the tabloid, that started calling him ‘Wacko Jacko’. I’d say: TELL EM MICHAEL. Tell em how it really is.

For All Time
(05:30 – 06:00)
Ending the mix, there is the beautiful ballad from the Thriller 25 album. I still can’t see why Michael didn’t feature this track on the original Thriller album, it’s so beautiful, sincere and emotional! I know some only love the Jackson songs with a lot of beats and bass, but don’t underestimate his ballad qualities. They come out best in this one and I’m so glad we eventually got to hear it on the anniversary edition of Thriller. I’d like to dedicate the addition of this song in the mix to Michael himself, the world misses him.

So these were my absolute favorites, ofcourse this wasn’t everything, there are too many Michael Jackson song to choose from. Yet these aren’t just my favorites some of them were very important songs in his career and they deserved their spot in this mix. I united them all to show the relation between them, Jade style. Is this a personal mix? Yes, it is. Everyone’s mixes can be different. This one shows how I generally feel about Michael’s music. Listen and feel for yourself to see if you agree with me or not ❤
As for Michael: rest in peace fellow, you were amazing.

Michael Jackson – Michael

December 17, 2010 at 10:30 PM | Posted in Michael Jackson | Leave a comment

ALBUM REVIEW
Michael Jackson – Michael

1. Hold My Hand (feat. Akon)
2. Hollywood Tonight
3. Keep Your Head Up
4. (I Like) The Way You Love Me
5. Monster (feat. 50 Cent)
6. Best Of Joy
7. Breaking News
8. (I Can’t Make It) Another Day (feat. Lenny Kravitz)
9. Behind The Mask
10. Much Too Soon

♦ ♦ ♦

Michael is a posthumous compilation by the late American singer Michael Jackson, aka the King of Pop. It was released on December 10, 2010 to mixed and average reviews, mostly because the authentity of certain songs (Breaking News) has been questioned.

Okay, so we’re talking about MJ, the rightful King of Pop, here, so I will maintain myself. Otherwise I will praise this album into heaven already.
Hold My Hand (feat. Akon) is a wonderful opening track. It has a pumping R&B beat and clear influences of Aliaune Thiam, better known as Akon. Both singers sound great together and make quite a pair. The lyrics to this song are beautiful, not cliché-written, calling for unity. The light synthesizer effects and piano complete the track, as well as the choir in the last chorus.

Hollywood Tonight really takes me back to the good old days, Dangerous anyone? The heavy bass and Michael’s skitting are ofcourse some of his signature musical and vocal styles, and I love that on this album. Especially because it’s posthumous, this shows that Michael still had his old tricks. The spoken bridge really gives a good insight into the lyrical content, no wonder he was such a good lyricist. Shall I stop talking about his vocals? Okay, one word then: uncomparably good (okay, two xD)!

Michael was sooo good at making ballads that will make you cry at the first note. Keep Your Head Up is another perfect example of that, the lyrics are so heartfelt, so are his vocals. This song actually makes me think so much of Mariah Carey’s Through The Rain, which was another beautiful ballad that I loved to death. Everything about this song just makes me shake with goosebumps, and I think I have found another Michael song that I will listen tooo much in a row. How pretty this is!

What I like so much about (I Like) The Way You Love Me is that Michael opens the track with suggesting an opening for the track, and it sounds almost like vintage with him beatboxing for the beat suggestion. After that, the song starts exactly the way the wanted (maybe that’s a little hint?), and for once he keeps things so simple and sweet! No commercial stuff, no earcatching beats, just a beautiful and simple track.

Wait, I don’t know what kind of scream opened Monster (feat. 50 Cent), but it was a damn scary one! This song sounds like it dates back to the HIStory: In The Mix era, kinda similar to tracks like Ghosts (or is it just me who thinks that way?). It’s more of an agressive song compared to the previous two tracks, with heavier bass, handclaps and synths and some haunting instruments in the background. 50 Cent is a bit monotonous and his style doesn’t fit Michael’s, but he spices things up a bit (Michael himself spices up most of the song with shouting ‘HA!’ all the time :3).

Best Of Joy is another lovely ballad, and the shortest on this album, just over three minutes long. The lyrics are cheerful and the music is also simple and sweet. An acoustic guitar and fingerknips and handclaps overrule this track, and the one thing I don’t like about it is that this song is over before you know it. It should’ve been a bit longer, because it’s so sweet.

Breaking News is more of the Dangerous era considering the musical sound, but the lyrical content really is of today. It’s about him being followed all the time by the media and that everyone always has to have the breaking news about him. This was the controversial song, but I can’t hear anybody else but Michael himself, and I may not be a professional but I know when it’s Michael singing or someone else. This was another good song, he keeps on throwing good stuff at me, stuff that takes me back to the beautiful old days.

The beat for (I Can’t Make It) Another Day is another great arrangement, together with the terrific electric guitar riffs. Lenny Kravitz’s vocals are a nice addition as well, but the guitar solo in the bridge totally kicks ass! They should’ve teamed up earlier, this song is too good to be left off of any album. It may be a bit repetitive at some points, but it’s a darn good track.

Behind The Mask is another signature style song, and it seems like it’s a live recorded track. A crowd is cheering for Michael and then he drops in with the first song that is influenced by a saxophone, and so it’s more soulful and brassy than other songs, especially with the woman singing gospel in the background during the last part of the song.

Another beautiful ballad to end the album; Much Too Soon. At first I thought this would be a follow up for Gone Too Soon or something, but it isn’t like that at all. This song is all about the pretty lyrics, and the music gives me goosebumps all over again, especially at the bridge with the harmonica and acoustic guitar parts. At the very end, strings finish the song, and it’s the perfect end to end this album.

Well, I can’t say no else than that this was a great album, despite the fact that these tracks are all actually unfinished, they’re demo’s, and Michael never gave these songs his final blessing. A bit of a pity, makes me think this album maybe shouldn’t have been released… But then again, I would have missed all the fun! And I don’t think I would’ve let that happen! This album was too good to miss, blessings or not, and it’s such a treat for us longtime fans after his death one and a half years ago. This fits perfectly into the latest era’s of his musical career, and yet it combines this with modern aspects like the collaborations with Akon and 50 Cent. This is the final standing ovation for the King of Pop!

Favorite tracks: Hold My Hand (feat. Akon) | Keep Your Head Up | (I Can’t Make It) Another Day | Much Too Soo

OVERALL RATING

4½ stars

Michael Jackson – Thriller 25

August 21, 2010 at 8:34 PM | Posted in Michael Jackson | Leave a comment

ALBUM REVIEW
Michael Jackson – Thriller 25

1. Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’
2. Baby Be Mine
3. The Girl Is Mine (feat. Paul McCartney)
4. Thriller
5. Beat It
6. Billy Jean
7. Human Nature
8. P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)
9. Lady In My Life
10. Voice-Over Sessions By Vincent Price
11. The Girl Is Mine 2008 (feat. will.i.am)
12. P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing) 2008 (feat. will.i.am)
13. Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ 2008 (feat. Akon)
14. Beat It 2008 (feat. Fergie)
15. Billie Jean 2008 (feat. Kanye West)
16. For All Time

♦ ♦ ♦

The original album ‘Thriller’ is American singer Michael Jackson’s sixth album, and it was released on November 30, 1982. It became the world’s best selling album ever, topped charts worldwide and sold 25,000,000 copies across the globe! Now, a second chapter is released on February 8, 2008: Thriller 25, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of this record breaking album.

Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ throws in some funk with a bass guitar, electric guitar and a percussion beat you can feel run right through your veins. The brassy elements in this song finish it off, and don’t get me started on Michael’s vocals. That man had a voice, oh my gosh, he can sing in such a high pitch. I love the chanting at the end of the song, it’s so funky.

Lone percussion starts Baby Be Mine, and Michael’s signature instrumentarium is used again, but in such an original way to create an entirely other melody for this track. This time, a synthesizer is featured as well, and I like the way Michael sings in harmony with himself and the way he sings his own backup in the chorus.

One of my favourites, The Girl Is Mine (feat. Paul McCartney) is next. Ofcourse everybody knows Paul as a former member of the band The Beatles. This song is a soft rock/soul ballad, and you can really distinct each voice since Michael’s is higher than Paul’s. They play off each other very well, and the discussion (a spoken dialogue) is so funny, I just gotta love it. It gives that little extra something to the meaning of the song.

Thriller: need I say more? Good, better, best! The best song of the entire album (also the title track, so… coincidence?), since it’s all mysterious, frightening and funky at the same time. I don’t have to keep on blabbering about this, it’s all clear: this is one of the best songs ever released in the history of mankind!

Beat It is actually the first rock song I get to hear on this album. The electric guitars are very strong and Michael’s vocals are more aggressive than usual, so the entire track has a bit of an angry character. Michael’s adlibbing in the verses are very funny, and I can’t help but screaming along to the ‘ooh’s’ and ‘brrr!’s’. Oh how I’m enjoying this…

Another one of those best tracks ever: the one and only… Billie Jean! It starts off with just a bass guitar and percussion, but synths find their way in pretty soon. I can’t get enough of Michael Jackson’s catchy vocals, I can really feel his identity flowing through the song. The brass instruments are a nice addition as well.

After a while I fell in love with Human Nature, a synth pop ballad with a beautiful melody and even more beautiful lyrics. To be honest, things CAN get a little repetitive after a while, but then again: this is Michael Jackson, folks! Can he do any wrong? In my opinion, that’s a definite no. As I said, you get to love this ballad…

I haven’t listened to P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing) a lot, but I love it all the same. A dancehall/funk song fills my ears, and I can imagine hearing this in an 80s roller disco (a bit like ‘Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough’). I like the girl’s chanting near the end of the song, the aping, when Michael and the girls sing ‘nananana’. The bass in this song is so dominant, it gives me all goosebumps.

A good closing song to the original album is  The Lady In My Life. If I’d say I love this song, I wouldn’t have said it all. A very calm verse leads into one of the most appealing choruses ever made in human history, it’s like a total wake up call. The melody gets more likeable every second, and more synths are featured after the song developed a little more.

Voice-Over Sessions By Vincent Price: 27 seconds of pure creepyness! OMG, the devilish laugh almost scares the crap out of me…

The new tracks start of with a new R&B sound brought in by will.i.am for The Girl Is Mine 2008. will.i.am replaces Paul McCartney for this version, and totally edited the music as well. It’s more uptempo, Michael himself sings Paul’s parts and will.i.am raps a newly added bridge. will.i.am and Michael Jackson roll well together!

And probably they noticed that as well, so they teamed up again for P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing) 2008. This song isn’t as good as the original, but still I can listen to it. This is kind of an R&B/dance version of the funky dancehall original, and I think it’s a little bland compared to the rest of the album.

A lone piano opens Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ 2008 (feat. Akon), and Akon himself finds his way right in with newly written lyrics for this version. After about a minute, that good ol’ beat drops in again, and I’m bouncing on my seat even before Michael sings his part. From here, it begins to sound a bit like the original, though Akon has more vocal parts in this song, so it should be Akon featuring Michael Jackson in this case.

Beat It 2008 (feat. Fergie) seems so have more synth and bass elements in it than the original, and Michael’s vocals are the same as in that version. Fergie just replaced some of his lyrics. She doesn’t pull it off as well as he does, her vocals sounds too forced, like she’s trying too hard.

I looove what Kanye West did to Billie Jean 2008, it’s like the original version, but then a little slower paced and with more beats and bass in it (my boyfriend proved it: his music installation almost blew itsself up on this song). Kanye West doesn’t have a singing or rapping part in this song though, he just produced the music for it.

The last track is a never before released one, it’s called For All Time. It’s so beautiful and emotional, I get all goosebumps and tears in my eyes. The lyrics are so wonderful, like poetry, the music moves me like never before and even Michael’s vocals are flawless and better than ever. This is my #1 song on my iPod, my summer evening anthem!

I’m over-enthousiastic about Michael Jackson’s best album ever. I have come to appreciate him over the past seven years, since I was only nine years old, so not only because of his sudden death last year on June 25, 2009. This man was a legend, his music is of all times, for all ages, all races, and his albums and songs are unforgettably beautiful and meaningful. He kept on proving himself over and over again, every song kept me going on singing and dancing along and every track had something unique. I can only honour Michael Joseph Jackson and say: rest in peace, you were the one and only true performer. I bet everyone’s gonna say this with me: we love you =)

Favorite tracks: The Girl Is Mine (feat. Paul McCartney) | Thriller | Billie Jean | Human Nature | The Lady In My Life | Billie Jean 2008 (Kanye West Remix) | For All Time

OVERALL RATING

5 stars

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