Arriving in stores tomorrow, a year and a half after his death, is Michael Jackson’s first posthumous album, “Michael.” A lineup of guests like Lenny Kravitz, Akon and 50 Cent — along with superstar producers such as Teddy Riley and Tricky Stewart — have all been tapped to contribute to the 10-song CD. But even with that healthy dose of star power, can a Michael Jackson album be good without the star of the show?
A work in progress at the time of the superstar’s death, the project has not been without controversy. Overseen by the Jackson estate, “Michael” takes tracks that were in various states of completion and puts them in the hands of Jackson’s collaborators to finish. will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas has said that finishing the project without Jackson is “disrespectful.”
A Michael Jackson album without his input could be a disaster for his legions of fans eagerly awaiting the CD, especially since the King of Pop was known for his attention to detail. But there are some who are optimistic.
“It’s not like they found a bunch of old records and decided to put out an album to make money. These are songs he was involved with,” explains Pup Dawg, the music director at JAMN 94.5, a popular radio station in Boston.
The real question will be: Does it live up to Jackson’s other work? Some within the industry are still skeptical. But many fans won’t care, and their curiosity will drive them to the store — a troubled Michael Jackson album is better than none at all, to them. “The song with Lenny Kravitz is a Michael record. That just feels like a Michael Jackson record,” says Geespin, assistant program director for New York’s Power 105.1 radio station. “Truth is, I’d rather hear music from the biggest and best artists than not hear it. It’s still Michael. It’s still the biggest artist of all time. Would you rather not hear it?”