Posthumous Releases: What Would Michael Do?

Joie:  You know, Willa, a few weeks ago when you and I were joined by Lisha McDuff and we talked about Michael’s artistry, that post set off a sort of firestorm in the comments section about unreleased music and whether or not it should be released on future posthumous albums. And I was really struck by all of the differing opinions from the fans on this issue.

I think, for the most part, there is a consensus among the fans that they do want to hear this unreleased music. It’s sort of the only thing we have left now that Michael is gone – the unfinished projects he was working on when he left us. And most of the fans want to hear it. But, what surprised me was realizing how many of them felt that the music shouldn’t be trifled with. Several readers commented that they would rather have the music released “as is” than have another producer go into the studio and finish it, and I have to say that I think I agree with them.

Destiny, one of our readers, left this comment:

“Just leave it as is, maybe figuring out how to group it together to sell. As for finished products, I have no problem with those being released, again, just as Michael left them. For me, and this is just a personal opinion, I can’t imagine other producers getting their hands in the mix of Michael’s music without his direction. It sort of makes it LESS of a Michael Jackson song to me. Still, I do want to hear them and any demos he may have left or also him just goofing around in the booth.”  

Willa:  I really see what Destiny is saying, and I agree that I would love to hear his unreleased songs “just as Michael left them.”

Joie:  I think Destiny’s comment probably mirrors the sentiments of most fans on this issue. Joe Vogel actually said something similar to me during my interview with him for MJFC:

“I absolutely think this material should be released, and will [be released] over time. It would be a shame for it to gather dust when there is so much outstanding music and so many people that want to hear it. Plus, just from a historical standpoint, it is important. I just hope the demos are released along with whatever remixes are made.”

So there seems to be a real concern among the fans that the unreleased music stay “pure,” so to speak, and get released just the way Michael left them.

Willa:  Though Joe’s position seems to be a little different than Destiny’s. While he wants to hear these songs just as they are, he seems to be ok with other artists working with and building on the unreleased songs. As he said, “I just hope the demos are released along with whatever remixes are made.” So he wants both, and that’s pretty close to how I feel about this too. I think it’s fine to let other musicians create remixes – that’s one of the ways Michael Jackson’s work will be kept alive and vibrant. But I also want to hear the unmediated versions, and I think it’s crucially important that we have a clear understanding of which parts came from Michael Jackson himself and which parts were added or altered by others.

Joie:  Oh, I agree with you completely on that point. It is very important to know which parts came from Michael and which parts were added or altered by others. But I’m not certain that Joe was saying he’s ok with other artists finishing Michael’s work, or if he was simply acknowledging that this would likely be the case for any future material released. That’s how I look at it – it’s probably inevitable that this will be the case.

Willa:  That’s a good point, Joie. I hadn’t thought about it that way. So I guess I should say that, just speaking for myself, I enjoy hearing new interpretations of his songs, like Will.i.am’s remix of “The Girl is Mine” on the Thriller 25 album, and Akon’s remix of “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin.'” Of course, that’s a different situation because Michael Jackson was able to sign off on them before they were released, but my point is that new interpretations of his work can actually help bring the original versions of his songs back to life by helping us hear them in a new way, and maybe lead us to a deeper appreciation for his words and music.

For example, we’ve all heard the National Anthem played hundreds of times – so many times we probably tune it out a bit when we hear it now, simply because it is so familiar. But here’s a clip of Marvin Gaye singing the National Anthem at the 1983 NBA All-Star game:

This was radical at the time. NPR ran a story about it 20 years later, and Isiah Thomas, who was one of the players standing on the court when he sang, said it was so different from anything any of them had heard before that they didn’t know how to respond.  As Thomas says,

“We were looking at each other, and almost looking for reassurance – is this ok that we move to the anthem? … Because when he started singing, he went to rocking, and I looked down at the other side of the floor and the players were swaying back and forth. And we started swaying back and forth, and then everybody in the stands started swaying back and forth. If you want to use a church term, it was like you had the Holy Ghost. It just got in you, and you couldn’t help but move.”

As Isiah Thomas says, Marvin Gaye’s performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner” just moves you, and it’s such a new and fresh interpretation that it reinvigorates it so that you really listen to it and hear the emotion of the words and the music. I love it. And that’s what I was talking about when I said that allowing new artists to create their interpretations of Michael Jackson’s music will keep it alive and vibrant.

Joie:  I don’t know, Willa. I think I disagree with you here. You know, my Dad was a big basketball fan so, I actually remember watching the start of that game and witnessing Marvin Gaye during that performance, and I have to say that I feel the same way about it now as I did then. I was only 14 years old at the time but, to me, it just felt wrong. I love Marvin Gaye, but I’ve also always had a great respect for our National Anthem so, while I agree that the arrangement of the music in his rendition of the song did make me want to “sway back and forth” and bop my head a little, I didn’t like this version at all.

Willa:  Really? That’s so surprising to me.

Joie:  In fact, I found it slightly disrespectful, and I think that’s what Isiah Thomas was referring to when he asked, ‘Is this ok that we move to the anthem?’ I believe, on some level, he must have felt it a little disrespectful too.

On the other hand, I find the Whitney Houston version of “The Star-Spangled Banner” incredibly moving and fresh, as you say, and it totally enraptures you and enables you to really listen to the words and feel the emotion and intensity of the song. Her version, which she performed in 1991 at Super Bowl XXV, came at a time of extreme stress for our country. We were in the middle of the Gulf War and I think her more traditional rendition of our National Anthem really worked to pull the country together at a time when we really needed it. This is what she had to say about performing the song that day:

“If you were there, you could feel the intensity. You know, we were in the Gulf War at the time. It was an intense time for our country. A lot of our daughters and sons were overseas fighting. I could see … in the stadium, I could see the fear, the hope, the intensity, the prayers going up, you know, and I just felt like this is the moment. And it was hope … we needed hope, you know, to bring our babies home and that’s what it was about for me, that’s what I felt when I sang that song, and the overwhelming love coming out of the stands was incredible.”

Her version is so emotional and moving to me because she was really feeling all those intense emotions coming from the crowd as she sang it. I just don’t feel anything when I listen to the Marvin Gaye version; it feels hollow and empty to me. Just another R&B song … he could be singing about anything – it doesn’t feel like the National Anthem to me.

Willa:  Really? I’m shocked that we feel so differently. I like Whitney Houston’s version – she had an amazing voice – but Marvin Gaye’s is such a beautiful reinterpretation. You know, the story told by the National Anthem is of soldiers and sailors fighting to gain independence from England, and the rockets and bombs continued flying during the night and they weren’t really sure what the outcome of that was. So during those still morning hours just before dawn, they’re waiting to see if they were defeated or if the flag of the fledgling republic still flies. That’s the setting for what’s happening.

Most versions of “The Star-Spangled Banner” tend to emphasize “the rockets’ red glare” and that aspect of the song. But Marvin Gaye’s version softens the militarism of all those “bombs bursting in air,” and it puts me in this quiet place where I can really feel the stillness of “the twilight’s last gleaming” and those pre-dawn moments before “the dawn’s early light.” It brings out aspects of the National Anthem that I never really noticed before, and I love that. As Isiah Thomas suggests, it’s more of a reverent church-like feel than the somewhat militaristic versions we often hear.

Joie:  That is interesting, because I don’t find it reverent at all; just the opposite actually. But, I think this is the problem that arises when we talk about letting others remix – or finish –  the music that someone else started; it is always going to come down to personal feelings and preferences. For example, you mentioned the remixes on Thriller 25. Personally, I love Will.i.am’s remix of “The Girl is Mine,” but I find Akon’s remix of “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin'” a little annoying and slightly disrespectful to the original song.

Willa:  Really? That’s so interesting to me because I don’t find it annoying or disrespectful at all. What do you think of Shinehead’s reggae version of “Billie Jean”?

Joie:  I actually really like it, Willa. But there are a lot of MJ covers out there that I absolutely love. Like Alien Ant Farm’s cover of “Smooth Criminal,” for example, and Fall Out Boy’s version of “Beat It.”  Of course both of those were really commercially successful and got quite a bit of airplay and attention. But there are also covers out there by much lesser-known bands that are just as interesting and enjoyable. We featured a few of them on the MJFC website, like the British extreme rock band, Xerath’s cover of “Speed Demon,” or Boston-based Bad Rabbits’ cover of Human Nature.  I love both of those! But, again, I think it’s just a matter of personal preference.

Willa:  Heavens, Joie. It always amazes me how much Michael Jackson knowledge you have at your fingertips. It’s very humbling. I hadn’t heard any of those, but I have heard the Glee covers, and especially love their version of “Smooth Criminal.” The cellos and dueling/overlapping male and female voices work really well, I think.

Joie:  Yeah, the MJ Tribute episode of Glee was great. But, I also think covers are a completely different animal than what we are talking about here, which is allowing other artists and producers to go into a studio and complete a song that another artist was working on before his death. I think it’s like talking about apples vs. oranges – they are two completely different things.

Willa:  That’s a really good point, Joie. They are different in that, with a cover or remix of a song released by Michael Jackson himself, we have a standard to compare everything to, and we know what his vision was and what he wanted to express because we have his version and can listen to it and compare it with the remix version.

Joie:  Exactly.

Willa:  But when another artist completes a song he left unfinished, we don’t have that. I have tremendous respect for Michael Jackson as an artist, and I always want to know what his vision was. And this is especially important with his unreleased songs, where we don’t have a standard to reference.

For example, I really like the Michael album and listen to it a lot, but I find it disconcerting that I don’t know for sure how much is his vision, and how much is the vision of those who worked on those songs after he died. In “Exclusive: Inside Michael Jackson’s ‘Hollywood'”, Joe provides some really interesting background information about the provenance of “Hollywood Tonight,” and it’s very unsettling, I think, just how much the mood and meaning of that song shifted during final production.

According to Joe’s article, the bridge Michael Jackson wrote for this song is pretty dark:

She doesn’t even have a ticket
She doesn’t even have a way back home
She’s lost and she’s alone
There’s no place for her to go
She is young and she is cold
Just like her father told her so

The take-away image we have of the main character is an idealistic girl following her dreams and running into trouble: “She’s lost and she’s alone.” But the bridge Teddy Riley wrote – the bridge used on the Michael album – is much lighter, more idealistic, and less realistic. She achieves her dreams against all odds, though they may not be as fulfilling she’d imagined they’d be:

She gave up her life to follow her dreams
Left behind everything for the movie scene
Nothing more she could want
She was determined to follow her plan
She wanted Hollywood
She wanted it bad
 
Now  that she got her dream, she became a star
It all looked so good, but only good from afar
Imprisoned in every paparazzi’s camera
Every guy wished they could
Now it’s back to reality for Miss Hollywood

This is very different from what Michael Jackson wrote. As Teddy Riley told Joe, “With the bridge we kind of made her succeed. … [She] completed her mission.”

I have a lot of respect for Teddy Riley. I love the work he did with Michael Jackson on so many great songs and albums in the past. I understand that on the Michael album he was working under very difficult circumstances, and I sincerely believe he was guided by the best possible motives – he was trying to do the best he could to preserve the legacy of a person he genuinely loved and admired. I really don’t want to criticize the work he did on “Hollywood Tonight.” But intentionally or not, he completely reversed the meaning of this song.

For example, I keep imagining a talented young dancer, full of dreams and thinking about running off to Hollywood. I think this idealistic young person was probably Michael Jackson’s intended audience for this song. And I think his message to her, especially in that haunting bridge he wrote, is Don’t go. If those are your dreams, then work hard to achieve them, but don’t run away from home expecting to be an overnight success. Don’t give up your safety net. Don’t let your dreams put you at risk – and running off to Hollywood is an enormous risk. Young runaways in Hollywood are much more likely to become prostitutes than movie stars.

But the message of “Hollywood Tonight” as it appears on the Michael album is just the opposite. She left her family and her safety net behind – “She gave up her life to follow her dream” – and it was really hard and a huge risk, but she succeeded – and maybe if you’re willing to take the risk, you can too. Her success is somewhat hollow but still, “she got her dream, she became a star,” and now she’s “Miss Hollywood.”

Joie:  You know, Willa, I agree with you completely on this. I think the demo version of this song is probably much closer to what Michael had in mind. In the demo version, he sings these lyrics in the second verse:

West-bound Greyhound
To Tinseltown, to pursue her movie star dreams
She’s givin’ hot tricks to men, just to get in
She’s taught that that’s not clean
She’s only fifteen

That “she’s only fifteen” line was very important to him; I remember reading somewhere that when he first began writing the song, the focus was to point out that she was a 15-year-old runaway and the pitfalls she could find herself in. In fact, in the album’s liner notes, there is a picture of the Beverly Hills Hotel stationary that Michael used to jot down a quick sketch of the song; it’s written in his handwriting and everything. It reads:

Story”  Girl, run away, age 15. She dreams of fame, riches, the illusion of superstardom. Her mission is to make it in Hollywood. The obstacles she undertakes are unbearable but she leaves, against her parent’s will. A true story. Based on truth.

So, it was important to him to show that dark side of this story – perhaps to make the song a warning to all young kids. Yet, in the version that appeared on the Michael album, they removed that line completely and, in doing so, changed the entire tone and feel of the song from what Michael had intended.

Willa:  Wow, Joie, that handwritten outline in the liner notes really brings it all home, doesn’t it? And those lyrics you quoted … oh my God – what a cruel situation. I love teenagers’ idealism and optimism – it’s one of the things I enjoy most about kids that age – but their idealism and optimism are precisely what put them at such risk. Just thinking about a talented, idealistic 15-year-old dancer “giving hot tricks to men, just to get in” is so horrifying to me. What a horrible, soul-crushing situation for her to be in. And this is a true story. You hear murmurings about it all the time. Just read about Marilyn Monroe’s life. She was an idealistic young girl who did what she had to do to succeed, and you just feel for her.

You know, we’re very reluctant to look at ugly things. It’s much more pleasant to hear an uplifting song about an idealistic girl who risks everything and succeeds, like Teddy Riley’s version of “Hollywood Tonight,” rather than a somber cautionary tale about an idealistic girl who puts herself at risk and is abused. But Michael Jackson’s power as an artist comes in large part from his honesty, from his determination to show us the painful side of life as well as the beautiful, and his insistence that we face problems squarely and realistically.

Joie:  That’s very true, Willa. He was never one to shy away from ugly situations. Instead, he forced us to look at some really dark, unsettling truths – both in the world and in ourselves.

Willa:  He really did. Just think about “Little Susie,” or “Money,” or “Morphine,” or “They Don’t Care about Us.”

Joie:  Oh, there are lots of other examples too. Like “Why You Wanna Trip on Me,” “Shout,” or the unreleased “Do You Know Where Your Children Are.” But, getting back to what we were saying before about Joe’s suggestion of having the unreleased songs presented sort of “as is” alongside the finished versions. I think it would be a really interesting concept. You know, “The Way You Love Me” was finished and included on the Michael album. But it was also released “as is” back in 2004 on The Ultimate Collection box set, and it’s really interesting for me to listen to the two versions side by side. I think an entire album of the finished versions next to the demo versions would be fascinating to hear.

Willa:  It really would, along with any notes or other indicators of what his vision was. As Lisha said when you asked her about this several weeks ago,

“I can’t say strongly enough how important it is to preserve and archive everything EXACTLY as Michael left it, including things that were meant for the trash can. Future musicologists will need to have access to all of this. As long as that is done first, I hope the Estate releases everything that has any commercial value at all. It won’t be the exquisitely crafted works of art that Michael created no matter who does the final production work, but it will be a fascinating glimpse into the mind of a genius and his creative process. I would love to be able to hear every last bit of it, even whole albums of snippets and unfinished songs. I think most artists would die for something as good as what Michael Jackson throws away!”

Joie:  Yes! I really loved that quote and I couldn’t agree with her more. I think an entire album of just snippets and unfinished songs would be incredibly fascinating to hear. And even just Michael “goofing around in the [vocal] booth,” as Destiny mentioned in her comment that I quoted above. That would be an amazing gift to the fans! Like the small bit of Michael on the phone, indicating what he wanted to do with “The Way You Love Me” that appears at the start of the song on the Michael album. That was great.

Willa:  I liked that too, and I agree – an album of unfinished songs, exactly as he left them, would be fascinating. But that doesn’t mean I want to throw the brakes on other artists creating their interpretations of his work. Not at all. I want to hear both – the songs “just as Michael left them” as Destiny wrote, as well as other artists’ remixes of those songs. I just think it’s crucially important that everything be clearly labeled so we know what exactly came from Michael Jackson himself, and what came from other artists trying to complete his work.

And, getting back to “Hollywood Tonight” for just a minute – I’m afraid it sounded like I was slamming Teddy Riley, and I don’t mean to do that, not at all. I just think it needs to be made clear that his version expresses his vision, and not necessarily Michael Jackson’s. And I think it’s very important that all future releases be carefully labeled so we know the provenance each song.

Joie:  I agree completely. And as I said before, I really think using other artists and producers to complete the work he left unfinished is probably a forgone conclusion. I really can’t see any other way around it. And I agree with you that it’s not an altogether bad idea. Like you, I also love the Michael album and I am grateful to the Estate for releasing it – even with all the controversy over the Cascio tracks. As I said before, I truly feel like it’s all we have left now … the music. Both the amazing catalog of music Michael has already given us, as well as all the material he left behind unfinished when he died. And I think it would be such a shame – not to mention just a huge crime against art and beauty and love – if all that work just sat in a vault somewhere gathering dust when there are so many people out there who loved him and would give just about anything to hear it.

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About Dancing with the Elephant contributors

Joie Collins is a founding member of the Michael Jackson Fan Club (MJFC). She has written extensively for MJFC, helping to create the original website back in 1999 and overseeing both the News and History sections of the website. Over the years she conducted numerous interviews on behalf of MJFC and also directed correspondence for the club. She also had the great fortune to be a guest at Neverland. She has been a Michael Jackson fan since she was three years old. Lisha McDuff is a classically trained professional musician who for 30 years made her living as a flutist, performing in orchestras and for major theatrical touring productions. Her passion for popular musicology led her to temporarily leave the orchestra pit and in June 2013 she received a Master’s degree in Popular Music Studies from the University of Liverpool. She’s continuing her studies at McMaster University, where she is working on a major research project about Michael Jackson, with Susan Fast as her director. Willa Stillwater is the author of M Poetica: Michael Jackson's Art of Connection and Defiance and "Rereading Michael Jackson," an article that summarizes some of the central ideas of M Poetica. She has a Ph.D. in English literature, and her doctoral research focused on the ways in which cultural narratives (such as racism) are made real for us by being "written" on our bodies. She sees this concept as an important element of Michael Jackson's work, part of what he called social conditioning. She has been a Michael Jackson fan since she was nine years old.

Posted on May 2, 2012, in Michael Jackson and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 38 Comments.

  1. What a great post. It’s always such a pleasure to read what’s discussed here. I have to say though I was very disappointed to read Joie comment about Marvin Gaye’s version of The Star Spangled Banner.

    FYI Joie, there wouldn’t “be” an America without the 400 hundred years plus of unpaid, back-breaking, enslaved Black labor, the murders of native Indians and the blood, sweat and tears shared by these and generations of immigrants. Of course, it’s okay to “move” to the anthem – it was as much Marvin Gaye’s as anyone’s.

    This idea WASP America and the likes of Mitt Romney, Glenn Beck like to portray of an untainted America belies its true history of global bullying, state deception, racist murder, wholesale acquisition and genocide.

    If anyone deserves to sing the SSB, it’s those that suffered under its banner but are still “moved” to sing the praises of those within it who acknowledge the history and honor the best America has to offer – rather than pretending the worst didn’t happen.

    • Hi Biffco. You know, I didn’t mean to imply that I Marvin Gaye didn’t have the right to interpret “The Star-Spangled Banner” in any way he wanted. Of course he had that right. It is, as you said, just as much his anthem as it is any other American’s. I simply stated that I didn’t care for his version and that I personally found it somewhat disrespectful. But that’s just my opinion. As I said, it all comes down to personal preference. And my preference has nothing to do with WASP America, as I myself am a Black American.

  2. Caro Attwell

    ” I think most artists would die for something as good as what Michael Jackson throws away!”
    What Lisha says here says it all for me. I hadn’t realised that Hollywood Tonight had been so changed by Teddy Riley and frankly am very disappointed to know it now. I really, really, really want everything Michael ever did to be released, but just as it is – containing his message, which as you point out, often wasn’t “pretty”, but that is the point. It is not just his music that is important, but the message of the lyrics, as he always had something important to say.
    I am all for other artists doing covers, because that will keep Michael’s music alive (haven’t watched the videos yet, or else I will be late for work again ha ha) and that is great, but I want what Michael recorded pure and unadulterated by anyone else in line with Lisha’s comment. But, if it is felt that the songs have to be ‘finished’, then yes, please let us have the demos to go along with them. I have a playlist of all the demos released on various cds, accompanied by the final version, and it is fascinating to listen to them side by side, so that would be an idea for posthumous releases – whatever way it is done, we must be able to hear the original.
    And what about that symphony – how I would love that to be released sometime, and completely unfinished as Michael left it, as some other great classical composers have done – Michael Jackson’s 1st Unfinished Symphony – what joy.

    • YES! I wish i had the kind of time to do a compilation like this.. .side by side. I would love that kind of work… side by side, one package, Michael’s versions all on one CD then the other versions on another… one box. I too would just die to hear the Unfinished Symphony. Caro speaks for me.

  3. I love the Michael album, too. It would have been horrible if the songs were lost to us. In fact, I love the rough versions more than the polished ones. I’m probably the only person in the world who can’t stand the Immortal CD. I could only listen to it once. I love how they brought out Michael’s voice, but to him every note of music and background were equally and sometimes even more important. I asked myself how I would feel if someone messed with Mozart’s music or Beethoven’s, although I realize someone else finished the Requiem. But listening to anything Mozart wrote feeds my soul. Even the stuff his father composed, which sounds similar, doesn’t engage my heart the way Mozart’s does. I feel the same about Michael’s stuff. He saw and heard and knew things the people now working on it simply have no access to. “I like the way you love me” is a good example. Listening to him sing along and against himself is so fascinating to me. It’s astounding what he did with that simply melody. I’m with you–I want to hear everything Michael has left, and I want the unadulterated versions. At the same time, I would like someone like Stevie Wonder pointing out to me where Michael was going with the song because it takes one genius to understand another.

  4. Maybe future demo’s released could automatically have the original with it for comparison? Just a suggestion. Great blog as always-good example using the two SSB’s as a comparison of how each vocalist can interpret a song.

  5. Thanks again ladies. I think I also mentioned on that same thread that I really feel for The Estate because there are so many opinions on this subject.

  6. I am confused. The lyrics that Joie quoted re ‘Hot tricks to men, just to get in, etc.’ are on the song on the album Michael. They weren’t taken out. So how is the song on the album a reversal of what MJ wanted? I can see that point being made as far as the video goes–it is definitely a feel-good success story–but the song is something else.

    As far as Marvin Gaye–hey–do NOT diss Marvin, please!! His version is the best ever IMO. His version is sensitive, elegant, beautiful and gives the anthem real meaning that it totally lacks with a marching band blaring away and a singer bawling out the lyrics at full volume (and even then you can’t hear the voice over the band). I love the way he asks the question–so delicately–‘O, Say, Does that star-spangled (he lingers over ‘spangled’ in a wonderful way)–and “baaa-aan–nee-eer” (the word banner gets so much more meaning–it is a banner, a flag, an icon of freedom) yet wave?”–LOVE the way he asks that question. I agree with the comment above, that it is as much Marvin Gaye’s anthem as anyone else’s and he had the right to interpret it as he wanted, and he did a really amazing job IMO. No one else’s can touch it–IMO. He gave the anthem–SOUL!

    About versions of MJ’s song, I loved the one that a female Black singer did in the Tribute Concert in Wales–an amazingly powerful version of Earth Song. It was on youtube. I can’t recall her name but it was an incredible performance. And that is a song that MJ put so much into, it is hard to come close to what he did–but she really did a knockout performance. Her last line, ‘What about us?” was just remarkable. So much feeling.

    Thanks for bring up this topic. I agree with Destiny, the Estate and Sony have a lot on their plate when they even think about releasing unreleased Mj material. After the last firestorm, they probably would rather not! I would love a release of ‘Blue Gansta’ though. Let’s hope the fans will not go bananas again. (Jason Malachi???) I guess the Estate will have to accept that they can’t satisfy everyone, that no matter what they do there will be endless controversy and even boycotts. I just hope everyone has learned something from the last time, so we can be more rational.

    • Hi Aldebaran. The lyrics I quoted from the demo version of “Hollywood Tonight” are exactly the same as what appeared on the Michael album except that last line of ‘She’s only fifteen.’ That line was left off the final version on the album.

  7. The singer of Earth Song in Cardiff is Yolanda Adams.
    http://www.youtu.be.com/watch?v=La_h–Op7gw&feature=related

  8. I always enjoy your discussions so much…always great subjects. I’m really at a loss when it comes to releasing Michael’s unfinished works. My curiosity makes me want to hear them but my heart says no. Michael was such a perfectionist and I just don’t know if he would want his unfinished material released to the public.

  9. My daughter and I are Michael Jackson lovers. We love his creativity so much. His voice has so much soul; we are always touched by it. We want to hear Michael’s unreleased songs “as is”. “Michael” album has so much remixes for some of the songs and we don’t like the remix at all. No matter if the songs are final or demo or unfinished, we will love them if they are original from Michael. We don’t want to hear other people’s voice. Please pass on this massage to the MJ estate and Sony. We hope Michael’s next album has all his original songs but not other producers remix.

    I also want to state that no one can present a song like Michael; no one can do better than Michael. Asking other producers to polish his songs is a big mistake. Please leave Michael’s art as it. Sony and MJ estate, please do not think about sales only, please also think about Michael’s art and really understand it. We want Michael’s art been preserved. The good way to preserve it is to leave his songs “as is”.

    So many people think Michael’s best songs are in 80s and 90s but I think Michael’s best songs are on his final years. I have heard his 2 leaked songs which were recorded on 2008-9. There is much more inside in his voice. He had been always improved. Before I hear those leaked songs I thought Michael’ s previous voice was the best expression from human beings. After hearing Michael’s recent songs, I think Michael actually had always topped himself. Sony and MJ estate, please release Michael’s recent songs without mix with his old songs, they are different. Michael’s old songs should be put in an album and the new ones should be separated.

    Thank you so much for bringing the topic and give me a chance to present my thoughts.

  10. I have the Immortal album and have seen the show. I prefer the Immortal album to the Michael album, truth be told. Michael’s vocals on Immortal are clear and powerful; now I hear Pepsi and the Estate are putting out Bad25 as remixes with people I’ve never heard of. Blood on the Dance Floor is a remix album and I love every minute, although of course we know it’s all Michael. So I have mixed feelings on remixes. I would love to hear demos and snippets of work in progress, as stated in the post; almost like rehearsal tour footage (not TII, but Dangerous and Bad tours); real time, real MIchael.

    I don’t think you were hard on Teddy Riley; he worked with Michael on Dangerous and others. However I feel the Michael album was overproduced on so many levels in a rush to get it out.

    Let’s hope the Estate does better if it goes this route again. In the meantime, we still have our original wonderful Michael recordings, what could be better?

    • I am reading the comments here and have mixed feelings about the use of the word remix. During Michael’s lifetime, multiple remixes were released of his original music with permission of Michael and Sony. Every time a single CD was released from an album, the album track and remixes of that track were on the same CD. I have been collecting them slowly and currently have 18 single CD’s. For instance, during 1996, “Stranger In Moscow” was released in a series of 3 CD with a few months between each release. There are 18 tracks in total, all different versions of SIM with the remixing done by various remix artists. I have around 400 remixes of Michael’s music, some official and some not. Remixes have a way of helping to discover so many of the multiple layers of sounds, lyrics, and music in Michael’s work. I think there is a lot of misunderstanding surrounding how Michael viewed remixes. It seems to me he was a willing and active participant in their creation/production or was definitely supportive of their release even making his acapellas available for use. More education of the fan community needs to be done in regard to remixes.

      • I agree there are great remixes of Michael Jackson music. I have listened to lots of them,  but there are no remixes that can come close to the originals. I am not as fond of the remixes. I love michael ‘s music and I have most of his music and videos. I have the Michael album and though I love it, it ca’t be compared to any of Michael’s  music, besides Michael wasn’t here to give permission to alter his music after his death so he gave no artistic input which he always insisted on when he was alive.  In other words it is somebody else’s interpretation.

      • Thanks for your input TheresaB.

        For me personally, I don’t have a problem with the remixes, although I can’t say I would specificly seek them out. Most songs in pop/soul/hiphop have some sort of remix. All we would have to do is hit up any nightclub to find them. There are also tons of underground mixtapes with remixes as well. Oh, and also some versions were released in only certain countries and many may not know about all versions of songs. I know I’m hearing remixes of songs from decades ago that I never heard before here in the US.

        But again, for me personally, I think the problems aren’t with the remixes, but with songs completed without Michael’s input. I’ve come to except that this will be done and most people want to hear them. I hope they continue to label them as such as someone pointed out with the Michael album.

  11. Want to say that I have changed my opinion on this issue. I was very supportive of the
    ‘Michael’ release and do love the tracks. I’m one who has no problem with the so called Cascio (Eddie, not Frank) tracks…yet over time I’ve shifted my opinion to wanting to hear exactly what Michael left for us…how he left it without enhancement or anyone else’s input.
    I do believe the guys who worked on those songs truly did it out of love for their friend and a desire to continue his legacy. But the bigger picture is more important..there is study to be done in the future and Michael’s work must be his and his alone. That’s what I want to hear.
    I also would love to hear his classical music.

    • On reflection, I agree Lauren that the Estate is in a no-win situation, there will always be criticism no matter what is released; quite frankly, I am satisfied with Michael’s releases during his lifetime. Sometimes I think I couldn’t get through my day without his inspirational music on the way to or home from work. If his music is the subject of future study, then IMO anything released after his death cannot be fairly evaluated. Thank you Willa and Joie for your very informative topics.

  12. “I just hope the demos are released along with whatever remixes are made.” (Joe Vogel)

    [Teddy Riley] “he completely reversed the meaning of this song.” “It’s much more pleasant to hear an uplifting song about an idealistic girl who risks everything and succeeds, like Teddy Riley’s version of “Hollywood Tonight,” rather than a somber cautionary tale about an idealistic girl who puts herself at risk and is abused.” (Willa)

    “I think this is the problem that arises when we talk about letting others remix – or finish – the music that someone else started; it is always going to come down to personal feelings and preferences.” (Joie)

    I am somewhat upset by this particular post about “What Would Michael Do?” It seems that we are repeating the controversies that MJ’s music received when he was alive –and when it was obviously his music. All kinds of critics raked him over the coals for his musical choices–for example, he was criticized for putting a softer, lyrical interlude in “Morphine” (the part where he sings, Relax, this won’t hurt you, etc), for his lyrics “Kick me, Kike me,” leading to anti-Semitism charges, he was mocked for his lyrics in Earth Song, “What about elephants, Have we lost their trust,” and on and on.

    It seems we are doing the same thing regarding decisions the Estate, Sony, and people they consulted made when releasing the posthumous work “Michael”–and they will get more of the same NO MATTER WHAT THEY DO.

    So, Joie, what you say about remixes is true about any music, including ones Michael himself made and released when he was alive–it comes down to personal feelings and preferences. Some people dismiss MJ as a lightweight pop star; others see him as part of a long blues tradition; some see him as a genius.

    Willa, I have to disagree that Teddy Riley ‘completely reversed the meaning” of Hollywood Tonight. The lyrics are much bleaker than the video that was made. ‘Hot Tricks to men just to get in–It all looked so good, but only good from afar, imprisoned in every paparazzi’s camera’–this doesn’t sound like an ‘uplifting’ experience or a happy success story to me. While for whatever reason, the line about the girl being only 15 was left out (but put in the lyrics printed in the booklet) and the bridge was rewritten, this does not amount to a reversal of the song, which is a still a strong warning on the yearning for the fame “tinsel-town” offers and the pitfalls that fame brings IMO.

    So this is my viewpoint–time to cut the Estate and the people they selected as consultants, people who had worked with MJ in the studio for decades, some slack and some empathy/understanding. They did the best they could. Let’s face it, it is easy to criticize someone else’s work, especially their artistic work, and MJ’s whole life is a testament to that. Maybe mistakes were made, but that is true in any human undertaking. How many mistakes on the whole were made? I would argue they did a good job.

    I trust musicians with expertise and a long history of working with MJ to make decisions and I respect the hard choices they made.

    If the Estate put out an album of only snippets and unfinished demos, it might please some fans, but it would leave them open to scathing attacks from music critics and would probably not please many fans either. If they put the snippets or whatever ‘real’ MJ work they have next to finished work, they would get endless criticism too. They will be asked, Why did you put that in? Why did you add that? Why did you use this person and not that person? And they would get the inevitable comment–That’s Not MJ!! Even the snippets or demos would be questioned.

    In other words, they are in a no-win situation.

    I feel strongly that we have become a nation that loves to bully, attack, point fingers, divide, find fault, and hate. It is very, very sad. What Would Michael Do? For sure, he would not want us to do this to each other.

    • Hi Aldebaran. I agree that the Estate and the artists and music producers working on the posthumous music – people like Teddy Riley, who worked closely with Michael Jackson for years – are in a very difficult position and should be given “some slack and some empathy/understanding,” as you say. And I tried to make it clear that I didn’t want to criticize Teddy Riley. That wasn’t my intent at all.

      But I do believe that “Hollywood Tonight,” as it appears on the Michael album, reflects Teddy Riley’s vision as much as Michael Jackson’s – and there is a difference. In Teddy Riley’s version, she succeeds. (As Teddy Riley himself said, “With the bridge we kind of made her succeed. … [She] completed her mission.”) In Michael Jackson’s, she doesn’t. That’s a big difference.

      Even more importantly, I believe this difference fundamentally alters the message of the song. While Teddy Riley’s version does include some cautionary details, as you point out, ultimately it supports the fantasy that you can run off to Hollywood with no money, no contacts, no job, no prospects, no plan – nothing but dreams – and become a movie star. And I think Michael Jackson was puncturing that fantasy and challenging “the illusion of superstardom,” as he called it in his handwritten note.

      Dreams are important, very important, but so is hard work to make your dreams come true. If you want to make it as a dancer, you need to work hard to improve your skills as a dancer. Running away to Hollywood with your head full of dreams when you’re 15 years old is not the way to make your dreams come true, as Michael Jackson points out in the bridge he wrote:

      She doesn’t even have a ticket
      She doesn’t even have a way back home
      She’s lost and she’s alone
      There’s no place for her to go
      She is young and she is cold
      Just like her father told her so

      This is far from the fantasy of “Miss Hollywood.” She’s “cold,” “lost,” and “alone,” and “doesn’t even have a way back home.”

      Having said all that, I strongly support Teddy Riley’s right to create his own interpretation of Michael Jackson’s work. As I said in the post, other artists’ interpretations of his songs are an important way to keep his music alive. For example, I have seen some wonderful reinterpretations of Shakespeare (and a few rather wretched ones, actually) but the fact that we are still engaging with Shakespeare hundreds of years later is one reason his work still lives for us today. Ben Jonson was a contemporary of Shakespeare – many at the time thought his work was superior to Shakespeare’s – and when was the last time you saw a Ben Jonson play?

      It’s crucially important, therefore, that other artists be allowed to engage with Michael Jackson’s work. It just needs to be clearly labeled. That’s all I’m saying. I really enjoy hearing the different directions other artists go with his work. I just want to know what I’m listening to.

      Finally, I agree that, in a lot of ways, public discourse has become pretty toxic. As you say, “we have become a nation that loves to bully, attack, point fingers, divide, find fault, and hate.” I wouldn’t put it quite that strongly, but I know what you’re saying. However, the ideal alternative to that toxic environment isn’t silence. It’s thoughtful, well reasoned, respectful conversation, and that’s what we’re trying to do here: create a place where we can talk about these issues in a respectful way.

      • Caro Attwell

        You go Willa, I am with you here, but to be fair also I can see what Aldebaran is getting at. I think it must be very very clear what is ‘genuine’ Michael and what is someone else’s interpretation, no matter how well they knew him, certainly in terms of how his music is preserved for prosterity. There are enough people who are Michael wannabe’s, so it is vital to preserve him unadulterated so to speak. As much as there has been more than enough controversy around Michael, I suppose that it is unavoidable in the future, sad as that is, but controversy or not, I want as much Michael as I can get.

  13. PS I loved Marvin’s interpretation of SSB cuz I could “feel” him and the song too in a different way. Interesting enough the song remains in some way the same as the composer and writer intended at the ground of its being (i have to remember this when MJ is interpreted for myself) AND music is for all of our feelings and that right to have them and interpret them and to appreciate the maestros that we do…

  14. Everyone has such great thoughts on this.

    Personally I would like/hope/wish that The Estate would think outside the box regarding this. Personally I think the MICHAEL album was somewhat rushed and that might be due to money and time issues – in other words buying themselves time to actually start to catagloue all of Michael’s music and come up with a plan on how to go forward (I feel the same about TII). This is just a guess on my part.

    I would love to see the estate do something different than a traditional album, at least once and see how it goes over. From what I’ve read and heard, there were tons of songs from the Bad sessions. Maybe with the 25th Anniversary of Bad, they could release an album of just songs that were not selected for the original Bad album. Hopefully all of these songs are completed. Or an album with just demos in the likes of the Don’t Stop and Billie Jean.

    And while a remix album is great, I would think that there is enough of Michael’s works that haven’t been heard to create something new for the fans and the general public than just the same songs with a DJ’s twist.

  15. I enjoy your discussions very much, they are so interesting! Thank you.
    I’d love to hear Michael’s unfinished works in the original form. Once the tracks have been touched by other artists it’s not Michael Jackson any more……..

  16. Hello All – just heard from a friend on another board that an unreleased song called “Don’t Be Messin’ Around” will be released on the Bad 25 this summer. Here is what Bruce Sweedin had to say about it in 2009…

    “Bruce Swedien, explains that an unreleased ballad entitled “Don’t Be Messin’ Around” by Michael Jackson could rank as his greatest ever work. Millions of fans need to wait for the approval of the Estate before hearing this solo performance which Swedien describes as “mesmerizing”. There is another surprise for the fans concerning the unreleased track. Michael has a solo piano performance on it! According to Swedien, “It’s just beautiful… Oh my God, there’s nothing like it.”

    • Hi, Destiny–I just read that “Don’t Be Messin’ Around” will be the B-side of a re-release of “Bad.” It’s coming out as a single June 5th, but it isn’t going to be available as a digital download–instead it’s a Wal-Mart exclusive. I wonder why? Also in Sept. there will be a DVD of MJ performing live at Wembley in 1988. That will be $12.95. Then a 3 CD, one DVD (the live Wembley concert), 2 booklet package for $44.95. This includes demos recorded at Hayvenhurst studio. They made a point to say “Nothing has been added,” so they will try not to have a repeat of the bruhaha about ‘Michael.” I can’t wait to hear DBMA but disappointed re the Wal-Mart idea.

      • I love Michael much more than I hate Wal-Mart, so I guess I’ll be there to get it.

        Thanks for the info. I read the same thing yesterday but had not had time to post over here. I’m so EXCITED about the concert DVD. And I think this will sell very well around the world (and make fans happy!)

  17. I come here all the time and LOVE your discussions on Michael’s art, but this post made me cringe. I agree MJ’s songs should be left as is, with remixes available on singles, but it seems like you guys are writing as if you don’t want to offend the Michael Jackson Estate. I completely lost respect for Teddy Riley for what he did on the Michael project. He contradicted himself by saying that he will strive to come as close to Michael’s vision as he can, yet he admits to changing the lyrics and, as you put it, changing the meaning to the whole song. On top of that, the constant use of processed/copy-and-pasted vocals (also found on Hold My Hand 2010, The Way You Love Me 2010, and the Cascio tracks – but I won’t even go there) found on the album. Riley admitted to altering Michael’s voice on the Cascio tracks (which I’m not convinced is the real deal, but that’s another story) and has seemed to enjoy taking more credit than he deserves for MJ’s songs. Look at the Vogel article about BOTDF. I think Riley says it was he who came up with the rhythm track, yet the rhythm is chock-full of Michael’s style (and when has Riley ever come up with those kind of genius rhythms??). Back to the Michael album – it is important to remember the lyrics/voice is important, but everyone is forgetting about the actual music. The songs on the Michael album have Jackson-esque qualities, but are not Michael Jackson. The producers really “dumbed down” his work, so to speak (I am not a music person, but even I can recognize these flaws). For example, listen to The Way You Love Me, as it is found on The Ultimate Collection, then listen to the 2010 version. They took out so much of the richness found in the original and replaced it with completely new instrumentation. How is that fulfilling Michael’s vision in any way? By the way, the track list on TUC designates which songs are demos (i.e. P.Y.T., Fall Again, Beautiful Girl…) and The Way You Love Me is not a demo. Thus, Neff-U should not have tinkered with it at all. I completely believe that MJ could have had an interest in adding more to it (explained by the percussion voicemail at the beginning of the song), but that doesn’t mean redoing it from scratch! I don’t need to do a complete analysis of the album, but I think my point is clear. The producers of this album deliberately changed the songs to their liking (probably for commercial value) and that only serves to diminish Michael’s legacy. Most of the fans don’t need, or expect, music that sounds like a completely finished project because Michael is not here. But we should expect to be able to listen to where he was musically at different points in his life.

    Also, the Hollywood Tonight demo you speak of is not the demo, either. It is also a remix. The closest thing to the last version Michael worked on is the Throwback Mix, heard in the short film. Michael did actually sample Billie Jean as a foundation to the song when he was working on it.

    And I’m also confused as to why Joie was so offended about Marvin Gaye’s performance? The Star Spangled Banner is a poem, and I think it’s neat that he interpreted it in this way. Of course, whether you like it or not is completely your preference, but I don’t see how it is disrespectful. I take it you didn’t like Roseanne’s version either! Lol.

    I am very passionate about how the rest of Michael’s work is handled,as you can see. Hopefully I didn’t come across as too argumentative, I just needed to state why we can’t let what happened with the Michael project happen again. I love reading your inputs, ladies, and I’m very thankful to see these discussions happening about MJ’s brilliant art.

    • Also, didn’t mean to just throw Teddy Riley under the bus. I place the blame on most of the people involved in the decision making. The whole process needs to be reexamined before another release.

  18. Michael himself once stated that he usually wrote between 100-120 songs for each album. Quincy Jones referenced him having 30 completed songs for (I can’t remember if it was Thriller or Bad) his album and telling Michael he would have to choose 15 out of the 30 because he couldn’t have an album with 30 songs on it. Therefore, I have to believe there is an abundance of available material out there that hasn’t been released. It may be in various states of completion which to me makes it all the more better. Some of my favorite songs are the demos and unreleased works Michael chose to release on his ultimate collection or special edition albums. I think I sometimes love them more because they provide a glimpse into the creative process that is his genius and I love the way they capture the essence of his artistry and creativity and him. No matter what state they are in they are pure gold and should not be touched by anyone else. Though I respect those who loved and worked with Michael so many years when they try to recreate what they THINK he would do they are degrading and (I think to a degree) disrespecting HIS creative work and corrupting it because they can’t make it like Michael’s vision because they aren’t Michael.They will still be imposing THEIR interpretation of his vision upon his work. That would be like me (though I might have been a very close friend) stepping in to finish the Sistine Chapel and I decide Michaelangelo would have liked a section painted with Navajo White paint. It just doesn’t work because it changes the creative vision and interpretation of the art which only the artist can provide.

    • Hi, cjg, I do see your point and I hope you are right that there are lots of songs in a finished form such that no changes need to be made, and I agree that the demos (for example the ‘She’s out of my life’ demo on TII CD) are amazingly wonderful.

      I do not see the same parallels between art and music, though, even though that comparison is often made. In music if the notes are not there or enough of the song is not there, then there is silence where sound is expected. What I mean to say is an unfinished painting or sketch is easier for the viewer to fill in (the eye creates a completion by ‘connecting the dots’), but I think since we are primarily visual as humans, that our ability to create a melody, if it is not there, is limited.

      I did listen to Teddy Riley’s comments some more as a result of this topic. He said that in ‘ Hollywood’ MJ’s notes were flat on the demo and that MJ would not have wanted that to go out there in an album. So he used a machine in the studio–Melodyne or something–to make the notes truer and that changed the vibrato a little. You can check his comments on YT. I am not in any way equipped to asses that remark, but I do know that MJ worked with Teddy Riley for 18 years, so MJ chose him as a collaborator and that perhaps should count for something (?).

  19. I seem to be in the minority here but I have to say I still feel that it is important to appreciate the many burdens the Estate was and is under, essentially constituting a major financial, legal, artistic, and P.R. nightmare. What happened when ‘This Is It’ and ‘Michael’ came out in terms of the reaction/reception was disturbing. For example, I had never heard of Jason Malachi, but many were convinced it was his voice on ‘Michael,’ even after Jason himself denied it. This is not to say the Estate did not make mistakes or that they can’t improve or do better. I think the Estate has done a good job given the magnitude of what they are and have been facing and it pains me to hear them trashed.

    Willa, we are going to have to agree to disagree on ‘Hollywood Tonight’ (the song not the video) being a success story. I see the phrase “Miss Hollywood” as a sneer, as ironic, not in any way as praise. In fact, the album ‘Michael’ rips Hollywood to ribbons–as in ‘Monster’–Hollywood, tell me, do you like what you see? You quote what Teddy Riley says–but I am listening to the song and its lyrics and I do not see it as a success story or as a complete reversal of what MJ wrote even though it lacks some lines, as you reveal, that MJ had written. Of course, changes were made, but they do not rewrite the song as a success story IMO. I watched interviews with Teddy Riley when the ‘Michael’ controversy was raging and I admired his position, which was that he felt the presence of MJ’s spirit as he worked on the songs, which he said he received no money for doing, and that he didn’t care what other people thought b/c he felt he acted in tune with what MJ would have liked. The other thing to keep in mind here, if you want to be compassionate, is that the people who worked on these projects were in deep, full grief at the time, so soon after MJ’s death. BTW I am not saying the album is perfect or that it can’t be criticized but that criticism needs to be tempered by considering the really extraordinary circumstances and by realizing that they did their best at the time.

    What would MJ do? He would wait 10 years and perfect his work–we know that. But now he is gone and there are huge debts and legal issues and the Estate cannot wait 10 years, especially this was true in the early period after MJ’s death when creditors were piling on the lawsuits and the claims. I am just saying look at the total picture. When the Estate is 300-400 million in debt, you do need to act. And the debt is still huge. Tohme Tohme got MJ to sign that Tohme would get 15% of everything MJ would ever make–so the Estate now has to deal with that–not to mention that Tohme gave away MJ’s art collection, assessed at a value of $900 million.

    Willa–maybe I was too strong in my negative assessment of where USA is headed, but I don’t think so. It makes me sad to say this, but I feel we have really gone downhill. I think our standing worldwide has dropped, and justifiably so. Just look at the bullying epidemic, for starters, a phenomenon that MJ experienced for much of his life from the media, most of the American public, and the law ‘enforcement’ of Santa Barbara.

    It’s good to come here and see MJ celebrated, though. Thanks for that!!

    • “The other thing to keep in mind here, if you want to be compassionate, is that the people who worked on these projects were in deep, full grief at the time, so soon after MJ’s death.”

      That’s a really important point, Aldebaran, and I’ve been thinking about that a lot ever since the Michael album was released. As difficult as it was for us as fans to lose him, it must have been so much harder for those who had worked with him – and as you say, began working on his music while they “were in deep, full grief.” I imagine in some ways that was cathartic, but it had to be incredibly difficult as well. And I am very grateful to have the Michael album. As I mentioned before, I listen to it a lot.

  20. “Riley would have undoubtedly used Jackson’s version had their been vocals for it. Unfortunately, they were never recorded. With the new single, however, Sony decided to cut the spoken part completely and showcase instead some of the heightening drama and tension Jackson intended for this section. They used his beatboxing, his idea of swelling horns and strings, and his operatic vocal (pulled from a tape left running during a recording session in a hotel room). In addition to the bridge, the vocals on the new single are left un-processed and the production is scaled back. The result is a single that has a rawer, funkier, but less finished feel than the album version.

    “Hollywood Tonight,” then, has gone through many incarnations: the several different demos Jackson recorded with Brad Buxer and Michael Prince, from 1999 to 2008; the two versions Theron Feemster worked on following Jackson’s death (one of which is reportedly quite impressive); the polished album version completed by Teddy Riley; and, of course, the new single. All are necessarily approximations to what Jackson would have ultimately put out in finished form. That’s the nature of posthumous releases. They will always be imperfect and they will always generate fierce debate.”

    This quote is from Joe Vogel’s article in the Huffpost on ‘Hollywood.’ It sheds light on why the bridge that MJ wrote was not used–no vocals, MJ never recorded that bridge.

    I’d like to say that in one sense it is correct to say that with the intended bridge not there, the album version, as Riley said, ‘kind of’ made her succeed in her mission to become a star. But what she got as a result was nightmare (imprisonment by the paparazzi)–‘it all looked so good, but only good from afar.’ In other words, she pays a huge price for her stardom, as did MJ. In one sense it is a success, but it is not ‘uplifting’ IMO. It’s more like a ‘be careful what you wish for’ success. And to me the song asks us to question the whole effort to change your name, give hot tricks to men, violate your values (she knows that it’s ‘not clean’), and reach ‘the big time’ in ‘tinsel-town.’

    I like Joe’s final comment about posthumous releases!

  21. Michael understood his legacy, reference the Ebony 2007 interview. Like other great artists, Michael sketched/did studies of his works. I like to compare Michael to Degas. Degas did preliminary sketches and studies, then full color oils for the completed works.

    We “study” the “studies” of artists like Degas, as I am sure Michael did as a student of art. Michael would want us to ponder his songs to understand them better, our interaction with the world and relationship with others.

    So I hope the Estate releases the unfinished works for his fans, future fans, historians and academics. If done chronologically, we will get to see what went forward and what didn’t in the context of the time or perhaps how songs were developed and later released. (It appears that they will do so from the Bad 25 announcements. I drafted this sometime ago, but time got away from me to make a timely post.)

    What would Michael do? Had he lived, I like to think that he would have helped us with a retrospective study of his past work and conversations about new work. From the Ebony interview (they actually asked form intellectually and artistically probing questions), it was clear that he knew he was at a different part of his life and life’s work. Interviewers, thus all of us, really missed the boat in not delving into the meaning of his songs, videos, and his art with him. Why this did not happen in his lifetime pains me. What a loss!

    Hopefully, fans who questioned and/or objected to the Cascio tracks will support forthcoming albums. Michael deserves a posthumous number one. Non-fans looked at the sales performance of the Michael album as a loss of interest, influence, etc. My opinion of the Immortal album, was that it is a soundtrack and fun to listen to become familiar with the music before we saw the show. I even made my long suffering husband listen on a road trip.

    Going back to the 2007 Ebony interview, Michael wanted his art to live, so the Estate should release everything music demos and near finished works, Michael’s and the Jacksons’ concert tours on DVDs or preferably bluray. Put in the proper perspective it will be ok. There will always be critics.

    I think of music as organic and evolving. Mozart played today is probably not like Mozart played during his lifetime. The instruments have changed. There were no recordings of the pieces conducted/arranged by Mozart. Still great music, as is Michael’s, and both will survive the thrive in the test of time.

  22. Here is Don’t Be Messin’ ‘Round (Demo) – Michael Jackson [Official]

  23. Thanks, Destiny!

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