Michael Jackson — Michael

s ubiquitous; Jackson was trying to re-invent himself for modern audiences; and the songs, like most things on the radio, are enjoyable while played and forgettable when gone.

All debate to how finished it is aside, this album sounds remarkably nice. It doesn’t push boundaries, it doesn’t titillate or thrill, and it definitely doesn’t get experimental or risky. But the songs aren’t bad, either; they’re average. The songs that seek to build on Jackson’s “Thriller”-era successes score better than his R&B/pop ballads, but none is terrible.

The best example of this is R&B ballad “Best of Joy,” which is thoroughly decent. It has a pleasant melody, a competent backing track, and a good groove. It’s not memorable, but it’s in no way embarrassing. The only tune here that even dips into caricature is flimsy closer “Much Too Soon.”

There are plenty of updates to his signature sound, as “Hollywood Tonight” sounds like an attempt at modernizing “Billie Jean.” Again, it’s not bad, but it’s not great ,either. “Monster” shows signs of life, especially with a solid 50 Cent cameo, but it feels like a rehashed sound update and not like something relevant.

The one track that breaks out of the album’s evenness is “Breaking News,” which starts out with a 35-second collage of news reports about MJ before segueing into an ominous, strings-laden track. Jackson sounds genuinely angry about the news’ portrayal and demonization of him, and his anger fills the track with an intensity lacking everywhere else. The trademark woohs and yelps sound relevant and passionate here, where they just sound like a trademark move everywhere else.

“(I Can’t Make It) Another Day” appropriates a similar mood with a vicious vocal performance, but the music doesn’t connect to its lyrics well, which are about being obsessed with someone he can’t have.

“Michael” has some highlights, but mostly it’s an average project. For anyone else, that would be passable. For the King of Pop, it’s a pretty weak farewell. “”Stephen Carradini

Stephen Carradini

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