The soundtrack for Michael Jackson’s posthumous concert film This Is It arrived in stores today. Read on for EW’s review.
This Is It: The Music That Inspired the Movie
Legend has it that Michael Jackson left behind hours upon hours of unreleased music when he died this summer — an entire alternate discography lurking in a vault somewhere. His latest posthumous release includes exactly one of those mythical songs: “This Is It,” the uplifting ballad he co-wrote with Paul Anka under another title. If you’re feeling generous, you can count the minimally distinguishable “Orchestra Version” of “This Is It” as another new track. Either way, it’s a decent if slight addition to Jackson’s songbook.
Aside from that, This Is It mostly amounts to another greatest-hits compilation from an artist who released several while he was still alive. The hook is that these familiar tunes — yes, the same studio versions you’ve heard a million times — are arranged in the same order as they are heard in the new This Is It concert film, and presumably as they would have been played in the epic live stand that Jackson had planned to put on in London. It’s a smartly sequenced hit parade, from “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’” through “Man in the Mirror.” Uptempo jams predominate, with a few show-stopping ballads along the way. Those would have been some spectacular concerts in London, that’s for sure. Still, savvy consumers couldn’t be blamed for recreating the soundtrack as an iTunes playlist from the music they already own.
True Jackson fans may find This Is It’s second disc to be of greater interest, though it clocks in at a mere four tracks: Jackson’s own rough demos of three key hits plus a fairly unremarkable spoken-word poem. Hearing the King of Pop work out the vocal harmonies for “Beat It,” in particular, is well worth the price of admission (or at least a healthy chunk of it). Might as well enjoy these rare glimpses into Jackson’s creative process for now. Until his estate lets the world hear more, this would seem to be it. B+ —Simon Vozick-Levinson
DOWNLOAD THIS: “Beat It (Demo)”
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