Michael Jackson's new song and two-disc 'This Is It' release: honor or exploitation?
The track will appear on a two-disc album; according to the press release, “Disc one will feature the original album masters of some of Michael’s biggest hits arranged in the same sequence as they appear in the film. The disc ends with two versions of the never-released ‘This Is It.’ This song is featured in the film’s closing sequence and includes backing vocals by Michael’s brothers, the Jacksons.”
As for disc two? It will offer “previously unreleased versions” of some of the Jackson’s classic songs, plus “a touching spoken word poem from Michael Jackson entitled ‘Planet Earth’ that has never been heard before,” and a 36-page commemorative booklet featuring “exclusive photos of Michael from his last rehearsal.”
In one sense, this feels inevitable; the enormous bump in album sales since his death (his greatest-hits comp Number Ones appears on track to be 2009’s best-selling album, overtaking Taylor Swift’s Fearless, according to Nielsen SoundScan), combined with his reported debts and the inborn capitalist (and capitalizing) nature of the music business almost guarantees it.
Still, does anyone else feel kind of … icky? The King of Pop already has multiple greatest-hits materials available (heck, Thriller is its own greatest hits), comps, and remasters, as well as an upcoming Michael Jackson: The Remix Suite; where does honoring a late legend become mere milking of a cash cow?
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