Category: Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson hits reworked for 'Immortal' album, due in November [updated]


As the involuntary manslaughter trial of Michael Jackson's former physician Conrad Murray continues to make headlines, the late king of pop's estate and Epic Records are moving forward with Jackson's third posthumous album, "Immortal."

The album, which is slated to hit stores Nov. 21, is a soundtrack to the new Cirque du Soleil show of the same name. Described as a "musical tapestry," the soundtrack will feature reworked versions of some of Jackson's classic hits, mash-ups and never-before-released outtakes, a la the Beatles' reworked album "Love."

[For the record: An earlier version of this post referred to “Immortal” as Jackson’s second posthumous album. “Immortal” would be the third posthumous album from the Jackson estate released through Epic Records. Other Jackson albums have been released posthumously by other labels.]

 “Michael's legacy as the greatest entertainer of our lifetime is inspiring beyond words. It was clear from the start that Michael's voice and overall musical essence was the sole/soul source of creative energy driving the project," musical designer Kevin Antunes said in a statement.

Antunes spent a year in the studio working Jackson’s original masters for the soundtrack, which will feature outtakes, including an alternate take on the Jackson 5’s “ABC” and a choir-led version of “They Don’t Care About Us.”

The collection will, naturally, come in several editions, one of which will be a deluxe $50 bundle that features the CD, a T-shirt and show program.  

The Cirque du Soleil production "Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour" opened in Montreal on Sunday. The show combines Jackson's choreography, music and videos with the acrobatic troupe's signature big-budget spectacle. The tour will travel to 27 cities across North America and reach Los Angeles' Staples Center and Anaheim's Honda Center in January. There will be an extended stay in Las Vegas in December.

Jackson's first posthumous album, "Michael," was released in December.

Check out footage from the show after the jump:

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KISS off Oct. 8 Michael Jackson tribute concert

KISS Michael Jackson tribute
Hard-rock group KISS has been dropped from the lineup of the Michael Jackson tribute concert slated for Oct. 8 in Cardiff, Wales, because of disparaging comments group member Gene Simmons has made about Jackson in the past.

Jackson fans expressed anger over the booking of KISS for the event by the promoter, Global Live Events, which has announced on the official Twitter account for the concert that fans’ wishes would be heeded.

“KISS invitation has been revoked,” according to a post on the event’s official Twitter page. “Apologies to everyone... our primary focus has been to do justice to Michael’s memory with this tribute.”

Fans objected, citing Simmons’ remarks in the days after Jackson’s death in 2009 that he believed Jackson had molested children. Jackson was acquitted of child molestation charges.

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Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo Green set for Michael Jackson concert


Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo Green, Leona Lewis and Smokey Robinson are among the performers who will be headlining a Michael Jackson tribute concert, promoters announced Thursday.

"Michael Forever: The Tribute Concert" is slated for Oct. 8, and organizers are hoping that 75,000 Jackson fans will make the pilgrimage to Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales.

Global Live Events said the the bill will also include Craig David; British boy band JLS; Alien Ant Farm,  which scored a massive hit with its rock cover of "Smooth Criminal"; and 3T, the group that features the three sons of Jackson's brother Tito. More acts are expected to be announced.

Late last month, Michael Jackson’s mother, Katherine, and siblings Marlon, Tito, Jackie and La Toya announced the concert, but were tight-lipped on details, promising only that it would be a "thriller of an event."

The concert's announcement hasn’t come without controversy. Jackson’s estate isn’t affiliated with the show, and it responded after the initial announcement that promoters and Jackson's family hadn't gotten permission to use the king of pop's name and likeness. Jackson's brothers Randy and Jermaine have denounced the event, releasing a statement questioning the appropriateness of the show, as it will conflict with the scheduled trial of Jackson’s doctor in connection with the pop star’s 2009 fatal overdose.

"We want to make clear that this does not reflect the position of the entire family," the two said in a joint statement. "While we wholeheartedly support the spirit of a tribute that honors our brother, we find it impossible to support an event that is due to take place during the criminal trial surrounding Michael's death."

The official website for the show has posted that Katherine "has agreed to attend the concert with as many of Michael's children as are available."

Purchasing tickets for the tribute is nearly as complicated as following the familial affiliations. Fans can register their interest in obtaining tickets online. At first, this was to be through offering a charitable pledge, with the higher pledges getting better chances to purchase tickets, which would range in price from 55 pounds ($88) to 240 pounds ($387). The website has since backtracked and now states that any donations, though encouraged, will have no weight in the chances of getting tickets.

Proceeds are expected to benefit AIDS Project Los Angeles and the Prince’s Trust.


Michael Jackson family to announce 'thriller' of concert tribute

Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' jacket highlights 'Music Icons' memorabilia auction June 25-26

How we were thrilled

-- Gerrick D. Kennedy

Photo: Michael Jackson. Credit: Joel Ryan / Associated Press

Michael Jackson family to announce 'thriller' of concert tribute

Michael Jackson Thriller concert 
Members of Michael Jackson’s family have called a press conference for Monday in Beverly Hills to announce a concert tribute to the late pop star that will benefit charities in the U.S. and the United Kingdom.

Jackson’s mother, Katherine, will be joined at the Beverly Hills Hotel by his siblings Marlon, Tito, Jackie and LaToya  to reveal details of the tribute, with strong hints in the press release that it will focus on Jackson’s “Thriller” album. The press release issued Thursday referred to the concert as a "thriller of an event," which is being coordinated by the family members and promoter Global Live Events, not Jackson's estate.

A spokeswoman for the event said no other information is available until Monday’s press conference. Pop & Hiss will carry more details after the announcement.


Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' jacket highlights 'Music Icons' memorabilia auction June 25-26

How we were thrilled

Robert Hilburn remembers his time with Michael Jackson

-- Randy Lewis

Photo: An image from Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video. Credit: MJJ Productions. 


Crowd-sourced video for Michael Jackson's 'Behind the Mask' premieres

Michael Jackson Behind the Mask video

What’s a record company to do when it’s time for a new music video but the star isn’t around to make one? That’s the dilemma Sony Music and Michael Jackson’s estate have faced with the posthumously released album “Michael.”

So for the new single “Behind the Mask,” rather than attempting to cobble together something from archival footage, the label and Jackson’s estate invited fans around the world to submit their own clips, which have been patched together into a “crowd-sourced” video premiering Tuesday on YouTube and a Facebook page that's been set up.

It’s directed by Dennis Liu, who also worked on the Grammy-nominated crowd-sourced video for Johnny Cash’s “Ain’t No Grave” two years ago built on myriad sketches, drawings and paintings of the singer created by fans.

Fans had access to a template video that was posted in March and were asked to shoot video footage of themselves executing a Jackson-like dance step, choreography routine, facial expression or other moves.

They were integrated into a 4½-minute video that incorporates more than 1,600 quick shots selected from among entries submitted from 103 countries. Most are young men and women in their teens and 20s, but there are also snippets from 2- and 3-year-old mini-MJs. Jackson’s reach appears not to be limited to one species, as there’s also a section from fans who shot their pets moving to the music.
 Of course, there’s none of Jackson’s own charisma or electric physicality, which some viewers have already noted in comments posted on YouTube.

“This is not the caliber of concept that we have become accustom[ed] to as Michael Jackson fans,” Whitney Getz wrote. “I’m glad this isn’t being considered a ‘Michael Jackson’ video. Because if it were I’d be very disappointed.”

The video for "Hollywood Tonight," the previous single from the album, was a mini-movie illustrating the song's story of a young woman pursuing her dreams in Hollywood. It's since scored more than 12.5 million views on Vevo and YouTube. 

The broad swath of fans represented in the "Behind the Mask" video largely seem to be interested only in conveying ongoing appreciation for Jackson, many from within the confines of their bedrooms, others from the streets of their neighborhoods.

Liu calls it “the most exciting and most fun project I think I’ve ever been involved in…. [It] was incredibly moving to see so many people from all over the world join as one, their creative voices, dance and musical talents bound together by Michael Jackson’s spirit and incomparable artistry. We received submissions from the Sahara Desert to Venice Beach, from mountaintops to suburban backyards, with some shots featuring well over 100 people apiece. All who participated delivered brilliantly.”


Michael Jackson estate rolls out 'Hollywood Tonight' video despite underperforming album

Deep pockets behind Michael Jackson

Robert Hilburn remembers his time with Michael Jackson

--Randy Lewis

Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' jacket highlights 'Music Icons' memorabilia auction June 25-26

Michael Jackson Thriller MJJ Productions 
Michael Jackson’s iconic red leather jacket worn in the “Thriller” video will go up for auction later this month in Beverly Hills along with a large group of items from other pop musicians including Elvis Presley, the Beatles, Madonna, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Steven Tyler and Nirvana.

Jackson’s “Thriller” jacket has a pre-auction estimate of $200,000 to $400,000, and a portion of the proceeds from the sale will be donated to the Shambala Preserve in Acton, Calif., which houses the two Bengal tigers the singer kept at his Neverland Ranch.

Among the other music memorabilia in the auction to be held June 25 and 26 at Julien’s Auctions Gallery are the glove Jackson wore to an American Music Awards ceremony, estimated to sell for $20,000 to $30,000); a Presley TCB necklace ($20,000-$40,000); a denim jacket Bruce Springsteen wore during his “Born to Run” tour ($2,000-$4,000); the wool cape Ringo Starr wore in the Beatles film “Help!” ($6,000-$8,000); two pages of lyrics and other notes by Hendrix of a song titled “Here Comes the Sun” not related to the George Harrison song ($25,000-$30,000); and the broken neck of a guitar used by Kurt Cobain ($2,000-$3,000).

The items will be exhibited June 13-24 at the gallery at  9665 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 150, Beverly Hills. The catalog is viewable online at


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Lennon's 'rant' to McCartney fails to sell at Christie's pop auction

-- Randy Lewis

Photo from Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video. Credit: MJJ Productions.

Michael Jackson estate rolls out 'Hollywood Tonight' video despite underperforming album

Michael_Jackson_-_Hollywood_Tonight All things considered, the debut of a new Michael Jackson music video comes as a bit of a surprise.

Not because the King of Pop is no longer living -– we’ve come to terms with that -- but his first posthumous release, “Michael,” sorta came and went without much of an impact.

But his estate is pressing on with the video for the Teddy Riley produced “Hollywood Tonight,” the album’s second official single and one of its standout tracks.

In the video, which premiered Thursday, a young woman steps off a charter bus, suitcase in tow, ready to take on the big city. She moonlights as a waitress by day, a stripper by night, hits the audition circuit to no avail. Stop us if you've heard this story before.

Released in December, the album didn't leave a lasting impression on the hungry buyers ready to get their hands on anything Jackson-related –- or ever garner a wave of critical acclaim (we gave the album a middling two and a half stars). Though it debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 chart with first-week sales of 228,000 copies, its sales paled in comparison to the soundtrack to “This Is It,” which sold 890,000 copies in five weeks.

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An outraged Michael Jackson estate urges Discovery Channel to cancel broadcast of 'Michael Jackson's Autopsy'

Jacksonletter John Branca and John McClain, co-executors of the Michael Jackson estate, today fired off an angry letter to Discovery Communications president and CEO David M. Zaslav protesting the upcoming Jan. 13 broadcast in the U.K. of "Michael Jackson's Autopsy: What Really Killed Michael Jackson," a program that will reenact the King of Pop's autopsy.

In the three-paragraph letter, the executors were clear in their outrage:

We were especially outraged when a sickening print advertisement for the program appeared making light of Michael's death by depicting a corpse sprawled on a steel gurney covered by a sheet with a hand sticking out wearing Michael's signature sequined glove. Discovery obviously views this as clever advertising and creative "branding" for its program. But in fact, the ad is debased, sick and insensitive. No doubt this fictitious, morbid image is being spread worldwide even now on the Internet, viewed by Michael's loved ones, and even accepted as authentic by those who may be unaware that Discovery made it up.

The letter, dated Dec. 29, closes with this plea: "On behalf of Michael's family, fans, common sense and decency, we urge you to reconsider and cancel this program."

A spokesperson for Discovery Communications declined to comment.

-- Randall Roberts

Album review: Michael Jackson's 'Michael'

Michael On “Breaking News,” a snappish track on “Michael,” the first album released posthumously from Michael Jackson’s extensive archives, outtakes and potential discard pile, the singer laments the media obsession that defined his life.

“Everyone wanting a piece of Michael Jackson,” he sings in a voice that verges on an angry whisper. “He wants to write my obituary. You just want to read it again.” The context couldn’t be more ironic, considering that “Michael” often feels like a capitulation to those teeming masses who want one more shred of their beloved at any cost.

That’s not to say that “Michael” is embarrassing or damaging to the legacy of the biggest pop star of the last half-century or so. For the most part, it’s a considered artifact, both modern and nostalgic, by Teddy Riley, John McClain and Theron “Neff-U” Feemster, producers who have recently worked with Jackson.

The first song on the album, “Hold My Hand,” a duet with Akon, is a crisp anthem that fits in on the radio but doesn’t really blow anything open, despite its earnest attempts. “Keep Your Head Up” is a classic Jackson inspirational with a starry-eyed, gentle touch, not the full-blown Messiah mode of “Man in the Mirror” or “Heal the World.”

Maybe one of the sweetest, old-fashioned tracks, reminiscent of the aw-shucks romanticism of the Jackson 5, is “(I Like) The Way You Love Me,” which starts with a recorded fragment of Jackson describing the tempo and melody, and then a touch of beat-boxing. That modest snippet of Jackson’s notes imbues the song with the sense of an inspired musician who was still chasing his vision, seeking its most perfect incarnation.

But like some ghoulish postmodern joke on “Thriller,” “Michael” can’t help but feel like the work of zombie hands –- albeit tasteful zombie hands with ears finely attuned to the current whims and fancies of pop radio. Interestingly, questions abound about the album's authenticity in certain spots: Sony issued a rebuttal to the accusation from some Jackson family members that his voice in “Breaking News” is an imitation.

We might never know if it’s fake or not, but the debate only underscores the fact that “Michael” is a product of many different creators that raises as many questions as it answers. We’ll never know what Jackson really would’ve done with these songs but this is the first of, no doubt, many guesses we’ll get that hopefully won’t yield diminishing returns. "Michael" reasserts that in death, he’s still a mystery, the ultimate phantasmagoria of pop music.

 --Margaret Wappler

Michael Jackson
Two and a half stars

Michael Jackson fans shouldn't question new single 'Hold My Hand' (should they?)

Mj-art-e1289813187642 Michael Jackson fans can look at the release of the official first single from his posthumous album as Sony’s attempt to clean up the controversy of that other debatable single that hit the net a week ago, and who could necessarily blame them?

After the not-so-great response that the much touted “Breaking News” got when it premiered (fans debated its authenticity, M.J.’s kids and mom denounced it, Sony and the Michael Jackson estate defended it), the late King of Pop is back -- get used to hearing that -- with the official first single from his first posthumous album, “Michael,” which is slated to hit stores Dec. 14.

Titled “Hold My Hand,” the mid-tempo uplifting track is classic M.J. (listen here). In the song, a duet with Akon, he pleas for peace and unity behind a Caribbean-pop beat, courtesy of the Senegalese singer/producer.

“This life don't last forever, so tell me what we're waiting for,” Jackson sings. “We're better off being together, than being miserable alone.”

Apparently a handwritten note from Jackson was found indicating his desire that the track, recorded in 2007, be the first single on his next project. The note, of course, is now the possession of his estate. (It would probably be a good idea, for the sake of covering themselves, for the estate to include said note in the liner notes of the album -- in order to end any and all speculation about the handling of the project.)

Jackson fans are no stranger to the track, considering that an unfinished version of the song leaked in 2008, as did a number of Jackson demos and half-recordings packaged together, leaving Akon “devastated.”

“The world was not ready to hear ‘Hold My Hand’ when it leaked a couple years ago,” he said in a statement. “But its time has definitely come; now in its final state, it has become an incredible, beautiful, anthemic song. I’m so proud to have had the chance to work with Michael, one of my all time idols.”

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