Xscape review by Michael Jackson

logo Ultimate Guitar
  • Released: May 13, 2014
  • Sound: 4
  • Lyrics: 5
  • Overall Impression: 4
  • Reviewer's score: 4.3 Poor
  • Users' score: 3.6 (35 votes)
Michael Jackson: Xscape

Sound — 4
Michael Jackson was a living legend in the pop music world, and could sell out concerts even after multiple accusations of child sexual abuse. There was a reason he was known as the King of Pop - he could seriously craft a pop song, or take a song and re-work it into a pop masterpiece. He passed away in 2009 and in the five years since this will mark the second posthumous release of his music. The "Deluxe Edition" of "Xscape" contains 17 tracks and clocks in at right under 75 minutes. The first 8 tracks are the actual heart of the release, with the next 8 tracks being the original versions before modern producers re-mixed them, and then the last song is a version of the single, "Love Never Felt So Good" that has Justin Timberlake providing additional vocals.

I've listened to this album a few times trying to get my head around what to write about this album, and all that has happened is I've lost more and more respect for everyone involved with the release of this compilation. I think there will be people who agree with me, then there will be some fans of Michael Jackson who are just excited to hear something new from him so they won't be able to immediately be honest with themselves. I'm not the hugest Michael Jackson fan in the world, but I love "Thriller," "Beat It," "Billie Jean," etc., and there is not a track on this compilation that passes muster. Songs like the single, "Love Never Felt So Good" are just incomplete and production wizardry don't fix that. Putting Justin Timberlake's vocals as guest vocals on the last track of the album not only doesn't fix it, but makes Justin Timberlake seem like a ghoul. Tracks like "A Place With No Name," which is just completely blatantly a rip off of "A Horse With No Name" by America - the same guitar and vocal melody pretty much throughout the whole track. I think that Michael probably recorded this as a goof or at least thought better of it after the fact and never released it. Then you have tracks like "Do You Know Where Your Children Are" which Michael would have been horrified to know was ever released, and wasn't recorded in good taste. The lyrics even talk about your children could be sexually abused and you wouldn't know it because you don't know where your children are. The song goes onto some kind of tangent about a 12 year old being turned into an underage prostitute on Sunset Blvd. "Blue Gangster" is another interesting track, and honestly the "original" version is probably better than the version produced by Timbaland and the army of producers. Every track on the album was produced by an army of modern producers with the exception of the title track, "Xscape," which was produced by the original producer, Rodney Jerkins.

Lyrics — 5
Yes, Michael Jackson is a great vocalist. The tracks they've used on this compilation are decent. What I don't appreciate is the "hee hees" and "whoos" that seem to just be copied and pasted throughout the compilation. It is taking probably the most stereotyped stuff from Michael Jackson's releases and trying to capitalize off of it, which cheapens the songs and cheapens the integrity of everyone who worked on this compilation. The backup vocals on a lot of these tracks seem rushed and just subpar. Justin Timberlake's version of "Love Never Felt So Good" is horrendous, there was no value added by his vocals being added onto that song.

Overall Impression — 4
I have a hard time believing the producers who worked on this left so much of the bad midi instruments and percussion on these songs. I can't believe in good conscious they would release this crap and call it a good release. If this stuff ever saw the light of day then it should have been as bonus material in some kind of boxed set. It definitely should never have seen the light of the day in the context of this compilation album. What this album tells me is that producers like Timbaland, J-Roc, and Stargate expect listeners to accept whatever trash they try to spoon-feed the public. Don't buy this album and provide validation to the ghouls behind this horrible project.

19 comments sorted by best / new / date

    "Justin Timberlake's version of "Love Never Felt So Good" is horrendous" "(...)makes Justin Timberlake seem like a ghoul" Quite a bit of unreasonable bashing here. I believe JT is a pretty talented artist, and really like his solo albums. "Tracks like "A Place With No Name," which is just completely blatantly a rip off of "A Horse With No Name" by America" It was more of a tribute, and the producers have already said it. I thought the album has a few nice tracks (Love Never Felt So Good, Slave to the Rhythm, Blue Gangsta), the rest don't really impress me. And that's fine, they were made out of demos; they are songs MJ didn't think were good enough. I listened to this album just because it has MJ's voice in it. I believe it was only released in the interest of money, and that they should stop and give the man some respect and let him rest in peace.
    Having listened to the album multiple times now, I have to say I think it deserves a 6.5 rating. The producers have done a great work, truth be told. But still I think they should let him rest, and not release songs that he didn't want to, it's disrespectful.
    I read a lot of the comments and it seems that all have missed the point here. First, Michael said he never recorded a song he didn't like. Second, he also said when he is long gone it will be like he is still here because he puts his whole soul in his music and the music will always be here. So of course he wanted his music heard. And, newsflash, they are all in it to make money, that's just business.
    Also want to add that I LOVE THIS ALBUM!!! All of it from top to bottom. It is XCELLENT!
    Of course it sucks. The only reason this album exists is because the record label wanted some more money, and they know that anything MJ will sell.
    I listened to the original versions of those songs (on the deluxe version) and found them all better than what ended up on this album. The original versions of "Slave To the Rhythm", "Chicago" and "Xscape" are good tracks imo. I don't like what they did to the songs though.
    Yeah, absolutely agree with you - original versions from the deluxe edition are much better, even they're sounded just like demos sometimes - but their minimalistic, more sincere sound are much better then those OVERproduced tracks from the original CD (and it's a great example of what means "overproduced" - original emotions and groove are just killed by this production). Also, I think it's initially not very good idea to release some tracks after musician's death without knowing whether he liked them or not. It's a shame that it's all just for money. And yes, although I'm not a fan, I must say Michael's vocals sounds amazing and groovy in itself, even without the instruments and music.
    I enjoyed both versions of Love Never Felt So Good >_> the original more so, but I don't think that the version with JT is as 'horrendous' as the review makes it out to be.
    Anyone else notice how that cover image places him as some sort of creepy looking, god-like entity at the center of the universe? I sure hope it was shooped, but then again Michael Jackson was the self-proclaimed king of pop so who knows This cover makes the one with the giant marble statue and the more recent one where he's wearing Tudor-era golden armor whilst being crowned by two angels (like the virgin f*cking Mary) look somewhat modest Don't get me wrong, I admire the guy and appreciate a lot of the music he made but I couldn't possibly picture myself buying a record with a cover this silly and pretentious. At least the dozen or so records Yngwie Malmsteen's put out throughout his career (you know the type: he's looking at the viewer with some blue steel-like stare) are so cheesy they kinda become funny
    It's a bit strange - I agree with you. But then you just should check out some Kanye West artworks and songs/albums titles
    what are you talking about? Kanye artworks are actually very un-pretentious. College Dropout, Graduation, Homecoming, 808's & Heartbreak, MBDTF are all excellent, tasteful covers. Yeezus is arguably pretentious because it DOESN'T have a cover, but I think you're giving Kanye shit just for the sake of giving Kanye shit. His album titles are also inoffensive. Only a few song titles stand out in his overall catalogue.
    What a poor review. Plus, Michael got permission from the band America to use the melody for the song.
    I agree with DanniArrow, The original tracks are the only way to go with this. They sound really good.
    This to me is just abysmal. Not only are they releasing material that MJ didn't like and didn't want to release, but they are actually charging money for something that they know should be free. I don't even think that any of the money the album makes is going to MJ's family, if there is, I doubt it's much. To think that they are taking advantage of the fact that MJ can't refuse this music to be released, just so they can earn money off of his legacy, to me, is horrible. This should be free, a gift to MJ fans, if MJ isn't making money off of it I don't see why the label should.