If you haven't heard, well the Estate of Michael Jackson are releasing a posthumous album by the late King Of Pop. It will be newly unreleased songs.....(I was somewhat hyped till this next line) of NEWLY COMPLETED SONGS.
When Michael Jackson died in June 2009, he left behind a lot of mysteries, many of which will be puzzled over for years and some that will never be resolved. But one of those questions — namely, "What music did Jackson leave behind?" — will be answered when Michael, a new collection of previously unheard songs, is released on December 14.
It will be the first of many releases from the superstar's estate, as Jackson apparently recorded "hundreds" of tracks before his death. (There are also apparently hundreds of never-before-heard Jackson 5 tracks as well).
Releasing posthumous albums can be extremely lucrative, but they are often weighed down by problematic legal issues. For example, Jimi Hendrix only released three albums before his untimely death in 1970, but there have been literally dozens of Hendrix-related releases since then. Hendrix died without a will, so the rights to unreleased tapes, demos and live performances (and there were many) were claimed by both Hendrix's surviving family members and his record label as well as various recording studios. (Those issues were compounded by the fact that there was infighting within Hendrix's family.)
If an artist has surviving bandmembers in addition to family, that introduces another complication. Kurt Cobain didn't leave behind a ton of unreleased material, but the live tracks and demos that were in the vault have sold quite well since his 1994 death (especially via the 2004 box set With the Lights Out). The road to getting that material released has been fraught with all sorts of arguments between Cobain widow Courtney Love and surviving Nirvana members Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic.
But once legal issues are resolved, posthumous albums can continue to rack up big sales (and, perhaps more importantly, maintain an artist's profile long after his or her death). When Tupac Shakur was murdered in 1996, there were rumors that he had left behind hundreds of hours of vocals that he'd recorded out of paranoia — Shakur built up the massive back catalogue because he was absolutely certain he would be killed. As a result, Shakur has released more new albums since his death (eight, all but one of which have gone platinum) than he did while he was alive (five).
Tupac's situation brings up an important point about posthumous material, though. The main reason that artists tend not to release songs is generally because the material is subpar or not in line with the rest of their work. But once the artist has passed away and other people are called in to judge the quality, things can get problematic. Shakur's posthumous albums do contain excellent songs, though many of them are fleshed out with filler and afterthoughts. The same goes for former friend and rival the Notorious B.I.G., who did not leave behind nearly as much material as Tupac. Still, that hasn't stopped a pair of posthumous albums from hitting the street. Biggie was one of the best rappers of all time, but the material on 1999'sBorn Again and 2005's Duets: The Final Chapter doesn't do anything to extend his legacy.
The fact that the first of Jackson's left-behind material is coming out only 18 months after his death is a good sign for future releases, and the quality will be adjudicated just as soon as the first note starts streaming online Monday (November 8).
Considering the massive success of "Michael Jackson's This Is It" ($261 million in worldwide box-office receipts) and the rest of Jackson's catalogue since his death (9 million records moved in the first month after his death), it's likely we'll be seeing a lot more of these types of releases in the coming years.
As with many other posthumous releases, the forthcoming Michael Jackson album, Michael, is already creating controversy. After will.i.am toldEntertainment Weekly that he thought it was "disrespectful" to release the collection of previously unheard material from the King of Pop, fellow collaborator Akon struck back.
'Kon, whose "Hold My Hand" collaboration with Jackson dropped on Monday as the LP's first single, insists that releasing new music is actually a way of honoring the icon.
"I think that's probably will's opinion," Akon told TMZ of the Black Eyed Peas frontman's statement. "Me personally, I think that's keeping his legacy alive, if you ask me. I don't see anything disrespectful about it. He got his people taking care of it. We all did records that we actually worked on together on the album. These records would have come out whether he was alive or dead, so I think this actually to helps keep his legacy alive. I honestly disagree with that."
The hip-hop star explained that he hopes "Hold My Hand" will reach "another level" and be properly distributed as he and the Jackson team had originally planned.
Last week, will.i.am slammed the project, suggesting that there's no honor in the upcoming release, due in stores December 14. "Whoever put it out and is profiting off of it, I want to see how cold they are," he told EW. "To say that what [Michael] contributed during his life wasn't enough. He just wasn't any ordinary artist. He was a hands-on person. To me it's disrespectful. There's no honoring."
Not only did Akon call his sessions with MJ "amazing," but he also gushed that it was nothing short of a dream come true saying, "He was a very incredible person, very creative. That was really a dream come true on my end. I enjoyed every moment of it."