Jon Moreno, Arts & Entertainment Editor-
“Hold My Hand (feat. Akon)” – It’s a shame this was chosen as the first single from Michael Jackson’s posthumous album. Any average listener can tell that Akon had the burden of filling up the rest of the song after Jackson sings a verse and a small part of the chorus. After that, he provides background vocals for Akon throughout the rest of the song. The song has a beautiful melody and an even greater video to support it but at the end of it all, it falls flat. 2/5.
“Hollywood Tonight” – This second track has more of that Michael Jackson sound that we are all used to and love. The beat-boxing complements the guitar riff well while Jackson sings about a woman who dreams of being famous. However, the people behind putting together this album could not make it any more clear that they needed to fill up a lot of space on certain songs. This is one here because instead of another Jackson verse, we get some random person speaking to set up the last chorus. 3/5.
“Keep Your Head Up” – A classic soft and uplifting Michael Jackson croons here about a woman looking for light at the end of the tunnel. He takes the listener through the life of a woman who is broken inside and encourages everyone to look at the bright side of things. Powerful song. 4/5.
“(I Like) The Way You Love Me” – The track starts with Jackson humming the beat he wanted for this song and as you hear him beat-boxing, the actual beat comes in, but honestly, it sounds nothing like what he wanted. It’s still good but the intro to this song wasn’t necessary. It personally feels like it was a way for the composers to prove to the doubters that it’s Michael singing in these songs. This song is a nice listen, nothing spectacular. 3/5.
“Monster (feat. 50 Cent)” — Best track on the album by far. 50 Cent comes through with a vicious verse and you can tell Michael had big plans with this one. Not many rappers get to collaborate with MJ but 50 took full advantage of the opportunity. The only way I can compare this song is by calling it a “2010 Thriller.” Yes, it is that good. Obviously, it doesn’t touch the original but the concept is very similar. The way the instrumental breaks down the drums during 50’s verse is completely ridiculous. This song is 100 percent Michael. You can tell from the concept, the lyrics and the whole vibe of the track. This was going to be an anthem. 5/5.
“Best Of Joy” – I’m not too sure about this song. I can’t make out if it’s actually Michael or not. The song is nice and the lyrics are great but it doesn’t come off that Michael intended for this song to ever be released. It sounds sloppy and there are too many layers on some of the vocals. Attempt to cover something up? I’m not sure. 2/5.
“Breaking News” – OK, this song is NOT Michael Jackson. He is not one to use his own name for a chorus. It sounds like him during the verses but the hook is questionable. I am not crazy about this one. Once again, the song sounds unfinished and it is not very well put together. 2/5.
“(I Can’t Make It) Another Day (feat. Lenny Kravitz)” – The instrumental here is great. It makes you bop your head immediately. Michael comes in smooth and delivers some strong vocals on the hook. Lenny Kravitz does his thing here too. Hearing MJ on this track is reminiscent of the MJ from the “Bad” era. The guitar solo is also one to look out for on this track. I love the hook. 4/5.
“Behind The Mask” – The saxophone on the intro is beautiful. The lyrics on this song are probably the best on the album. The electric sounding vocals on the chorus remind me a bit of “P.Y.T.” The production here is classic Michael. Very pop but still very true to his style. 4/5.
“Much Too Soon” – Not the best song to close off the album. It’s too sad and slow paced. It makes this album more bittersweet than an enjoyable experience. I would’ve preferred a triumphant song that showcases why Michael Jackson is the greatest of all time. Instead, we get an awkward song with an awkward ending to the album that otherwise was good for what it was. There was definitely a few times when I questioned if it was Michael singing but I have no doubt that the majority of the vocals were laid by the man himself before his passing. 2/5.
Overall: 3 Owls out of 5.