As we suspected, Michael Jackson’s “This is It” was built around a tape Jackson left with only his vocals and piano. The rest was crafted from the ground up.

In this excellent piece in the New York Times, reporter Ben Sisario reports that there are at least 100 Jackson songs in Sony’s vaults.

“We probably have at least 100 songs in varying degrees of being finished,”  Rob Stringer, chairman of Sony's  Columbia/Epic Label Group, told the NY Times. “And we think there probably is a lot more. We haven’t gone into the archive to search it properly yet. It’s just too complicated to do that.”

There are few musical clues as to when the tunes were recorded. For example, Stringer tells Sisario that “This is It” may have been recorded as recently as 1991 or as early as 1979.

Jackson’s deal with Sony ended five years ago, meaning any material recorded following the end of that contract may belong to the estate and could be farmed out to the highest bidder. The question remains, however, if demand for Jackson’s unheard material will be as great as it has been for his catalog since his death.  In our experience, we’ve often found that songs left off albums were often kept off for a reason.

Listen to Jackson's newest song "This Is It" here, and read our review.