Michael Jackson

Why can't we let Michael Jackson rest in peace? Thoughts on the Jacko-gram

A few thoughts on life after death

How long before we let Michael Jackson rest in peace? Not until the last bit of money has been made from his corpse, apparently.

Commerce dictates that as long as there is any demand for Jackson, in any form, that the estate continues to keep him in the public eye.

That’s what I thought as I watched a hologram of Jackson “perform” “Slave To The Rhythm,” a previously unreleased song “contemporized” for his new album “Xscape,” on the Billboard Music Awards Sunday night.

Yes, there was at first an undeniable thrill to seeing Jackson, even if it was a hologram, dance across the floor again in those moves that we all grew up with, that we know by heart (performed by a "Dangerous"-era Jackson before his looks totally got scary). It's just human nature to yearn for what we miss. There was also awe at the technology that made the very lifelike hologram possible (it seems like tremendous advances have been made even since the Tupac hologram appeared at Coachella two years ago).

But then a certain creepiness set in. With every close up, it was clear that, of course, it was not really Michael Jackson. It was a Michael Jackson created in a laboratory and, like a clone, as close as it seemed to the real thing, it was, in actuality, very far from it. No soul, no heart.

As the Jacko-gram danced with real flesh and blood dancers, the disparity became even greater, but it almost feels like it’s too late to put the hologram back in the bottle.

How long before the Jackson estate and Sony announce that  the Jacko-gram is going on tour? Or that the Jacko-gram is being added into Cirque du Soleil’s Jackson salute, “Immortal?”  Or, heaven forbid, appearing in a commecial outing some product?  We can almost write the script—it will be done under the guise of introducing Jackson to a younger audience and to those who weren't ever able to see him live. (Guess what? You still won't be seeing him life!)  As the technology advances to make holograms more lifelike, the demand for them will grow, just as our nostalgia does with each year following Jackson’s 2009 passing.

Friday night, a friend asked if I thought it was exploitative for Epic to release “Xscape.” He brought up this piece by Savage Garden’s Darren Hayes, who expressed his dismay over the album and that, although he loved Jackson, he wouldn’t be buying “Xscape.” In fact, his love for Jackson was exactly why he couldn’t support the new effort because there was no way of knowing if Jackson would have approved of his unfinished work being released, not only in this manner, but released at all.

He has a point. The eight songs on “Xscape” were written as far back as 30 years ago, and for whatever reason, Jackson decided not to put them on the album, leaving all of them unfinished. That means at some point, Jackson chose to focus on other material that he felt was better and more appropriate for his current project at the time. The versions that we hear on “Xscape” aren’t his vision for the songs, they are someone else’s guess at how Jackson would have completed the song.

To be sure, there have been other cases where previously unreleased material by a deceased artist has come out— again, Tupac comes to mind here. But for someone who was as much of a perfectionist as Jackson, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to think that maybe these songs were put aside for a reason and maybe they should have been left that way, despite whatever enjoyment we may get from hearing them unearthed. Plus, Jackson left enough great material behind for his legacy to be ensured.

Hayes went so far as to alter his will so that after he dies, his half-finished material will not be released (he writes this with total humility and in no way is ever comparing himself to Jackson).
Are we at the point where every artist with any commercial value needs to decide how his/her image/music can be used after death…and somehow figure out a way to include technologies that we can’t even dream of yet?

The answer is yes, especially when there’s money to be made. The Jackson Family’s failed suit against AEG, even though there may have been some validity, felt more like a money grab than a case of true wrongful death.

So five years after his death, as Jackson’s “Xscape” most likely bows at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and the Billboard Jacko-gram ignites endless possibilities, I can’t help but think that Jackson is spinning in his grave, wishing that for all the work he had his lawyers do for him, he'd asked them to address this issue.

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Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert

Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert perform 'Something Bad': Watch

Is the new duet any good?

The idea of Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood, two of country’s most dynamic artists, performing a duet at the Billboard Music Awards had such promise.

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Michael Jackson's hologram

Michael Jackson (or his hologram) moonwalks on stage at Billboard Music Awards: Watch

Is it better than the real thing?

A hologram of Michael Jackson moondanced across the stage during a performance of "Slave To the Rhythm," a song featured on Jackson's new "Xscape" album, during the Billboard Music Awards Sunday night in what is sure to be the show's water cooler moment.

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Jay Z and Beyonce make a run for it

Beyonce and Jay Z's mini-movie, 'Run,' starring Sean Penn, Don Cheadle: Watch

Has a tour ever received such an elaborate send off?

Beyonce and Jay Z’s famous friends, Sean Penn, Don Cheadle, Blake Lively, Emily Rossum, Jake Gyllenhaal, Guillermo Diaz, and others, star is what has to be the most elaborate promotional tour video ever created.

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Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson and The Black Keys in race for top spot next week

Lots of changes on the chart as releases heat up

For the first time in months, “Frozen” will not be in the No. 1 or 2 spot on the Billboard 200 next week.

Instead, “Xscape,” a posthumous Michael Jackson album featuring ‘’contemporized” versions of eight previously unreleased Jackson cuts, is in a dead heat with The Black Keys’ “Turn Blue” for the top spot. Both are slated to sell up to 155,000, according to Hits Daily Double. Read our review of “Xscape” here and of “Turn Blue” here.

If Jackson comes in on top, it will be his first No. 1 album released since his death: "Michael," released in 2011, debuted and peaked at No. 3. If The Black Keys prevail, it will be their first No. 1 on the Billboard 200.

They join four other debuts in the Top 10: Rascal Flatts’ “Rewind” will likely bow at No. 5 (60,000), Dolly Parton’s “Blue Smoke” at No. 4 (40,000), Tori Amos’ “Unrepentant Geraldines” at No. 8 (19,000) and Michael W. Smith’s “Glory” at No. 10 (17,000)

This week’s No. 1 set, “Now That’s What I Call Music 50,” drops to No. 3 (80,000), while “Frozen” drops to a number it hasn’t see in an ice age: No. 4 (70,000).

Hunter Hayes’ “Storylines” drops to No. 7 (21,000), and Pharrell Williams’ “G I R L” to No. 9 (17,000).

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Jack White

Jack White rocks out on great new track, 'Just One Drink'

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New 'Lazaretto' tune recalls early Rolling Stones

Jack White’s “Just One Drink” is a barreling, country-tinged rock and roller.

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Mariah Carey

Mariah debuts sassy new tune, 'You Don't Know What To Do' with Wale on 'Today'

Track is the best from Me. I Am Mariah' by far

Mariah Carey debuted a new song, “You Don’t Know What To Do,” featuring Wale, today on “Today.”

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Andrew Garfield in Arcade Fire's 'We Exist' video

Andrew Garfield stars in Arcade Fire's moving 'We Exist' video: Watch

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Spider-Man plays a sweet transvestite looking for acceptance

Arcade Fire’s video for “We Exist” is a moving, if sometimes heavy handed, look at our universal desire to be loved for who we are.

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Foo Fighters

Foo Fighters' HBO series and new album debut this fall

Each episode will salute a city where the band recorded new project


Dave Grohl is taking his “Sound City” concept onto the road. The release of  Foo Fighters’ eighth album, and the band’s 20th anniversary, will be accompanied by an 8-part HBO series that chronicles the creation of the record and salutes the eight studios and cities in which it was created.

The Foos recorded one song each in a well-known studio in Chicago, Austin, Nashville, Los Angeles, Seattle, New Orleans, Washington, D.C., and New York. In addition to documenting the recording, in which notable local musicians joined in, each episode celebrates that town’s musical history and traces the influence the city had on the local legend sitting in with the band. HBO isn’t saying who the guests are. However, Buddy Guy is quoted in the press release, so we can count him in for Chicago.

Just as Foo Fighters switched it up and recorded 2010’s “Wasted Light” on all analog equipment in Grohl’s garage, they challenged themselves again with the new, still-untitled, album: Grohl did not write the lyrics until the last day in the studio in each city so as to absorb the local experience into the words, according to a statement.

The series will run in the fall in conjunction with the album’s release. No specific date for either has been announced.

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Lana Del Rey

Lana Del Rey's 'Ultraviolence' set for June 17 release

Have you ordered your Collectors Box edition?

Lana Del Rey has set a June 17 release date for  “Ultraviolence,” as well as released the album's cover art.

In addition to standard and deluxe editions on download, CD, and vinyl, there will also be a Collectors Box edition that will include a deluxe LP Picture disc, a deluxe CD digipak and art prints, which was assume are suitable for framing.  

In addition to first single “West Coast,” the new album contains some intriguing titles, including “F*cked My Way To The Top,” “The Other Woman” and bonus track, “Guns And Roses.”

Del Rey is current on tour in the U.S. Her remaining dates are listed below the track listing.

'ULTRAVIOLENCE' TRACKLIST:
1. CRUEL WORLD
2. ULTRAVIOLENCE
3. SHADES OF COOL
4. BROOKLYN BABY
5. WEST COAST
6. SAD GIRL
7. PRETTY WHEN YOU CRY
8. MONEY POWER GLORY
9. FUCKED MY WAY UP TO THE TOP
10. OLD MONEY
11. THE OTHER WOMAN

BONUS TRACKS:
12. BLACK BEAUTY
13. GUNS AND ROSES
14. FLORIDA KILOS

2014 North American Tour Dates:
5/15 - Detroit, MI @ Masonic Temple Theatre
5/16 - Chicago, IL @ Aragon Ballroom
5/19 - Morrison, CO @ Red Rocks Amphitheatre
5/25 - Vancouver, BC @ PNE Amphitheatre
5/27 - Seattle, WA @ WaMu Theater
5/30 - Los Angeles, CA @ Shrine Expo Hall

 

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