Posthumous MJ album to be released next week

Posthumous MJ album to be released next week

LOS ANGELES - Michael Jackson returns this month from the musical grave for a second time, with a new posthumous album aimed at resurrecting his star power, five years after his untimely death.

Critics have already hailed Xscape a clear improvement on 2010's Michael, the first album released after Jackson died of a drug overdose at age 50, as part of a multi-record deal with label giant Sony.

Xscape comprises eight songs chosen from the vast catalogue the singer worked on over four decades and based on original vocals by him, but with music "contemporised" by producers for a modern audience.

Its eight songs include one about child sex abuse, the issue which helped bring down the singer, despite being acquitted of sexual molestation charges in 2005.

Another song, Xscape, was first produced 15 years ago and Do You Know Where Your Children Are is about kids raised in a broken family, according to the liner notes.

Rapper Timbaland, executive producer on Xscape, said the people behind the record were keenly aware of the need for it to stand up against the best that current pop music has to offer.

"How would I hear this on the radio against Katy Perry? Would it sound old, would it sound new?" asked Timbaland, who works closely with Justin Timberlake and Beyonce.

He "had to make sure that it can compete with everything that is going on today in the pop world", he told Billboard.

The album's producers include the Stargate collective behind Beyonce and Rihanna, and Rodney Jerkins, who has worked with The Black Eyed Peas and Lady Gaga.

Critics have mostly been complimentary about the album, ahead of its release on Tuesday.

"While some of them are very obviously album tracks at best, there are flashes of genius that haven't been diluted or watered down. In fact, Xscape manages to bring most of them to life," said British daily The Guardian.

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