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Jacob’s Playlist:

“Xscape” by Michael Jackson

You must be intentionally living under a rock if you don’t know of the “king of pop” himself, Michael Jackson.


A few albums were released after Jackson’s death with a bit of remastering, with “Xscape” being the second. “Xscape” is filled with some true romantic gems recorded when Jackson was alive.


“Xscape” opens with “Love Never Felt So Good,” a remastered version of the demo from 1980 that was cowritten by Paul Anka and features Justin Timberlake. The original version, though, has a deep calm to it, like a soft romance with some hints of passion.


One of my favorite songs on the album, “Chicago,” was originally called “She Was Lovin Me.” The Timbaland remix adds an upbeat, bouncing nature where you can’t help but groove along.


The back and forth of Jackson’s voice is mesmerizing. With the original mixed version, it dials back the bounce and becomes a slower, deep guilty conscious song with beautiful emotion.


“Loving You” is a smooth song featuring a classic R&B touch to it. The original version slows it down and is reminiscent of that ‘90s romantic-pop-song era.


Another one of my favorites was “A Place With No Name,” a sensational song all about the narrator being stranded in the middle of nowhere and being led by a mysterious person to a perfect city. The original version instantly reminded me of the classic “Horse With No Name” by America, only to find out later that Jackson did base this song off that one.


“Slave to the Rhythm” immediately reminded me of the club hits from the 2000s, ensuing instant nostalgia for the mix. Sony used this song to push out the Jackson hologram performances. However, the original mix just has more of the Jackson sound to it and shows his vocal range.


“Do You Know Where Your Children Are” is named after a popular public service announcement from the ‘80s and tells a story about a girl running away from home after being sexually abused by her stepfather. However, the remix is so synthesized, it takes away from the message.


The original song has a vulnerable tone where you can hear the story and isn’t drowned out by synths. Lastly, the self-titled “Xscape” is a song about trying to gain freedom from the system. It was a reaction to how the media was constantly covering him.


Overall, the remasters do not outshine the originals. The reason why these songs did not make the albums in which they were recorded for in the studio sessions is beyond me, because the songs on here are exemplary and showcase incredible skill.


EDITOR’S NOTE: This ongoing column by Jacob Ackerman reviews music varying from ‘70s rock to today’s hits.

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