New Michael Jackson album ‘Xscape’ to be released May 13th – Let’s guess the track list!

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The Estate of Michael Jackson, in conjunction with Sony Music Entertainment’s Epic Records, have just made a thrilling announcement regarding a brand new album of unreleased music from the King of Pop.

The album, called ‘Xscape’, will hit stores on May 13, 2014 featuring 8 previously-unreleased Michael Jackson recordings – remixed by the likes of Timbaland, LA Reid, Rodney Jerkins, Stargate, Jerome “Jroc” Harmon and John McClain.

Epic Records have also answered the prayers of many hardcore Jackson enthusiasts around the world by making a Deluxe Edition of the album available. The Deluxe Edition will showcase the original, unedited versions of all 8 tracks – exactly as Michael Jackson left them when he last worked on them. This concept was revealed exclusively here at damienshields.com six months ago.

The Estate and those at Sony Music have remained silent regarding the album for months on end. This has not only been their policy with fans and the media, but with artists, writers and producers alike.

So, I’ve decided to take a research-based ‘process of elimination’ approach in trying to decipher which 8 songs will make up the track list of this album. I’ll even keep count as we go.

Dr. Freeze, who wrote two unreleased tracks recorded by Jackson in 1998; “A Place With No Name” and “Blue Gangster”, says that although both of his songs will appear on the album, he has not been involved in any way.

“I’m not on the album; just my songs,” explained Freeze. “Both old and new versions of both songs are on the album to satisfy both sides of the fans.”

When asked which producers were brought in to remix his songs, Freeze said: “They’re keeping tight-lipped about it,” adding that Epic Records has not yet offered him the chance to hear the new versions.

Click here to learn more about “A Place With No Name”.

(TWO: 1. A Place With No Name, 2. Blue Gangster)

Another producer whose song has been remixed and will be included is Cory Rooney.

Rooney produced the highly-anticipated, never-before heard track “She Was Lovin’ Me” for Jackson in 1999. He, too, has received confirmation that his song has made the cut, but it remains unclear who completed the remixed version.

Click here to learn more about “She Was Lovin’ Me”

(THREE: 1. A Place With No Name, 2. Blue Gangster, 3. She Was Lovin’ Me)

Super-producer Timbaland, on the other hand, has been far less secretive about his contributions towards the album. In fact, in mid-2013 he sat down for an interview with Revolt TV in which he candidly explained how L.A. Reid reached out to him to work on the project. In the same interview Timbaland also predicted that the lead single of the album would be a song he had recently remixed, called “Chicago”.

“I can tell you the first single is gonna be the song ‘Chicago’ … I think it should be, because ‘Chicago’ sounds like today,” said the producer.

Click here to read about Timbaland and the song “Chicago”.

(FOUR: 1. A Place With No Name, 2. Blue Gangster, 3. She Was Lovin’ Me, 4. Chicago)

Timbaland’s involvement in the project was further magnified when his official DJ, Freestyle Steve, tweeted about hearing some of the work-in-progress MJ remixes:

“So last night I heard some of the new tracks Timbaland is doing for the King of Pop… WOW! … To all the Timbaland & Michael Jackson fans; just know Tim did an amazing job with Mike’s vocals. The world will love it!”

One remix in particular that has impressed everyone who has heard it is Timbaland’s fresh new take on Jackson’s mid-80s track “Do You Know Where Your Children Are”.

I’ve got it on good authority that: “It’ll absolutely knock your socks off!”

(FIVE: 1. A Place With No Name, 2. Blue Gangster, 3. She Was Lovin’ Me, 4. Chicago, 5. Do You Know Where Your Children Are)

With anticipation of a new album starting to build in the fan community last month, Sony announced the advertising campaign for their new Xperia Z2 mobile phone. Front and centre in their debut video ad is a brand new remix of Jackson’s unreleased track “Slave To The Rhythm” – produced by Timbaland (see below).

Timbaland’s is the third different version of “Slave To The Rhythm” that fans have heard over the last three years. First, fans heard Tricky Stewart’s interpretation of the track. For reasons unknown, that version failed to make the ‘Michael’ album in 2010. In August 2013 a fresh new version produced by Max Method featuring Justin Bieber’s vocals in a duet with Jackson hit the internet. The Jackson/Bieber version wound up on radio for a day or two, until the Estate denounced the track.

Despite having heard three separate versions of “Slave To The Rhythm” in as many years, Jackson’s fans are still yet to hear the original version of the track – the way the King of Pop himself last heard it. However, with Epic Records releasing not only the remixed version, but the original as well, fans will finally get to hear this gem the way Jackson would have remembered it.

“Slave To The Rhythm” is a certainty for the album. For proof, look no further than the description of the above YouTube video.

“Featuring ‘Slave to the Rhythm’ from XSCAPE, the brand new album by Michael Jackson.” – Sony Xperia’s official account. Signed, sealed, delivered!

(SIX: 1. A Place With No Name, 2. Blue Gangster, 3. She Was Lovin’ Me, 4. Chicago, 5. Do You Know Where Your Children Are, 6. Slave To The Rhythm)

The Estate of Michael Jackson, in their michaeljackson.com announcement earlier today, have admitted the obvious; that the song ‘Xscape’ will be on the ‘Xscape’ album.

“The title of this album honors Michael’s album naming process,” reads the Estate’s statement. “He always chose a song from the album to name his projects and, beginning with THRILLER, used only one word titles, each with an edgy quality to them. This is true of the new project.”

They also confirm that Rodney Jerkins, who originally produced the track for Jackson with the intention of including it on 2001’s ‘Invincible’ album, had returned to remix the new version.

“Written by Michael Jackson and Jerkins, and produced by Jackson and Jerkins, ‘Xscape’ has further significance in that it is the one track on the album that was ‘contemporized’ by the producer who recorded it originally in the studio with Michael.”

Snippets of “Xscape” were used during ABC’s Good Morning America news bulletin when announcing the new Jackson album this morning.

(SEVEN: 1. A Place With No Name, 2. Blue Gangster, 3. She Was Lovin’ Me, 4. Chicago, 5. Do You Know Where Your Children Are, 6. Slave To The Rhythm, 7. Xscape)

We are up to seven, which leaves just one spot vacant. I’m not necessarily excited about this one, but if we’re looking at the intel available to us, it seems to be the most likely candidate – “Love Never Felt So Good”.

In February this year Paul Anka, one of Jackson’s fleeting collaborative partners of the 1980s, claimed that his unreleased Jackson track, “Love Never Felt So Good”, would feature on Jackson’s then-unannounced new album.

Anka’s apparent knowledge of the fact that there would indeed be a new album adds credit to his claims, which came more than a month before today’s official announcement.

Also, John McClain (co-executor of The Estate of Michael Jackson) is listed in the Estate’s official announcement on michaeljackson.com today as a contributing producer to this project.

Back in 2010, when the controversial ‘Michael’ album was being put together, John McClain worked on “Love Never Felt So Good” and was said to be extremely fond of the track, favouring it for inclusion on the set. In the end it, much like “Slave To The Rhythm”, was not selected.

Will it get it’s time to shine now? It seems as though it might!

(EIGHT: 1. A Place With No Name, 2. Blue Gangster, 3. She Was Lovin’ Me, 4. Chicago, 5. Do You Know Where Your Children Are, 6. Slave To The Rhythm, 7. Xscape, Love Never Felt So Good)

Other tracks that could come into contention include:

“Throwin’ Your Life Away” – which Jackson worked continuously on from the late 80s until his death. This song is cited, among others, on a list found taped to the wall in Jackson’s bedroom on June 25. The track has complete vocals.

“I Was The Loser” – a track co-written by Brad Buxer with Jackson. Originally called “I Am A Loser”, this song, too, was part of Jackson’s “to do” list at the time of his death. Vocals recorded by engineer Michael Prince. It’s worth noting that The Estate and Sony Music made no effort to contact Buxer or Prince regarding the production of the ‘Xscape’ album. Click here to learn more about “The Loser”.

“Joy” – a track Jackson co-wrote with Teddy Riley in the 90s which was ultimately recorded and released by Riley’s group Blackstreet. Riley mentioned “Joy” in a radio interview that Jackson had recorded a solo version of this track and that he would endeavour to hand the tapes over to The Estate.

So, have I missed any possible leads? Have I considered a song to be “in” that you think will be replaced by another? Which songs do YOU think will make the final cut and why? With pre-sale launching via iTunes (www.itunes.com/michaeljackson) tomorrow (April 1) we won’t have to speculate for long!

Discuss below…

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