Mystery track on Michael Jackson’s ‘XSCAPE’ album is called “Lovin’ You” – Track list complete!

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It’s been almost two weeks since The Estate of Michael Jackson and Epic Records announced the May 13 release of the new Michael Jackson album ‘XSCAPE’. Although no track list has been announced as of yet, fans have been able to piece most of it together based on the reports published by those who attended private listening sessions arranged by Epic’s CEO L.A. Reid.

What we know for certain is that there will be eight songs on the album. Before today, seven of those eight tracks had been identified. Following new revelations that have come to pass today, it seems we can officially lock in the eighth and final track.

The track list is as follows:

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

Track #3 on the album, called “Lovin’ You”, was a mystery until today. Here’s how it was identified and ultimately confirmed:

Two days ago Epic Records and The Estate held a listening session at Jim Henson Recording Studios in Los Angeles – the same studio in which Jackson famously recorded “We Are The World”. This listening session, hosted personally by Epic CEO, L.A. Reid, and Estate co-executor, John Branca, was held especially for a select group of fans whom the Estate flew in from as far and wide as Spain, Germany, Japan, UK, the Netherlands as well as cities within the United States.

Matt Blank, the representative of Michael Jackson World Network that attended the LA listening session, reported that according to L.A. Reid, track #3 is called “Loving You”.

“I asked L.A. Reid to confirm the title of track three, asking if it was ‘Loving you’ and he said yes,” revealed Blank via Twitter, adding: “This (“Lovin’ You”) was a lyric repeated a lot during the chorus… None of us have seen the tracklisting written down… but as I said I did ask for confirmation.”

With Blank’s statements in mind I set out on trying to confirm the origins of “Lovin’ You”. Here’s what I found:

Michael Jackson wrote and recorded the track in the mid-80s before bringing the multi-track tapes to his trusted engineer, Matt Forger, to mix.

“One day MJ came into the Hayvenhurst Studio and asked me to mix it and gave me the multi-track,” recalled Forger. “He did the song at another studio. He just brought me the tape to mix,” he continued, adding that it was likely John Barnes who played on it. “He worked with him a lot in that era.”

Forger told me that the track is vocally complete, which fits with L.A. Reid’s strict terms and conditions of only including songs that Jackson recorded complete, multi-track vocals for.

“I remember it as an RnB style, mid-tempo love song,” said Forger, which matches perfectly with the descriptions of journalists and fans who’ve heard it. “It was a good song, just not in serious consideration for the BAD album. One of many that were recorded and put away.”

Below is a collection of statements regarding “Lovin’ Me” derived from articles published over the last two weeks:

“The third song played is another Off the Wallesque, mid-paced love song with a youthful, almost naive-sounding vocal. It feels very much like a song that didn’t make it on to an old album, and while the production is good – there’s an amazing rolling beat throughout – it still feels slight,” reported journalist Michael Cragg after attending a listening session in the UK, while Lewis Corner, also at that session, described it as a flowing ’80s-tinged serenade with orchestral bursts and choral harmonies.

A critic who heard the track during the Paris listening session likened the song to “Liberian Girl” and described it as being a nostalgic track with a minimalist-type production and whirling synths.

Another attendee of that same Paris listening session told me that the track was a smooth mid-tempo love song about a girl. He said it has an RnB feel, “Reminiscent of the ‘Off The Wall’ approach Jackson and producer Rodney Jerkins had developed on ‘Invincible’ for songs like ‘You Rock My World’,” adding that: “It has a slight ‘The Jacksons’ feel; like in their ‘Triumph’ days.”

Joseph Vogel, author of ’Man in the Music: The Creative Life and Work of Michael Jackson’, discussed the track briefly from his Twitter account, also confirming that the track is a mid-tempo from the 1980s and: “Not a song that people have heard.”

And Vogel is right; people around the world, myself included, have never heard this song before. Vogel, however, has been privileged enough to have heard the entire album on more than one occasion – first in L.A. Reid’s office, and again at the Top of the Rock listening session in NYC on April 8.

“I can’t wait to check out the album,” Matt Forger told me as we wrapped up our conversation. “I’ve heard about it but I haven’t heard any of the new stuff,” he said, adding that it’s pleasing to see so many positive reviews.

‘XSCAPE’ is released worldwide on May 13, 2014

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