Michael Jackson's new song and two-disc 'This Is It' release: honor or exploitation?

Sony Music announced today that it will release a new Michael Jackson song, “This Is It,” on October 12, two weeks before the concert documentary of the same name makes its limited run in theaters.

The track will appear on a two-disc album; according to the press release, “Disc one will feature the original album masters of some of Michael’s biggest hits arranged in the same sequence as they appear in the film. The disc ends with two versions of the never-released ‘This Is It.’ This song is featured in the film’s closing sequence and includes backing vocals by Michael’s brothers, the Jacksons.”

As for disc two? It will offer “previously unreleased versions” of some of the Jackson’s classic songs, plus “a touching spoken word poem from Michael Jackson entitled ‘Planet Earth’ that has never been heard before,” and a 36-page commemorative booklet featuring “exclusive photos of Michael from his last rehearsal.”

In one sense, this feels inevitable;  the enormous bump in album sales since his death (his greatest-hits comp Number Ones appears on track to be 2009’s best-selling album, overtaking Taylor Swift’s Fearless, according to Nielsen SoundScan), combined with his reported debts and the inborn capitalist (and capitalizing) nature of the music business almost guarantees it.

Still, does anyone else feel kind of … icky? The King of Pop already has multiple greatest-hits materials available (heck, Thriller is its own greatest hits), comps, and remasters, as well as an upcoming Michael Jackson: The Remix Suite; where does honoring a late legend become mere milking of a cash cow?

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Comments (26 total) Add your comment
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  • Emma

    Can’t wait to hear the new song. Long live the King!

  • Janice

    We can never get enough Michael Jackson no matter how it is packaged. We will preserve and protect his legacy! Thank you Michael for all the joy you brought to billions and for making the world a better place because you were here! Love you forever, Michael.

  • I-Man

    EW, did you feel the same way about Tupac after he died and all his songs came out? How about Candle in the Wind for Princess Di? This is typical Hollywood Tactics. Quite frankly I do not feel the morbidity about this because if Michael Jackson was alive he would still release all his works at the end of the year. So I say let them come out and we all enjoy his final moments in life and his final songs of his life. By next year we will be moving on without him but never forget the legend that he is.

    • Muffy

      OMG, I-Man don’t get me started on Tupac! lol

      Don’t forget about Fat Elvis and many others. Even when he was living Sony released the same MJ albums over and over again. Too bad he’s not here to use all this money for his bills and more plastic surgery. *hehe*

      • luvmj

        no i do not find it icky, although i do about you and the media! michael will always be in my heart and i hope he proves that even in the days of itunes, he is going to go several platinum in the US only. i just read your article about how difficult for artists to sell even a million nowadays, and i wanted to point out that mj’s invincible sold more than 2million in the US WITHOUT PROMOTION!!! Now it was in the era of downloading music but mj still could do his thing! i wonder how many copies it would have sold if given the proper promotion!

  • slimdave420

    No it doesn’t feel ‘icky’. They are releasing his rehearsal footage in film form it is only natural to release an accompanying album to go with it. It is your article and headline that are in fact ‘icky’. Purposefully trying to elicit a negative reaction from your readers. Shame on you. Love you Michael. Miss you much.

  • starchild

    The cd sounds pretty nice. I would buy it. And isn’t this a case of the pot calling the kettle black? Entertainment Weekly drops Michael’s name every chance they get (to make money – to attract readers)Why shouldn’t Michael’s estate get to make some money off it?

  • munawar ali

    I LOVE MICLE JACKSON VERY MUCH HE IS A VERY GOOD PERSON AND HE IS A MUSLIM AND HE IS NICE I SOORY BECAUSE MICLE JACKSON IS GO AWAY THIS TIME I AM VERY SOORRY MY BROTHER MICLE JACKSON IS NOT HERE I AM CRYING MY ALLAH GIVE ME MY BROTHER MICLE PLZ ALLAH MICLE GIVE OK BYE THIS IS MY COMMENT THIS COMMENT GIVE THE MIDIYA AND NEWSPAPERS MY NAME IS MUNAWAR ALI SO HAJI QALANDER BUX CONTRY PAKISTAN CITY MIRPURKHAS

    • ann onymous

      Sorry, Michael is not a Muslim. People tried to convert him, but he wasn’t interested. It being said over and over will not make it so.

  • SoCalGal

    The only thing “icky” is the way the press treated Michael Jackson when he was still with us. Shame on you. Stop dissing him now! I’ll buy everything they’ve got concerning Michael Jackson. I hope his estate’s coffers become full to overflowing.

  • Bobbie

    The only thing that’s ” icky ” about this whole thing is the media. They are truly disgusting . I think it’s great that the fans get to listen to his final material. I for one think that Michael would want his fans to get that chance. I think that the media should stop analyzing every little thing about this and just let people enjoy the music that this amazing legend left behind.

  • ALESSANDRA

    MICHAEL O BRASIL TE AMA.
    VOCÊ NOS FAZ MUITA FALTA.QUERIA MUITO QUE ESTIVESSE AQUI,PARA NOS ENCANTAR COM O SEU SORRISO LINDO.
    I LOVE YOU,MY ANGEL.
    FOREVER KING OF POP!

  • ann onymous

    I want more and more Michael Jackson. I will never tire of him or his music. Maybe the corrupt media should have thought they were being “icky” when they were trying to destroy a loving humanitarian. He’s going to be around forever and his fans will keep him alive forever. Get used to it.

  • ella a. umbrella

    I can’t wait, but I know his new music will make me so sad. Just watching the trailer made me sad. And you know what, for those who say they’re “beating a dead cash cow” — yeah to an extent, they are. But I really do think that if this is the only way it could be, this is what Michael would have wanted. He wanted to do films — his last major work has become a film. He wanted to do 50 (ha, AEG says he wanted to do 50) sold out concerts in London — now the whole world will be able to see his last concert. As much as I don’t want to watch a bunch of phony execs making a dime off Michael anymore, if just some of the money from his posthumous music and movie sales winds up in the hands of his mother and children – especially his children – I would willingly pay to see this movie and buy the soundtrack multiple times over. Say I’m wrong, but a part of me feels that this is the best his fans can do for his legacy now that he is gone. Respect.

  • Dave

    Leah Greenblatt you are a hypocrite. Aren’t you exploiting Michael Jackson by working for Entertainment Weekly the magazine that rushed out a cover story on Michael before the body was cold?

    Shame on you.

    I look forward to this CD.

  • jenny

    you know what, if the money from us buying the cds, the books, as well as going to the movies and even just purchasing t shirts is going to MJ’s mother and his children, and further, if it even helps in some way to clear up that debt, then I am all for it.
    Speaking for myself, I get to enjoy MJ all over again. He lives on in my heart.
    Negative media can’t hurt MJ anymore…however, those very words could hurt his family and close friends…they miss him and the media needs to remember and respect that they are mourning.

  • Bea from Phil

    I can sleep better now w/ Michael Jackson on my cd, and feel happy when I wake up hearing his screams!! Wow! this is just wonderful, thank so so much Michael Jackson. I love you, and you’re in my heart forever. Rest in peace now my Sweet Prince!

  • AA

    long live the king yo

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