Twitter Facebook
  Reviews | Gig Listings
Michael Jackson Immortal
Released 18 November 2011

Michael Jackson, Kevin Antunes
Label Epic

76:34 (Regular)
106:09 (Deluxe Edition)
Genre R&B, pop,soul, rock
Website www.michaeljackson.com

It was inevitable that there would be a deluge of posthumous releases from Michael Jackson following his untimely death in 2009; to date we’ve already had a live album (This Is It) as well as an album of previously unreleased tracks (Michael) and you can be sure there will be plenty more to come in the future. These posthumous albums invariably tend to be below par offerings elevated higher by nostalgia and emotion however Immortal may prove to be the exception to the rule. The premise is simple; Kevin Antunes (producer for acts like Justin Timberlake and Rihanna) has remixed and reworked a selection of MJ’s greatest hits for a soundtrack to a Cirque du Soleil show of the same name.

If this album was graded only on song selection Antunes would score well; we get a good cross-section of Jackson’s career with monster hits like 'Thriller', 'Smooth Criminal' and 'Beat It' rubbing shoulders with some lesser known tracks like 'Childhood' or 'Speechless'. His years with the Jackson 5 are well represented with a mashup of 'I Want You Back', 'ABC' and 'The Love You Save'. In truth there would be enough material on Thriller and Bad to make a great mashup album but Antunes avoids focusing too much on one particular part of Jackson’s career and he deserves credit for that. Unfortunately song choice alone isn’t sufficient and as George and Giles Martin proved with their similarly themed Beatles mashup Love; it’s what you do with the songs that counts.

Where Love can be enjoyed as a stand alone album, Immortal suffers from clearly being only one half of an overall production. Extended rhythmic sections and sound effects galore indicate where Cirque Du Soleil will undoubtedly pop and extort their bodies with incredible dexterity and skill in the live show, however sitting at home listening to an album these passages seem redundant and stem the flow of the music. The use of alternate song versions is also questionable, the stripped down versions of 'Smooth Criminal' and 'Thriller' are no match for the full productions of the Quincy Jones originals. Yes we do want to hear something new but not just for the sake of it, so if it can’t at least match the original then don’t bother including it.

Despite his credentials, Antunes never really brings the wow factor to the mixing. The transitions from one track to the next are at best pedestrian and at worst lazy; an over reliance on the sound of a radio being tuned being the worst of his offences. Immortal lacks those breathtaking moments where two unrelated songs suddenly and unexpectedly synchronise- given the similar beats and tempos of so many of his songs it’s a bit of a cop out. Type Michael Jackson Mash Up into YouTube and you’ll find any number of supposedly amateur mixes that put this album to shame.

Judging Immortal without the visual aspect of Cirque du Soleil’s performance is unfair and final judgement of whether Antunes was successful should rest on how the show works as a whole piece of art. Taking this on its own merits, as an album that will be bought by many people who may never see the show, it is a disappointment and with so many Michael Jackson compilation albums already on the market (The Essential Michael JacksonNumber OnesHIStory to name but three) it’s hard to see this album having any longevity with the fans. File this one under ‘a missed opportunity’.

- Brian Kinsella