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Xscape is the second posthumous album by American singer Michael Jackson, composed of previously unreleased tracks that were recorded between 1983 and 1999. It was released on May 13, 2014 by Epic Records, MJJ Music and Sony Music, and is the tenth release by Sony and/or Motown since Jackson's death on June 25, 2009. L.A. Reid, chairman of Epic Records, curated and served as executive producer for the album enlisting Timbaland to lead a team of record producers, including StarGate, Jerome "J-Roc" Harmon, John McClain, and Rodney Jerkins, to remix and contemporize the eight selected tracks. Jerkins produced the title song and is the only original song producer to work on the final productions.

Xscape
Xscape.png
Compilation album by
ReleasedMay 13, 2014 (2014-05-13)
Recorded
  • 1983–1999 (original songs)
  • 2013–2014 (reworked songs)
Genre
Length34:25
Label
Producer
Michael Jackson chronology
Bad 25
(2012)
Xscape
(2014)
Scream
(2017)
Singles from Xscape
  1. "Love Never Felt So Good"
    Released: May 2, 2014
  2. "A Place with No Name"
    Released: August 12, 2014

The standard version of Xscape features eight tracks, each reworked between 2013 and 2014, whilst the deluxe version also includes the original versions of the songs which were recorded between 1983 and 1999, a bonus track and two videos. Xscape was promoted across the Sony group of companies; Sony Mobile used a snippet of "Slave to the Rhythm" in their advertising campaign for the Xperia Z2 mobile phone. The album was preceded by the release of its lead single, "Love Never Felt So Good" on May 2, 2014, which included a newly recorded version featuring Justin Timberlake. A second single, "A Place with No Name" was released later that year on August 12. Xscape was generally well received by critics and would go on to be certified Platinum in France, Poland and South Korea as well as earning a number of Gold certifications elsewhere in the world.

BackgroundEdit

Officially announced on March 31, 2014, Xscape features 8 tracks which were originally recorded between 1983 and 1999.[4][5][6] It is the second such album of posthumous material to be released by Epic Records since Jackson's death in 2009.[7] The title track "Xscape" was recorded in 1999 for Jackson's tenth studio album Invincible.[8] American producer Timbaland and Epic Records chairman and CEO L.A. Reid executively produced the album,[9] with additional production from Rodney Jerkins, StarGate and John McClain.[10] Timbaland said that Reid had personally approached the producer at his home to discuss the new Jackson project.[11] Jesse Johnson, former lead guitarist of the American band The Time revealed that he had worked on elements of one song that featured Mary J. Blige, Questlove, and D'Angelo.[12] However, the track failed to be included in the final track listing of the album. Reid said that they wanted to honor Jackson's legacy when naming the album, "the title of this album (Xscape) honors Michael's album naming process. 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 (Thriller, Bad, Dangerous, HIStory and Invincible). This is true of the new project."[13]

Recording historyEdit

"Love Never Felt So Good" was co-written by Canadian singer-songwriter Paul Anka[14] and was originally recorded in 1983 as a demo with Anka on the piano. The song was also recorded by American entertainer Johnny Mathis.[15] A duet version of the song with Justin Timberlake was recorded and released as a single – the song features percussion and breaths from Jackson's 1979 song "Workin' Day And Night".

"Chicago" (originally called "She Was Lovin' Me") was recorded in 1999 but failed to make the Invincible album.

"Loving You" was recorded in 1985 before the "Bad" sessions started.

"A Place With No Name" was written and recorded in 1998. The track resembles "A Horse with No Name," a hit song by American rock band America. A 24-second snippet was leaked online by TMZ in July 2009 and a full version was leaked in December 2013.[16]

"Slave to the Rhythm" was recorded during the Dangerous sessions in 1990. A Tricky Stewart remix version leaked on the internet in 2010, which was intended for the first posthumous album, Michael. Justin Bieber also recorded a "duet version" featured with Jackson's vocals, which was leaked in August 2013. The Michael Jackson Estate afterwards stated that they had not authorized the release of this recording.[17]

"Do You Know Where Your Children Are" was written and recorded during the "Bad" sessions. However, the song was later picked up and reworked for the Dangerous album but did not make the cut. The version appearing on Xscape was recorded in 1986.

"Blue Gangsta" was written and recorded in 1998 but failed to make the Invincible album. Rapper Tempamental remixed the song without Jackson's permission and made it available on his MySpace web page in late 2006. The remix titled "Gangsta (No Friend of Mine)" featured Pras of the Fugees.[18]

"Xscape" was written and recorded in 1999 during his Invincible album recording sessions but failed to make the album. The song was completed in 2001 and leaked on the internet the following year. The tune has been given a modern spin by its original producer, Rodney Jerkins, and features samples of "You Rock My World", a song recorded in the same era as "Invincible".

Promotion and singlesEdit

Two official singles, "Love Never Felt So Good" and "A Place with No Name", were released from Xscape. "Slave to the Rhythm" was the first song announced for the album, and appeared on several notable music charts due to digital downloads and streaming. "Loving You" was released as a promotional single to UK radios.

In February 2014, Sony and Jackson's estate announced a partnership with Sony Mobile that saw the release of an ad incorporating a new version of the track "Slave to the Rhythm", which was confirmed as one of the album tracks.[19] The commercial advertisement was for Sony Mobile's Xperia Z2 mobile phone.[20] The album had been aired to the UK media in the basement of a Knightsbridge hotel on March 31, 2014. The journalists were permitted to hear the album once without any electronic devices, and song titles were kept secret.[21] The entertainment correspondents for some UK media, such as Sky News,[22] London Evening Standard,[21] The Daily Telegraph,[23] Mixmag,[24] The Guardian[25] and Digital Spy[26] were invited.

On April 30, it was revealed that "Love Never Felt So Good" would be unveiled at the iHeartRadio Music Awards on May 1 as the album's first single, contradicting statements by Timbaland that suggested that "Chicago" would be released first.[11] It was co-written by Canadian singer-songwriter Paul Anka,[14] and features Justin Timberlake.[27] "Love Never Felt So Good" was previously recorded by American entertainer Johnny Mathis.[15] The digital download for the single became available on iTunes at 0:01 EDT on May 2, 2014 for the album version and the duet version with Justin Timberlake.[28] The release date of the single to urban radio stations confirmed as May 6, 2014.[29] On May 4, the track "Chicago" became available to Music Unlimited subscribers, being followed by "Loving You", "A Place with No Name", "Slave to the Rhythm", and "Do You Know Where Your Children Are" in the succeeding days.[30]

The Xscape standard and Deluxe Editions were available for pre-order beginning April 1 on iTunes.com/MichaelJackson and elsewhere, and available at all retailers worldwide on May 13.[31]

A Pepper's ghost[32] illusion of Michael Jackson performed "Slave to the Rhythm" at the 2014 Billboard Music Awards on May 18, 2014. The performance was choreographed by the Talauega brothers and was directed by Jamie King.[33] A day after the coverage, the "live" performance of "Slave to the Rhythm" was uploaded to Michael Jackson's VEVO YouTube channel.[34]

Following the success of "Love Never Felt So Good" on the Billboard Hot 100, the song rocketed into the iTunes Top 5 in the US, peaking at #1 in 17 countries and landing in the Top 5 in 67 countries around the world, within 24 hours of release. "Love Never Felt So Good" marks Jackson's 49th Hot 100 entry and it made multiple debuts on various radio formats charts.[35] Jackson became the first solo artist to have a single reach the top 10 in Six different decades, (1960's 70's 80's 90's 2000's & 10's).[36] "Slave to the Rhythm", which debuted at number 45 on the Billboard charts, was Jackson's 50th Hot 100 hit.[37]

Critical receptionEdit

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
SourceRating
Metacritic66/100[38]
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic     [39]
Consequence of SoundC[40]
The Guardian     [41]
Los Angeles Times    [42]
Rolling Stone     [43]
Slant Magazine      [44]
The Sydney Morning Herald     [45]
The Independent     [46]
Billboard90/100 [47]
Entertainment WeeklyB[48]

Xscape has a score of 66 out of 100 on Metacritic, based on 22 critics, indicating generally favorable reviews.[38] Prior to the album release, Xscape was played for critics at exclusive album listening parties in New York City.[49] Bernadette McNulty from The Daily Telegraph praised the album as "pristine", noting the "front-and-center presence of Jackson's voice in the mix".[23] Michael Cragg from The Guardian said Xscape feels "like an album created to showcase a handful of Jackson songs that on the whole deserve to be heard".[25] Richard Suchet from Sky News thought the album "sound[ed] more like modern-day remixes".[22] Nick Stevenson from Mixmag asserted that the album was "more like a collection of B-sides from Off the Wall than a follow-up to Invincible".[24] Michael Arceneaux from Ebony said "the upcoming project 'from' the late singer sounds like a recipe for legacy tarnishing".[50] Elysa Gardner of USA Today said that the producers on the album "ensure that Jackson's enduring strengths as a singer are represented, layering in modern electronic textures without overwhelming the distinctly slinky, shivery vocals or overall structure of the tunes."[51] Other critics suggested the product was just a way to promote Sony smartphones,[52] and had questions about the songwriting and production,[53] or with the singing.[54][55] Jackson fan Nekesa Mumbi Moody, writing for Yahoo, said that much of the album had a dated feel, with "A Place with No Name" having poor lyrics and sound. She concluded that "putting out music that falls below Jackson's standards detracts from the carefully constructed catalog he spent decades creating and protecting."[56]

Commercial performanceEdit

Xscape became Jackson's tenth UK number-one album after it debuted atop the UK Albums Chart with 47,764 first-week sales.[57][58] Currently, sales of the album in the UK stand at 135,500 copies and has been certified gold by the British Phonographic Industry. The album also debuted at number one in Belgium, Denmark, France, and Spain.[59] It debuted at number two on the US Billboard charts with first-week sales of 157,000 copies in the United States.[60] In its second week of sales, the album sold 67,000 more copies. In its third week it sold 35,000 copies bringing its total sales to 259,000 copies.[61] In its fourth week, it sold a little more than 25,000 copies,[62] and the fifth week it sold a little less than 25,000 copies.[63] The album has sold 459,000 copies in the US as of January 2015.[64]

In Canada, the album debuted at number three on the Canadian Albums Chart, selling 12,000 copies.[65]

Track listingEdit

Xscape – Standard version (catalog number 88843053662)[66]
No.TitleWriter(s)Producer(s)Length
1."Love Never Felt So Good" (recorded 1983)
3:54
2."Chicago" (recorded in 1999, during the "Invincible" sessions)
4:05
3."Loving You" (recorded in 1985, before the "Bad" sessions)Jackson
  • Timbaland
  • Harmon[a]
  • Jackson[b]
3:15
4."A Place with No Name" (recorded in 1998, during the "Invincible" sessions)
5:35
5."Slave to the Rhythm" (recorded in 1990, during the "Dangerous" sessions)
4:15
6."Do You Know Where Your Children Are" (recorded in 1986 during the "Bad" sessions)Jackson
  • Timbaland
  • Harmon[a]
  • Jackson[b]
4:36
7."Blue Gangsta" (recorded in 1998 – 1999, during the "Invincible" sessions)
  • Jackson
  • Straite
  • King Solomon Logan
  • Daniel Jones
  • Timbaland
  • Harmon[a]
  • Jackson[b]
  • Dr. Freeze[b]
4:14
8."Xscape" (recorded in 1999 – 2000 & late 2001, during the "Invincible" sessions)
  • Darkchild
  • Jackson[b]
4:04
Total length:34:25
Notes
  • ^[a] signifies a co-producer
  • ^[b] signifies a vocal producer

PersonnelEdit

Adapted from album's liner notes.[70]

  • Michael Jackson – lead and background vocals, producer (1, 9-12, 14-16), vocal producer (2-4, 6-8, 17)
  • Dayna Anderson – violin (5-7, 17)
  • Paul Anka – producer and original piano (1), piano (9), vocal producer (17)
  • Babyface – vocal producer (5), producer (13), keyboards (13)
  • Paul Bailey – assistant engineer (3, 6)
  • Cheryl Banks – production coordination
  • Davis Barnett – viola (5-7, 17)
  • Diana Baron – publicity, public relations
  • Jim Bates – public relations
  • Alla Benyatov – marketing
  • Shalik Berry – A&R
  • Michelle Bishop – violin (5-7)
  • Adam Blackstone - bass (17)
  • Bill Bottrell - engineer (14)
  • John Branca – executive producer, management
  • Stuart Brawley - engineer and second engineer (16)
  • Greg Burns - second engineer (12, 16)
  • Jeff Burns - second engineer (12, 15, 16)
  • Brad Buxer - keyboards (15)
  • David Byrnes – legal counsel
  • Scott Carter – marketing
  • Demacio "Demo" Castellon – engineer (6, 17), mixing (17)
  • Lauren Ceradini – publicity
  • Jeff Chestek – engineer (5-7, 17)
  • Vadim Chislov – assistant engineer (6, 17), assistant mixing (17)
  • Eliza Cho – violin (5-7)
  • Cody Cichowski - assistant engineer (17)
  • Fuko Chubachi – art direction
  • Nina Cottman - viola (17)
  • LaShawn Daniels – background vocals (8, 16)
  • Arlia de Ruiter – violin (1)
  • Eddie Delena - engineer (12)
  • Jeroen DeRijk – percussion (1)
  • C.J. DeVillar - bass (12), assistant engineer (12), engineer (15)
  • Alex DeYoung – assistant engineer (1)
  • Chris Desmond - engineer (11)
  • John Doelp – associate producer
  • Guillame Combet - violin (17)
  • Mike Donaldson – engineer and additional vocal editing (8)
  • Craig Durrance - second engineer (16)
  • Eric - drums and percussion (15)
  • Sean Erick - horns (17)
  • Mikkel S. Eriksen – producer, engineer, and instrumentation (4)
  • Blake Espy – violin (5-7, 17)
  • Mike Daddy Evans – production coordination
  • Glenn Fischbach - cello (17)
  • Matt Forger - engineer (11, 14)
  • Rick Frazier – production coordination
  • Dr. Freeze – vocal producer (4, 7), producer (12, 15), background vocals (12, 15), synths, horns, and meows (15)
  • Brian "Big Bass" Gardner – mastering
  • Humberto Gatica - engineer (12)
  • Brad Gilderman - engineer (16)
  • Mike Ging - engineer (12, 15)
  • Dalia Glickman – A&R
  • Chris Godbey – engineer (2, 3, 5, 6, 17), mixing (2, 3, 5-7, 17)
  • Larry Gold – string arrangements (5-8, 17)
  • Franny Graham - second engineer (16)
  • Fredrik Strand Halland – guitar (8)
  • Jerome "J-Roc" Harmon – co-producer (2, 3, 5-7), producer (17)
  • Trehy Harris – mixing (8)
  • Harvey - percussion (16)
  • Tor Erik Hermansen – producer and instrumentation (4)
  • Jerry Hey – original horns (7), horns (15)
  • Kevin Hissink – guitar (1)
  • Mieke Honingh – violin (1)
  • Jean-Marie Horvat - engineer (16)
  • Norman Jansen – violin (1)
  • Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins – producer (8, 16), vocal producer (8), engineer and mixing (8), background vocals and mouth percussion (16)
  • Perry Jimenez – assistant engineer (2, 5), engineer (7)
  • Dan Johnson - second engineer (12)
  • Brandon Jones – engineer (7)
  • Daniel Jones – producer (7)
  • Michael Jorgersen - violin (17)
  • Jaycen Joshua – mixing (8)
  • Julia Jowett – violin (1)
  • Tommy Joyner - assistant engineer (17)
  • JP Robinson – creative director
  • Jeff Juin – A&R
  • Michael Kane – accounting
  • Joel "Roosevelt" Katz – legal counsel
  • A. Kilhoffer - second engineer (16)
  • Jonathan Kim – viola (5-7, 17)
  • Sarah Koch – violin (1)
  • Wim Kok – violin (1)
  • Rutger "Ruffi" Kroese – drum programming and assistant engineer (1)
  • Jay Krugman – marketing
  • Heath Kudler – music business affairs
  • Emma Kummrow – violin (5-7, 17)
  • Karen Langford – legal counsel, project supervisor
  • Vera Laporeva – violin (1)
  • Sam Lecca – creative director
  • Jennifer Lee - violin (17)
  • Tamae Lee – violin (5-7, 17)
  • Arend Liefkes – bass (1)
  • Elisabeth Liefkes-Cats – violin (1)
  • Efrem I. Paugam – producer
  • King Solomon Logan – producer (7)
  • Jennie Lorenzo – cello (5-7, 17)
  • Mat Maitland – art direction, design, images
  • Luigi Mazzocchi – violin (5-7)
  • Steve McAuley - second engineer (16)
  • John McClain – executive producer, management, producer (1)
  • Paul McKenna - engineer (13)
  • Ranaan L. Meyer – bass (5-7)
  • Erica Miller – violin (5-7)
  • Mo Horns – horns (8)
  • Jesús Morales – cello (5-7)
  • Greg Morgan – break editing & sound design (8)
  • Bill Nation – photography
  • Cole Nystrom – assistant engineer (1)
  • Adam Olmsted - assistant engineer (12), second engineer (15)
  • Charles Parker – violin (5-7, 17)
  • David Peijnenburg – violin (1)
  • Dave Pensado – mixing (1)
  • Karl Petersen – assistant engineer (5-7)
  • Greg Phillinganes - Minimoog (15)
  • Marisa Pizarro – A&R
  • Larry Phillabaum - second engineer (16)
  • Paul Power – engineer (1)
  • Aaron Reid – A&R
  • Antonio "L.A." Reid – vocal producer (5), producer (13), drums and percussion (13), music coordinator
  • Daniela Rivera – additional/assistant engineer (4)
  • Kevin "Kayo" Roberson – bass (13)
  • Cory Rooney – vocal producer (2), producer (10)
  • Carlos Rubio – violin (5-7)
  • Thom Russo - second engineer (13)
  • Heather Santos – A&R
  • Rafa Sardina - second engineer (15)
  • Marcel Schimscheimer – bass (1)
  • Scott Seviour – marketing
  • Leon Silva - horns (17)
  • Mike Sitrick – public relations
  • Renee Steffy-Warnick – viola (5-7)
  • Bruce Swedien - engineer (13, 16)
  • Tom Sweeney - second engineer (15)
  • David Swope - assistant engineer (10)
  • Phil Tan – mixing (4)
  • Annie Tangberg – cello (1)
  • Pauline Terlouw – violin (1)
  • Timbaland – executive producer, producer (2, 3, 5-7, 17)
  • Justin Timberlake - lead vocals (17)
  • Steve Tirpak – assistant copyist (5-7, 17)
  • Giorgio Tuinfort – producer, drum programming, additional piano (1)
  • Vera Van Der Bie – violin (1)
  • Franck van der Heijden – orchestral arrangements and conductor (1)
  • Bastiaan Van Der Werf – cello (1)
  • Herman Van Haaren – violin (1)
  • Joe Vogel – liner notes
  • Mark Ward – cello (5-7)
  • Dan Warner – guitar (2, 6, 17)
  • Matt Weber – assistant mixing (2, 3, 5-7, 17)
  • Howard Weitzman – legal counsel
  • David Williams – original guitar solo (6), guitar solo (14)
  • Kevin Williams - horns (17)
  • Robb Williams - engineer (10)
  • Stephanie Yu – music business affairs

ChartsEdit

CertificationsEdit

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[114] Gold 35,000^
Austria (IFPI Austria)[115] Gold 7,500*
Belgium (BEA)[116] Gold 15,000*
Canada (Music Canada)[117] Gold 40,000^
Denmark (IFPI Denmark)[118] Gold 18,000^
France (SNEP)[119] Platinum 100,000*
Germany (BVMI)[120] Gold 100,000^
Italy (FIMI)[121] Gold 25,000*
Japan (RIAJ)[122] Gold 100,000^
Mexico (AMPROFON)[123] Gold 30,000^
Poland (ZPAV)[124] Platinum 20,000*
South Korea (Gaon)[125] Platinum 12,224
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[126] Platinum 40,000^
Sweden (GLF)[127] Gold 20,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[128] Gold 10,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[129] Platinum 300,000^
United States (RIAA)[130] Platinum 1,000,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

Release historyEdit

Region Date Label Format
Austria May 9, 2014 Sony Music
Denmark
Germany[131]
Spain[132]
France[133] May 12, 2014
United Kingdom[134] Epic Records
Italy[135] May 13, 2014 Sony Music
Canada[136]
United States[137]
  • Epic Records
  • MJJ
Mexico[138] May 21, 2014 Sony Music
Japan[139] Sony Music Japan CD
India[140] May 12, 2014 Sony Music
Germany[141] June 6, 2014 LP
United States[142] June 10, 2014
  • Epic Records
  • MJJ
China[143] June 25, 2014

Sony Music China

CD

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

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  2. ^ [1]
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