Monday, October 12, 2009

Jackson Single 'This Is It' Released Online

By Chris Richards
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Since Michael Jackson's passing on June 25, grief has dovetailed seamlessly into commerce, and album sales have skyrocketed accordingly. But now fans have the opportunity to hear an unheard Jackson tune for the first time since his death -- and for free.

In Washington, the new song arrives as a city continues to mourn the King of Pop. An empty Adams Morgan bar pumps the classic "I Want You Back" from its open doors in hope of snaring a weeknight patron. Memorial issues of Time and Entertainment Weekly refuse to cede their positions on drugstore magazine racks. At Ninth and U streets NW, promotional posters for the forthcoming Jackson documentary film "This Is It" cover an abandoned liquor store -- advertisement masquerading as memorial.

The documentary's title track premiered at midnight Monday on, where it continues to stream in anticipation of the film's Oct. 28 release. It's a dawdling love song that dissolves into a sweet, middling mush -- halfway between the up-tempo sunbeams we hoped for and the dishwater balladry we expected.

Jackson counts the tune off in the diminutive speaking voice that belied his supernatural vocal agility. "This is it, here I stand/I'm the light of the world, I feel grand," he coos in the song's opening verse, as if basking in the affection of a lover (or perhaps an audience of millions). Fans may have wanted This Is It! But the result is more This Is It?

Jackson's brothers provide the backing vocals, evoking the Freon-cool harmonies that populated some of the singer's finest work. Imagine the carefree melodies of "The Girl Is Mine," unfurling at a much breezier tempo. Pianos chime, guitars strut, violins surge -- all to the beat of Jackson's snapping fingers.

There's more where this came from -- a whole lot more, according to the managers, family members and label honchos wrestling over Jackson's unreleased material. In August, Jackson's manager Frank DiLeo told Rolling Stone that the singer's family had obtained a trove of more than 100 songs, including demos, outtakes and recent collaborations with with Will.I.Am, Akon and Ne-Yo.

"This Is It" marks the first drops in what could be a flood of unheard material. Let's hope future trickles aren't so treacly.

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