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Music

New album from the "King of Pop"

The Michael Jackson estate includes a number of songs not yet released. Eight of them are now seeing the light of day: the posthumous album "Xscape" presents songs by the "King of Pop" in all new adaptations.

Heretofore untouched in the Michael Jackson archive: eight songs culled from the artist's estate. Although lent a contemporary sound by star producers like Timbaland and J-Roc, the new album "Xscape" is thoroughly within the "King of Pop's" aesthetic realm: modern, yet a bit ahead of its time, said the estate’s executors in a press release.

"Michael was always on the cutting edge and was constantly reaching out to new producers, looking for new sounds," the release continues. After "Michael," released in 2010, this is the legendary pop artist’s second posthumous album.

One of the eight, "Love Never Felt So Good," goes back to a recording Jackson made over 30 years ago with musician Paul Anka but never released. Producer John McClain turned it into a dance pop duet with pop star Justin Timberlake. The song "Xscape" itself was written in the late 90's by Jackson and music producer Rodney Jerkins. The funky hit material is the new album's title song.

Popstar Michael Jackson in 1984. Photo: Ezio Petersen, dpa

Michael Jackson in 1984

"King of Dollars"

Michael Jackson ranks as the most successful musician in pop history - and a business genius. One of his most significant deals was made in 1985: for $47.5 million (34.32 million euros), Jackson purchased the rights for nearly all songs by the Beatles. In the 90s, he signed a record contract that broke all records: Sony Music offered $890 million for six albums, films and performances.

The "Michael Jackson" brand remains a billion dollar business to this day. The "King of Pop" died in 2009 due to an overdose of medications, but his career continues uninterrupted. In 2010, Sony Music agreed on a $250 million contract with the executors of Jackson‘s estate. In 2013 Michael Jackson led the "Forbes" list of highest-earning deceased pop stars; his yearly income is an estimated $160 million. A distant second: Elvis Presley, to the tune of $55 million. Jackson's Facebook page has 73 million likes, and new posts on the "King of Pop" are added every day.

Star Norwegian production duo mixes "Xscape"

"Kings of Sound"

Superstars of the music industry joined forces for the album "Xscape," most having worked with Jackson during his lifetime. Antonio "L.A." Reid, business manager of Sony Music's Epic Records, assembled the "Xscape" production team including well-known rap and R'n'B musicians and two Norwegians: Mikkel Eriksen and Tor Hermansen founded their recording company "Stargate" in Trondheim and made their breakthrough in the US in 2006. The publicity-shy Scandanavians have produced songs for pop divas Beyoncé and Rihanna and run the label "Star Roc" with rapper Jay-Z.

Previous triumphs notwithstanding, working on songs by the "King of Pop" is a challenge even for seasoned producers. Michael Jackson, after all, wrote pop history.

"Modern music and artistry would look and sound completely different if not for the groundbreaking contributions Michael Jackson gifted to the world," said L.A. Reid.

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