Michael Jackson: The Remix Suite (Motown)
By Camilla Bell
Emerging through a canopy of futuristic and techno cadences, Michael Jackson’s voice seems to resonate from the era of Motown to 2009, an epoch where there “Ain’t No Sunshine,” seems to be the theme song of the year. Posthumously released, Michael Jackson: The Remix Suite, is a compilation of remixes by famed producers Polow Da Don, Frankie Knuckles, Dallas Austin and The Neptunes, known for penning hits for Snoop Dogg (“Drop It Like It’s Hot,”) and Ludacris (“Money Maker”). Jackson whose repertoire of albums includes “Forever,” “Off the Wall,” and the celebrated “Thriller,” has transformed from thriving child star, to legendary Pop icon and innovator.
In a seemingly futile attempt to maintain the standard of perfection the late Michael Jackson upheld, prominent producers reduce the legacy of Michael Jackson to that of mediocrity. Nevertheless, the majority of the remixes are of hits during his tenure with The Jackson 5, a period before the defamatory rumors, the risqué accusations, and the inexplicable reasoning behind his demise. Though the album was created with the intention of celebrating the life of Jackson and the contribution he has made to the music industry, The Remix Suite is a far cry from the success of prior albums Bad, Dangerous, and HIStory: Past Present and Future, Book 1.
Granted, there are some songs, which mirror the creative and innovative spirit Michael rendered to listeners worldwide. Revamped by renowned producer Benny Blanco, “Ain’t No Sunshine,” is a composition of video game inspired beats, laced with a melancholy rhythm, which adds to the intensity of the song. Blanco effortlessly captures the depthless feeling Michael possesses as he croons about the aftermath of a love lost. Moreover, it seems that we can “Never Can Say Goodbye,” as the Neptunes allow Michael’s individuality to surface as the backdrop beats bolster the original version of the Jackson 5’s hit song. In efforts to bring vitality back to the album, Polow Da Don remixes “Dancing Machine,” and incorporates a Madonna inspired background to the melody, taken from her single “4 Minutes.”
With the tasteful remixes comes a surprising siesta which lulls even the most hopeful listener to sleep. Frankie Knuckles’ spin on the classic “Forever Came Today” takes forever to begin leaving listeners awaiting the arrival of songs less monotonous and more upbeat. “Please don’t close the door to our future there’s so many things we haven’t tried I’m gonna love you better than I used to and give you all the love I have inside.” Though the door of Michael’s future has since closed, the aforementioned tune, replete with explosive synths and a retro beat, allows Michael’s voice to shine through.
The summation of the album contains a remix created by none other than artist/producer Akon, known for being on countless records by artists ranging from T-Pain, Lady Gaga, Gwen Stefani, to Lil’ Wayne. Akon’s mix to “Ben,” though simplistic, restores Michael Jackson to the throne he inhabits even in death, above one hit wonders, wanna-be impersonators, and artists who are more interested in monetary gain than in the art of performing music.