Call it irony, call it the silver lining of a tragic death Michael Jackson's passing has put the King of Pop back on top of the music charts. His hits have suddenly become the nostalgic sound track of summer 2009.
And Jackson's reign could continue for years with fresh material that has never been released and artistic reworkings of existing classic tracks, according to Tommy Mottola, former CEO and chairman of Sony, the company that owns the distribution rights to much of Jackson's music. "The world will be listening to Michael Jackson for decades to come," Mottola tells TIME.
As fans rediscover the great albums, their newfound appetite for Jackson's music could be further satiated by "dozens" of new albums in various forms, says Mottola. The unreleased material, for example, should be extensive due to Jackson's prolific recording and legendary perfectionism. In the studio, Jackson "absolutely" over-recorded for all of his iconic albums, says the former Sony head. "Let's say 12 or 13 songs end up on the album; Michael could have possibly recorded 15, 20 or 30 songs," says Mottola. "This would probably go for every album he recorded and probably pre-dating [Sony] to his Motown days."
Jackson was also constantly trying to stretch himself as an artist, working with the latest hot producers to stay current. So with each album there would be a "plethora" of these producers brought in to work on tracks leading to even more material.
Mottola contends that some of these unreleased tracks, even if they did not make the cut for the original album, could potentially represent Jackson's "best work." Says Mottola: "There were so many recordings, and so many of them were great. It doesn't mean these [unreleased] songs were any less great; it just happened to be the other songs that were picked."
This unreleased Jackson material would not even take into account the two albums that Jackson was reportedly working on for his tour at the time of his death. One of them was a classical album, in which he was collaborating with composer David Michael Frank. Jackson "had the tunes pretty much worked out," Frank told CNN, adding that the album would "show the world that Michael was more than just a songwriter."
There is also the possibility of new live albums and remixing Jackson's existing catalog. "That's five years of material right there," says Mottola of the remixing. "You can just go on and on and on. It's endless for years to come."