This is it or at least the beginning of it. Sony Music announced on Wednesday that on Oct. 12 it will release the single "This Is It," the first of what promises to be an onslaught of posthumous Michael Jackson songs, followed by a full two-disc album, Michael Jackson's This Is It, supposedly "inspired" by the Sony film of the same name. The album will be out internationally on Oct. 26 and in the U.S. on Oct. 27, a day before the worldwide release of the movie.
From Elvis Presley to Tupac Shakur, posthumously released music has long been a record-industry staple, and with good reason: death sells. Tupac has had five Top 10 albums since his shooting death in 1996, while the Elvis catalog is among the most valuable assets in entertainment. Of course, most music bearing the description "previously unreleased" was kept in a storage locker for a reason. But the words still have a seductive power for fans who are desperate for a little more music from a departed favorite and for record labels that are looking for one (or more) final cash cow.
Disc 1 of Jackson's This Is It will feature many of his greatest hits in their original mastered version which means that unless you have Mozart's ears, you will not be able to hear much difference from the beat-up copy of Thriller you currently own or downloaded three months ago when the singer died. Also on the first disc are two versions of the title track. Disc 2 offers wait for it "previously unreleased" versions of those same hits as well as what Sony has described as a "touching spoken-word poem from Michael Jackson entitled 'Planet Earth' that has never been heard before." Consider yourself warned.
Despite his limited output over the past decade, Jackson was a prolific studio presence. Producer Rodney Jerkins whom Jackson put on retainer to prevent him from working with other singers has already indicated that he'd like to put out an album featuring his Jackson collaborations, and it's impossible to put a number on the other Jackson recordings that may be out there. Impossible for now, at least.