Michael Jackson: Scream

Posted October 30, 2017 by in Pop



3.5/ 5


Genre: , ,
Producer: ,
Genre: Pop, rock, funk
Producer: Teddy Riley, Michael Jackson, The Jacksons, Quincy Jones, Janet Jackson, Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis, Rockwell, Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins
Label: Epic
Format: Digital download, compact disc
Time: 69:25
Release Date: 29 September 2017
Spin This: "Thriller," "This Place Motel," "Ghosts"


Standalone disc of MJ's creepy pop plays well, unlike some of his posthumous collections


Lackluster MJ tracks appear, plus absence of some memorable haunting tracks associated with MJ is paramount

MJ’s posthumous gift to Halloween draws attention to deep cuts, spook-esque collaborations

by J Matthew Cobb
Full Article


MJ’s posthumous gift to Halloween draws attention to deep cuts, spook-esque collaborations

Released just in time for the Halloween season, Scream isn’t a new album of vault recordings. It’s just a compilation of mostly all of MJ’s spook-induced catalog hits, even overlooked performances taken from the Jackson galaxy (Jacksons’ “Torture,” Rockwell’s “Somebody’s Watching Me”).

The album title comes from “Scream,” his giant Top Ten duet with baby sis Janet and lifted off the HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I  double-disc “greatest hits” set. It deals with injustices, out-of-control gossip and the buzz surrounding newfound child abuse accusations. To MJ, all of this was a nightmare, worse than any of Freddy Krueger’s preying. For us, it was just a snarky Minneapolis funk track powered by the dynamic duo Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis. On here, it only makes sense to include it for its dramatic scenery and angry punchlines (“stop fucking with me/makes me want to scream”). It’s not a scary song at all, just a big rant you can dance to. “This Place Motel” isn’t all that scary either; it just kicks off with an orchestral overture, a Jamie Lee Curtis-inspired shrill and skirts around a paranoid bass line. Its inclusion, along with a handful of others like the New Jack Swing-induced “Dangerous,” Blood on the Dance Floor” and the haunting “Dirty Diana” are pretty wise choices to the mix, especially considering the dark, edgy tones that hold them up. Meanwhile, “Leave Me Alone,” a bonus track from the Bad era, acts like a prelude to the paranoiac nature of “Scream.” Putting it before “Scream” on this set is a smart move. Deep cuts like the Teddy Riley-produced “Ghosts” (coming out of the Stephen King-collaborated short film) also are worthy finds, sparking new interest in previously released material that’s been lurking in the shadows of the new digital universe. Although not as interesting, the Darkchild-produced “Xscape” and “Threatened” doesn’t really add any luster to the MJ legacy. They are filler tracks, even for this reimagined product.

Of course, this whole effort was purposely designed by the higher-ups at Sony aiming to pump new life and renewed interest into the King of Pop’s catalog, and also to capitalize on a growing segment that pulls out the menacing eternal jam “Thriller” with the intent of cranking up these Halloween parties. It’s a predictable move, even a bit unnecessary considering how easy it is to assemble a curated playlist like this in a Spotify-Apple Music generation. But this organized playlist packaged along with the newer White Panda-curated “Blood on the Dance Floor” remix actually plays like a stylish piece of work outside their respected albums. It sucks to know that Rebbie Jackson’s “Centipede” and the Rod Temperton proto-“Thriller” gem “Off the Wall” didn’t make the set, though. It would’ve helped matters.

About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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