Friday, January 18, 2008

Thriller reissue: Is it any cop?

Having finally squeezed the last remaining breath out of Michael Jackson's back catalogue, Sony have had to come up with something new to get the fans to buy something old.

To that end, they're releasing a 25th anniversary edition of the best-selling album of all time (Thriller, you idiot) complete with pointless hip-hop remakes of Jackson's best work.

Poor old has been lumbered with trying to update the simpering The Girl Is Mine. To be fair, he makes a decent fist of it - excising Paul McCartney's syrupy vocals and setting the whole thing to a crispy crunchy percussion loop. His rap ("I'm sorry Mike, but she loves the way I rock her") is a much better counterpart to Jackson's melody than McCartney's cheesy broadway mugging on the original.

Will also tackles Beat It along with his Black Eyed Peas cohort Fergie. It is one of the worst things you will ever hear.

Akon, that irritating jailbird with the vocoder, somehow gets the chance to work his "magic" on Wanna Be Starting Something. Ignoring the fact that this is one of the best disco grooves ever committed to tape, he starts off with a minute-long solo verse accompanied by a plaintive piano and string ensemble.

It sounds like he's performing it for a school musical.

Coming to the rescue is hip-hop's living breathing ego Kanye West, who works his production magic on Billy Jean. Controversially, he ditches the iconic drumbeat and slows the song right down. But it works - the song gains a soaring, widescreen sweep that reveals new depth and colour to Jackson's performance. West even shows a remarkable restraint with his own vocals - merely adding the occasional "yeah" to prove he was in the studio. Superb.

The Thriller reissue comes out on 11 Feb (oddly, this is 25 years, 2 months and 10 days after the original was released) but the songs have already leaked... Some youtube (youtube) links follow.

:: Billie Jean 2008 - feat Kanye West
:: Beat It 2008 - feat Fergie
:: Wanna Be Starting Something 2008 - feat Akon
:: The Girl Is Mine 2008 - feat (also out as a download single this week)

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