LOS ANGELES – Michael Jackson returns this month from the musical grave for a second time, with a new posthumous album aimed at resurrecting his star power, five years after his untimely death.
Critics have already hailed “Xscape” a clear improvement on 2010’s “Michael,” the first album released after Jackson died of a drug overdose at age 50, as part of a multi-record deal with label giant Sony.
The new album’s songs include one about child sex abuse, the issue which helped bring down the self-styled King of Pop, despite being acquitted of sexual molestation charges in 2005.
The singer’s executors have worked hard to pay off the enormous debts left by the fallen star, with key projects including the “This is It” film of rehearsals for the doomed world tour he was planning before he died in 2009.
“Michael” has sold a relatively modest 540,000 copies, according to Billboard magazine, which noted that Jackson’s overall record sales were less than both Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash last year.
The album was marred by claims that some of the vocals were not actually Jackson singing.
“Xscape” comprises eight songs chosen from the vast catalogue which Jackson worked on over four decades but which did not make it into any of his iconic albums like 1982’s “Thriller” or 1987’s “Bad.”
The songs are based on original vocals by Jackson, who often made multiple recordings of tunes he was working on, but with music “contemporized” by producers for a modern audience.
While fans will have to wait until next week to hear all the songs, the titles have been released. They include “Xscape,” first produced 15 years ago, and “Do You Know Where Your Children Are.”
The song is about “kids being raised in a broken family where the father comes home drunk and the mother is out prostituting and the kids run away from home and they become the victims,” according to the liner notes.