Michael Jackson had produced a new album of previously unreleased material which might have reignited the star’s stalled career, music industry experts have said.
The 50-year-old singer, who died following a cardiac arrest at his home on Thursday, had been working on the new record in collaboration with some of today’s most successful pop writers.
The as yet unnamed album includes songs written by Akon, Ne-Yo and Will. I. Am of the Black Eyed Peas, who have produced hits for stars including Justin Timberlake and 50 Cent.
The record has taken several years to make but had raised hopes of rekindling Jackson’s recording career, which appeared to have waned in recent years.
The King of Pop had been dropped by record label Sony and his most recent album Invincible, in 2001 had sold less than 8 million copies compared to the 100 million his 1982 hit Thriller sold.
However, following the hype of the planned 50-night residency at London’s O2 arena – due to start next month – there was hope that the album would have been well received.
In the wake of his death, the record could provide a means of paying off some of the singer’s debts, estimated at around £36 million.
Tony Wadsworth, chairman of the British Phonographic Industry, told The Guardian: “There would be a huge amount of interest in this album.
“The rapid sell-out of the live dates and the overwhelming reaction to his passing are sure signs that a release of new, good quality Michael Jackson music could see him back at the top of the charts.”
Prior to Jackson’s death, Akon described the new material as “incredible.”.
The songwriter told Entertainment Week: “We’re trying something he’s never done before, and that’s the challenge. There’s not too much Michael Jackson hasn’t covered. Just be ready for it.”
Jackson was thought to be apprehensive about how the new record would be received.
In 2007 Will. I. Am said Jackson was looking at ways to use new technology to his advantage in releasing the album, particularly social networking sites and downloads.
“Man, he still sings like a bird,” he said. “He could go anywhere. I think we have a real opportunity to do something here. It’s either gonna be really big or nobody’s gonna care. Ain’t no middle ground on this one.”
Jackson had announced plans in 2006 to release the record on Bahrain-based Two Seas Records.