Michael Jackson is out on a mission to tell his critics and adversaries that he is above and beyond their control with his new album “Invincible.” The album is very much a reflection on his personal experiences.

With musical talents like Notorious B.I.G and R. Kelly contributing, a massive publicity campaign and a nearly unburnable CD, Jackson and Sony music have left no stone unturned to ensure that this album is a success.

And while the album is a must-have for music fans and Michael fans alike, it is a mixed bag. The one obvious flaw is that Jackson got carried away making the ballads.

With the exception of “Break of Dawn,” the fourth track, the ballads feature a lovesick Jackson who takes away from the invincible Michael in the other songs.

“Invincible” begins in familiar Jackson style, with hot beats and a fairly wide vocal range.

The first track, “Unbreakable” featuring Biggie Smalls, successfully sets the tone for the album featuring an angry, confident and determined Jackson. His vocal range is impressive for a male artist.

The next track, “Heartbreaker,” continues the pace, and has a technically enhanced beat, which sets it apart from the others and saves the song from getting lost.

The title track is third and is OK on the first listen. The sound is too similar to the two previous songs. But it does grow on you and has potential to become a hit if there is a well-choreographed video to go along with the foot-tapping beat. It’s obvious that Jackson wanted to capitalize on the growing trend of rap in pop songs with the piece by Fats.

The ballad “Heaven Can Wait” is the first of the many ballads that disappoint and break the continuity of the album. He tried to aim for a variety of listeners and the result is that he leaves everyone wanting more.

After this, the listener hopes that Jackson has experimented enough and that rest of the album can be filled with pop numbers, which is what Jackson does best. This is exactly why “You Rock My World” comes as a welcomed song near the middle of “Invincible.” It is definitely easy to rock with the catchy beat.

Soon after is one of the highlights of the album ? “2000 Watts.” This number is a winner and has somewhat of a boy band feel. While the lyrics are nothing special, Jackson excels at using his low voice to be different, creative and live up to his title of the King of Pop.

“2000 Watts” also serves as the climax of the album and it comes early at track nine.

After this, the album becomes inconsistent with the sonically bland “You Are My Life” followed by a mid-tempo number “Privacy” ? Jackson’s revenge and attack back at the paparazzi. The cool thing about “Privacy” is the computerized effect of a camera’s clicking supporting Jackson’s voice.

The next few tracks “Don’t Walk Away,” “Cry” and “The Lost Children” are unimpressive. “The Lost Children” is too much like “Heal the World,” a sign that Jackson may have run out of creativity here.

There is a final attempt to reaffirm the invincible theme in the final number “Threatened.” Jackson calls himself a beast and warns everyone that they should feel threatened by him. The song could have worked well in the album if it was not separated from all the other pop tracks.

On the whole, even though “Invincible” contains 16 tracks, it leaves the listener with something to crave. Jackson is inconsistent, and he spreads himself too thin trying to cater to too wide an audience.

So while Jackson’s ballads disappoint, the experiments within his area of expertise, pop music, are welcomed because they blend the old Michael with the new. These tracks that feature pop music are a treat with head-bopping beats, technical and sonic superiority and classic Jackson.

Compared with other pop albums on Billboard right now, Wacko Jacko glistens. But in comparison to his previous work, “Invincible” lacks a classic song like “Rock With You” from “Off The Wall”or “The Way You Make Me Feel” from “Bad.”

Desai can be reached at mdesai@campustimes.org.



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