When Michael Jackson's luster began to fade in the early '90s, he buffed his image by becoming the self-proclaimed King of Pop. Now, as the 43-year-old makes his comeback following a decadelong absence, Jackson's decided that he--and his new album--are "Invincible." Given all the baggage in tow, it's not going to be a moonwalk. When he sings songs on the record about "The touch of your body next to mine" and "making love all through the night," or brags to comedian Chris Tucker about his ability to snag a "bangin' girl" on the new single "Rock My World," it's not only unbelievable, it's downright creepy. The artist and his freak-show life have collided, and it's now impossible to separate them. Sexy and fun songs just aren't as fun and sexy when there are germ-repelling face masks, disfiguring surgeries and, worst of all, child-molestation allegations in the mix.
Still, Jackson the Entertainer soldiers on. "Invincible" reportedly took six years and $30 million dollars to make, is coproduced by hip-hop heavyweight Rodney Jerkins and features the teen-approved likes of R. Kelly and Brandy. It also includes raps by the late Notorious B.I.G. Jerkins's bump-'n'-bounce production animates more than one number, but Jackson's feathery quaver and high pitched "woo hoos" sound frail against the hard beats, not to mention meek next to Biggie's weezy baritone. Too many corny ballads also make it impossible for Jackson to be 21st-century bad: the chirping bird sounds on "Break of Dawn" and the song "Butterflies," for example, aren't likely to attract a new generation of fans weaned on Eminem and Lil' Kim, and old fans may miss those pure pop-dance hooks that made "Off the Wall" and "Thriller" classics. Far from Invincible, this may be Jackson's hardest sell yet.Michael Jackson'Invincible'