By Alan Duke, CNN
The countdown to the release of a Michael Jackson posthumous album began Monday with the debut of a song Jackson recorded 15 years ago.
“Chicago,” which is also known as “She Was Lovin’ Me,” was a track that didn’t make the cut on Jackson’s 2001 “Invincible” album, but a version updated by producer Timbaland will be on “Xscape,” an album to be released next week on Sony’s Epic label.
“Jackson had a habit of over-recording for albums; often times this meant outstanding songs were left on the cutting room floor,” the album liner notes said.
Jackson recorded “Chicago” at The Hit Factory in New York City after songwriter Cory Rooney sent him a scratch demo in 1999, when Jackson was working on his “Invincible” album. Jackson “fell in love with it” the first time he heard the demo, according to the liner notes.
“Jackson sings in his lower register in the verses over an ominous beat, slowly painting a story of an illicit affair, before unleashing a torrent of pain and regret in the chorus,” the album liner notes said about the tune.
Fans can hear the full song only on Sony’s Music Unlimited streaming service until the official release of all eight tracks on May 13. “Chicago” is the first of five songs to be previewed this week, with another single added at each midnight.
Another track — “Love Never Felt So Good” — was released for online downloading after it premiered on the iHeart Radio Awards telecast last week.
After Jackson died at age 50 in 2009, while preparing for his “This Is It” comeback tour, his estate executors signed a long-term deal with Sony to posthumously release music from the large archives of his recordings. Epic was Jackson’s record label for three decades.
Epic Chairman L.A. Reid “was granted unlimited access to the treasures representing four decades of material on which Jackson had completed his vocals,” the label said. The new album draws from tracks Jackson worked on from 1983 through 1999.
Reid chose several producers with the “gravitas, depth and range to creatively engage with Jackson’s work” to update the recordings for release, Epic said.
Timbaland is the lead producer of the album, with contributions from Jerome “J-Roc” Harmon, Rodney Jerkins, Stargate
and Jackson estate executor John McClain.
Each song was “contemporized” to make it sound like a current production, but Jackson fans who want to hear the original recordings can purchase a deluxe edition.