Jacko moonwalks toward old form: Invincible, Michael Jackson Epic Records

BY DUSTIN J. SEIBERT
Daily Arts Writer
Published October 30, 2001

30 years.

Paul Wong
These fine people are ready to perform.<br><br>Courtesy of UMS

Seven solo albums. 17 Grammys. Five less-talented brothers. Hundreds of millions of worldwide fans. 40 effects-laden videos. One fine-ass little sister. Two wives. One chimp. Two unseen offspring. One really bad nose job. A personal amusement park. One "hairy" Jheri curl-juice accident. One white glove. One incomparable dance move. Two odd pink lips, one booty chin and a hell of an identifiable scream. Above and beyond it all, Michael Jackson remains the man.

It is amazing that a man whose career has already experienced such longevity can continue to entertain the masses as he does with Invincible. Just when everyone begins to figure that he has fallen into that popular graveyard of celebrity obscurity, he comes back, guns blazing, with something else to give people to talk about. A primary tabloid target, M.J. doesn"t make it much better on himself by increasingly appearing like a white guy impersonating Michael Jackson his physical deterioration is sickening at best, and it may well cause even longtime fans to turn their backs on him.

As is evidenced by his latest videos, however, Mike, at the ripe old age of 43, still has the moves that made him a phenomenon. While the rest of the world has given up on figuring out that damn moonwalk, he has graduated to bigger and better things, giving those creaky old bones a new, 21st century test drive (Hey none of us believe that he is getting laid on a regular basis, so he has to get that nervous energy out somehow)

Michael has had the same formula for his songs for the past 18 years this is important, as it speaks for his consistency and the fact that he hasn"t a need to sell out he already has enough loot to buy God out of his heavenly throne. Analyze his songs and you will find that each one fits into one of five categories: His regular, upbeat pop jam his angry, leave-me-the-fuck-alone pleas to all those who desecrate his good name his pleasant, romantic, soulful ballads his "bitch" songs the ridiculously corny, cutesy tracks that beg for a nudge to Mr. Skip Button and his heal-the-world-and-everything-in-it, reach-for-a-star songs that plea for world peace, mother nature and all those bloody kids that he is always bitching about. These categories may intermingle at times, but they are separately identifiable for the most part.

Sure enough, this album has them all. "Unbreakable" and "Invincible" are Mike"s joints where he brags upon his longevity despite all the "bad people" that have tried to shut him down. The former features a ripped verse from The Notorious B.I.G. that really does not belong anywhere on the album, and the latter features a lukewarm verse from an unknown rapper named Fats (perhaps one of Tito"s kids or something). "2000 Watts" borrows from Tyrese"s latest album with a pointless Teddy Riley appearance, and "Privacy" is the album"s obligatory track in which he addresses the pesky paparazzi an apparent dedication to Princess Diana.

"Break of Dawn" and "Heaven Can Wait" are pleasant slow ballads that showcase his true vocal ability off of the dance floor. "Speechless" and "The Lost Children," however, are shining examples of what happens when The Gloved One gets beside himself and writes smarmy crap that should be reserved for a CD changer somewhere in a preschool. "Cry," an otherwise good song, is another of his futile pleas to help him change the world for the better meanwhile, the budget for just one of his over-the-top music videos could go to feed Somalia for a decade. Truthfully, all of this crying over the children is not making him look any less guilty regarding the accusations of his pedophilic trysts.

With the bulk of production handled by Rodney Jerkins, including contributions from Teddy Riley and R. Kelly, Michael"s decades-old flavor is given a nice contemporary facelift concerned fans can rest assured that the music hasn"t changed for the worse since the days of Quincy Jones. Many loyal M.J. fans will argue that he can do no wrong (i.e. everyone that purchased the perpetually wack Blood On The Dance Floor), and no one or nothing will stop them from invading music stores for the record. Regardless, he has crafted a well-rounded album that should not disappoint fans and naysayers alike. Seeing as none of the pantywaist "NSync boys have a snowball"s chance in hell of garnering the "King of Pop" title anytime soon, leave it to Mr. Jackson to continue to hold the crown for some time to come.

Still the man.

Grade: B