Review Summary: ‘This is all we could conjure up’.
Save for “This Is It”
, a thoughtful poem, and a few pre-recorded demo tapes during the second disc, This Is It
itself hardly lives up to its cinematic accompaniment. You have to bear in mind that the album was never truly intended to be an additional greatest hits anthology; 2003’s Number Ones
after all was still selling significantly well, and boasted a highly distinguishable (if not better) track list. So is this really it? Epic’s studio rendered compilation of a live recording that ultimately never occurred? Regardless of Michael’s unfortunate and his legacy to today’s standard of the “pop-musician”, the reasoning behind this is blatantly obvious: the passing cash grab, mistakenly disguised through “The music that inspired
the movie”. Remarkably it’s all phrased as if This Is It
was prospects in the making for Sony-Epic. Has it still only been just five months...?
Genuinely speaking is more so the musical choice, as opposed to the marketing in this case. The mix of compositions here spanning all ’79 to ‘09 chosen to be included in the 50 live performances at The O2 Arena, more or less give off the perception of what Michael anticipated his final farewell on-goers to indulge in, minus all the pyrotechnics, synchronous-dancing and lavishly gifted instrumentalists helming its bow. It’s thoughtful but not overly sincere, nor sentimental, but certainly underwhelming in sum. Unless you have an authentic sounding live EQ preset, 1000 friends copying your call, and Gandalf letting off exuberant fireworks, the bulk of material here is still best found in their original casings, where you may also find hidden gems easily overlooked previously. Worthy of sole-mention, “This Is It”
is possibly one of Michael’s most soulful creations ever, made possible by the exhaustive efforts to restore and recapture his vocal elegance during the early 80s. With orchestral strings, click-finger beats and his siblings crooning gracefully behind his vintage lead, the song finalises the first disc with a tangible satisfaction. Thankfully, tangibility in Michael’s case isn’t defined by this excuse for mantelpiece memorabilia.