Fans gather as Jackson's new album hits stores

December 14, 2010 2:36:39 PM PST
Michael Jackson's new album comes out Tuesday, more than a year after his death.

Hollywood on the Hudson had a listening party Monday night for the music left behind by the late King of Pop. Just hours before the release of the album, called simply "Michael," devoted fans gathered at Roseland Ballroom in Midtown.

And for the fans, it was a "Thriller" of a night - the chance to be among the first to hear new music from the legendary performer.

The first single is a duet with Akon called "Hold My Hand."

"You know, the holding of the hands just unites everyone as one," Akon said. "So 'Hold My Hand' was the whole thing. Let's find a way, through music, that can get in these ears and pass this message down."

Other guest stars on the record include rappers 50 Cent and Jay-Z.

Three tracks were recorded in the basement of a home owned by New Jersey family who befriended Jackson.

"What this album is, is the best they could do with the material they had," said Christopher Farley, of The Wall Street Journal. "And it certainly falls short of Michael Jackson's standards of perfection."

Farley listened to an advanced copy of the album and talked with those close to the late superstar.

"What the representatives of the estate told me, they said it would've been a sin to sit on this material," he said.

Fans surely would agree.

"Michael Jackson means everything to me," one fan said. "His music is everything to me."

More new music is better than no new music, even if it falls short of Jackson's very best. And like it or not, look for more where this came from, because in the 18 months since he died, the Michael Jackson estate has earned $275 million in profit.

There were also concerns from members of the Jackson family who came forward to question the record's authenticity. But Jackson's record company hired experts to determine whether or not it was really him singing, and they are very confident the tracks are genuine. And they say there is at least another album's worth of material left in the vaults.

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