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Track Review

Michael Jackson may be gone, but thanks to a vault of unreleased songs, his music lives on.

The opening lines of the King of Pop’s first posthumous release offer a starkly optimistic contrast to his tragic end: "This is it, here I stand/I’m the light of the world, I feel grand," he sings. "Got this love I can feel/And I know, yes, for sure it is real."

Is Jackson’s casual appropriation of Jesus’ description of Himself as the light of the world meant to be taken seriously—or literally? Probably not.

What follows is a mid-tempo ballad filled with orchestral instrumentation, a horn section, backing vocals of the Jackson brothers … and Michael’s unmistakable voice. Much of the love song is tender, with lines such as, "I feel as though I’ve known you for a thousand years" and "Falling in love wasn’t my plan."

But it’s not all innocent, as we repeatedly hear Jackson say with surprise, "I never thought that I would be your lover"—a lyric that adds a sexual undercurrent to the proceedings.

A postscript: Controversy about the song’s origins erupted within hours of its release on Oct. 12. The "new" Michael Jackson song, it turns out, is hardly new at all, in any way you want to define that word.

Jackson co-wrote the song with ’60s teen idol Paul Anka way back in 1983. And it was recorded by an obscure Puerto Rican singer named Safire under the title "I Never Heard" in 1991. Anka immediately threatened the Jackson estate with a lawsuit, and administrators quickly settled by granting the 68-year-old Canadian singer 50% ownership of the copyright and any royalties.

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October 12, 2009

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Adam R. Holz

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