Michael Jackson fans are eagerly awaiting the December 14 arrival of his posthumous release, simply called Michael, and on Friday (November 12), the album's official track listing was unveiled. Michael will feature appearances by 50 Cent and Lenny Kravitz, as well as a collaboration with Akon called "Hold My Hand" that's set to debut on Monday (November 15).
"Hold My Hand" will be Michael's lead track. According to an official announcement, Jackson had intended for the song to be the first official release off the album. His label, Sony, and the executors of his estate reportedly have a handwritten note from the singer in which he shares that wish. Another tune, "Breaking News," began streaming on his website this past Monday as a preview for the album.
An early take of "Hold My Hand" was leaked in 2008, but Akon says the version that appears on Michael is the definite one. "The world was not ready to hear 'Hold My Hand' when it leaked a couple years ago. We were devastated about it," Akon explained. "But its time has definitely come; now in its final state, it has become an incredible, beautiful, anthemic song. I'm so proud to have had the chance to work with Michael, one of my all time idols."
In 2007, Akon spoke to MTV News about working with Jackson on music, including "Hold My Hand." "Just to be in the same room [with him], I felt like everything I wanted to achieve in life had already been achieved," Akon said. "That's how incredible that aura [is]. We about to shake the world up, man ... You know how you be with somebody and you can't even explain [the feeling]? I used to always sit and wonder, 'How does somebody sell so many records and dominate a whole business genre to a point where nobody can't be a part of that without associating [with him]?' The way he thinks ... some artists think regional, some think national, I was thinking international, 'til I met him. He thinks planet. It's on another level."
The cover art for Michael was released earlier this month. The painting by Kadir Nelson takes fans on a fantasy ride through the greatest moments of MJ's solo career. MTV News recently decoded the Jackson images and references that make up the album art including several iterations of Jackson ranging from Thriller-era Jackson right through to the singer wearing a crown, an obvious reference to his moniker as the King of Pop.
Here is the complete track list for Michael Jackson's Michael, according to Sony Music Entertainment:
»"Hold My Hand" (Duet with Akon)
»"Keep Your Head Up"
»"(I Like) The Way You Love Me"
»"Monster" (Featuring 50 Cent)
»"Best of Joy"
»"(I Can't Make It) Another Day" (Featuring Lenny Kravitz)
»"Behind the Mask"
»"Much Too Soon"