ARTIST: Michael Jackson feat. will.i.am., Akon, Fergie, and Kanye West
TITLE: Thriller 25
RELEASE DATE: Feb. 2008
WEB DEBUT: Dec. 20, 2007
ONE-LISTEN VERDICT: “Remixing” or “updating” or “mauling” Thriller is pointless/infuriating out the box, so best to assess these new versions of MJ’s classics by will.i.am, Akon, Fergie, and Kanye West (released to coincide with the album’s 25th anniversary) for what they are. The hump-happy results can easily blind you to what a great producer will.i.am can be, and while his slap-bass and Euro-house synth rewrites of “The Girl Is Mine” and “P.Y.T” sound garish as hell next to the originals, they’d make excellent pop radio singles circa 2007. Similarly, Akon’s “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ ” is passable once you get through the Bruce Hornsby piano and chintzy synth horns of the intro, and an obviously awed Kanye merely adds chunky drums and clouds of strings to the original synth hook and bass twang of “Billie Jean.” Fergie’s “Beat It,” however, is just as horrific as you may have imagined, the original with Fergie copied and pasted in like a leathery Natalie Cole. Her awkward, husky intrusions point up the chief redundancy of these remixes: Do we really need other voices, especially when its will.i.am talking about peeling panties “like a tangerine,” competing with Michael?
WHERE TO LET FERGIE KICK YOU AND BEAT YOU AND TELL YOU IT’S FAIR: The Leak Source, if you dare.