Michael Jackson recently celebrated his 50th birthday, and in another effort to cash in on his fame, the wise people at Sony have decided to release yet another compilation album in his honour. The twist is that the tracklisting is determined by fans' votes, so it is "for the fans", as they like to say.
Only 16 countries (so far) have released their local editions of the album. These are markets that have the biggest MJ fanbases. So that means no USA or Singapore edition of this album.
[Update: In light of MJ's unfortunate passing on 25th June 2009, Singapore also rushed released a King Of Pop Singapore edition]
A website was created where fans could vote for their favourite tracks. The pool of songs differed for each market, but generally, all songs from MJ's solo years with Epic were included, as well as some tracks from The Jacksons era, the Jackson 5 years and his solo hits from Motown.
Some markets had single CD editions while others had double or even triple CD editions. As such, it is quite a mixed bag of songs.
The good thing is that we get some of the rarer stuff included. Songs such as Someone Put Your Hand Out, Got The Hots, We Are The World (Demo), Say Say Say, Sunset Driver, Fall Again, In The Back and You Can't Win might have been released haphazardly over various compilations over the years, but we get them here. Some markets also get the awful Thriller Megamix, which is bad, really really bad.
If I had my pick, here would be my choices for a single CD (not in order of preference):
1. Billie Jean
2. Beat It
4. Man In The Mirror
5. Will You Be There
6. Smooth Criminal
8. Rock With You
9. Who Is It
10. She's Out Of My Life
11. Black Or White
12. The Way You Make Me Feel
14. Remember The Time
Here are the 8 editions that I have so far:
The Hong Kong Collection- 2CDs
The New Zealand Collection- 1CD
Limited Edition Australian 50th Anniversary Edition- 2CDs with poster
The Australian Collection - 1CD
The French Fans' Selection - 2CDs
Japan Edition - 1CD
The French edition is interesting because disc 1 comes with Open Disc technology, which is effectively like the Enhanced CD of old, with a difference. For the ECD, you just needed to slot the disc into your computer and you could access the bonus materials directly. But with the Open Disc, they have become smarter and gone one step further.
After slotting the disc into your computer, you have to register your details before you can access the bonus material, so it is a form of data mining. They will then send you an email to welcome you and send you updates. Quite smart I would say.
The bonus material is not hosted on the disc itself, but instead, directs you to a website where you can view the extra stuff like photos, stream videos, listen to the jukebox and check out related links.
The improvement here is also since it's hosted on a website, the bonus materials can be updated every now and then, for example, offering a different video clip every 2 weeks. Quite a good idea, but how many people will actually slot the disc in and visit the site every 2 weeks?
Edicion Argentina - 1CD
Singapore 3CD Edition
The Singapore edition is very similar to the French one as it has the same cover and also includes OpenDisc for the first disc. However, being Singapore, we have to be kiasu and have one CD more than the others, hence 3CD.
This compilation however, is not voted for by the fans. Sony just selected the songs and quickly put together this album to capitalise on MJ's death.
The tagline is "The Most Definitive Collection Ever!", and inspecting the tracklist, I wouldn't say it's the most definitive (how can it not include She's Out Of My Life??) but perhaps the most varied (or chapalang). The sequencing is quite disjointed too and I would have preferred to have all the remixes and B-sides on one disc rather than spread out all over.
With these 8 versions, I noticed there is one common factor - the first track is always Billie Jean. Based on this, I can deduce that Billie Jean is MJ's most loved, most definitive and most representative song.
With MJ's death, almost every country sprouted out with their local King Of Pop album and there will be much more for me to collect.