With Michael Jackson’s much-hyped tribute concerts set for Sept. 7 and 10 and the release of “Invincible,” his first disc of new material in nine years, to follow, music insiders are wondering just how much pop the self-styled King of Pop can still muster.
The Madison Square Garden shows feature a cavalcade of guest stars, including the original Jackson 5, Destiny’s Child, Whitney Houston and Shaquille O’Neal. But teen-pop superstars ‘N Sync — who would have lent Jackson some much-needed credibility with young fans — backed out, reportedly due to a conflict with MTV’s Video Music Awards.
And while promoters claimed to have sold out the shows in a few hours, sources say a disturbing number of top-tier seats — costing up to $2,500 apiece — remain vacant.
One top label exec maintains that Jackson’s success will hinge on just one thing: “It’s going to be all about the music,” the exec says. “He’s been ahead of his time in so many ways already, but it’s such a tricky proposition to keep things fresh in the pop world.”
Indeed, Jackson’s new LP faces an uphill battle to profitability, even if it does strike a chord: Sources say it cost a staggering $30 million to produce, and the first single, “You Rock My World,” is garnering mixed reviews from radio program directors.
“I definitely wish him the best, but the fact is, pop is a youth business, and he may have been around a little too long,” says one music exec. “He’s become a caricature of himself, and frankly he’s been getting weirder and weirder.”