I’m kind of obsessed with the new/old Michael Jackson song, “Love Never Felt So Good,” off of XSCAPE, the new album of previously unreleased Jackson songs that came out this week. The song is great — it sounds like something straight out of Jackson’s heyday, which it is (1983) — and the story of how it was discovered is pretty amazing. Turns out, Jackson wrote the song with Paul Anka and recorded it in Anka’s home studio back in 1983.
From the Chicago Sun Times:
“I was working on a duets album at the time,” Anka said,” and I’d known Michael and his family for years. Through a mutual publicist, Michael had expressed interest to be on the album. So he came to Carmel to see me and we started writing and we came up with all these songs. The tracks were produced and ready to go to the next level, which meant going to L.A. to put in violins and all that stuff.
“… Years later, I got a call from Harvey Levin at TMZ and the New York Times about this song that was supposed to be new, but turns out it was the song he and I recorded all those years ago. THAT song, renamed by then, turned out to be “This Is It,” but it was originally called “I Never Heard” when he and I recorded it. [Some legal battle ensued over the ownership of the song; Anka was eventually awarded 50 percent share in the song and its revenue]. … So I told them there were other songs we had recorded together in 1983 and they went back [through Jackson’s estate] and found the tapes for “Love Never Felt So Good.”
On the new album there are two versions of the song: the first cut is an all-MJ gem, the original version, that was polished up by L.A. Reid and Timbaland. The second one features Justin Timberlake and is effectively a MJ/JT duet. Now, I loves me some JT, but I far prefer the all-MJ, original version of the song. It just feels so much more pure. There’s really no reason to have added JT to it other than to sell more records, which makes the JT version feel kind of cheap and less meaningful to me.
Anyway, you be the judge (you can stream the whole album here). The video above features the JT-added version, btw. Enjoy.