In which we assess the quality of a pop song trending online.
The artist: Michael Jackson, King of Pop, b. Gary, Indiana, 1958-2009.
The song: “Love Never Felt So Good,” a tune Jackson reportedly wrote and recorded with Paul Anka 31 years ago. (It’s scheduled to appear on “Xscape,” an album of previously unreleased MJ material due out May 13.) But there are two versions of “Love Never Felt So Good” currently floating around — one that sounds like it was recorded in ’83 and another where Justin Timberlake transforms it into a 21st-century duet.
It’s trending, but is it good? The Jackson-only version is terrific. It’s airy, sweet, funky and pretty much impossible to dislike. But the Timberlake replica surfaces all the grody feelings that came rushing in 2010 with Jackson’s first posthumous album, “Michael.” As unknowable as Jackson was, we at least knew that he was a perfectionist. Finishing his unfinished business will always be a sketchy pursuit. And decorating his music with Timberlake’s reflexive beat-boxing and deadpan commands to “DANCE” simply makes the stomach turn twice as fast.