I rarely feel like I’m the target audience for a product, but I’m almost positive Square’s The Mike We Like Remixes was specially created to reach my sector of the world population. My sector consists of people who like “Michael Jackson the Singer, Songwriter, and Performer” but don’t—despite the huge “Not Guilty” on the album cover—have much of an opinion about “Michael Jackson the Guy With the Glittery Socks and Strange Habits”. We’re the ones who enjoy Jackson’s solo albums, even MJ’s HIStory: Past, Present, Future, Book 1 collection (though it should have contained the song “Smooth Criminal”!). But we’re also the ones who draw the line at the reissues of Off the Wall, Thriller, Bad, and Dangerous and their not-worth-the-money bonus features.
We will, however, entertain remixes. That’s where Square comes in, presenting 16 tracks—including audio snippets from producer extraordinaire Quincy Jones—aimed directly at people like me who like “Billie Jean” more than we like the latest headline about the adventures of “Wacko Jacko”. Unfortunately, it’s one thing to target the market; it’s another thing to satisfy that market. While the album’s concept is timely, the execution is lacking. With only seven Jackson classics on deck (that’s seven tracks out of 16!), the set travels lighter than it should. From the whole of Jackson’s discography, Square presents “Rock With You”, “Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough”, “Billie Jean”, “Remember the Time”, “Rock My World”, “In the Closet”, and “Butterflies”. Worse, the remixes are mostly built around repetitive drum loops and flat synth chords. Square’s musical add-ons seem tacked on, creating chaos instead of melody, offering dissonance rather than harmony. At times, the result sounds like two radios are being played simultaneously—one plays Square’s drum programming and synth chords while the other plays the Mike we originally liked and wanted to hear.
// Notes from the Road
"A-WA's debut album Habib Galbi made NPR Music's '30 Favorite Albums of 2016 (So Far)' list.READ the article