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Michael Jackson returns to airwaves, television

Stacy M. Brown | 5/16/2014, 6 a.m.
The King of Pop has returned. Well sort-of.

The King of Pop has returned. Well sort-of.

The late Michael Jackson has a new album, “Xscape,” and fans and critics say it contains some of the singer’s best work.

Also, as an added bonus for fans and, perhaps, ammunition for conspiracy theorists who have not accepted that Jackson died five years ago, a hologram of the “Thriller” singer will appear at the Billboard Music Awards on Sunday, May 18, 2014.

“The [Jackson hologram] will sing or perform to ‘Slave to the Rhythm,’ a track from the new album that was officially released on Monday, May 12,” said Roger Friedman of Showbiz 411 who’s covered Jackson most of the singer’s career. “The hologram is either 3D or 2D, like the 2012 Tupac Shakur hologram, which shook up the Coachella Music Festival that year.”

The awards show, which airs at 8 p.m. in Baltimore on WMAR-TV Channel 2, features Pitbull, John Legend, Carrie Underwood and breakout stars Ariana Grande and Iggy Azalea.

“With the news of the Jackson appearance, I don’t believe anyone much cares who else is on the bill,” said David Cohen, a local disc jockey. “I think all eyes will be on the television and, more than likely, Jackson’s performance will be late in the show so that ABC can pull in as much viewers as possible.”

Jackson, who died in 2009 at the age of 50, reportedly has hundreds of unreleased songs and the executors of his estate have released the new album with eight never-before-heard tracks, including, “Slave to the Rhythm,” “Love Never Felt So Good,” and “Chicago.”

Having sold more than 200 million records in his career, including the 50 million plus from his groundbreaking “Thriller” album, Jackson’s producers said “Xscape” should prove to be among his most successful.

“I think he would have been very pleased with ‘Xscape,’” producer Rodney Jerkins, who worked with Jackson on “Invincible,” told CBS News.

“I can imagine myself calling Michael and saying, ‘My kids love it,” said Jerkins, 36.

L.A. Reid, the chairman of Jackson’s record label, Epic Records, told NBC’s Today Show that he searched for vocals with great melodies that would still be relevant.

“If [Jackson] recorded it over and over, then I knew that he loved it,” said Reid, 57.

“I worked with Michael, and I knew that he wouldn’t record it over and over unless he really loved it. Michael was very dedicated to music and being great.”