'New' Michael Jackson song Love Never Felt So Good debuts
Usher performs to track at awards show; Justin Timberlake featured in alternate version
Nearly five years after Michael Jackson's death, a "new" song by the King of Pop has been released: Love Never Felt So Good.
The upbeat, disco-influenced, radio-friendly first track had its premiere Thursday evening at the inaugural iHeartRadio Awards in Los Angeles, with R&B singer Usher dancing to the song.
Performer and The Voice coach Usher joined a team of professional dancers channeling Michael Jackson and his signature moves at the iHeartRadio Awards in Los Angeles Thursday night.
The performance delighted the audience — which included some of American pop music's top acts.
Rihanna dominated the inaugural, fan-voted awards ceremony, taking four trophies including for artist of the year. Winners also included Miley Cyrus, Blake Shelton, Avicii, Imagine Dragons, Pitbull, Austin Mahone and Ariana Grande.
Producer and performer Pharrell Williams, honoured with a musical innovation award, was overwhelmed with emotion and brushed away tears as he accepted the prize.
It was also released for sale at midnight as the debut single off the upcoming Xscape, the second posthumous Jackson album since his death in 2009 from an overdose of propofol.
Jackson originally wrote Love Never Felt So Good with Paul Anka in 1983, also recording his vocals at that time.
The newly produced song has two versions: one featuring Jackson alone and the second with contributions from pop star Justin Timberlake, who has cited Jackson as one of his musical influences.
Music mogul Antonio "L.A." Reid enlisted top producers such as Timbaland, Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins, StarGate and Jerome "Jroc" Harmon to refresh previously unreleased tracks unearthed from Jackson's vast musical archives for Xscape, set for release May 13.
"For me it wasn't about the label, it wasn't about the estate's approval; it wasn't about all of that," Jerkins, who produced the album's title track, said of joining the project.
"I had a personal relationship with Michael, [so] it was about, 'What would he want from this? What would he want it to sound like now?'" he told The Associated Press.
Jerkins — who has also produced artists such as Jennifer Lopez, Beyoncé, Rihanna and Ariana Grande — previously worked with Jackson on his album Invincible and, not long afterwards, on the song Xscape.
"[Around 2008 or 2009], he was telling me 'I'm getting ready to do another album. You gotta get to work, start working on ideas,'" Jerkins recalled. "And then he passed away."
The eight-track album features songs Jackson recorded in the 1980s and 1990s, including during the recording sessions for Bad and Dangerous.