17 Iconic Michael Jackson Shots in 'Love Never Felt So Good' with Justin Timberlake (Video)
Michael Jackson is making a massive comeback, thanks to "Love Never Felt So Good," the posthumous duet with Justin Timberlake off of Xscape. Since the single's release on May 2, the eight-track album is currently vying for the top spot on the Billboard charts, following its drop on Tuesday.
While the mid-tempo groove retains much of Jackson's unaltered vocals (also included on the album), it's the music video that pays a careful visual tribute to the late pop singer's lasting legacy on future generations. Debuted Wednesday morning and directed by Rich Lee and Timberlake, the "Love Never Felt So Good" video features archival footage of the late pop singers many short films, strategically interspersed with frames of Timberlake and a crowd of young dancers who are singing along and attempting his most memorable moves.
The Hollywood Reporter deconstructs the four-minute-plus video's archival footage and iconic steps:
"Black or White"
Though neither Macaulay Culkin nor Tyra Banks ever appear, "Love Never Felt So Good" opens on Jackson's elaborate four-minute dance break from his 1991 eleven-minute video for "Black or White." The original sequence features the singer dancing in an empty street -- with no music, so all that's heard are Jackson's foot taps, breaths and screams as he smashes car windows covered in racial slurs, before morphing back into a growling panther. The desert dance sequence is later shown. Watch the video below:
"The Way You Make Me Feel"
Eight seconds in, "Love Never Felt So Good" recalls Jackson's 1987 hit, "The Way You Make Me Feel," in which the singer attempted to win a woman over with none other than an impressive alleyway sequence of kicks, spins and thrusts, backed by a handful of other dancers. Watch the video below:
At the 16-second mark, a quick cut features Jackson reprising his movies in silhouette, against a slew of bright windows. Again, "Love Never Felt So Good" doesn't feature any cameos from Michael Jordan, Kris Kross and Heavy D, who appear in the original video. Watch "Jam" below:
Up until this point, the video has only shown Jackson deep in dance, but his warm and glowing smile at the 19-second mark comes from the closing shots of "Speed Demon," his 1987 ten-minute short featuring clay-mation characters. Watch the original video below:
The immediately-recognizable outfit at the 21-second mark -- red bow tie, pink button-down shirt and black leather jacket -- comes from "Billie Jean," Jackson's 1983 mega-hit. Later on, dancers have fun with the video's light-up sidewalk as well. Watch the video below:
At the 33-second mark, a crowd of dancers collect in front of Jackson in "Smooth Criminal," the ten-minute short that sees him leading his own entourage while dressed in a sleek white suit and hat. They're all just warming up to attempt his iconic, gravity-defying lean later on in the video. Watch "Smooth Criminal" below:
The footage shown at the 56-second mark is pulled from "Bad," the 1987 video directed by Martin Scorsese and also featuring Wesley Snipes that brings the feud between two dance crews to a climax at a subway platform. "Love Never Felt So Good" has young dancers repeating the choreography atop turnstiles and simulated smoking grates. Watch a shorter version of the original video below:
"Remember The Time"
Another grinning Jackson moment at the 1:21-minute mark is pulled from "Remember the Time," the Egypt-themed, nine-minute short that has the singer visiting -- and aiming to entertain -- Pharoah Eddie Murphy and Queen Iman. After being introduced by Magic Johnson, Jackson appears dressed in gold, bejeweled armor and chainmail, and flashes the displayed smile before dissapearing from the scene. Watch the video below:
"Love Never Felt So Good" pulls out the pool tables to pay tribute to "Beat It," the 1983 video that features actual street gang members alongside professional dancers. After airing footage beginning at the 1:28-minute mark -- with Jackson in his red leather jacket -- the dancers are shown imitating the signature kicks and jacket-flashes atop the billiards tables. Watch the original video below:
"In The Closet"
The brief doorway-pose at the 1:39-minute mark comes from "In the Closet," the sepia-toned 1992 video that puts Jackson's hair in a ponytail as he dances with Naomi Campbell. Watch it below:
"Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough"
As Timberlake sings into the chorus into the camera at the 2:06-minute mark, Jackson's "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" plays in the background (but only faintly, as the two singers are never shown together clearly in a single frame). The 1979 features the singer in a tuxedo dancing in front of a special-effects screen, and then on a glass-covered stage with clones of himself. Watch the video below:
Timberlake is also shown singing in front of the closing shots of "Liberian Girl" -- the cameo-filled 1989 video that features Paula Abdul, Dan Aykroyd, Danny Glover, Steven Spielberg, John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John and so many more. Again, all other famous faces are left out, as Jackson is shown in a red shirt and black tie, smiling from behind a production camera. Watch the video below:
"Another Part of Me"
The live music video of "Another Part of Me" gets its screen time beginning at the 2:57-minute mark, after the song's dance break. As Jackson travels the stage in a metallic white jacket, the "Love Never Felt So Good" dancers repeat the moves. Watch the video below:
Touting another signature red leather jacket, Jackson is shown at the 3:18-minute mark doing his signature knee-high, side-to-side kick from the elaborate and haunting 1983 14-minute music video for "Thriller" in front of a slew of monsters. Watch the original video below:
The 3:22-minute marks throw back to 1970, when the Jackson 5 visited The Ed Sullivan Show to perform "ABC." Jackson took the lead in a red shirt, a brown vest and a big smile. Watch a clip of the performance below:
"Blame It on the Boogie"
Timberlake is shown singing in front archival footage again, and at the 3:46-minute mark is a very quick shot of Jackson and his hair in the "Blame It on the Boogie" video. Watch it below:
"Blood on the Dance Floor"
"Love Never Felt So Good" closes with a super-cut of Jackson spinning in his various videos, kicking off with "Blood on the Dance Floor," and then "Smooth Criminal," "In the Closet," "Jam," "Billie Jean" and "Black or White," and interspersed with Timberlake's own rapid turn. It's the final juxtaposition of Jackson and Timberlake in the duet, but never are they shown actually dancing together, even when among the crowd -- a respectful decision that highlights the tribute approach to the video and possibly the entire album.
Watch the last featured video below:
Antonio "L.A." Reid, Timbaland, Rodney Jerkins, Stargate and J-Roc updated eight of Jackson's completed tracks to form Xscape, released this past Tuesday. Produced by John McClain (co-executor of the Jackson estate), "Love Never Felt So Good" was written in 1983 in a session with Paul Anka and Kathy Wakefield. Though Johnny Mathis released a version in 1984, the latest rendition comes as the five-year anniversary of Jackson's 2009 death approaches on June 25.
Watch the full "Love Never Felt So Good" video below: