The music video for the Michael Jackson posthumous duet with Justin Timberlake debuted on Wednesday morning, and it’s a careful visual tribute of the late pop singer’s lasting legacy on future generations.
“Love Never Felt So Good” — the first single off of “Xscape” — features archival footage of Jackson’s many music videos, including “Beat It,” “Bad,” “Black or White,” “You Rock My World” and more (there’s even a quick shot of the singer as a child in the Jackson 5). Watch It:
All of the footage is interspersed among frames of Timberlake and a crowd of young dancers who are singing along and attempting the most memorable moves from the videos, as they dance atop subway turnstiles for “Bad” and pool tables for “Beat It.” While it may look familiar to watch a crowd imitating the signature kicks and thrusts in a music video, it’s still a departure from the closing scenes of “Hollywood Tonight,” off of the 2010 posthumous album. Here, the tone is much more lighthearted, as kids laugh about jumping from pool table to pool table and surprising themselves by how low they can lean.
Even more so, the cuts are very careful when it comes to the two singers: clips of Jackson doing a relatively small move (a pose or a hand movement, as opposed to a gravity-defying lean or the moonwalk) are quickly mirrored by Timberlake, but only in silhouette. Throughout the four-minute-plus video, Timberlake himself never tries out Jackson’s steps — a respectful decision that highlights the tribute approach to the video and possibly the entire album.
Timberlake and others are also shown singing in front of the footage, but only faintly. Never are they actually dancing or singing together in a single shot. And there’s not a hologram in sight.
Antonio “L.A.” Reid, Timbaland, Rodney Jerkins, Stargate and J-Roc updated eight of Jackson’s completed tracks to form “Xscape,” released 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. In 1984, Johnny Mathis released a version. The latest rendition comes as the five-year anniversary of Jackson’s 2009 death approaches on June 25.
- This article first appeared on THR.com