MICHAEL JACKSON Invincible (Epic) Rating: N
He splashed out $30 million to make Invincible, so you might expect Michael Jackson to return with more than simply 80 minutes of embarrassingly out-of-date R&B and an original illustration by spoon-bender Uri Geller. Obviously, the weirdo with a persecution complex can afford whatever he wants, whether it's digging up Biggie Smalls and Rod Serling from the grave or luring in Chris Tucker for some disturbing girl-watching dialogue. But the cash can't buy him a shred of soul. Invincible is as cosmetically sculpted as Jacko's chin, split between Rodney Jerkins-produced funk cuts and gooey power ballads like Don't Walk Away and The Lost Children, which comes complete with children's playground sounds. Had Jackson any connection to the real world, he might have realized that Jerkins's lurching new jack swing on Unbreakable, 2000 Watts and Invincible sounded old 10 years ago. The curious recurring appearance of samples from The Twilight Zone is strangely fitting.