LOS ANGELES — Even in death Michael Jackson has managed to captivate the media, so it’s only appropriate that the lead single from his first posthumous album, “Michael,” pokes jabs at his long, storied distaste for making headlines.
On Monday morning, his official website posted the full stream of “Breaking News,” a jarring kiss off to the tabloids that preyed on his eccentricities even after his 2009 death.
The track is introduced by a slew of reporters’ voices reading headlines of the singer.
“If you thought there was nothing else to say about Michael Jackson, just wait,” one reporter says.
“Everybody wanting a piece of Michael Jackson, reporters stalking the moves of Michael Jackson,” he sings on the track — reportedly recorded in 2007 at a friend’s New Jersey home, where the singer and his three kids had holed up for a number of months. “Just when you thought he was done, he comes to give it again.”
“Breaking News” isn’t the first time Jackson aired his grievances with the media through song. “Tabloid Junkie,” “This Time Around,” “Leave Me Alone” and, of course, “Scream” all quickly come to mind.
In true Jackson form, the song is already the center of controversy.
After the website TMZ reported that the singer’s kids and mother had questioned the authenticity of Jackson’s voice on the tracks, Sony Records released a statement saying it had “complete confidence in the results of our extensive research as well as the accounts of those who were in the studio with Michael that the vocals on the new album are his own.”
The song has led to a debate on Twitter and the blogosphere, and it’s understandable why there could be questions. The last time fans heard a new authorized Jackson track was last year’s “This Is It,” and the song was recorded more than 25 years ago. Voices do mature with age, and maybe Jackson — a notorious perfectionist — wanted to try something new with his vibrato.
T.J. Jackson, the son of Jackson’s brother Tito, took to Twitter to argue that the song was a sham and that fans should be wary.
“There’s many MJ vocal impersonators. Some better than others. But there is only ONE Michael Jackson. Deceptively merging shady vocals with MJ samples (from prior MJ records) will never fool me,” he tweeted.
Last week, Sony Records and Jackson’s estate announced the first posthumous album release from the singer. “Michael,” which will hit stores Dec. 14, features newly completed recordings from the legend’s vast unreleased archives.
“Unbeknownst to many fans around the world (Jackson) was writing and recording songs continuously everywhere from a friend’s home in New Jersey to studios in Las Vegas and Los Angeles with a small group of handpicked collaborators,” read a statement regarding the album’s release. “Now, through the unique stories that will be told about the songs that comprise ‘Michael,’ fans will get mind-blowing insight into how this artist worked and a chance to hear the songs he most recently created along with tracks that Michael had a desire to bring to fruition.”
The album cover — an oil painting by artist Kadir Nelson — shows Jackson as a king wearing his signature studded glove with a crown being placed on his head by angels. A collage of his greatest works surrounds him.
Earlier this year, his estate signed a $250 million deal with Sony, which would oversee the release of 10 albums — both original and reissue collections — over the course of seven years. Adding to his magnitude of accomplishments from beyond, he also landed the No. 1 spot on Forbes’s Top-Earning Dead Celebrities List as his estate brought in more than $275 million over the last 12 months.
The album is just the latest project that fans of the King of Pop should save up for. Cirque du Soleil has announced plans for a Jackson-themed touring production that will combine the singer’s legendary moves and music with Cirque’s eye-popping acrobatics.
// Notes from the Road
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