"New" Michael Jackson single appears old

Mon Oct 12, 2009 7:44pm EDT
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LOS ANGELES/LONDON (Reuters) - Michael Jackson's new single "This Is It" was released online and on radio on Monday but fans and music experts quickly spotted striking similarities to an 18-year-old recording.

"This Is It" was promoted as a new Jackson recording and was released around the world nearly four months after the "king of pop" died in Los Angeles of a prescription drug overdose at the age of 50.

It will be available to buy as part of a two-disc album that hits the shelves internationally on October 26 and in North America on October 27 to coincide with the global limited release of the Jackson rehearsal footage movie "This is It" on October 28.

Fans said the "This Is It" song has the same melody and almost identical lyrics to a little-known 1991 recording by Puerto Rican singer SaFire. A version of the SaFire song, called "I Never Heard," was posted on YouTube on Monday.

In Los Angeles, 1960s teen idol and songwriter Paul Anka told celebrity web site TMZ.com that he had written the song with Jackson in 1983, and that Jackson himself had recorded it under the title "I Never Heard" in the early 1990s.

Sony Music's Columbia/Epic Label Group and executors of Jackson's estate did not immediately return calls for comment.

But TMZ.com quoted executor John Branca as saying, "We acknowledge that Michael and Paul wrote this song together."

Anka told the website that those handling Jackson's estate had apologized for "ripping off my song."

The "This Is It track, which features backing vocals by Jackson's brothers, opens with a soft, soulful introduction and the lines: "This is it, here I stand/I'm the light of the world, I feel grand."   Continued...

<p>The wax figure of late pop star Michael Jackson is unveiled at Madame Tussauds in Hollywood, California August 27, 2009. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>