LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The first Michael Jackson single from a new December album was released on the Internet on Monday, sparking a new round of controversy over whether the voice is really that of the dead “Thriller” singer and if the track does him justice.
“Breaking News”, a new song said by his record label to have been recorded by Jackson in 2007 and “recently brought to completion”, opens with clips from old news reports about the more bizarre events in Jackson’s life.
The song was released at the same time a rare TV interview with Jackson’s mother, father and three children was broadcast on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” about their life after the singer’s sudden 2009 death at age 50.
The “Breaking News” vocals, which feature many of Jackson’s signature whoops and hee-hee’s, are in a lower-register than the tone usually associated with the “King of Pop”, and the lyrics start with the line “Everybody wanting a piece of Michael Jackson.”
Jackson’s Epic record label, part of the Sony Music Entertainment Group, said last week that after extensive research, they had “complete confidence” that the vocals on the new album are Jackson’s own.
But Jackson’s two eldest children are reported to have said they do not believe it is their father singing, and the entertainer’s sister LaToya has also expressed doubts.
“I listened to it (‘Breaking News’)...It doesn’t sound like him,” LaToya Jackson was quoted as telling celebrity website TMZ.com.
The new album “Michael” — the first since Jackson’s death and the first of new material since “Invincible” in 2001 — is due to be released on December 14.
Jackson’s father said last week that his son would never have wanted to release incomplete and unfinished songs.
On Monday, fans were divided, with many loving the new single and others expressing skepticism.
“So it sounds a bit different. That was the great thing about Michael, he could change the way he sang, the way his music sounded. I would rather hear some of his music than not hear any of it,” wrote MJJFAN4LIFE on the Entertainment Weekly comment boards.
In one early review, entertainment reporter Ashante Infantry of the Toronto Star website thestar.com called it “a self-referential rehash that spotlights all that was wrong with Mike” and added that the new single’s theme of persecution by the media “threatens to diminish the posthumous goodwill afforded the pop star.”
The “Michael” album has the backing of Jackson’s official estate and is the latest commercial venture to capitalize on the singer’s renewed popularity in death. A Cirque Du Soleil show, dance videogame and complete DVD set of his pop music videos are also on their way.
Reporting by Jill Serjeant, editing by Christine Kearney