Michael Jackson’s contested songs removed from streaming services
Three songs from Michael Jackson’s posthumous 2010 album “Michael,” which some fans have long insisted weren’t sung by the late artist, have been removed from streaming services.
A statement from Jackson’s estate and Sony Music, which acquired the rights to unreleased material from the singer’s coffers in a blockbuster $250 million deal in 2010, says the songs were removed in the purpose of “overcoming” the controversy, but effectively maintains that the vocals were not tampered with: “Nothing should be read in this action concerning the authenticity of the tracks”, he underlines.
“The Estate of Michael Jackson and Sony Music have decided to remove the tracks ‘Breaking News’, ‘Monster’ and ‘Keep Your Head Up’ from the 2010 album ‘Michael’ as the easiest and best way to move beyond the conversation associated with these tracks once and for all,” read the statement released on Tuesday. “The remaining tracks on the album remain available. Nothing should be read into this action regarding the authenticity of the tracks – it’s just time to get past the distraction that surrounds them,” he concludes.
The songs in question were at the center of an unusually aggressive fan-led legal campaign that was ultimately won by the estate in 2018. They were reportedly recorded in 2007 with songwriters/producers Edward Cascio and James Porte, two years before Jackson’s death. an accidental overdose. Fans have long claimed that an American singer named Jason Malachi actually sang all three songs, and he allegedly admitted it in a 2011 Facebook post, according to TMZ, though his manager later denied it, saying that the message was faked.
The lawsuit began in 2014, when a fan attempted to file a class action lawsuit claiming that the album’s liner notes, which list Jackson as the singer, are in fact a misrepresentation under the law. California Law on Unfair Competition and the Consumers Legal Remedies Act. However, the appeals court ruled that because the estate and Sony did not know for sure whether Jackson sang on all three songs, the album cover and promotional material were protected by the First Amendment.
“In these circumstances, the appellant’s representations as to the singer’s identity amounted to a statement of opinion rather than fact,” California appellate judge Elwood Liu wrote at the time. “The lack of personal knowledge here also means that the challenged statements of the appellants do not fit the definition of speech which is ‘less likely to be chilled by proper regulation’.”