Three tracks from Michael Jackson‘s posthumous 2010 album ‘Michael’ have reportedly been removed from streaming services amid accusations that the late star didn’t sing on the recordings.
At the time of writing, only seven songs from the 10-track record are listed on Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube Music. The following cuts have been deleted from those platforms: ‘Monster’ (featuring 50 Cent), ‘Keep Your Head Up’ and ‘Breaking News’.
The three tracks in question have been part of an ongoing lawsuit between Jackson’s estate and Sony Music, which claims that they didn’t feature the singer’s vocals.
In a statement, a spokesperson for Jackson’s official website confirmed that the songs were no longer available online, but claimed the move “had nothing to do with their authenticity” (via American Songwriter).
“The Estate and Sony Music believe the continuing conversation about the tracks is distracting the fan community and casual Michael Jackson listeners from focusing their attention where it should be, on Michael’s legendary and deep music catalogue.”
Filed in 2014 by Jackson fan Vera Serova, the suit came to public attention again in 2018 after the estate and Sony were forced to issue a statement denying that the latter had conceded that Jackson didn’t sing on the trio of recordings.
Three appeals court judges ruled in August 2018 in favour of Jackson’s estate and Sony Music, essentially removing them from Serova’s class-action suit (via Variety). The ruling found that because the estate and Sony didn’t know for certain whether Jackson actually sang on the three songs in question, the album’s cover and promotional materials could not be held accountable under ‘commercial speech’ – and thus were not applicable for the charges brought by Serova.
In a statement issued at the time, Jackson estate attorney Howard Weitzman said of the ruling: “We had a total victory in the appellate court in the Vera Serova Class Action matter.”
However, the ruling did not definitively settle the issue of whether Jackson actually sang on ‘Breaking News’, ‘Monster’ and ‘Keep Your Head Up’. The lawsuit is currently in the California Supreme Court.
All three songs were reportedly recorded in 2007 with songwriter/producers Edward Cascio and James Porte, but fans of Jackson have long disputed the assertion that the songs actually feature the artist’s vocals.
As Ameican Songwriter notes, Jackson’s mother Katherine Jackson also claimed in 2010 that “some of the tracks on the [‘Michael’] album are fake”. His sister LaToya Jackson, meanwhile, said: “It doesn’t sound like him.”
Jackson’s nephew, Taryll Jackson, tweeted around that time: “How they constructed these songs is very sneaky and sly. I know my Uncle’s voice and something’s seriously wrong when you have immediate family saying it’s not him.”
Released in December 2010, ‘Michael’ served as the first posthumous album by Jackson following his death at 50 years old in June 2009.