13 years after his death, Michael Jackson’s legacy continues to be disputed, debated, and discussed by fans both old and new. Recently, a new twist was thrown into the discourse as Sony Music, which manages the rights to Jackson’s music, has removed three of his songs from streaming services. The three songs, “Breaking News,” “Keep Your Head Up,” and “Monster” featuring 50 Cent, all appear on the 2010 posthumous album Michael and have been subject to controversy for years.
The controversy stems from some fans’ belief that the songs do not feature Jackson’s vocals. Instead, they think that the songs were completed by a session singer, undermining the claim that the album consists of “previously unreleased vocal tracks performed by Michael Jackson.” In fact, one fan even sued Sony and Jackson’s estate over the contentious tracks, claiming they violated consumer laws and amounted to fraud. Vera Serova’s 2014 class-action lawsuit calls the three songs an “elaborate artistic fraud masterminded by co-defendants Eddie Cascio and James Porte.”
Some members of Jackson’s family have even weighed in on both sides. His mom Katherine and sister LaToya both maintained that the songs were either faked or didn’t sound like him, but a court eventually ruled that there was no case because of lack of evidence. It has since been appealed.
However, according to American Songwriter via Stereogum, the three tracks weren’t removed because of their doubted veracity, but because “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 catalog,” according to a statement from the estate.