"Breaking News" off Michael is Michael Jackson's first new posthumous release (unless it was "Opis None") -- and it's already raising doubts from members of his family. With a fan base more eager than even the Daft Punk/Tron enthusiasts clamoring for new music, there's going to be a lot of folks streaming the song at breakingnew.michaeljackson.com first -- and asking the big questions about its validity later.
County Grind has no problem accepting this new track as an MJ original, and here are four semiconvincing reasons why:
No confusing references to events after his death. Unlike certain 2Pac tracks supposedly written in '94, the lyrical content of "Breaking News" does not plumb the depths of the BP oil spill disaster or make reference to LeBron James' move to the Miami Heat.
He sings "I'm Michael Jackson" a lot. The only breaking news here involved Michael Jackson singing about himself in the third person. A little trust, people!
This level of studio manipulation is nothing new. The Guardian's Michael Cragg writes: "Having listened to Jackson's music non-stop as a teenager, the vocal
comes as a shock because it doesn't really sound like him. Deeper and
somehow flatter than on his last album, 2001's Invincible, it sounds
like a heavily treated guide vocal." Fair enough, but at this point, do we even know (or care) who's singing on any song? Jamie Foxx, Lil Wayne, Ke$ha, among many others, attach their names to songs with so many vocal alterations, there's no way to "prove" it's actually them.
Ultimately, it's not that amazing. Most folks beyond the superfans who'll be at March 2, 2012's Cirque du Soleil performance at American Airlines Arena don't own anything newer than HIStory, because Michael Jackson's most recent work lacked the bite, soul, and creativity that gave him license to dub himself King of Pop in the first place. If "Breaking News" ranked much better than the worst song on Dangerous (say, "Keep the Faith"), the song would have surfaced already.