Several unreleased new songs that appeared on Michael Jackson’s posthumous 2010 album, Michael, should now be written as “unreleased new songs,” after Sony Music came clean about their origins. The songs “Monster,” “Keep Your Head Up” and “Breaking News” were fake, according to the record label conglomerate, and the work of an MJ-esque singer name Jason Malachi and a production company led by a friend of Jackson’s (all of whom vehemently denied any deceptive involvement previously). Sony’s admission came on the heels of a lawsuit filed by one of many fans who were suspicious of the assertions that the vocals were the real deal. The production company and Sony were accused of misleading consumers. The admission by Sony is the only fallout so far — it’s still unknown whether the Jackson estate, consumers or anyone else will receive compensation as a result.
The music video should have been the first tip something was awry*.
WARM: Eagles Are The Best (Selling)
Speaking of MJ, the king of pop’s legacy suffered another blow (OK, it’s more like a minor scratch in the big picture) recently when it was announced that Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975, a 1976 compilation of music by Eagles, is now the top-selling album of all-time in the U.S., surpassing Jackson’s Thriller. The news started a weird internet-wide argument between fans and detractors on both sides. Some felt it was somehow representative of the times in which we are living — that the U.S. is somehow ignorantly denying the consensus of music listeners around the planet who’ve made Thriller (made by an African America!) the top worldwide bestseller, reflecting America’s increased isolationism and growing xenophobia in the country. Others used it as simply a way to remind everyone Eagles are terrible. Still others are like, “Eagles, fuck yeah, Rock & Roll! Wooo!” or something. But the best reactions have been the funny ones that didn't necessarily "take sides." Writer and former MTV VJ Dave Holmes remarked on Twitter, “America is definitely a person whose favorite album is a greatest-hits compilation.
COLD: Madonna on Aretha
Taking place days after the passing of one of the most iconic singers in music history, Aretha Franklin, the recent VMAs were in a tough position. As shown by other award-show tributes to late greats in the past several years, it’s a tricky thing to pull off and it felt like viewers were prepared for the VMAs to fail to properly salute Franklin throughout the show, many taking to social media to announce their anxiety over the prospects during the broadcast. If the show did nothing, they’d get a lot of flack, but pretty much anything they did was going to get more. Madonna drew the short straw and gave a speech during which she thankfully didn’t sing (no offense to Maddy — Aretha's just not in her range), instead telling a story about how she auditioned once in her early days by singing an Aretha song a cappella (when she reached that part of the story, the world was definitely holding its breath: “Please don’t sing. Please don’t sing.”). The story was a little awkward in that it was really about Madonna’s great rise from the bottom to the top of the industry, but it wasn’t spitting on Aretha’s grave or anything. Still, her talking launched a million thought-pieces/tweets/etc., the vast majority of which hated everything about it, of course. Madonna defended herself as well as she could, saying she was booked to give out the VMA for the top video of the year and was asked last minute to share a story about Aretha, not conduct an all-out tribute.
Ariana Grande was nominated for seemingly every VMA available at the ceremony. The show would have been well served by simply nicking this concept from The Tonight Show:
*This is a joke clip and not the actual video, though it is one of the offending "fake" MJ songs.