Nearly a year and a half after Michael Jackson's shocking death, the public's appetite for all things Thrilling remains voracious. So to feed that need, this week it was announced that a Jackson-themed Cirque Du Soleil show directed by MJ's Dangerous Tour choreographer Jamie King is in the works, and, even more thrillingly, that an album of all-new unreleased Michael material, no-brainingly titled Michael, will be in stores in time for the holidays. But perhaps the more suitable title for that album should be This Is It?, because according to Michael's own children and mother, some of the songs on the album are fakes.
Three to five of the 10-12 tracks on Michael, out December 14 on Sony, were allegedly recorded at the New Jersey home of producer Eddie Cascio in 2007, when Michael and his children stayed there for four months working on remixes for the 25th-anniversary reissue of Thriller. Michael's son, Prince Michael, said this week that none of what he heard recorded then matches what he hears now on Michael, and that he believes the Cascio cuts were recorded posthumously by a Michael soundalike. Prince's sister, Paris, corroborated these claims--as did Michael's mother, Katherine, during an Oprah interview. Joe Jackson, Michael's dad, also protested the songs via a statement by his attorney.
Sony reps, of course, claim they have performed voice-authentication tests with "sound experts" who concluded that the vocals on the album indeed belong to none other than the King Of Pop. The label also issued a teaser preview of one of the Cascio-produced songs, "Breaking News," so that fans could listen to it and judge for themselves. However, since the teaser was almost entirely instrumental, except for a couple yelps in the final seconds, it didn't really do much to dispel the Jackson clan's claims. Listen to it below...does that "ow!" sound like Michael Jackson to you, or an impostor?
Perhaps this issue will be resolved when the full version of "Breaking News" starts streaming Monday, November 8, on Michael Jackson's official website.
In other big album news, Taylor Swift experienced quite a thriller of her own this week, when her hugely anticipated third album, Speak Now, sold a whopping 1,047,000 copies in its first week, a feat almost unheard-of in the struggling music biz these days. It was the biggest one-week sales tally since the first-week sales of 1,141,000 for 50 Cent's The Massacre in March 2005; the second-biggest one-week tally for an album by a female solo artist; the second-biggest one-week tally for a country album; and the biggest one-week sales ever for an album by a female country artist. And Taylor must be psyched to know that at least 1,047,000 people have now heard her diss song about John Mayer. FYI, John's most recent studio album, 2009's Battle Studies, has only sold 880,000 copies U.S. to date.
Meanwhile, Taylor's other nemesis, Kanye West, continued his promotional-blitz countdown to his fifth album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, which comes out just in time for Black Friday and is also expected to be one of the biggest releases of the year. 'Ye conducted a live Ustream chat with fans, revealed his "censored" album artwork, had naked pictures of himself leak online, signed on to perform in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade...but perhaps the best promotion he received all week surprisingly came from ex-President George W. Bush. In an interview for NBC's "Matt Lauer Reports" to promote his forthcoming memoir Decision Points, Bush bizarrely cited Kanye's infamous "George Bush doesn't care about black people" comment on a live Hurricane Katrina telethon as the lowest moment of his presidency. This was actually the second time a U.S. president had criticized Kanye--Barack Obama called him a "jackass" last year after that Taylor Swift VMAs incident--and really, most rappers just can't buy that kind of publicity, not even in their most beautiful dark twisted fantasies.
Finally,however you're planning to buy any of the above-mentioned albums, be warned: Do NOT download them illegally. Otherwise, you might end up like Minnesota mother Jammie Thomas-Rasset, who in her third jury trial this week was ordered to pay Capitol Records $1.5 million for illegally downloading 24 songs. That breaks down to about $62,500 per track, and that's a pretty hefty price to pay for any tune...even if Michael Jackson really is singing on it.
THIS WEEK'S TOP 10 STORIES:
1) Taylor Swiftly Sells 1 Million Albums - She shifts more units in one week than Ke$ha has all year!
2) George Bush Doesn't Care About Kanye West - The ex-president slams 'Ye in a TV interview.
3) This Is It? - The authenticity of the vocals on a new Michael Jackson album is questioned by MJ's own family.
4) The Most Expensive Record Collection Ever - A Minnesota mom is fined $1.5 million for illegal downloading.
5) Free Weezy! - Lil' Wayne is finally sprung from the slammer.
6) Did Bret Michaels Poison Billy Ray Cyrus's Marriage? - Tabloids claim Bret had an affair with Miley's mother.
7) T.I. To Release Album From Jail - Hey, it worked for Lil' Wayne!
8) Mario Cleared Of Domestic Abuse Charges - The R&B star's mom changes her story on the witness stand.
9) Amy Winehouse Sounds Like She's Still Partying Too Hard - The Brit badgirl returns to music with a disturbingly slurry remake of "It's My Party."
10) Edison Has Entered The Building - Elvis fan/Chilean Miner Edison Peña accepts an invite to Graceland and croons "Suspicious Minds" for David Letterman.