Michael Jackson fans shouldn't question new single 'Hold My Hand' (should they?)
Michael Jackson fans can look at the release of the official first single from his posthumous album as Sony’s attempt to clean up the controversy of that other debatable single that hit the net a week ago, and who could necessarily blame them?
After the not-so-great response that the much touted “Breaking News” got when it premiered (fans debated its authenticity, M.J.’s kids and mom denounced it, Sony and the Michael Jackson estate defended it), the late King of Pop is back -- get used to hearing that -- with the official first single from his first posthumous album, “Michael,” which is slated to hit stores Dec. 14.
Titled “Hold My Hand,” the mid-tempo uplifting track is classic M.J. (listen here). In the song, a duet with Akon, he pleas for peace and unity behind a Caribbean-pop beat, courtesy of the Senegalese singer/producer.
“This life don't last forever, so tell me what we're waiting for,” Jackson sings. “We're better off being together, than being miserable alone.”
Apparently a handwritten note from Jackson was found indicating his desire that the track, recorded in 2007, be the first single on his next project. The note, of course, is now the possession of his estate. (It would probably be a good idea, for the sake of covering themselves, for the estate to include said note in the liner notes of the album -- in order to end any and all speculation about the handling of the project.)
Jackson fans are no stranger to the track, considering that an unfinished version of the song leaked in 2008, as did a number of Jackson demos and half-recordings packaged together, leaving Akon “devastated.”
“The world was not ready to hear ‘Hold My Hand’ when it leaked a couple years ago,” he said in a statement. “But its time has definitely come; now in its final state, it has become an incredible, beautiful, anthemic song. I’m so proud to have had the chance to work with Michael, one of my all time idols.”
Unlike with "Breaking News," this time around there is no question about Jackson's signature falsetto. The sparse vocals of him on the track are undoubtedly Jackson's, though fans will no doubt be anxiously awaiting more tracks to be released -- ready to argue the validity of them one-by-one.
“Michael” will also include collaborations with 50 Cent and Lenny Kravitz –- a rock-tinged track called “(I Can’t Make It) Another Day,” which leaked after his 2009 death.
The controversy of “Breaking News” prompted Jackson’s estate to release a rather lengthy statement detailing the extensive process of authenticating the songs that included working with previous M.J. producers, consulting forensic musicologists and even confirming with a well-known singer who sounds like Jackson about the vocals.
But not all of Jackson’s collaborators are pleased with the album. Black Eyed Peas’ frontman will.i.am, who also worked on “Thriller 25” and what would have been the follow up to 2001′s “Invincible,” vented to Entertainment Weekly about his frustrations with the project.
“Whoever put it out and is profiting off of it, I want to see how cold they are," he said. “To say that what [Michael] contributed during his life wasn't enough. He just wasn't any ordinary artist. He was a hands-on person. To me it's disrespectful. There's no honoring … Michael Jackson songs are finished when Michael says they're finished.”
-- Gerrick D. Kennedy
Photo: Single cover of "Hold My Hand." Credit: MichaelJackson.com