After nearly a year and a half of rumors and false reports, Epic Records have finally announced plans for their first collection of posthumous Michael Jackson material — though most details remain frustratingly unclear. What's known for sure is that the album will be called Michael and will be released on December 14. A teaser for the project will be posted on MichaelJackson.com on Friday, and on Monday, a full song from the album called "Breaking News" will stream on the site for one week.
The album cover was created by painter Kadir Nelson on 2009, featuring depictions of key moments and people from the singer's life.
According to a press release, Breaking News was recorded in New Jersey in 2007 and was "recently brought to completion." That would seem to place it among the songs that Jackson recorded with producer Eddie Cascio — songs that have recently been the subject of many rumors.
Earlier this week, TMZ reported that Michael's children believe that it is not their father singing on the Cascio tracks. Among other reported evidence, Jackson's son Prince was reportedly in the house during the sessions and has said the recorded versions don't match what he heard. However, Jackson's estate says sound experts have deemed the voice on the recordings to be Jackson's; people involved with the project reportedly have said the children are being "manipulated" by Jackson's mother and others who don't want the album released.
While no further confirmed details have been released, Showbiz 411's Roger Friedman reported that four of the forthcoming album's 10 or 12 songs will come from the Cascio sessions, and that some of the other tracks will be outtakes from Jackson albums, along with a Paul Anka song called "Love Never Felt So Good" from the session that produced the title track for the This Is It concert-rehearsal film.
At the time of his death, Jackson had been working for years on a follow-up to 2001's Invincible, recording tracks with Lenny Kravitz, Akon, Will.I.Am, and others, some of which have leaked in unfinished form. Producer Rodney Jerkins said in July he was expecting to begin work on the album imminently, and has been reported to be doing so in recent weeks. Former Sony head Tommy Mottola has said there are "dozens" of unreleased tracks that could see the light of day at some point. And earlier this year, reports surfaced that a collector found more than 200 unreleased Jackson 5 tracks in a warehouse full of Jackson family memorabilia.
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