Why have three Michael Jackson songs been removed from streaming platforms?

7 July 2022, 13:49

Michael Jackson's 60th birthday: Myleene Klass at the On the Wall exhibition at the NPG

By Mayer Nissim

'Monster', 'Keep Your Head Up' and 'Breaking News' have disappeared from Spotify. But why?

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Songs often come and go from streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music without warning.

Whether it's The Beatles taking their time getting there, Beyoncé holding back songs or Neil Young pulling his music off Spotify, you can never be sure that a song there today will be available tomorrow.

Now three songs from Michael Jackson's back catalogue have been removed from all streaming services.

Unlike many comings and goings, this isn't about politics, platform exclusives or copyright issues.

So what Michael Jackson songs have disappeared, and why?

Michael Jackson in concert
Michael Jackson in concert. Picture: Getty Images

The three tracks that have been pulled from all streaming services are 'Monster', 'Keep Your Head Up' and 'Breaking News'.

All three songs were originally included on the posthumous Michael album, a collection of previously-unreleased Michael Jackson songs released on December 10, 2010.

The album's ten songs spanned several decades. 'Behind The Mask' was originally recorded during the Thriller sessions in 1982, Much Too Soon' was recorded in 1994 during the HIStory sessions and so on.

But from when 'Breaking News' was first released as the album's trailer on November 8, 2010, there was a lot of controversy.

Breaking News - Michael Jackson

The writing of the song was credited to Jackson with Eddie Cascio and James Porte, but it was the singing that raised eyebrows.

As well as some disappointment about the general quality of the song, quite a few people were unconvinced that it was actually MJ performing on the track.

Strikingly, it wasn't just fans that had their reservations.

Michael's mother Katherine and his children Prince and Paris were said to have doubts, as did other members of his family.

"I listened to it," MJ's sister La Toya told TMZ. "It doesn't sound like him."

The late singer's 3T nephews also weren't convinced, with Taryll having a lengthy rant about the whole thing.

Michael Jackson at the SuperBowl XXVII Halftime show in 1993
Michael Jackson at the SuperBowl XXVII Halftime show in 1993. Picture: Getty Images

"I am shocked that things have gotten this far," he said.

"This is ridiculous. I was at the studio when these questionable files were delivered. I heard these 'so-called' Michael Jackson songs raw and without the distraction of the well-produced music by Teddy Riley.

"How they constructed these songs is very sneaky and sly. many people who have worked on this project either have strong doubts and questions while others KNOW the truth yet decided to turn and look the other way with their hands out for $$$."

He added: "I will NEVER look the other way. Right is Right, Truth is Truth, Facts are Facts and it will all come out!!!

Michael Jackson - Monster (Feat. 50-Cent)

"I tried so hard to prevent this craziness, but they wouldn't listen. I KNOW my Uncle's voice and something's seriously wrong when you have immediate FAMILY saying it's not him.

"Don't you have to wonder why? I have strong, undeniable points. They can't give me answers, yet continue to move forward with lies and deception. Sounding like Michael Jackson and BEING Michael Jackson are two different things."

When the album came out in full, those same doubts were showered on the other Jackson/Cascio /Porte songs: 'Monster', which featured a rap from 50 Cent, and 'Keep Your Head Up'.

All three songs, and nine other tracks unreleased to this day that have leaked online, are known collectively as "The Casico Tracks".

They were said to have been recorded with Jackson in Casico's basement in 2007, though many claim that's a session singer's voice – not MJ's – that's on the songs.

Michael Jackson in concert in 1996
Michael Jackson in concert in 1996. Picture: Getty Images

Rumours from critics and fans have persisted for years that the vocals were actually provided by American singer Jason Malachi, who is said to have taken credit for them in a 2011 Facebook post. However, his manager later denied this.

Listen to Jason's voice below and compare it to the track 'Monster' above and see what you think:

Jason Malachi - Don't Walk Away (Music Video) (Original Version)

There was even a lawsuit in 2014 from Jackson fan Vera Serova, who claimed that she'd been missold the album.

An appeals court ruled in favour of Sony and Jackson's estate, but it also said that because they weren't there when the songs were recorded "they could only draw a conclusion about that issue from their own research and the available evidence".

Despite the controversy, back in 2010 the album was released and despite some very middling reviews, it went to number four in the UK and number 3 in the US, eventually going Platinum in both countries.

But now, over a decade on, Sony Music has decided to draw a line under the whole controversy by deleting the trio of tracks from all streaming platforms.

Without directly addressing the "it's not Michael" claims, the company explained that it was looking to move on by taking the songs down.

Michael Jackson - Keep Your Head Up

“The Estate of Michael Jackson and Sony Music decided to remove the tracks 'Breaking News', 'Monster', and 'Keep Your Head Up', from the 2010 album Michael as the simplest and best way to move beyond the conversation associated with these tracks once and for all," said Sony Music and the Jackson estate in a statement yesterday (July 5).

"The focus remains where it belongs — on the exciting news and existing projects celebrating Michael Jackson's legacy, including the Tony-winning Broadway musical MJ, the enormously popular Michael Jackson-ONE show in Las Vegas, an upcoming biopic, and the campaign to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Thriller, the best-selling album in history, in November.

"The album's remaining tracks remain available. Nothing should be read into this action concerning the authenticity of the tracks – it is just time to move beyond the distraction surrounding them."