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The Controversy of "MICHAEL" -- A few points to consider

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Initial post: Dec 16, 2010 8:31:00 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 16, 2010 9:46:33 AM PST
R. Pertusio says:
There are a lot of questions surrounding the album 'MICHAEL'. So, let's set the record straight...

Are the vocals Michael? Yes.
Long-time fans know that Michael was the most versatile entertainer. His vocals are unmatched by anyone. You've heard '2000 Watts'-- and while it sounds 'similar' to "Breaking News", you may say it's not the same. Well, you're right! The vocals are processed. Michael would hate processed vocals (unless going for a cool effect on purpose.) For any other artist, Teddy Riley did a 'decent' job. For Michael, he did a 'poor' job. The quality of the songs would never be (or will ever be) at the level Michael would have wanted. I wish T. Riley would have taken an extra 3 years to produce the songs and make it 'perfect'. No one has the attention to detail Michael did. Using 'Melodyne' is a 'quick and easy' way to fix vocal pitch with a computer program. Unfortunately, it is sloppy. Michael's trademark vibrato? Ruined. That 'robot sound'? A side-effect of the software processing. Teddy likely put the entire track through Melodyne, whether it needed it or not. Melodyne is not mature enough to be undetectable. Most people are rejecting the track for the unfortuante Melodyne qualities-- whether they realize it or not. If you're going to be upset at the vocals, then be upset that Sony/Teddy took shortcuts and didn't take the time to perfect it.

Would Michael approve? We'll never know.
If he were alive, he would absolutely NEVER let these songs out the door-- except maybe 'Hold My Hand', which he gave much of the production control and credit to Akon. But, now that Michael has passed on, I think he is looking down and has the same struggle we all do. I believe he'd reluctantly share his music-- so that people can get that life-changing, world-changing experience he strives for in every song. He never planned on dying. His goal was to change the world and save lives. I think if he felt there was a chance that "Keep Your Head Up" could save 1 life, he would allow it to be released. No, it will never be as perfect as he wanted. Looking down from the heavens, he'd want 'MICHAEL' to continue changing the world when he cannot physically be present.

Should I boycott "MICHAEL"? Never.
Michael wouldn't want you to boycott his music-- ever. Even though he hated how Sony treated him, he encouraged people to buy his music. He spent million$ promoting Invincible. His earnings? They went to charity, his children, and family. A decent portion of the sales from "MICHAEL" will go to the same place. Do I agree with everything going on with his family/kids? No. But, would that have stopped Michael from giving to them? No. He loved to love. Is Sony greedy? Absolutely. Michael thought so too, but he didn't let that stop him from spreading the life-altering music masterpieces.

Should I trash "MICHAEL"? Never.
Trashing his music is in direct conflict with what Michael would have wanted. To trash 'MICHAEL' means you could keep others from enjoying his incredible passion for healing the world. You think you're proving to the world that you 'support' him? Wrong. You're giving the rest of the world a reason NOT to listen to his music. With the media/tabloids/Oprah's of the world, the world has enough reasons to dismiss Michael and forget about him.

Should I pirate/copy/download the CD illegally? No.
There is no justification to do something illegally. Michael NEVER condoned piracy of music-- his or anyone elses. In fact, Michael would never have chosen to promote anything illegal. If you think that you're proving a point by illegally downloading, you're right... it does prove a point. But, the point that comes across is this: You are picking and choosing which of Michael's beliefs to follow. You illegally download "to protect Michael's legacy", but by doing so you're destroying the very legacy you are trying to save. Don't justify downloading illegally because of your disgust for Sony, Teddy, (etc). I can still detest Sony, but grabbing an illegal copy only proves that I don't understand or support a thing Michael stood for.

Should I buy the CD/MP3s? It's up to you.
Have I? Yes, and I can look past the imperfections Teddy/Sony have overlooked. I listen for the life-changing music. Among the remaining gifts Michael can still give to the world... his music is the most far-reaching. His music has the ability to transcend cultural/social boundaries. It has the unique power to transform a person to be better. His legacy lives on through those who listen to his music. He will always remain 'alive' as long as his music is still changing lives. To buy the CD shows your support for Michael's vision, and is a commitment to improving the world. This is your opportunity to 'change the world' and 'make it a better place'.

Will you sit on the sidelines? Or will you take the unique opportunity to make a difference in the world?
If you choose not to buy, then make sure you know why you won't buy. Instead, choose to smile and make someone's day. Choose to help a stranger at the store. Choose to reconnect with an old friend. Choose to volunteer your time. Choose to follow the example Michael has given us.

What should Sony have done?
First of all, Sony should have released the 'original' vocals. There is a part of me who wishes I could hear ONLY what Michael actually wrote. I don't want to pick apart a song wondering "Did Michael put this in? or did Teddy?" I wish that more time was spent on the album to 'perfect' it. While I'm grateful to have the music, it is nowhere close to Michael's production standards. Next time, take 2 more years to spend time on it and get rid of those 'Melodyne' effects we all hate.

No one is wrong for having an opinion. Just make sure you understand the impact (good or bad) of your words/actions on others-- especially those millions of people who have yet to discover the magic of Michael Jackson. Your harsh words against 'MICHAEL' is just one more reason for people to forget about him.

Posted on Dec 16, 2010 8:47:35 AM PST

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 17, 2010 12:29:38 AM PST
N. Alhimyary says:
Very well said and I agree on all counts.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 17, 2010 7:07:30 AM PST
Chaplinesque says:
Your post was well-written and a joy to read. However...I must disagree. "Are the vocals Michael? Yes.": I must tell you that at least one "voice double" was used on "Breaking News", specifically, and on other tracks on this LP. I am an industry professional and I can tell you that Melodyne/AutoTune does NOT so-alter one's pitch and vibrato to the point of not being able to recognize an artist's trademark vocals. Teddy Riley isn't inept as a record producer, trust me. Michael very rarely had issues with pitch, phrasing, vibrato, breathing, or execution. If anything he has "perfect" pitch as well as "relative" pitch. I'd heard these songs pre-release but post-production and was incredulous. I was so determined to learn the truth about "Breaking News" that I heard it, in a studio, with all tracks separated. If you honestly believe those are Michael's vocals I really don't know what to say. It's not my intent to debate or to criticize. However, there are NONE of Mike's hallmarks present. The phrasing is wrong. The pitch is bad and I'm not talking AutoTune. Mike's trademark "Dah" which he incorporates into his breathing was NOT there. Though this person tried, but like everything else he did, it was forced and false. It's obvious this was sung by someone who sounds a "little" like Mike, but could never duplicate his voice perfectly. This person's vibrato is not the result of Melodyne Gone Berserk and Teddy Riley's/Sony's shortcuts. It simply is NOT Michael Jackson. The human voice is an amazing thing. Not only do you hear a singer's technical skill (or lack thereof), you hear and feel the singers very essence; their soul. It is the lack of Michael's presence in these vocals that most everyone can feel. This music is sterile and devoid of spirit/soul. His essential, spiritual presence simply is not present in this music and certainly not to the extent it is in Michael's body of work.

"Should I boycott 'Michael'?": Absolutely. The release of this CD is an affront to any honest person with no agenda other than to listen to Michael Jackson. This album is tantamount to "Milli Vanilli" and is an insult to the intelligence of millions and a huge DISRESPECT to Michael. I abhor deception and so much of it surrounds this CD. Purchasing this album does NOT "support" Michael in any way. It only lines the coffers of those who have lied to earn it. Would Michael support that behavior? No. Sony has used deception before and literally invented a music critic, called him David Manning, and he gave glowing reviews of Sony Music product. This was circa 2004ish. They were caught and had to pay a large fine, among other things, and were forced to admit David Manning wasn't a real person. Now, it was Sony who brought in "forensic musicologists" and "past people who'd once worked with Michael", and of course every one of these people said it was indeed his voice on these tracks. Right. Think about it...when was the last time you listened to extant vocals from Sinatra, or Zeppelin, or The Temptations and you doubted authenticity? I daresay never. Yet, here we have the most blatant, ridiculous situation with Sony at the ready to "defend" its "project". By not purchasing this you're sending a loud and clear message to not only Sony, but to the "estate", and others involved in this that we will not accept this product, and we will NOT be lied to, manipulated, deceived, and made fools of. Sony's brainwashing attempts have fallen on deaf ears. Did David Manning love "Michael"?

Once again Michael Jackson is being exploited, will this never end?

"What should Sony have done?": I could go on and on and on regarding this question, but I won't. I'll simply say that what's happening is precisely what I thought would happen. A feeding frenzy would take place. Sony: "Let's put together an album of unreleased Michael Jackson songs. It doesn't matter if his vocals are sparse, we can bring in a double and get Teddy to produce a few tracks. So what if the album is 80% not Mike and 20% (I'm being generous) Mike, Michael's fans will buy anything with his name on it. Ah, let's call it "Michael"! Who'd ever doubt Michael not being on "Michael"? Let's tell them the vocals are 100% Michael, some won't know the difference and for those who do, have the forensic musicologists and "experts" ready (Sony and Howard Weitzman said from the beginning the vocals were 100% Michael, then gradually, as with any lie, the story changed and they mentioned "James Porte" "boosted" vocals). If Sony were to release anything, I'd rather have had the sound bytes, song fragments, demo versions, raw and uncut. That would have been more precious than any fake album.

Michael's voice is so pure and crystalline that when he sustains a note then vibrates his voice near the close of that note, his pitch doesn't waver. Many singers tend to go "flat" or "sharp" at the end of a musical phrase due to improper breathing or innate questionable pitch. But not Michael. Repeatedly in "Breaking News" I hear a VERY forced, over-breathy vibrato that is not a "real" vibrato. Worse still, nearly every time this person vibrated his voice he went very sharp at the end of the vibrato. Michael Jackson on his worst day doesn't sound anything like this. He sounded better than this when he had a cold! You say "Most people are rejecting this track because of the unfortunate Melodyne qualities--whether they realize it or not". The reality is, in my view, that this track is being rejected because it's not Michael. Period. The song is mediocre at best in my opinion and I fully understand why Michael never chose to release it. Of course Teddy over-produced it! He wasn't working with Mike, he was working with Jason Malachi, James Porte, or whomever...but he was not working with Mike. "If you're going to be upset at the vocals, then be upset that Sony/Teddy took shortcuts and didn't take the time to perfect it." I must take issue with this statement. We are talking about Sony Music and the Sony Corporation here. Not a few people putting together an album in their garage. No shortcuts were taken. The production values were excellent considering what/who Teddy was working with (though I do not care for the songs on this CD). You mentioned "2,000 Watts". For those who had never heard Mike singing in that register, the song came as a surprise. However, it was obvious AutoTune was not used to lower his pitch. Mike has an over four octave vocal range and can easily access is low tenor-to-baritone range. Every hallmark of Mike's trademark sound was well-present, even down to the spoken "What!?" Every person who truly knows Michael's voice, and heard the song, never questioned its authenticity. People have gotten used to hearing "robotic" effects in music; this has been going on for quite a long time. The "robotic" effects are not the issue as I see it. The fact that Michael's vocal sound bytes were pieced together, by very skilled people, to create a weird tapestry of a dash of Mike, voice doubles, bells, and whistles, is a travesty.

"Would Michael approve? We'll never know": I must tell you that of course Michael would disapprove. Michael wanted nothing to do with corruption, greed, malice, destruction, dishonesty ("If you want it, earn it with dignity"--"Money"), and would be appalled by this farce, however not surprised. Mike deeply understands "human nature", the light and the dark aspects. Do you honestly believe if this album had been released back in 2007 it would have been at all successful? Absolutely not. Not by Michael Jackson standards. If this had been released back then, I'm sure even Mike's most staunch, devoted fans would say "What's wrong with his voice? Why does this all sound so weird?" "Is this a tribute album?"

"No one is wrong for having an opinion. Just make sure you understand the impact (good or bad) of your words/actions on others-- especially those millions of people who have yet to discover the magic of Michael Jackson. Your harsh words against 'MICHAEL' is just one more reason for people to forget about him." : I couldn't disagree more. Yes, I do agree everyone is entitled to their opinion. However, it is not a matter of opinion the "Michael" album is very, very sparsely Michael. To those millions who've yet to discover Mike's magic, I suggest listening to everything from "Who's Loving You" to the entire Invincible album. THAT is how you discover the REAL Michael Jackson. For you to say "Your harsh words against 'Michael' is just one more reason for people to forget about him." That is an incredible statement. Are you saying that the valid questioning/criticism of this album, being vocal in that criticism and choosing not to perpetuate this fraud, will be just one more reason for people to forget about him? That is absurd I must say. Those who will forget about Michael would have done so anyway. That's their right. However, the VAST majority of the world will NOT forget about Michael. He will be around as long as Mozart, trust me. The world sees his brand of genius only once in humanity. I'd almost think you work for Sony making a statement like that. I don't mean to be rude, however, what sort of logic is this? Buy this fake CD or you'll give "people" reason to forget about him? Hmm. I am not grateful for this album. I don't feel it has any redeeming value whatsoever. If I want to listen to Michael I'll simply play the 40+ years of his music that I own. I will not be listening to "Michael".

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 17, 2010 9:27:40 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 17, 2010 9:28:22 AM PST
A Customer says:
brilliant assessment by "Chaplinesque"

Posted on Dec 17, 2010 10:24:31 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 17, 2010 10:26:57 AM PST
D. Brown says:
Please go to YT and watch this video at /watch?v=CtAQPC6A_ts

Posted on Dec 17, 2010 11:22:25 AM PST
R. Pertusio says:
Thanks for the very detailed response, Chaplinesque! I'm glad you replied in such detail. I think you accurately describe "the other side of the fence" pretty well without bashing Michael, his album, or my post. You make valid points, and you're certainly not 'trashing' Michael as I've seen others do... so Thank You for not being like them. You seem to have a level head.

Let me be clear: If I am wrong, and there is proof that the tracks are fabricated (or contain fabricated vocals), then I'll say so. It will be incredibly disappointing if true. But for now, I still err on the side of "It's Michael". (On the flip side, I am sure that you would be absolutely thrilled if you found proof that convinced you that the vocals were real!)

In RE: Breaking News: I always felt that buying the album would sway me one way or the other. The cheap "lo-fi" web versions were never enough to sway me in either direction. I erred on the side of 'authentic Michael vocals', but would reconsider when hearing the album. Listening on high fidelity speakers, I am convinced it is his voice. The more I listen, the more I am certain it is him.

In RE: Sony's shortcuts: We agree that Sony's bottom line matters most to them. Where we disagree, however, is that I absolutely feel the project was rushed and low budget. Sony is Sony. If they can put 1/2 the effort/time/$$$ into the project and still feel they can make a killing, they will. If they think they can get away with a small marketing budget, they will (and it's evident to me that the promotion for the album is pitiful.) I don't think Sony ever expected the incredible backlash about the vocals. They probably figured fans would just be 'happy' with anything 'New' and would zombie to the music store and buy it because MJ's name was attached to it. Sony is stupid enough to 'ruin' Michael's vocals... but I am not convinced they are stupid enough to fake vocals.

In RE: Unaltered vocals/demos: I absolutely would love to hear the demos and raw vocals before they were tainted by others. Seeing as Sony probably will never (officially) release them, I'll be as content as I can be with 'MICHAEL'. (By the way, I'm glad I don't work for Sony! If I did... 'MICHAEL' would never have been released the way it was.)

In RE: If album was released in 2007: If released back then, Michael would have never let it leave the studio. You're right about that. Very rarely was he ever 'happy' with a song. (He never thought much of his own dancing-- but we all know his talents as an entertainer.) Even the released albums he was never happy with. He felt compelled to give the fans something, and to fulfill his Sony contractual obligations. Fans would have protested an album like 'MICHAEL' in 2007. Vocals would probably be questioned, but we would have had Michael himself to ask/verify the authenticity. In 2010, we don't have the luxury. If you recall, Invincible had the same type of questions, albeit much MUCH less since he was still alive. (To this day, some people even still question whether Michael wrote his own songs, or if he lip-sync'd his songs on stage. Of course, WE as fans know the truth, but it is so easy for others to believe otherwise.)

Fans must question it and are forced to determine the truth on their own-- and arguably so. It is our duty as fans to show due diligence. Chaplinesque, I commend you for doing just that. You've stood your ground and firmly disputed the authenticity of the vocals. I, however, firmly believe the vocals are authentic. That's the beauty of an open forum where opinions can be expressed freely.

What I mean by "people will forget about him" was meant more like this: People write Michael off as a 'pedophile' these days. Too easily people won't give him a chance. They're missing the magic of his music and the energy of his entertainment. We can't allow our quest for truth to prevent newcomers from enjoying his music and fulfilling his vision of world healing.

If you still question the Cascio tracks, then don't discard the rest of the album. Buy the songs you feel are 'real'.

I think Sony could have done a much better job on 'MICHAEL', but I won't let it stop me from enjoying it to the fullest. Even in its current state, it is 20 times better than most of the junk on the radio now.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 18, 2010 12:46:06 AM PST
Chaplinesque says:
Thank you for your reply. We're definitely not in-synch regarding this issue but, as you stated, the beauty of an open forum is to intelligently and respectfully express your like or differing opinion. As for the "Cascio Tracks", NONE of the lead vocals are Michael. I must say something here...I just happened to reread what I just stated and couldn't believe there is a necessity to even say that! We are actually not sure Michael Jackson sang lead vocals on "Michael". What a bizarre situation. Anyway, I have an extremely high integrity bar in place. I don't tolerate dishonesty, deception, and I will NOT be a party to it, in any way. To me, buying this CD is a total waste of time as well as a waste of my money. Is that a harsh statement? Perhaps...but a completely honest one. There is NO way I support anything about this album. Firstly, the only song that "possibly" appeals to me is the song featuring Lenny Kravitz. So many of the tracks on this CD are remixes of much older released and unreleased material.

The moment I realized Sony and others had lied, and continue to lie about this album, I made my mind up then and there this was not a product I would purchase. There is so much beauty in the well as corruption. My loyalty to Michael wouldn't allow me to purchase it, my conscience wouldn't allow me to purchase it, my musicality wouldn't allow me to purchase it, and I find it interesting Amazon has cut the selling price in-half as of this writing. I feel good about not purchasing it because I think Sony's behavior is reprehensible. Completely unacceptable. Until 2017, Sony has an exclusive contract to release all things Michael...apparently Michael needn't be a part of these releases. This is an abomination. I don't trust "the estate" (Branca & McLain) nor do I believe anything they've said about "Michael". When the Cascios and Teddy Riley appeared on Oprah, that was a HUGE tip-off. Firstly, Oprah has been "in bed" with Sony since the start of her career. Every year, almost without exception, at least one Sony product is among "Oprah's Favorite Things". I won't name names at Sony, however, one can very easily research. Her show has been distributed by Sony Television Distribution for many years now after she left King World. Her association with/dependence upon the Sony Corporation made that episode not credible in my view. Everyone involved had a vested interest or agenda of some kind.

I must say in response to your explanation regarding "people forgetting about Michael": You're correct. There, unfortunately, are still those who need to believe he's a pedophile. However, Michael's worldwide base of devotees isn't going anywhere. No artist in history has ever been graced with the love and "approval" of everyone, there will always be those who don't care for one's music. I can promise our quest for truth won't prevent newcomers from enjoying his music...IF they listen to his body of work. Not "Michael". If it's possible there is still a person on the planet unfamiliar with Mike's music, I'd strongly suggest to that person to listen to his work from 1968 through 2001. I must say that this is not a "quest for truth" for me because I already know the truth. I've done my homework.

You said something that struck me so I'll comment on it. Regarding your comment "...fulfilling his vision of world healing." Michael would not want anyone to buy anything that was false or questionable. He would WANT us to research on our own. His vision of world healing is all about honesty and truth. Healing is impossible through deception, manipulation, and dishonesty. Let newcomers watch his short films, interviews (some, that is), live concert footage, the body of his musical work, and it won't be long before they will be mesmerized. "Michael" will give them a skewed, false impression. If there is anything Michael Jackson isn't is "mediocre", and "Michael" is just that, in my view.

I promise you the truth about this album will arrive very soon. You won't see it on Oprah. But truth will be revealed.

God Bless.

Posted on Dec 18, 2010 5:16:11 AM PST
R. Pertusio says:
Thanks Chaplinesque. Good dialog here. I appreciate the depth of your answer, and it is clearer to me why you (and others) feel the way you do :) Even though I don't know you, I do respect your opinion, and you've shown the "due diligence" which I spoke of before.

Thanks again.
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Discussion in:  Michael forum
Participants:  6
Total posts:  9
Initial post:  Dec 16, 2010
Latest post:  Dec 18, 2010

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Michael by Michael Jackson (Audio CD - 2010)
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