DID YOU READ

The Michael Jackson Album Conspiracy

The Michael Jackson Album Conspiracy (photo)

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Questions arose about the authenticity of the recordings on Michael Jackson’s new album, after the teaser release of his new single, “Breaking News,” immediately after it was posted online on November 8th. Some fans didn’t think it sounded like Michael, and then even his kids and his own mother claimed some of the tracks were faked.

The official Sony music news release included this bit: “The creative process never stopped for the King of Pop who was always planning for his next album; unbeknownst to many fans around the world Michael Jackson was writing and recording songs continuously everywhere from a friend’s home in New Jersey…”

New Jersey? This only made people more suspicious. Then there’s the incredible album cover art by painter Kadir Nelson, which includes references, some obvious, some cryptic to just about everything Michael Jackson has been involved with over the course of his astonishing and totally bizarre life. But someone with a magnifying glass and loads of free time noticed a certain symbol disappear from the album art, as it was originally posted by Sony Music. When I came across that, I recalled downloading the press image of the album art a few days prior and had a look myself — Lo and behold, there was a blank bubble where once there had been the Artist formerly known as Prince symbol floating beside Siegfried & Roy’s tiger.

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Original cover on the left, new cover on the right. Look closely at the bubble to the right of the tiger’s head.

Apparently, this was the work of a rogue artist and no official permission was given by Prince to use his symbol, so Sony removed it. So says Dr. Funkenberry anyway who received the response from Prince’s reps. Why the symbol was included in the first place remains unclear, though Michael Jackson and Prince were notable rivals in many ways, they never really collaborated on anything. Though they did play ping pong together at least once. Speculation that Prince had something to do with the new album is unfounded.

As for the authenticity of the recordings, it seems that they are indeed real. Joe Vogel writing for the Huffington Post has an exhaustive piece on why, who authenticated them and what this New Jersey home is all about. It’s the home/recording studio of Michael Jackson’s good friends, the Cascio family, which the tracks in question came from.

Sony and Jackson’s Estate invited a host engineers and producers who had worked with Jackson, some for over 30 years, to listen to the tracks along with a musician who had “worked with Michael over the years and who had also contributed to one of the Cascio tracks,” Vogel writes. “Each of them listened to the a cappella version of the vocals on the Cascio tracks without any musical accompaniment so that they could give an opinion as to whether or not the lead vocals on the Cascio tracks were sung by Jackson. To a person they all confirmed that the vocal was definitely Michael Jackson.”

That would still leave doubt in the minds of some, so then they brought in “one of the best known forensic musicologists in the nation” to compare the a cappella vocals with those from previously recorded Jackson vocals. Using waveform analysis, the forensic musicologist “found that all of the vocals were the voice of Michael Jackson.” Sony covered all bases as, “It was also specifically verified that the vocals did not belong to well-known Jackson impersonator, Jason Malachi.”

“Michael,” the album, is due out December 14th, lingering conspiracies included.

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. 

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number! 

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time. 

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by. 

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo. 

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim. 

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t? 

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?” 

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud. 

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.

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Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.

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Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.

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Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!

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Inter-not

Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.

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Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.

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If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.