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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.

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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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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