That “New” Michael Jackson Song Isn’t a New Michael Jackson Song

Slate's Culture Blog
April 9 2014 6:20 PM

That “New” Michael Jackson Song Isn’t a New Michael Jackson Song

Michael Jackson XSCAPE album art
That "new song" supposedly from Michael Jackson's XSCAPE is not a "new song" and it's not from XSCAPE.

Album art for XSCAPE

Less than two weeks after the announcement of Michael Jackson’s posthumous album XSCAPE, the title track supposedly leaked online today. Music blogs like Prefix, Gigwise, and Pretty Much Amazing were among the first to post the “new song” early in the morning, and sites like Vulture and BuzzFeed soon followed their lead, with BuzzFeed calling it “The Best Michael Jackson Song In Forever.” By this afternoon, the “leak” had been posted by nearly every major outlet that’s in the business of posting songs, including the Huffington Post, Entertainment Weekly, Spin, MTV News, the Guardian, and many, many more.

There’s only one problem: It’s not a new song, and it’s not from XSCAPE at all. In fact, the version of “XSCAPE” making headlines today has been around for years.

I was first tipped off to this fact by a commenter on Stereogum—due credit to “ghostschannels”—and it didn’t take much time to verify the claim that this song was not at all new. While “XSCAPE” is an old song, the new album is set to feature “contemporized” production from a group of producers led by Timbaland and including Rodney Jerkins, Stargate, and more. The version making the rounds today, however, appears to be identical to the version that’s been around for years. Here’s a 2010 YouTube video I found of a Jackson impersonator dancing to the track:

I reached out to Epic Records, and the label’s Lauren Ceradini confirmed that the version making the rounds is “not from XSCAPE.” Indeed, the “leaked” version sounds nothing like version included in the official album teaser released at the end of March:

Advertisement

It’s easy to see how a story like this could spread in today’s music media ecosystem, when respected and normally reliable publications often cite music blogs for news about the latest leaks. As I’ve chronicled before, it only takes one such publication picking up a story from a less-reliable source—such as when Variety did a story citing Wikipedia—before everyone else follows suit, citing the Varietys of the world instead of the original source.

We’re all excited about the possibility of “The Best Michael Jackson Song In Forever,” but we’ll have to wait a while longer before we can hear it.

Forrest Wickman is a Slate staff writer. 

TODAY IN SLATE

Sports Nut

Grandmaster Clash

One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.

The Extraordinary Amicus Brief That Attempts to Explain the Wu-Tang Clan to the Supreme Court Justices

Amazon Is Officially a Gadget Company. Here Are Its Six New Devices.

Uh-Oh. The World’s Oceans Have Broken Their All-Time Heat Record.

The NFL Explains How It Sees “the Role of the Female”

Future Tense

Amazon Is Now a Gadget Company

Food

How to Order Chinese Food

First, stop thinking of it as “Chinese food.”

The NFL Should Lose Its Tax-Exempt Status, Which It Never Should Have Had Anyway

The Country Where Women Aren’t Allowed to Work Once They’re 36 Weeks’ Pregnant

The XX Factor
Sept. 18 2014 11:40 AM The Country Where Women Aren’t Allowed to Work Once They’re 36 Weeks’ Pregnant
Moneybox
Sept. 17 2014 5:10 PM The Most Awkward Scenario in Which a Man Can Hold a Door for a Woman
  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 18 2014 6:52 PM Ground Zero for the Fight Over Female Voters  Colorado Democrats and Republicans are testing theories for reaching women that will resonate far beyond the Rocky Mountains.  
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 18 2014 6:02 PM A Chinese Company Just Announced the Biggest IPO in U.S. History
  Life
Outward
Sept. 18 2014 4:15 PM Reactions to a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Reveal Transmisogyny
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 18 2014 3:30 PM How Crisis Pregnancy Centers Trick Women
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 18 2014 1:23 PM “It’s Not Every Day That You Can Beat the World Champion” An exclusive interview with chess grandmaster Fabiano Caruana.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 18 2014 4:33 PM The Top 5 Dadsplaining Moments From The Cosby Show
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 18 2014 6:48 PM By 2100 the World's Population Could Be 11 Billion
  Health & Science
Science
Sept. 18 2014 3:35 PM Do People Still Die of Rabies? And how do you know if an animal is rabid?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.