Sony Music and the Michael Jackson estate have reached a settlement over three songs that allegedly didn’t contain Michael Jackson’s voice on his 2010 posthumous album.
Vera Serova sued Sony Music in a class action lawsuit back in 2014, alleging that Jackson’s voice was falsely attributed on the album. The case was appealed in several courts before making its way to the California Supreme Court in 2020. Last month, Sony Music and the Michael Jackson estate removed three tracks from streaming services. Those tracks include “Breaking News,” “Monster,” and “Keep Your Head Up.”
“Regardless of how the Supreme Court may rule, the parties to the lawsuit mutually decided to end the litigation,” Sony Music spokesperson said in a joint statement with the Michael Jackson Estate. Sony Music obtained the rights to Jackson’s music catalog in 2016 in a deal worth an estimated $750 million.
Michael was the first the posthumous albums released, with rumors spread about its authenticity in 2010. “We have complete confidence in the results of our extensive research as well as the accounts of those who were in the studio with Michael that the vocals on the new album are his own,” Sony told Variety in a statement in November 2010.
Sony Music defended the authenticity of the songs before adopting a more careful position amid the lawsuit. Michael producer Eddie Cascio (who also co-wrote the songs) says that Jackson recorded all three songs in question. However, Michael Jackson’s mother Katherine insists that the tracks in question do not feature her son’s vocals.
The Michael album now features just seven songs available on music streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, and Deezer. Tidal’s master version of the album includes just seven tracks, while the non-master version contains all ten tracks, including those disputed by this class action lawsuit.
“The Estate and Sony Music believe the continuing conversation about the tracks is distracting the fan community and casual Michael Jackson listeners from focusing their attention where it should be – on Michael’s legendary and deep music catalog,” one person connected with the Michael album said.