The King of Pop has been dead for almost 10 years but there was “Breaking News” about Michael Jackson this week and none of it was good.
On Monday, the Recording Industry Association of America revealed to The Associated Press that the Eagles’ 1976 compilation Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975 has surpassed Michael Jackson’s Thriller as the biggest-selling album of all-time in the U.S. The RIAA’s latest tally — which includes streaming numbers on services like YouTube and Spotify — puts Their Greatest Hits at 38x platinum, with Thriller coming in at 33x platinum.
Obviously, this is a travesty. Thriller was a game-changing, front-to-back masterpiece by arguably the greatest entertainer of the 20th century. Their Greatest Hits isn’t even a PROPER ALBUM. And the title is bullshit: “Hotel California” is indisputably the Eagles’ greatest hit and it wouldn’t be released as a single until 1977.
Here’s another fact that will make your skin crawl: At 26x platinum, Hotel California is the third best-selling album in the U.S., making the Eagles far and away the most popular band in the history of American albums.
Then came news that was truly bizarre and surprising, even by Michael Jackson standards. It turns out that long-rumored claims of an imposter singing on Jackson’s posthumous 2010 album Michael might actually be true.
It’s a complicated legal story but the short version is that a fan filed a class-action lawsuit in 2010 against Jackson’s estate, label and the producers of the songs “Breaking News,” “Monster” and “Keep Your Head Up” alleging that a Jackson impersonator sang the vocals on those tracks. These claims were bolstered by members of his family, as well as the singer Jason Malachi, who, according to TMZ, admitted to secretly recording the vocals.
The vocal tone and conspicuous use of third person in “Breaking News” certainly arouses suspicion. Although Sony has since clarified the statement that they did not admit to the phony vocals, this lawsuit could soon reveal an imposter in the official canon of one pop music’s most iconic figures.
The solution to both of these problems is to simply listen to Thriller, over and over again on repeat. As to the lawsuit, a judge is expected to rule on his label’s culpability within 90 days, so we won’t have to wait too long to see if MJ can beat it.