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411 Music Fact or Fiction: Was Drake Wrong To Use An Unreleased Michael Jackson Track?

July 8, 2018 | Posted by Joseph Lee

Welcome to the 411 Music Fact or Fiction!

Jack White’s new vinyl release is exciting news.

Joseph Lee: FACT – I look forward to everything Jack White does. Dude is supremely talented and if that means I have to dust off a record player to listen to his new material, then I’ll do it.

Jeremy Thomas: FICTION – There are people I am sure this is exciting for, but being as I don’t buy things on vinyl it doesn’t have a lot of interest for me. I think that it’s great White is doing more than his part to keep the format going strong, as there is absolutely a market for it. And I am a fan of his work, of course. But I’m personally not going to pay $60 for a quarterly subscription service so that I can get this release, particularly when I’m not a big listener to live albums as a rule. More power to those who do, though.

Drake was wrong to use an unreleased Michael Jackson track on his new album.

Joseph Lee: FICTION – Yeah it’s been done already. There’s the Xscape album, there’s the Justin Timberlake track, so it’s not as if Jackson’s material hasn’t been mined before.

Jeremy Thomas: FICTION – Robbie Brown is entitled to his opinion, but with respect to him I disagree. Robbie’s point as he has expressed it is that if Jackson didn’t finish the song, it shouldn’t be used. I may have missed something, but I don’t recall him expressing displeasure with L.A. Reid curating and executive producing Xscape which was full of “unfinished” material. Robbie is clearly not making the point that Drake had no legal right to use the material, and he’s far from the first artist to use posthumous material from another artist. I’m far from his biggest fan, but I don’t see the concern here.

You don’t think Ed Sheeran ripped off Marvin Gaye’s “Thinking Out Loud.”

Joseph Lee: FACT – If he did, I don’t think it was intentional. They have some similar aspects but otherwise they’re mostly different.

Jeremy Thomas: FACT – I will start off by saying that yes, the songs have some superficial similarity and it’s entirely possible Sheeran was inspired by one of the most famous R&B songs of all-time. It’s certainly not a “rip-off” though. This is the reason everyone thought the “Blurred Lines’ verdict was so ridiculous; you can’t claim copyright infringement off being inspired by a song or having similar “stylistic elements.” But even with that notion set aside, I don’t think this applies. Sure, the bit in the verses has a similar sound to Gaye’s riff, but that’s the best claim Structured Asset Sales has. I really hope this lawsuit goes down hard, because it is grasping at straws.


Justin Timberlake’s new song “SoulMate” was solid.

Jeremy Thomas: FACT – It was very solid, in fact. I wouldn’t call this a game changer the way that some of his best work is, but it’s a groovy, head nod-worthy summer jam that instantly made its way into my rotations. Timberlake is generally at his best when he’s doing stuff like this and while I appreciated his taking the risks that he did on Man of the Woods, this is a much stronger piece of music from him.
Joseph Lee: FACT – Justin Timberlake’s another guy that continues to put out quality work in most of his work and I really enjoyed “SoulMate.” It’s solid and it’s more within his wheelhouse.

You’re not a fan of Marilyn Manson’s cover of ‘Cry Little Sister’.

Jeremy Thomas: FICTION – This was a cover that made so much sense, I’m surprised it didn’t happen sooner. “Cry Little Sister” is a stellar piece of darkwave rock from an iconic 1980s film, and I still listen to it to this day. Manson doesn’t drastically change this song, but he gives it his own spin to pretty great effect. There are a couple of moments early in the first verse where I personally would have liked to see a little more malice in Manson’s tone, but that’s my personal inclination and not a critical observation. Nice stuff from Manson here and I enjoyed the hell out of it.

Joseph Lee: FACT – I love the original but as far as covers go, this pales in comparison to the track from Seasons After several years ago. Manson may be a perfect artist for this kind of song but he really brings nothing new to it.

The video for Smashing Pumpkins’ ‘Solara’ was too weird to be any good.

Jeremy Thomas: FICTION – I’m not saying it’s good, but the wierdness isn’t necessarily the issue. “Blackholesun” is a weird-ass video, but it’s also a classic. The issue here is that the weirdness doesn’t lead to much more than a facile point. Yes, the “normal world” isn’t any less screwed up than the underground. That’s not exactly uncharted territory, guys, and it’s been told much more effectively in other people’s music videos. I don’t have any great aversion to this one; it’s fairly trite, but I’ve seen much worse. It’s just very mediocre and for no particular reason.
Joseph Lee: FACT – I didn’t care for it, and yes it was partially because of the weirdness. It just felt like it was Billy Corgan trying to grasp what made him relevant back in the day, to limited success here. I’ve seen good Smashing Pumpkins videos that were also weird, this is not one of them.

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