Michael Jackson's "new" single "This Is It" was released worldwide yesterday to stimulate interest in the upcoming soundtrack and documentary about the preparations for Jackson's British tour in July. It was billed as the first of a large cache of unreleased material Jackson recorded before his death at his Los Angeles home in June.
But it turns out the song, co-written by Jackson and Paul Anka in 1983, intended for an Anka album, had already been released as "I Never Heard" by Sa-Fire in 1991. After hearing both versions, the Jackson estate immediately offered Anka half of the copyright, Newsday reports.
it was also reported, Paul Anka could expect quite a payday now as he owns half of the copyright in "This Is It." But will it finally win the veteran singer-songwriter a Grammy Award? Though Paul Anka enjoyed a string of hits in the early years of the Grammys, he has never contended for any of the major awards. He was snubbed even for his 1969 English language lyrics for "My Way" -- a signature song for then Grammy favorite Frank Sinatra.
Critical response to "This Is It" has been mixed at best. Jon Pareles of the New York Times said: "No funk here: it’s the posthumous, all-sweetness-and-light Jackson that his family is determined to sell. But at least he sounds human, especially at the end, where he lets the vocal line take a few tentative leaps." Greg Kot of the Chicago Tribune said, "Jackson cycles through a verse, pre-chorus and chorus several times during the track's 3:46 duration but never really develops any of the initial ideas." And for Ann Powers of the Los Angeles Times, "His high tenor billows and crests, but never breaks; this is ecstasy without resolution. It feels great, but unfinished. It simultaneously makes you want it to keep going and to become something else, something more," The Los Angeles Times reports.
Reuters quoted a spokesman for Jackson's estate as saying, "The song was picked because the lyrics were appropriate because of the name Michael gave his tour. We are thrilled to present this song in Michael's voice for the first time, and that Michael's fans have responded in unprecedented numbers. The song was co-written by the legendary Paul Anka."
A spokeswoman for Sony Music declined to comment. One of the estate's two administrators, John McClain, worked with Jackson at the Sony Corp unit. The other executor is music attorney John Branca.
McClain, who is also a co-producer of the "This is It" album, had said in a statement earlier on Monday that the song "only defines, once again, what the world already knows -- that Michael is one of God's greatest gifts," Reuters reports.