Though officially released less than 24 hours ago, Michael Jackson's first posthumous single, This Is It," has turned out to not be so new after all.
After rampant speculation Monday that the song has decades-old roots, a representative to the special administrators for the Jackson estate has confirmed that This Is It" was originally co-written with Paul Anka in the early '80s.
Anka tells Pop & Hiss that he recorded two songs with Jackson in 1983, both intended for Anka's 1983 album Walk a Fine Line." One of them, I Never Heard," contains the identical vocal and piano line heard on This Is It," Anka said.
Anka said that in the hours since he first heard the song today he had reached a deal to receive half the publishing royalties. He repeatedly called the situation an honest mistake."
Anka said he was tipped off to the song when he received a call from TMZ's managing editor Harvey Levin, who was inquiring about the song's similarities to a 1991 cut Anka gave to Latin artist Sa-Fire. Jackson and Anka shared a songwriting credit on her version of I Never Heard."
I said, 'I dont know what youre talking about yet, but let me check it,' Anka recalled. I listened, and there were no similarities; it was the same damn song."
The song takes it name from what would have been Jackson's comeback tour this summer, and will now serve as the title track to a concert film and accompanying album. The film arrives for a limited two-week run on Oct. 28, and the album will be released in North America on Oct. 27.
The song was picked because the lyrics were appropriate because of the name Michael gave his tour," said a spokesman for special administrators for the Jackson estate John McClain and John Branca. We are thrilled to present this song in Michael's voice for the first time, and that Michaels fans have responded in unprecedented numbers. The song was co-written by the legendary Paul Anka.
Canadian artist Anka came out swinging on Monday, threatening to sue the Jackson estate in comments made to TMZ and the New York Times. He didn't mince words when speaking to the New York Times. They have a major, major problem on their hands, he is quoted as saying. They will be sued if they dont correct it.
It's not the first time Anka has had to have conversations with lawyers regarding the song. He said his relationship with Jackson grew strained after Thriller" became an international hit, and he had to fight to regain control of the tapes to his recording sessions with the artist.
I took the tapes over to a studio on Sunset Boulevard," Anka recalled about working with the star in 1983, and Michael was supposed to meet me there so we can go to the next phase of the duets. I go to work, and I am informed by the studio that Michael had sent one of his people over and took the tapes. They stole them. I said, What? He didnt want to do the project anymore."
Anka said there was no such drama today. He said he heard from the special administrators to the Jackson estate around 2 p.m. They said, Look, we get it. We made a huge mistake. Please, we apologize. Dont throw an injunction. We understand that this is your song. I said I wasn't going to hold them up, and wanted what was right, and thats 50 percent," Anka said. That was my vocal. That was nothing new for Michael."