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Explosive Fraud Lawsuit Filed in ‘Fake’ Michael Jackson Songs Case

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A Michael Jackson fan has filed a Class Action lawsuit in Los Angeles over the authenticity of three controversial songs included on the posthumously-released Michael album.

The plaintiff, Vera Serova, alleges that Jackson’s longtime friend Eddie Cascio, his collaborative partner James Porte, and Cascio’s music production company Angelikson Productions LLC committed fraud by creating and selling fake songs, via The Estate of Michael Jackson and Sony Music Entertainment, to consumers on the Michael album – released on December 14, 2010 in the United States.

The songs in question – “Breaking News,” “Keep Your Head Up,” and “Monster” – have become known as the ‘Cascio tracks’. Cascio and Porte say that Michael Jackson recorded the songs in Cascio’s New Jersey basement between August and November 2007. Serova, many of her fellow fans, and the entire Jackson family say Michael did no such thing.

I will personally be following this case very closely. For the last three-and-a-half years I’ve been working on investigating this very issue with a dedicated team of researchers. The findings of our investigation will ultimately be published as a podcast series that will cover Jackson’s final years in the recording studio while detailing the events surrounding the conception, production and release of the Michael album following his passing, and the controversy that erupted as a result of the inclusion of the Cascio tracks.

Serova’s filing also claims that Sony Music and The Estate have themselves mislead consumers by falsely representing these songs as Michael Jackson recordings. The claim cites that the Michael album’s promotional campaign and wording on the back of the CD cover expressly and implicitly represents all lead vocals on the album as being performed by Michael Jackson.

Find the official court documents here.

The filing states that Serova has engaged the services of a forensic musicologist who analysed the Cascio tracks and found it is unlikely that the vocals were performed by Michael Jackson. The filing also states that a second, independent forensic musicologist reviewed the methodologies and findings of the first musicologist and agreed with the deduction that it is likely that Michael Jackson does not perform lead vocals on the Cascio tracks.

Back in 2010, when the controversy first erupted, Estate attorney Howard Weitzman issued a statement to fans and the media outlining the lengths he had gone to in order to confirm the authenticity of the Cascio tracks:

“Six of Michael’s former producers and engineers who had worked with Michael over the past 30 years – Bruce Swedien, Matt Forger, Stewart Brawley, Michael Prince, Dr. Freeze and Teddy Riley – were all invited to a listening session to hear the raw vocals of the Cascio tracks in question,” Weitzman’s statement reads. “All of these persons listened to the a cappella versions of the vocals on the Cascio tracks being considered for inclusion on the album, so they could give an opinion as to whether or not the lead vocals were sung by Michael. They all confirmed that the vocal was definitely Michael.”

However, former Jackson producer, Cory Rooney, and Jackson’s nephew, Taryll Jackson, who were at that very listening session, vigorously contest the accuracy of Weitzman’s statement.

“I have read the statement from the MJ estate and I have to say that it’s just more bullshit!” said Cory Rooney on his Facebook profile after Weitzman’s statement went public. “I was in that room, and the majority of the people mentioned did NOT agree that it was MJ! Some felt it sounded like him but all agree that there was nothing there that was consistent with any MJ habits like finger snaps, headphone bleeding, foot stomping or just simple things like his voice asking for another take. Both Dr. Freeze and Teddy Riley sat with Taryll Jackson and myself and stated that they felt what we felt.”

“There are many inaccuracies and omissions in that statement,” added Taryll. “For one, I was also in that meeting and that was not the outcome. You will hear my story because this is way too important for my Uncle’s legacy. The truth will prevail.”

Serova cites these statements in her filing.

Teddy Riley personally took to Twitter last year to apologise to fans over his involvement with the posthumous production Cascio tracks (Riley remixed “Breaking News” and “Monster”) while deflecting the blame towards Eddie Cascio.

Riley was asked the following by a fan via Twitter: “Do you feel betrayed by Eddie Cascio and his team for the situation you ended up in with their fake MJ songs? It seem[s] to me like you got all the heat for a fraud they created, which is [not] fair on you…”

He responded: “It isn’t (fair), but it’s all good. I’ll be able to talk soon,” later adding: “[Now] isn’t the time. I’m muted, but trust me MJ always gets his just due. He is my bestfriend, bigbro and confidant. Please believe! The truth will set us all free… I was set up and it will all come out… That’s all I can say right now.”

It should also be noted that Stuart Brawley, who is cited in Weitzman’s statement as one of the engineers and producers who confirmed the authenticity of the vocal on the Cascio tracks, was in fact working with Eddie Cascio and James Porte on these songs as part of the Angelikson Productions team!

“Stuart co-produced 3 of the tracks [featured on the ‘Michael’ album] as part of the Angelikson production team, along with Eddie Cascio and James Porte,” says an article on Brawley’s own The Backyard Studios website. “In addition, Stuart played keyboards, engineered, programmed on all the songs, and did the string arrangement for ‘Keep Your Head Up.'”

“I was focused on making Michael sound like Michael,” Brawley told Rolling Stone of his contribution to the tracks.

Back to Weitzman’s statement. He also cited the engagement of two forensic musicologists – one by the Estate and one by Sony Music – both of whom reported that the vocals on the Cascio tracks were Michael Jackson’s. See below:

“The Estate then retained one of the best-known forensic musicologists in the nation to listen to the vocals without any instrumental accompaniment (“a cappella”), and to compare them with a cappella vocals from previous Michael songs. This expert performed waveform analysis, an objective scientific test used to determine audio authenticity, on the Cascio tracks, as well as previously released tracks with Michael’s voice, and reported that ALL of the lead vocals analyzed (which included Cascio tracks) were the voice of Michael Jackson.

Sony Music conducted their own investigation by hiring yet a second well-respected forensic musicologist who also compared the a cappella lead vocals from Cascio tracks against previously released vocals of Michael’s, and found that Michael’s voice was the on all sets of the raw vocals.”

Despite claiming that the Estate’s forensic musicologist is one of the “best-known” in the nation, Weitzman does not name him/her, and does not provide excerpts from or copies of the supposed findings. Sony’s “well-respected” expert was also not named.

Ms. Serova’s court filing, however, does name one her primary forensic musicologist – Dr. George Papcun, PhD.

Dr. Papcun is a seasoned expert in the world of sound. His expertise, according to his website, includes analysis of recordings, enhancing the intelligibility of recordings, determining whether recordings have been altered, speaker identification, memory for voices, voice lineups, using voice to determine speaker veracity and voice morphing.

He has performed audio analysis for countless high-profile clients and cases including the CIA, the Secret Service, the NSA, the Trayvon Martin case, Rodney King case, O.J. Simpson case, and on a Paula Abdul recording.

If this case goes to trial we could see the likes of James Porte – who co-wrote the Cascio tracks and is credited as singing background vocals on them, yet has never once commented on his supposed work with the King of Pop – take the stand for questioning. We could see Jason Cupeta (a.k.a. Jason Malachi) – the person many believe actually sings on the Cascio tracks – called to testify; or perhaps even Cupeta’s longtime producer and vocal engineer Tony Kurtis, who has publicly stated that the singer on the Cascio tracks is, in his view, without a doubt Jason. Members of the Jackson family will almost certainly be called for questioning, as will those cited in Weitzman’s statement.

Stay tuned for further updates on the Serova vs Sony Music, Jackson Estate, Cascio, Porte et al case. I will provide more information as the case progresses.

You can also listen to the trailer for my upcoming podcast series, called Faking Michael, about these songs and this case. A release date for the podcast has not yet been set, but you can subscribe to have episodes delivered when they become available.

The trailer for FAKING MICHAEL is live on Apple PodcastsSpotify and YouTube.


Damien Shields is the author of Michael Jackson: Songs & Stories From The Vault—a book that details the King of Pop’s creative process and dissects the anatomy of his craftsmanship. The book is available in physical and digital formats via Amazon and iBooks.
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83 Comments

83 Comments

  1. Tina

    June 13, 2014 at 7:20 pm

    bullsh*t…when will all of the ridiculousness stop?! another frivolous law suit filed by some deranged FANATIC!

    • Michael Harrison

      June 13, 2014 at 8:03 pm

      Tina, please elaborate.

      • mksmurf

        June 13, 2014 at 11:31 pm

        It’s a fake trial all setup by $ony and €state!

        Both $ony and €state should die and all die together!!! I think it’s another fake trial like AEG trial, just cheat fans and lead fans to a fake “TRUTH”!!!!

        CALL BACK ALL FAKE ALBUMs!!!!!!

  2. Andy

    June 13, 2014 at 8:03 pm

    Interesting, but does she really have a chance against Sony and Co? Plus there is literally no evidence in public of the tracks being fake.

  3. James Alay

    June 13, 2014 at 8:04 pm

    Breaking News! Our new hope, our Soldier Boy, is actually a darling lady! But she’s no Black Widow, her name is Vera, and I think she’s Ready 2 Win. Some aren’t happy with the case, some may even call her a Monster, but I suggest you Stay a while and hear her out… I’m sure you’ll Fall In Love.

    All I Need is for you to Keep Your Head Up, Vera, All Right? There ain’t enough Water in the oceans to put out the fire from those who are going to Burn Tonight.

    • Shirley Alves

      February 13, 2016 at 4:03 am

      LOL!!! Way to use all the Cascio/Malachi track titles!!!

  4. Michael Harrison

    June 13, 2014 at 8:06 pm

    I think it would be great to finally have everyone involved, sat down and forced to answer questions under oath. However, I think it will take a miracle for the lawsuit to go that far.

  5. MorningGlow

    June 13, 2014 at 8:57 pm

    If you have ears, you hear this is NOT MJ’s voice.
    $ony bribed some people.
    After the “Breaking News” song premiered a few hours … Someone removed James Porte biography from the lastfm website, someone removed jamesportemusic & bobbyewingmusic from the myspace website… Why? And where is the jasonmalachi.net?

  6. Evan

    June 13, 2014 at 8:59 pm

    I support this lawsuit, if only to get those involved with producing the Cascio tracks and deciding to put them on the “Michael” album in the hot seat to finally hear the whole truth.

    Normally I do not subscribe to conspiracy theories (see: Jackson, Michael, death hoax), but from the moment I first heard the voice on “Breaking News” — after listening to Michael’s music obsessively for more than a decade — I knew something was terribly amiss.

    Adding to my suspicion were the incredibly flimsy explanations offered at the time by the Estate and the Cascios. While I fully respect the argument on the other side that those of us who believe the tracks are not sung by Michael have not offered much “smoking gun” evidence the tracks are fake, I counter that those who say the tracks are Michael singing have not offered strong enough proof the songs are legitimate. The Cascios headed to Oprah Winfrey’s show, promising to set the record straight — only to raise more questions, in my opinion. The Estate and Sony said they conducted forensic analyses of the songs, but we have yet to see any of the results and were basically told to take them at their word. Not one sufficient relic of a Michael Jackson recording session — demos/outtakes, photos, handwritten lyrics, video, etc. — has been produced as evidence Michael’s vocals are on the Cascio tracks.

    That is what is most baffling to me. All of this controversy could’ve been quashed instantly had someone offered just one item from the aforementioned list. Instead, nothing.

    To the fans who think this lawsuit, and the “fake Cascio track” saga as a whole, is nothing more than lunacy, well, I can only speak for myself when I say I just want closure, the whole truth. If this case makes it to trial (which I think will be difficult, unfortunately) and it’s proved beyond a reasonable doubt it is Michael singing on the Cascio tracks, I will be among the first to apologize for subscribing to such lunacy.

    PS: Damien, I was a proud supporter of the “A Truth Untold” Kickstarter campaign and hope to see your team’s book released in the future. Cheers!

    • Heath Claiborne

      June 13, 2014 at 11:47 pm

      Well said. I think on the end you will find the raw vocals were real. The listening sessions by the six were the actual raw vocals before the other fragments and processing were added, including possibly Jason Malachi edits. It’s all in the verbiage . Just like the hologram. They never said there was no impersonator, they just avoided talking about it, and when they did they smoothly only talked about the face not the fact they pasted the CGI face on an impersonators body.

  7. Michael Harrison

    June 13, 2014 at 9:06 pm

    I think anyone who has the wax cleaned from their ears can tell it’s not MJ. I too want some closure on this and those responsible to come clean.

    http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x13nqfj_j-a-s-o-n-m-a-l-a-c-h-i-b-r-e-a-k-i-n-g-n-e-w-s-true-hd-a-cappella_music

  8. Tristan

    June 13, 2014 at 10:23 pm

    There was an immediate backlash from fans as soon as the songs were heard online before their official release in December 2010, which prompted the estate to release a statement saying (in part)

    “Ultimately, Michael’s fans will be the judges of these songs, as they always are. There is nothing more important to the Estate than Michael’s music, his legacy and his fans.”

    However, they released the album with the song’s included regardless.

    They took a gamble. They may have won a few hands. But they’re about to be cleared out. About time too. This shit has gone unchallenged for too long.

  9. Kathy Orozco

    June 13, 2014 at 10:34 pm

    I’m so tired of anyone other than Michael’s children making money off of MJ…..BASTA!!!

  10. mksmurf

    June 13, 2014 at 11:24 pm

    Both $ony and €state should die and all die together!!! I think it’s another fake trial like AEG trial, just cheat fans and lead fans to a fake “TRUTH”!!!!

    CALL BACK ALL FAKE ALBUMs!!!!!!

    • Diana Rose

      June 17, 2014 at 4:38 pm

      calm down, calm down, remember Michael Jackson would probably NEVER condone wishing someone dead. Whatever the truth is, leave life and death in God’s hands.

  11. Elizabeth

    June 14, 2014 at 12:11 am

    Such a stupid controversy

  12. Q. G-S

    June 14, 2014 at 2:01 am

    I fully support this brave fan with her endeavor and lawsuit. She is now a HERO of the Fan Community for taking a stand against the largest fraud in music history. And we sould do all we can to support her in this.
    Sony and the Estate, either knowingly or unknowingly, put this product out which was clearly NOT all Michael Jackson singing. I remember the exact moment when Breaking News streamed simultaneously, and WORLDWIDE there was an INSTANT recognition that this was NOT Michael by a huge majority of die-hard MJ fans. Across forums, and social media, the reaction was instant. And this was from fans who WANTED this new music that we had been hearing about. When the other 2 tracks were released, it all but confirmed it. Jason’s music had been confused for MJ’s in the past, even at some points being banned from being spoken about in respected MJ fan forums, just like any Roger Friedman articles. Next thing, Roger is a chosen respected journalist from the Estate, all to sell this fake album?!?!
    The Estate has never given any evidence that their claims are true. The songs, lack of supporting evidence (“Michael was so happy with these recordings we deleted all other files from the hard-drives”….puh-lease!!), and witness statements speak for themselves. And it is high time this fraudulent crime be exposed in court, and those responsible for dividing the fan community and tarnishing MJ’s musical legacy be held accountable. -Q.

  13. Jesse

    June 14, 2014 at 2:43 am

    I support this lawsuit. That is NOT Michael Jackson singing on those tracks. I can say that being 100% confident about it. Anyone with ears would know that. There’s obviously something behind the decision to release those songs despite fans already knowing that they were fake. It will be interesting to see what will be revealed.

    • Heath Claiborne

      June 14, 2014 at 5:43 am

      I’m apparently one who needs his ears cleaned out and I’m one of the biggest fans on the planet. I hear authentic raw MJ vocals mixed with possibly non MJ vocals and extreme audio processing and edits.

      • Michael Harrison

        June 14, 2014 at 4:45 pm

        Heath, I apologize if my comment came off as confrontational. Everyone has the right to their own opinion and I do respect that…truly.

        • Heath Claiborne

          June 15, 2014 at 12:08 am

          Not offended at all. It’s just that so many comments are so emphatic but emotionally based. There is not just absolutes. The facts are getting twisted. People shout the vocals are 100% fake or they are 100% real. What specifically does that mean? Truth is most often in the middle. There are some suspect clues that the songs may not be 100 % MJ or MJ initiated , but there are also plenty of clues and common sense that points that they are authentic. I’m guessing that it is a combination of authentic vocals, lots of editing , samples, processing, maybe even an impersonator in places. Not saying I’m correct, just pointing that there are discriminating and informed people like myself that believe the vocals did 100% happen in that basement. All the other speculation such as notes, finger snaps, etc are all theory and speculation. Fact is he did live and record in that NJ house, and the family has a long standing good reputation. If people are just going to outright call Eddie a liar and fraud then they should appropriately have specific proof rather than feelings and speculation, or emotional conjecture. He may not be in a position to explain everything yet.
          Again truth can get distorted and is often in the middle. This is exactly what happened on the hologram. People argued whether it was an impersonator or CGI. Well it was BOTH. It was all in the verbiage that was carefully orchestrated. Most people did not care, only hardcore fans. Do you think the estate would come out and say, ok, you are right, we just took some CGI face work and pasted it on an impersonator body. They are in the $ business, not the pacifying business. Same with the Casio tracks. Unless forced there is no upside at this point to fully disclose exactly details of production, how much the truth was veiled or bent in promotion, or what specific segree if the tracks was manipulated or edited, or if they simply screwed up.

          • Diana Rose

            June 15, 2014 at 6:58 am

            Heath Claiborne, I’ve read comments from you stating an opinion thet the Cascio family are genuine people who loved MJ, and while I understand where that opinion comes from, I recently found a wierd statement about something Frank Cascio wrote in his book, and while he isn’t the Cascio in question here, he is a part of the family in question. I haven’t read the book, so it may be the writer of the article made a mistake but here is what troubles me a bit..
            from article-
            Cascio also writes that Jackson had taken Demerol to treat the skin disease vitiligo, and grew worried about his drug use.
            http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2063686/Michael-Jackson-book-reveals-King-Pops-playful-love-nerdy-women.html

            I’ve done some research on Vitiligo, and it’s a painless disease, so what was said makes no sense. it’s either a lie or an accidentily inacurate statement.

          • Heath Claiborne

            June 15, 2014 at 8:17 am

            Frank writes that MJ started Demerol after the Pepsi incident. I have read the entire book, My Friend Michael. I don’t remember that specific line but I did see it on a review of the book. I suppose one could take Demerol as any excuse if they are addicted, but I read that vitiligo rashes can sometimes itch or hurt. One thing people forget is that MJ also had the skin disease version of lupus, which I have personal experience with. By all accounts the book appears to be a sincere and accurate effort, and a very interesting read .

  14. Diana Rose

    June 14, 2014 at 5:35 am

    I don’t think it’s Michael Jackson on those song either. How and Why they got on the Michael Album is more what I’m wondering. Who shared responsibility? and also why didn’t this lawsuit happen a long time ago? Why now alongside the release of Xscape? Somehow I feel that that person saying it’s a fake trial might be on to something… besides that… between the Estate and Sony, I’m sure they have the Law Power to “prove” almost anything they want to. I have a feeling that we might see them “prove” once and for all that the songs are Michael Jackson even if they aren’t..

    • Diana Rose

      June 14, 2014 at 5:39 am

      besides that…. i have another suspicion that’s only recently formed that Sony has been setting the MJ Estate up somehow. I’m sure Sony is still wanting the MJ Estate’s half of the Beatles catalog. I am wondering if Sony somehow didn’t force the Estates hand to put the fake songs on there to set them up for a legal battle.

    • Diana Rose

      June 17, 2014 at 4:49 pm

      Heath Claiborne- I loooked into the demerol for vitiligo thing further, and apparently Frank Cascio said MJ was using Demerol to ease pain from treatments he was recieving for vitiligo, so yeah I guess that makes sense. also I know about the Discoid Lupus. It could be possible Michael didn’t tell Frank, I mean he protected that secret pretty well. I don’t think we even learned about it til after Michael died. Even some of MJ’s closest people didn’t know half the info we collected about MJ over the years, simply because things didn’t always come up in conversation.. the lupus actually explains more than people think about MJ’s face changes. prednisone is a steroid that causes the face to look fuller when it’s being taken, and Michael was probably on and off some sort of steroid since the eighties to treat his lupus. we’d see him sometimes with a fulller looking face, then a thinner face again, then it would be fulller again…..hence all the cheekbone implant etc. rumors…

      • Heath Claiborne

        June 20, 2014 at 4:16 am

        Yes, and also red rashes on the cheeks

  15. You Keep Changing The Rules

    June 14, 2014 at 5:54 am

    I have this wierd feeling that… theres something up with the Cascios…Michael spent time with them since they were KIDS right? I’m wondering if they didn’t try to tell the Estate they’d make up lies if they didn’t get their songs on the Michael album…

    • You Keep Changing The Rules

      June 14, 2014 at 6:12 am

      I mean…they’re writing books and doing interviews that are Pro Michael Jackson…remember though that this was the family Lisa Marie Presley was jealous of and thought Michael was spending too much time with them and not enough with her. If they were to change their story say, the way Wade Robeson has think of how hard it would be for the MJ Estate, AND for us fans to fight that kind of garbage.

  16. Childhood

    June 14, 2014 at 7:42 am

    wouldn’t suprise me…btw hollywood is full of NAMBLA mofo’s with an agenda to use Michael Jackson’s image to promote their agenda. They want him to be popular, AND they want him associated with child molestation. They put his face on it like they put his face on Pepsi back in the day, pretty soon we’ll be hearing peple say “child molestaton can’t be that bad, MJ did it and MJ was awesome” except MJ didn’t do it, but the general public won’t know that.

    • Childhood

      June 14, 2014 at 7:44 am

      just like MJ didn’t drink pepsi, and if you care about your health you won’t either, or coca-cola for that matter

      • Childhood

        June 14, 2014 at 7:46 am

        Pepsi is BAD it’s BAD you know it Shamone and the whole world has to answer right now just to tell you Pepsi’s bad

      • Wu Betty

        June 14, 2014 at 11:50 pm

        MJ loves coke light hehe

  17. Tony Carey

    June 14, 2014 at 1:19 pm

    The prosecution should get a court order to force Jason Malachi to sing live or present a fresh recording of his own vocal version of the songs in question, then have forensic musicologists compare with the album vocals. But everyone in attendance would probably agree that it doesn’t take a forensic musicologist to hear who’s REALLY singing lead on the album.

  18. Moon

    June 14, 2014 at 5:02 pm

    FINALLY!
    all these years from the release of “Michael” album I was waiting for this to come.
    for me it’s NOT MJ singing on Cascios tracks.
    so I really hope the truth will surface!

  19. Heath Claiborne

    June 15, 2014 at 12:20 am

    On the subject of tinkering and over producing with Jackson tracks, I’d like to point out that if MJ were able to line up Timberlake, Jerkins, Riley, Cascio and the rest he would say, “What the hell with the hee hee and wooooo buttons????” They all overdo it like a novelty to seem line they brought him back. Overkill
    Timberlake self proclaimed he was a bad man in the enclosed documentary on his Blue Gangster editing that sounded like the same old Drumline movie beats he puts in every song. Too much trite beats and base. It will all sound dated in 10 years

    • Childhood

      June 15, 2014 at 6:17 am

      you mean Timbaland not Timberlake.

      Timbaland- Popular producer who never worked with Michael Jackson, but has worked ALOT with Justin Timberlake.

      Timberlake- Justin Timberlake formerly of N’Sync, appeared in performances with Michael Jackson twice after being introduced to MJ by none other than Wade Robeson.

      • Heath Claiborne

        June 15, 2014 at 7:41 am

        Just a typo

        • Diana Rose

          June 17, 2014 at 2:17 am

          the hee hee and whooo buttons thing made me laugh..

    • Diana Rose

      June 19, 2014 at 11:49 pm

      but yeah if the “contemperized” blue gangsta dies out in 10 years fans always have the original..

      • Heath Claiborne

        June 20, 2014 at 4:20 am

        Agreed. Smart move by estate to release unmanipulated demos

      • Heath Claiborne

        June 22, 2014 at 1:11 am

        LOL… seriously, he would of duck taped those buttons… What the heck

  20. Vinicius

    June 15, 2014 at 1:31 am

    Of course it is not Michael on those tracks. If this case goes to trial, it will be unprecedented. And it will be great for Michael’s legacy. And a good way of protecting the quality of future releases.

  21. Daniel

    June 15, 2014 at 9:50 am

    I’d be very surprised if this events to anything more than a more mud flinging. Even if it’s possibly true. Surely if you had MJ recording for months in your bathroom you would of filmed some of it? Even if while goofing around. Either way this sort of thing is bad news for the fans as it once again brings the negative to the forefront. I do tire a bit of hearing all the “hate for the estate” nonese, for the most part it’s been a good run but more importantly who would have control if not them, the children? Jacksons? I can’t see any, and I mean any good coming from that.

  22. U****e

    June 15, 2014 at 3:03 pm

    The plot thickens, though I can’t help but wonder why pro-Estate bots like Ivy are actively promoting this trial. Could this be an elaborate conspiracy orchestrated by the Estate? I certainly hope not – I would love nothing more than to see the Estate, the Cascios and Sony exposed as the filthy, greedy, lying frauds that they are – but it wouldn’t surprise me.

    A quick word of advice, Damien: I’ve seen many people asking you to share your research for A Truth Untold with the plaintiff. As it stands, I’d advise against that. This whole thing could be the Estate’s way of baiting you out to find out exactly what you know. It all seems very fishy to me. Be vigilant.

    Anyway, Damien, keep up the good work. I love your blog.

    • Moon

      June 16, 2014 at 12:05 am

      Btw, good point indeed.

    • Heath Claiborne

      June 16, 2014 at 5:07 am

      If you are going to call the Cascios greedy frauds, then man up and post your name on here.

  23. layne4

    June 16, 2014 at 11:55 am

    Just a tad off topic…and a question…seems to me John McClain is co-executor of Michael’s Estate. Says so in Probate Court documents I believe. Looking at the photo above, one might think John#2 was ignored/forgotten/opps..no image to include…and why is that? Could it maybe have to do with OCD hatred for John#1? Nah…couldn’t be. Then again, maybe a certain newish claimant..the one who swears he had no idea there was an Estate AT ALL for four years (!) isn’t the only one with faulty memory.

    One might even conjure up a conspiracy theme here…if one were inclined to do so. Get that man at all costs because…you know…that pesky will.

    • Diana Rose

      June 17, 2014 at 2:26 am

      the arguement that michael was in New York at the time the will was signed doesn’t make alot of sense when you know Michael and John Branca did alot of buisness by phone and Michael signed alot of things by Fax. even the Beatles/ATV thing when Michael was in hiding (because of the Chandler thing) he signed papers regarding the Beatles/ATV catalog and sony BY FAX. also LaToya said in her book even that when Michael was doing the protests against sony he was afraid of assasination, wearing a bulletproof vest… it makes sense if he was afraid of being killed he’d be doing buisness at the same time regarding his will. I know la toya named a bunch of names in her book but I don’t know if Michael knew for sure WHO was out to get him. I’m sure he was suspicious of EVERYONE.

  24. Fahadandsana

    June 18, 2014 at 12:38 am

    Hope the case goes to trial soon and the truth exposed and those responsible get due justice

  25. Sina

    June 18, 2014 at 6:49 pm

    Good move. I hope it makes it to court.
    If we are to believe Eddy Cascio,then he produced = finished , while Michael was alive that is, a whole album with him, which would make him the (co-)producer of 1/ 7 th of Michaels solo cathalog. Except, there is not a single trace that it ever happened.

    3T made very damaging statements about the MO of sony and the executors after the listen-in. They publically accused them of lying that everyone agreed that the vocals sounded like Michael and debunked Cascios excuses for the anomalies. Yet no one ever served them with a C&D or sued them for false accusations.
    When a record company and lawyers pay a fortune for the songs and claim that 2 high profile musicologists confirmed the authenticity of the vocals, yet decide not to release the majority of these ‘finished’ tracks, then something does not add up.
    This is unprecedented in music history and if it is willfull fraud, very sad coming from a man Michael once trusted .
    The Making of Michael documentary is fascinating if you compare Cascio’s story of his songs to the stories of the other producers /musicians.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15TxYH0hAjQ

    .

  26. Anton

    June 18, 2014 at 7:30 pm

    For me that all makes absolutely no sense. Michael, the perfectionist, who wrote and produced hundreds of unpublished songs. Rewrote and reworked them over decades with different musicians and producers, secretly worked on an album with flat sounding tracks that transport absolutely none of his previous messages and contents? Even when the voice sounds maybe a little like him, the soul of Michael is somehow not in that songs. So Nobody has ever seen him working on those songs, Michael never left a single note, not even on a napkin. Is there not a single bit of proof? Does those cascios have absolutely nothing…? They never made a video? Michael never wrote down a single handwritten note or lyric? They just appeared out of the blue… I can not believe that. I hope that girl can bring some light into that fraud…

  27. Heath Claiborne

    June 19, 2014 at 1:38 am

    Does it make any sense that a man worth tens of millions on paper, had little control of his own assets and liquidity, traveled in exile from rental house to hotels, often freeloading, with body guards not getting paid months at a time, sometimes not even their $75 daily per diem and can’t afford to eat, lived in a friends middle class home basement in NJ for three months where he slept in the corner on a box springs and mattress???
    Oh wait that IS true…
    Before people call the Cascios or anyone involved malicious names, they should justly let the facts play out. Consider reading between the lines before throwing out allegations based solely on conspiracy theories and speculation.

    • Michael's Guardian Angel

      June 19, 2014 at 9:56 pm

      “Read between the lines”, huh, Heath Claiborne? I’ve heard that line used before when someone was defending the Cascio Tracks. It was from Frank Cascio when he was interviewed by the MJ Database, I think it was. I suspect we have a spy in our midst, everyone. You seem very passionate in your defense of those bogus tracks and the Cascio family, Heath.

      I’m sure most, if not, all of us here have heard all 12 of those songs in their entirety and I don’t see how anyone could believe that’s Michael Jackson performing those incredibly weak vocals on those pathetic excuses for songs. So, we’re supposed to believe that when Michael recorded in that particular studio, he suddenly lost his soulful voice as well as his creativity and co-wrote and co-produced 12 songs that are obviously cheap imitations of previously released authentic Michael Jackson songs?

      And on top of that, there are all of the small snippets from legit MJ songs that were edited into these lame songs in an attempt to fool people. There’s a ridiculous amount of evidence that the songs are fake and none whatsoever that they’re real. All we have is the word of people that financially benefited from the release of three of those songs. That’s not going to cut it. Nice try, Frank.

      • Diana Rose

        June 19, 2014 at 11:36 pm

        wow, kinda mean Guardian Angel. the dude has a right to an opinion. he believes the songs are legit. i know alot of fans who believe the same thing. I don’t believe they are but not everyone hears the way I do. If heath wants to believe they are real that’s his buisness. and hey Heath, if you are really Frank, you should send me a free copy of your book …lol

        • Diana Rose

          June 19, 2014 at 11:39 pm

          oh yeah and also if you are Frank did you write that insiders letter thing about Diana Ross and LMP and Michael not being Gay and all? I’d really like to figure that one out. hahaha

          • Diana Rose

            June 19, 2014 at 11:45 pm

            but also Guardian Angel, if you scroll up a little you see Heath criticizing the Cascio’s use of Hee Hee and Whoooo buttons… either he is Frank and he’s criticizing his brothers in a really hillarious way….or he’s just a fan who believes they are really legit songs.

      • Moon

        June 20, 2014 at 3:21 am

        I agree with Guardian’s Angel.
        Heath Claiborne’s defending of Cascios seems fishy to me too.

  28. Heath Claiborne

    June 20, 2014 at 3:45 am

    My name is Heath Claiborne.
    I live in Tennessee.
    I’m not a “spy” at least I don’t think I am. Although I am kind of disappointed I can’t live up to your imaginary hypothesis.
    I don’t go by “Guardian Angel” or other silly names to hide behind a computer screen while posting opinions, speculation, or making allegations about real people with real lives. You are a perfect example of people out there that are quick to jump on conspiracy bandwagons in your convenient fantasy internet world…”everyone”…as if there is one side against another side. I don’t know if the tracks are real or not, but I’m a big MJ fan, and informed, and my opinion is just as valid as yours. I am aware of all the speculation that has caused doubts and controversy. I’m also aware that there is also valid evidence, and common sense, that lends credibility to the authenticity of the tracks.
    I am aware of the video you refer to where Frank made that quote, and maybe I unawarely borrowed that line when I made my post.
    I’m sure you can come up with some deduction on how this post is a further cover up.
    I tried to also list links to my own websites, but that may possibly be why my comments will post awaiting moderation.

  29. Heath Claiborne

    June 20, 2014 at 3:50 am

    You can google Heath Claiborne Gallery or artist Maryville TN, or Capitol Theatre Maryville TN. No conspiracies…

  30. Heath Claiborne

    June 20, 2014 at 4:06 am

    Additionally, I did not say the tracks were legit. I clearly said I did not know, but I felt that the original raw vocal tracks were authentic. I speculated the tracks on the album could have been manipulated. By who, how, what, when, where? Who knows…but I’m not willing to call out specific people based on theories. That’s unfair. It’s too easy for people to make allegations when they can hide behind a screen. This is the world today… emotions, opinions, comments often posted because they don’t have to look real people in the eyes. There is a new generation of folks who don’t know how to properly communicate because they are stuck in their iPhones and tablets more than interacting with real people, and real consequences and responsibilities . That was my point of read between the lines. Consider all possibilities and facts and use common sense instead of only making emotionally charged allegations against specific people. The truth and consequences will come out over time, so the hatred is unnecessary.

  31. Heath Claiborne

    June 20, 2014 at 4:48 am

    Btw, Guardian Angel, Moon…river, forest, fairies, unicorns, whoever…I do adamantly defend the Cascios or anyone accused without due process. This ain’t NeverLand; it’s the real world, and if you “read between the lines,” use common sense, and read all my previous posts, one can easily deduct I’m a real person and not part of your imaginary conspiracy .

  32. Heath Claiborne

    June 20, 2014 at 6:56 am

    Bill Whitfield and Javon Beard describe in their new book that MJ spent hours down in that NJ basement studio . They say he was relaxed and happy there, rarely left the house, and even gained weight. Yet you see no videos, photos in the studio, no finger snapping, no notes…hey I haven’t seen him eating a plate of spaghetti either…
    So are the body guards now part of the vast conspiracy? How does this info jive? Do you believe they did ANY recording at all. Or did they just sit down there and watch the Simpsons for three months?

    Seriously?

    Other than stating the belief that what you heard you feel was not MJ, again how does this info work into the allegations? My point is simply there are so many possible scenarios that have to be considered before you call people frauds.
    Oh, btw, I’m still not Frank.

    • Diana Rose

      June 20, 2014 at 3:30 pm

      would have been cool if you were… lol but yeah…I can vouch for Heath Claiborne…hes’ been here awhile. to judge him to be Frank Cascio just on the one statement that someone “read between the lines” is funny… like seriously Heath, it would have been funny if you’d played along…haha.

      • Diana Rose

        June 20, 2014 at 3:53 pm

        btw I checked out your gallery Heath, nice work! also I give you props for using your actual name too. Diana Rose is sorta my real name, But it’s only first and middle. I don’t use my last name except on my own personal accounts.

        • Heath Claiborne

          June 20, 2014 at 7:28 pm

          Thank You
          I don’t have problems with anonymous names, I have problems with anonymous names condemning real names.

      • Heath Claiborne

        June 20, 2014 at 7:24 pm

        I thought about it! Haha
        But seriously, there seem to be a lot of people who want to believe their feelings so much, they extract what they want, but conveniently toss out the rest. That Guardian person did not even attempt to look at my other texts, or create a basis of context, before he started the……huh ???… I can see the conspiracy cult pulling up in the mystery van with Scooby Dooby Doo and jerking a mask off my head for crying out loud. Then Guardian says hey “everyone” and “we” have a spy in our midst like it’s some kind of cult of sides encouraging rifts. Wonder if I was Frank. Why would that be such a bad thing. So the real Frank has been banned and would need to spy and lend family support anonymously?? Good grief. Like li said before, there are all these perfectly normal even square people out there…professionals, doctors, lawyers, …but when it comes to MJ they get all wacky…crying on fences, standing around for a freaking pillow case. I’m an avid fan, even purchased personal collectibles for fun and investment, but I’m sure as hell not a follower, I’m my own person. I’m not going to shout out emotionally based BS conspiracy theories …which are harmless until they indict real people with real lives.

  33. Heath Claiborne

    June 20, 2014 at 7:11 am

    Wait…where is a photo of MJ eating pasta??…no photo huuuh?.. it’s another cover up…I bet they are not even Italian…I saw the body guards eating a can of Spaghetti Os in the driveway…liars!…crooks!
    …I bet they are serving Chef Boyardee in the their fake family restaurant…also part of the facade…it’s a vast conspiracy! Call Oprah!!

  34. Sina

    June 20, 2014 at 10:30 am

    “lived in a friends middle class home basement in NJ for three months where he slept in the corner on a box springs and mattress???”

    That is how humble he was. He accepted this basic accomodation while the other way round he provided them not for months but for years with the most luxurous hotelrooms, travelling around the world on private flights, going to places they could only dream of , staying at Neverland for as long as they wanted including unlimited use of facilities and he never ever talked about it.
    No , the restaurant is not fake because Michael himself donated 700 k to start it. He never talked about it, they did! The world only got to know about them after he died and books, songs and interviews appeared.
    When a real friend offers shelter to a friend in need they dont go around telling the world , let alone about his poor sleeping accomodation. Anyway Michael would never let a friend sleep in a basement on a matrass, but would offer him his bed. That speaks for his character and the lack thereoff of others. The bodyguards were not even allowed in Michaels own home but were allowed in a basement in someones elses home to see what he was doing 24/7 . Get a grip!

    Michaels so called ‘freeloading’ eating pasta and the Cascios being Italian or not are all fallacies. Pathetic distractions from the real issue which is Eddy Cascios inability to show evidence of the origins of the songs he sold as Michaels .
    Speaking of freeloading After he treated them as family and shared his hard earned wealth with them, they in return sold his used make up box, his feet x rays, they sold the letter in which he fired Branca ( to get back at him for not releasing the other songs?).
    How did they lay their hands on these items and how honorable is it to make money on these very PRIVATE and sensitive belongings of Michael. What else did they take from Michael and sold that we dont know of and to who?

    It is sad that it has to come to this, sony and executors of Michaels estate had enough clues that releasing the songs was foolish.
    Michael bound his soul to his own work , Eddy should have done the same with his work and not ‘freeload’ on Michaels name .Thank God the other songs will never see the light of day, at least not in Michael Joe Jacksons name

    • Diana Rose

      June 20, 2014 at 2:56 pm

      maybe they should release the rest of the Cascio Tracks under the name Izzit Emjay or something… there seems to be enugh people who want them.

      • Diana Rose

        June 20, 2014 at 3:56 pm

        and about these books that seem to point to MJ really recording at the cascios…i still say maybe he did, but it’s likely he took the stuff he recorded with im whe he left. He didn’t leave his vocal tracks with Will I AM

    • Heath Claiborne

      June 20, 2014 at 3:54 pm

      I don’t think I made a pathetic fallacy by pointing to the fact it is indeed generally considered true that MJ worked in a basement for hours with Eddie, yet I have not seen photos of this occurrence. This is not a distraction of the fact that there has not been enough evidence that authenticates the tracks to the public. However, my “pasta” joke attempts to make a point that lends credibility to the possibility that the vocals could indeed be MJ to SOME CAPACITY.
      You emotionally exaggerate, for example, when you question that the bodyguards can go into a basement 24/7. What are you talking about? Who said that they were there frequently monitoring the situation? I just pointed they wrote a book that states Eddie and MJ worked together for hours? Are you saying that this tidbit needs to be tossed out of the evidence pile? Is this the reality I need to “get a grip” on?
      Again, my simple point is why jump to conclusions and call the Cascios frauds without due process. It is one thing to post feelings based on hunches or clues, but it is not fair to take it upon oneself from an internet bully pulpit to call the Cascio names.
      Is your argument that because they have now profited at MJs expense instead of remaining in full seclusion they are less people and friends ? That they should have never sold anything or told their story and gone into full seclusion because that is what you feel was the morally right thing to do, or what you think you would have done? Maybe someone else might think you are an ideologue or too emotionally invested… Personally I’m glad I got to see the limited interviews, and read the book. Btw, I also bought an MJ personal item auction that was owned by the Cascios.
      My comments repeatedly simply say that instead of wearing your emotions from behind a computer screen and indicting specific people by name, why not let the facts play out…
      When MJ was sitting in trial, much of the world and media indicted him. A lot of facts did not look good, but some fans “read between the lines.”

  35. Heath Claiborne

    June 20, 2014 at 4:15 pm

    Btw, Sina, you took the term “free loading” from my previous text, and used it out of context. I did not say MJ was free loading at the Cascios. This is exactly how things get twisted. I was referencing the book “Remember the Time” where he was frequently traveling in places for free or extended credit. For example he was put up in the Palms for no charge. The owner kicked his tail out allegedly because he was extending the stay longer than anticipated and it was not paying dividends because he rarely left the room instead of roam the hotel.

  36. Huh?

    June 22, 2014 at 8:11 pm

    lookin at that pic of Branca, I’m wonderin why nobody tried to say he’s paris’s dad yet…she looks more like branca thn Mark Lester

  37. SWB

    July 10, 2014 at 3:20 pm

    Seems to me that Michael’s vocal coach of 30 years, Seth Riggs, should be at the top of the list to vouch for Michael Jackson vocals. Where is is he? Why hasn’t he been front and center on this? He knows that voice from top to bottom.

  38. Zeboulon

    September 5, 2014 at 8:21 am

    I support such a lawsuit.
    It would be illegal to over use vocal processing in that matter,
    but that isn’t what the case is about, it’s about it’s not MJ on those recordings.
    And it isn’t. 100% not.

  39. eitaglass

    May 6, 2015 at 1:01 am

    To be honest, I don’t agree with people blaming the entire family for one person’s mistake. Who is to say that Eddie didn’t lie to his family, like he did the world. So while I’m not happy that someone who do that. Eddie is reaponsible for himself and should be held accordingly. Frank is his own individual. Also keep in mind that Frank expressed that he and Eddie’s relationship wasn’t same since the situation with the trial. We just don’t know.

  40. Shirley Alves

    February 13, 2016 at 4:32 am

    I’l be watching for the latest developments on this. Things are starting to heat up now, now that documents from the case are being leaked online, with the Estate and SONY lawyers replying in legal papers that they “never said” that the lead vocals were Michael’s… and that they only “OPINED” that they were likely his, and are claiming an OPINION is not stating fact!! OMG, I can’t even believe what I’m reading… Such utter rhetoric BS!! Basically, they are now backtracking, and instead of assuring fans that the vocals ARE MJ, they are saying that they never said they were! 🙁

    Attending an MJ IN THE STUDIO seminar in 2014, given by Michael’s sound engineer, Brad Sundberg, with special guest speakers, Brad Buxer, Michael Prince, and Brian Vibberts, who ALL also recorded with/produced several of Michael’s albums in life, we asked them their opinions on the Cascio tracks and the then newly released “contemporized” Xscape tracks… ALL of them got upset! They would NOT endorse the vocal/musical authenticity.

    Which, of course, confirmed what I already knew in my heart and mind.

    That fateful night in 2010, I was stunned and dismayed to the core when I heard those tracks… I had been so sure that The Estate and SONY and the Cascios wouldn’t do such a thing, but my ears could not agree with my wishes…

    Every time I play my Michael CD, I get mad at those Cascio tracks and skip them.

    I’ve heard all of Malachi’s recorded material, and those vocals are almost certainly his, and NOT MJ’s… (unless James Porte sounds just like that… has anyone ever heard Porte sing? Would love to compare his vocals with MJ’s and Malachi’s…) I wonder if any of these “forensic musicologists” had listened to Malachi’s vocals, to see if THEY match the vocals on the Michael album…? I mean, it seems like the LOGICAL thing to do…!

    If one reads the liner notes and lyrics included in the Michael CD, one will notice the ABSENCE of “lead vocals” assignment/credits. This is unlike ANY other Michael Jackson record. I noticed that fact as soon as I got the CD and read the booklet, as I always do.

    The Estate, SONY and Cascio I guess, knew not to lie officially on the liner notes!! They just conveniently LEFT THAT INFORMATION OUT! SMH…

    Sadly, I have had this debate with fans for too long… I’m so tired of it, but I SURE wish the truth would be told at last! Whenever I’m listening to an MJ Radio Show online, and ANY of the Cascio tracks come on, I just say, “Let me know when MJ’s back…” and I turn down the volume on my computer. 🙁

    With soooooo many available genuine Michael material, it seemed like a totally stupid move to include those questionable songs on the album… I keep asking myself, “WHY would they take that chance??? With MJ’s KIDS, Mother, most of his siblings, his nephews in 3T, and many of his songwriting and recording partners saying VERY INSISTENTLY that the vocals were NOT his??!!!!!!!

    …boggles the mind. 🙁

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Cascio Tracks

Producer Teddy Riley Comes Clean Regarding Fake Songs From Posthumous Michael Jackson Album

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Legendary producer Teddy Riley has spoken out against the controversial Michael Jackson album he worked on after the pop star’s death, claiming that he believes some of the tracks he was asked to remix for the project are fakes, but that he was “pushed” to say they were authentic.

“I just hope that the truth comes to light because it was never proven to me that it was Michael’s voice,” said Riley in a bombshell video published today by hard-hitting pop culture interviewer DJ Vlad for Vlad TV.

The songs in question, known as the Cascio tracks, were provided to Sony Music and the Estate of Michael Jackson by the pop star’s longtime friend Eddie Cascio and his collaborative partner James Porte.

Cascio and Porte claim that Jackson recorded 12 songs in Cascio’s basement shortly before his death. Three of those songs – “Keep Your Head Up,” “Breaking News” and “Monster” – were included on the Michael album in December 2010.

Riley, who worked extensively with Jackson throughout his life, remixed “Breaking News” and “Monster” for the posthumous project.

Initially, Jackson’s family gave Riley their blessing to work on the project. Michael’s nephew, Taryll Jackson, even joined Riley in the studio.

But upon hearing the Cascio tracks, Taryll believed the vocals were sung by an impostor.

When the rest of the Jackson family heard them, they felt the same way, taking to social media to denounce the Cascio tracks as fakes.

Amidst all the controversy, Riley and Cascio appeared on Oprah Winfrey’s talkshow, where they both insisted the vocals were the real deal.

But when interviewer DJ Vlad asked Riley about it, the producer made the explosive claim that he was forced to say the vocals were authentic:

“I was influenced and pushed to say the things that were said.”

The producer went on to explain that he initially demanded proof regarding the authenticity of the vocals, but that no such proof was ever presented.

“They would not prove it to me,” says Riley.

Riley also says that Jackson’s nephew, Taryll, encouraged him to distance himself from the tracks, but that Riley felt too intimidated by those in control of the project to do so.

“I felt I was dealing with some high, powerful people. And I didn’t want no problems at all.”

Riley explains that his decision to continue working on the Cascio tracks ultimately cost him his friendship with Taryll.

“I was like, Taryll, I already got paid. What do you expect me to do? And he stopped speaking to me for a while. And I was like damn, I lost my friend over this.”

Riley said that to be involved in another Michael Jackson project in the future, he would need proof that the vocals were authentic, and for the Jackson family to be on board and involved.

“[Michael] is their family. This is their brother, their son, their uncle,” said Teddy.

“I will not move until I have their blessing. But this time I want a real blessing. I’m not talking about money. I want a real blessing from the family.”

Riley also took the opportunity to apologise to fellow producer Quincy Jones.

During the interview, DJ Vlad reminded Riley that back in 2010, Riley accused Jones of being too old to know the difference between the real Michael Jackson and a fake Michael Jackson.

“My apologies, my apologies,” said Riley to Jones in the video. “I always wanted to say that, because Quincy is someone I look up to… He’s a guy that I worship as my idol.”

Riley’s interview with Vlad TV comes just months after Sony Music and the Michael Jackson Estate abandoned the Cascio tracks.

As part of the settlement of a consumer fraud lawsuit filed against them over the Michael album, Jackson’s estate and Sony removed the three commercially-released Cascio tracks – “Breaking News,” “Monster” and “Keep Your Head Up” – from streaming platforms around the world.

The corporations have also re-pressed the physical CD of the Michael album without the Cascio tracks, and are now selling the amended version via the official Michael Jackson shop online.

For those of you who are interested, a podcast series called Faking Michael, detailing the findings of my 12-year investigation of the Cascio tracks, is currently in production. Subscribe via Apple PodcastsSpotify or YouTube to be notified when episodes are released.


Damien Shields is the author of the book Michael Jackson: Songs & Stories From The Vault examining the King of Pop’s creative process, and the producer of the podcast The Genesis of Thriller which takes you inside the recording studio as Jackson and his team create the biggest selling album in music history.
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Cascio Tracks

Huge Win for Michael Jackson Fan as Supreme Court Rejects Sony’s Free Speech Defense in “Fake” Songs Lawsuit

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Two ‘get out of jail free’ cards, used by lawyers for Sony to avoid facing the music in a consumer fraud lawsuit, were ripped to shreds by the California Supreme Court on Thursday last week.

As part of their ruling, the court determined that the description on a posthumous Michael Jackson album cover was indeed commercial speech — not free speech, as lawyers for Sony and Jackson’s estate had argued — and that consumers have a case if false or misleading statements were made in the description.

The unanimous ruling sets an important precedent for the protection of California consumers in cases of alleged fraud moving forward.

This case

The controversy centers around an album titled Michael, released 18 months after Michael Jackson’s death by his estate and Sony Music Entertainment.

Prior to the album’s December 2010 release, members of Jackson’s family claimed that three songs on Michael  — “Breaking News,” “Keep Your Head Up” and “Monster” — were fakes, with vocals sung by a Jackson impersonator.

But Sony and Jackson’s estate insisted the songs, which they acquired from the pop star’s friend Eddie Cascio and his collaborative partner James Porte, were the real deal.

The songs are known as the ‘Cascio tracks’.

In response to the controversy, Estate attorney Howard Weitzman said he’d conducted an “exhaustive investigation” during which a host of Jackson’s former producers had listened to the Cascio tracks and confirmed that the vocals were “definitely Michael”. 

But several of those producers dispute Weitzman’s version of events. You’ll hear their stories in an upcoming podcast series called Faking Michael.

Nevertheless, based on the purported findings of Weitzman’s investigation, Sony asserted their “complete confidence” in the authenticity of the Cascio tracks.

With the authenticity a matter of conjecture, fan Vera Serova relied on Sony and the Estate’s assurances — that the tracks on Michael were indeed sung by Jackson — when she decided to buy the album.

Further convincing Serova to hand over her money was the product description printed on the reverse side of the album cover. It stipulated that the vocals were “performed by Michael Jackson”.

But as evidence contradicting the official story emerged, Serova began to believe she’d been duped.

And so she hired a world-renowned forensic audiologist, who conducted a groundbreaking scientific examination of the vocals on the Cascio tracks. His opinion: the vocals weren’t Michael’s.

That forensic examination was the catalyst for what became an eight-year David versus Goliath legal battle, culminating in Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling.

Corporations can’t sell fake art as the real deal

“Relief has long been available in California to unwitting purchasers of imitation art who relied on false representations about authenticity” said the court in their 45-page opinion. 

“If Sony’s assertion that Jackson contributed lead vocals affects consumers’ experience of Michael, this illustrates how misrepresentations about an artist’s contributions can harm consumers in ways that matter to them.”

Executive director of the Berkeley Center for Consumer Law & Economic Justice, Ted Mermin, who supported Serova in her battle with Sony, said:

“If we are buying an album that is marketed as being the songs of Michael Jackson, it had better have the songs of Michael Jackson.”

As well as setting an important legal precedent protecting California consumers, the court’s ruling inadvertently protects artists. 

Based on the ruling, there is no plausible excuse for falsely attributing fake works to famous artists. This puts songs on par with paintings and sculptures when it comes to outlawing art forgery.

The ruling is a huge win for creatives, whose reputation — and therefore livelihood and legacy — could be at stake if corporations were free to commercially exploit pastiches under their name.

“Misleading attributions on a record jacket might not only confuse consumers […] but also harm a performer’s reputation,” the court’s ruling states.

But what happens if a corporation sells a forgery without knowing it’s a forgery? This was also covered in the Supreme Court’s ruling.

Sony’s ‘lack of knowledge’ defense

Sony’s purported ‘lack of knowledge’ was raised by the corporation itself in a 2016 petition to be removed from Serova’s lawsuit.

At the time, lawyers for Sony and the Estate volunteered to argue their case based on the notion that the Cascio tracks were fakes, but that they ‘didn’t know’ at the time they released them back in 2010.

It should be made clear that this wasn’t an ‘admission’ that the Cascio tracks are indeed fake. Rather, it was their way of arguing that ‘even if’ the tracks are fake, they’ve done nothing wrong by selling them to fans as authentic Jackson material.

In a December 2016 trial court hearing, attorney Zia Modabber argued that to be liable for misleading consumers, Sony and the Estate had to know the songs were fake, adding that Cascio and Porte had “failed to disclose to Sony or the Estate that Michael Jackson did not provide the lead vocals.”

But the judge overseeing that hearing didn’t take kindly to Sony’s position, saying:

“I think what [Modabber] is saying here is. ‘We were duped… We didn’t know [Cascio and Porte] were recording stuff in a basement that wasn’t recorded by Michael. [Cascio and Porte] told us it was Michael. We believed it was Michael.’”

The judge accused Sony of throwing Cascio and Porte under the bus before ruling in Serova’s favour, ordering Sony to face the music. 

But Sony appealed, and in 2018 the appeals court took Sony’s side, dismissing the corporation from the lawsuit. 

Serova then challenged the decision to dismiss Sony, petitioning the California Supreme Court to intervene, which they did.

That, in a nutshell, is how we got to Thursday’s ruling — arguments for which were heard by the court on May 24, 2022.

During that May 24 hearing, Modabber again argued that Sony couldn’t be held accountable because they didn’t know the vocals were bogus when they released them in 2010.

But on Thursday, the court rejected Sony’s lack of knowledge defense once and for all, stating that if ignoring evidence was all a corporation had to do to get away with fraud, false advertising laws would be redundant.

“If ignorance around a product’s authenticity were a legitimate defense against false advertising claims, sellers would be incentivized to know as little as possible about their own products,” said the court in their ruling.

“Sellers making claims about their offerings surely do not avoid false advertising regulation […] by scrupulously declining to verify those claims or to acquire knowledge.”

Jeremy Bollinger, one of the attorneys representing Serova, told the LA Times that the court’s ruling was not only a victory for his client, but for all music and art consumers.

“The decision confirmed that it doesn’t matter whether the seller has personal knowledge of the veracity of its statements about its products,” Bollinger said. “If you’re going to sell something, you’re responsible for those representations.”

If they didn’t know in 2010, they knew by 2018

As we discussed earlier: back in 2010, before the Michael album was released, questions were raised regarding the authenticity of the Cascio tracks. 

At that time, several people told Estate attorney Howard Weitzman that they did not believe the vocalist was Michael. They alleged it was another singer, named Jason Malachi.

In response, Estate attorney Howard Weitzman claimed that he spoke to Malachi and confirmed that he wasn’t involved. 

But when fans heard the Cascio tracks, many identified Malachi’s voice — not Jackson’s — on the tracks.

Further validating the reaction of fans was Malachi’s longtime producer, Tony Kurtis. In a barrage of comments posted via YouTube, Kurtis stated that he knew “without a doubt” that Malachi was the vocalist.

Even the aforementioned audiologist noted in his forensic report that the dialect and vibrato of the Cascio vocalist were consistent with Malachi, but not with Jackson.

Then, in early 2018, Malachi hired a lawyer. 

That lawyer then contacted Vera Serova’s legal team to discuss Malachi’s involvement with the Cascio tracks.

Serova and her lawyers claim that Malachi’s lawyer said that his client wanted to help resolve Serova’s litigation with Sony — and to get paid for his involvement.

A meeting between Malachi’s lawyer, Serova’s lawyers and lawyers for Sony and the Estate was arranged.

But according to Serova’s lawyers, the day before the meeting was set to take place, Sony and the Estate cancelled it, and communications with Malachi’s lawyer came to an abrupt end.

For the four years that followed Malachi’s attempted intervention, Sony and the Estate continued to argue their ‘lack of knowledge’ defense, while also continuing to commercially exploit the Cascio tracks as authentic Jackson recordings.

Calls and emails to Malachi and his lawyer — offering them the right of reply — were not returned.

Why don’t Sony and the Estate sue Cascio and Porte for fraud?

In their 45-page ruling, the California Supreme Court supposed that if the Cascio tracks are indeed fake, Sony and the Estate would want to file a fraud action against Cascio and Porte for duping them, stating:

“Presumably, Sony would seek to invoke any warranties, or assert fraud or other claims, against Cascio and his associates if it believed they peddled fake recordings.”

But in this case, it’s the exact opposite.

In fact, Sony and the Estate have stood firmly behind Cascio and Porte since 2010, regardless of the overwhelming evidence and public outcry against them — something that no one, including Jackson’s family, fans and former collaborators can understand.

Songs removed, case closed

In a somewhat anticlimactic end to their eight-year legal battle, just days before the Supreme Court issued its ruling, Sony and the Estate reached a settlement agreement with Serova.

As part of the settlement, Sony and the Estate were forced to remove the Cascio tracks from digital retailers and streaming platforms around the world.

Based on Serova’s statements over the years, it was clear that no settlement could have been reached without this demand being met.

It should be noted that, according to Serova, she did not receive any money as part of her settlement.

As she has maintained from the beginning of her legal action, Serova’s main objective in filing this lawsuit was justice for Michael Jackson, his art and his fans. 

And while Sony hasn’t offered refunds — or an apology — to fans who feel they’ve been duped, the removal of the Cascio tracks from digital platforms worldwide has gone a long way to restoring the integrity of Jackson’s discography.

But despite the Supreme Court’s ruling — that the wording on a CD cover is subject to consumer protection laws — it appears Sony and the Estate have opted against recalling CD copies of Michael from music stores or other retailers around the world. 

This is surprising.

The case with Serova is settled only with Serova, meaning anyone else who purchased the album within the statute of limitations — or anyone who might buy the album in the future — would be able to sue Sony and the Estate just like Serova did.

The only difference is that a potential future plaintiff wouldn’t have to argue that the wording on the album cover was commercial speech, or contend with a ‘lack of knowledge’ defense from the corporations.

Now that the case is settled, will the truth regarding the Cascio tracks and the Michael album ever be told?

After selling the Cascio tracks as authentic Jackson recordings for almost 12 years — since December 2010 — Sony and the Estate’s settlement with Serova seems to have absolved Cascio and Porte of liability. At no point were the alleged forgers required to testify under oath, or prove the authenticity of their songs.

And while Sony and the Estate have stated that the recent removal of the Cascio tracks from digital platforms is the “simplest and best way to move beyond the conversation associated with these tracks once and for all,” many of Jackson’s most dedicated fans continue to demand answers.

My forthcoming true crime podcast series Faking Michael will explore those answers, taking listeners behind the scenes to uncover the music industry scandal they were never meant to hear about.

Subscribe via Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts to be notified when episodes become available.


Damien Shields is the author of the book Michael Jackson: Songs & Stories From The Vault examining the King of Pop’s creative process, and the producer of the podcast The Genesis of Thriller which takes you inside the recording studio as Jackson and his team create the biggest selling album in music history.
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Cascio Tracks

Alleged Forgeries Removed From Michael Jackson’s Online Catalog After 12 Years of Protests and a Fraud Lawsuit

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Three songs alleged to have been falsely attributed to Michael Jackson were abandoned by the pop star’s estate and record company this week after 12 years of fan protests and a consumer fraud lawsuit.

The alleged forgeries – known as the ‘Cascio tracks’ – come from a collection of 12 songs which producers Eddie Cascio and James Porte claim Jackson secretly recorded in Cascio’s basement in the fall of 2007.

The 12 Cascio tracks were sold to Jackson’s estate a year after the pop star’s death, and three of them – “Breaking News,” “Keep Your Head Up” and “Monster” – were officially released by Sony Music on the Michael album in December 2010.

But Jackson’s fans insist the songs are fakes, with vocals sung by an impostor, and they’ve been demanding the tracks be removed from Jackson’s catalog for the past 12 years.

This week, they got their wish, with the controversial songs being removed from streaming platforms around the world. Jackson’s estate also appear to have discontinued the original 10-track CD version of the Michael album, replacing it with a 7-track edition which can now be ordered from their official website.

But according to a joint statement issued by Jackson’s estate and Sony – who are currently co-defendants in a class action lawsuit which alleges that the Cascio tracks are fakes – their decision to abandon the tracks had nothing to do with their disputed authenticity:

“The Estate of Michael Jackson and Sony Music decided to remove the tracks ‘Breaking News,’ ‘Monster’ and ‘Keep Your Head Up,’ from the 2010 ‘Michael’ album as the simplest and best way to move beyond the conversation associated with these tracks once and for all,” reads the statement, adding that “nothing should be read into this action concerning the authenticity of the tracks – it is just time to move beyond the distraction surrounding them.”

But many fans aren’t accepting Sony and the Estate’s position, because the “conversation associated with these tracks” is founded entirely on their disputed authenticity. According to some fans, removing the songs while defending their authenticity is not way to move “beyond the distraction surrounding them.”

And despite the fact that the “conversation associated with these tracks” has persisted relentlessly for 12 years, Sony and the Estate continued to sell the tracks to unwitting consumers throughout that entire period, while reaping millions of dollars from what many believe are brazen forgeries.

Until now.

The Jackson family tried to warn them

Prior to the release of the Michael album in 2010, several members of the Jackson family tried to reason with the Estate, informing them that the vocals on the Cascio tracks were not Michael’s while urging them not to move forward with their release.

Michael’s siblings Randy, Jermaine and Latoya all claimed that the vocals on the tracks did not belong to their brother.

They were ignored.

Michael’s mother – Estate beneficiary and family matriarch, Katherine Jackson – raised her voice against the tracks.

She was also ignored.

Michael’s oldest brother, Jackie Jackson, also came out against the Cascio tracks, revealing that both he and Estate co-executor John McClain had insisted for many weeks that the alleged forgeries should be removed from the album.

Their concerns were “not taken seriously.”

Michael’s nephews Taryll, TJ and Taj from the group 3T also spoke out, taking to social media to dispute the authenticity of the songs and raise awareness regarding some of what went on behind the scenes. 

Once again, their concerns were ignored.

In a statement issued on the 5th of November 2010, Sony asserted their “complete confidence” in the authenticity of the tracks. It was even reported that two independent forensic musicologists had verified that the vocals were Jackson’s.

Fans reject Breaking News

On the 8th of November 2010, five weeks before the Michael album was officially released, Sony unveiled one of the Cascio tracks – “Breaking News” – in a world premiere on Michael Jackson’s website.

When fans heard the track, they revolted. 

Many rejected the notion that Michael was the vocalist while pointing the finger at another singer named Jason Malachi.

But as they’d done with the Jackson family, Sony and the Estate ignored the opinions of fans.

Instead of reconsidering their plan to release the Cascio tracks, the Estate opted to gaslight fans in a statement, claiming that they’d investigated the authenticity of the vocals and believed “without reservation” that they were indeed Michael’s.

The following month the Estate and Sony took things a step further, stipulating in no uncertain terms that the vocals were “performed by Michael Jackson” on the back cover of the Michael album – released in the U.S. on the 14th of December 2010. 

ABOVE: RESERVE SIDE OF MICHAEL ALBUM COVER

They also arranged for Eddie Cascio to defend the authenticity of his songs on the Oprah Winfrey show. The Jackson family, however, were not invited to tell their side of the story.

The lawsuit

In June 2014, Michael Jackson fan Vera Serova filed a class action consumer fraud lawsuit against Jackson’s estate, Sony, Eddie Cascio, James Porte and their production company.

In her lawsuit, Serova alleges that Cascio and Porte are the masterminds of an “elaborate artistic fraud” in which they forged a collection of fake songs, and that Sony and the Estate misled her and others by attributing those forgeries to Michael Jackson on the Michael album.

As part of her lawsuit, Serova demanded the removal of the Cascio tracks from Jackson’s discography – a demand which now seems to have been met.

But despite the Cascio tracks having now been removed, Serova’s lawsuit remains ongoing.

It has been reported by the media this past week that Sony and the Estate won this case in 2018. 

This is simply not true.

In fact, Serova actually won the initial ruling on Sony and the Estate’s involvement in this case back in 2016. At that time, Sony and the Estate had tried to shirk responsibility, but were ordered to face the music by the Los Angeles Superior Court.

But Sony and the Estate felt they’d done nothing wrong and appealed that ruling – an appeal on which they prevailed in 2018.

In turn, Serova fought back, petitioning the California Supreme Court for review.

And based on the Supreme Court’s view that the appeal court’s ruling was legally “problematic,” Serova won her bid for review.

Oral arguments in that review were heard by the state Supreme Court the 24th of May 2022. 

A ruling has not yet been made, but is expected soon.

Sony and the Estate will need to prevail to be officially removed from litigation once and for all. If they don’t prevail, they’ll remain defendants in this case.

As of today (July 7), neither party has definitively prevailed and there is no judgment.

As mentioned, the original producers of the Cascio tracks – Eddie Cascio and James Porte – have also been sued as part of Serova’s lawsuit. They are sued with fraud, and that aspect of the lawsuit also remains ongoing.

You can hear my opinion on the removal of the Cascio tracks and much more below, in a roundtable discussion hosted by Michael Jackson podcast The MJCast:

I am also working on a podcast series called Faking Michael detailing the ins and outs of the Cascio tracks and the Michael album. Subscribe via podcast apps to be alert when episodes are released in the future.


Damien Shields is the author of the book Michael Jackson: Songs & Stories From The Vault examining the King of Pop’s creative process, and the producer of the podcast The Genesis of Thriller which takes you inside the recording studio as Jackson and his team create the biggest selling album in music history.
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