Michael Jackson/Akon duet "Hold My Hand" less fake than "Breaking News" but bogus nonetheless
By contrast, "Hold My Hand" -- the second leaked track from the posthumous Michael Jackson estate cash-in Michael, available just in time for Christmas -- feels legit. The oooooos and whoooooas and yeahs and unconscious, James Brown-esque grunts feel authentic enough, if not as extra-human and magical in the same hope-fostering way as pre-Icarian-plummet MJ jams. Documented proof exists that Jackson cut the song with Akon in 2007, when his voice was way past its prime; it's still recognizably him.
But in its own way, "Hold My Hand" is worse.
(Try this blind test. Play "Hold My Hand" for someone who has no clue that new "Jacko" product is in the pipeline, and ask that person to guess who the song is by. Post the answers in the Comments section.)
Worse because it doesn't sound like what we've been conditioned to expect from a Michael Jackson single: namely, titanic, world-beating or stirringly sensitive arrangements crossed with an irresistable beat and a leading heatseaker of an MJ vocal. ("You Rock My World" was the last even vaguely memorable MJ single. And no, your eyes don't deceive you: Marlon Brando and Chris Tucker both co-starred in the video treatment.) Worse because the song presents as a duet in the sense that Jackson's shortcomings as a singer are wallpapered over by Akon's vocals. Worse because the performances lack enough immediacy and oomph to compensate for terrible, cliche lyrics; back in the day, when Jackson was in his prime, his gritted-teeth edge and mile-high range rendered this problem irrelevant, but Jackson isn't really the focal point on "Hold My Hand." Worse because the arrangement -- searching strings, drizzling hopscotch pianos, sandpaper drums, synth stabs -- screams "generic Akon single template" more than anything else; this is basically an Akon song that Jackson happened to guest on.
Worse because while "Breaking News" was blatantly fake and could thereby be dismissed straight away, "Hold My Hand" offers a recognizable enough version of Jackson that there's no way to reasonably avoid being disappointed and dispirited by its thinness.