Here we go! A “teaser” from the upcoming album, Michael, was previously released, but now the world has gotten “Hold My Hand,” the first proper song in what will surely be a decades-long stream of posthumous material. Does this make for an auspicious beginning? Well, it’s not as good as 2001’s “You Rock My World,” Jackson’s last single off his his last studio album Invincible — but in retrospect, that song’s pretty great and tough to match. “Hand” is definitely better than the first time it was heard, when it leaked in 2008. Of its official, finished form, collaborator Akon says: “The world was not ready to hear ‘Hold My Hand’ when it leaked a couple years ago … We were devastated about it. But its time has definitely come; now in its final state, it has become an incredible, beautiful, anthemic song.” Polished up and studio-tweaked, “Hold My Hand” is an innocuous, professionally executed ballad with probably a touch more Akon than any MJ fan can truly be happy with. So, basically, it’s what you’d expect from a first posthumous MJ single: certainly not embarrassing, but not necessarily crucial either. It’s also obviously not history’s best song about hand-holding, which doesn’t help.
Either way, it’s pissing off Will.I.Am, who still cannot believe the industry would stoop so low as to make money off MJ without his consent: “Whoever put it out and is profiting off of it, I want to see how cold they are,” he told EW. “To say that what [Michael] contributed during his life wasn’t enough. He just wasn’t any ordinary artist. He was a hands-on person. To me it’s disrespectful. There’s no honoring.” This is weird for three reasons: (a) OF COURSE there were going to be posthumous MJ releases, Will.I.Am! (b) of the many artists whose work has been released posthumously, Jackson’s one of the few with a fan base devoted enough to happily pay money for second-rate material, (c) and then again: It’s true that the pervasiveness of posthumous releases has caused blindness to the icky nature of the practice, and since when is Will.I.Am the voice of reason?
Anyway, here’s “Hold My Hand”: