"Breaking News," a preview track from Michael Jackson's forthcoming album "Michael," received instant airplay on more than 150 radio stations yesterday (Nov. 8), following its premiere on Jackson's website.
The song will appear on the King of Pop's first posthumous album of original material, due Dec. 14 on Epic Records. The cut will stream for one week on Jackson's site, where "Michael" is now available for pre-order.
According to Nielsen BDS, 151 U.S. stations sampled "Breaking News" yesterday on formats ranging from pop and R&B/hip-hop to adult, rock and oldies. The song received 246 plays in its first day of availability and reached an estimated 2.2 million listeners.
Taxi Productions-owned Adult R&B panelist KJLH/Los Angeles played "Breaking News" once yesterday. "Listener reaction was very mixed," says program director Terri Thomas. "Going forward, I don't think that the song is a hit. I think it's a novelty.
"People miss Jackson, but it's hard to compete with his classics and legacy," says Thomas.
Inner City Adult R&B reporter WBLS/New York likewise played "Breaking News" one time yesterday, lifting the audio from Jackson's site. "Our midday host, Egypt, played the song for listeners and was immediately flooded with calls and texts giving a mixed reaction," says program director Skip Dillard.
"WBLS listeners overall seemed to think that 'Breaking News' sounds 'unfinished' and is not a representation of the level of perfection that Michael sought in his music. Many listeners who responded asked to hear other tracks and said that they'll be interested to hear what else is on the upcoming album."
Both PDs cited the widespread speculation that the track's vocals may not be Jackson's throughout. As previously reported, Sony Music Group said that it has "complete confidence in the results of our extensive research, as well as the accounts of those who were in the studio with Michael, that the vocals on the new album are his own."
"Many listeners questioned whether it really is Jackson on the whole song," says Thomas.
"I had to listen a few times to make sure it was Jackson all the way through," says Dillard. "I could hear his voice but, at times, it sounded as if other voices were used to complete the track."