Single Review: Michael Jackson ft. Akon – ‘Hold My Hand’

So… what have we here? The first proper release from Michael Jackson’s first posthumous album release? Isn’t that a bit… odd? It’s not just weird because you’ll be listening to someone departed; someone who is no longer with us, but also because you know that if Michael Jackson didn’t put the songs on his albums when he recorded them, it was because he deemed them not good enough. And whilst ‘Breaking News’ is stirring up the contents of the controversy bucket with people getting into heated debates about whether it does or doesn’t contain the voice of the late great, there’s no denying ‘Hold My Hand’ does.

‘Hold My Hand’ was originally recorded in 2007, for Akon’s third album ‘Freedom’. However, “the world wasn’t ready for ‘Hold My Hand'”, and so it was re-twiddled to what it is today by Akon himself. The result is of course, much more Akon than Michael Jackson, so much so, that the title credits appear to be the wrong way around. On that matter, I don’t understand why Michael Jackson always liked Akon, as he’s pretty much a poor man’s Michael with relatively little song-writing talent and zero artistic vision.

If you care to remember their useless collaboration on ‘Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ 2008′, ‘Hold My Hand’ follows a similar path. Akon takes it upon himself to name-check himself before Michael, add a couple of half-hearted “Ooohs”, some icy synths, a dull piano twinkle, and clichéd lyrics, accompanied by an anaemic drum beat that at times doesn’t even give the impression it wants to be there, and that’s what you’ll be listening to for the next three and a half minutes. It’s typical of Akon. A trashy, cheap R&B production with lyrics that just fail to hold any water – “So if you just hold my hand, baby/I promise that I’ll do all I can”. It’s unoriginal, over-done, and comes across as a limp, careless attempt at clumping together a song that was in pieces to start with. It’s miles from the towering heights of Jackson’s career peak, echoing the times when he was at his most intolerably saccharine (‘Heal The World’, ‘You Are Not Alone’), rather than the times where he was at his most funky and witty (‘Billie Jean’, ‘Beat It’, ‘They Don’t Care About Us’).

I would say that it’s an insult to Jackson’s memory, but there were times when Jackson himself mirrored the unimaginative, trashy pop set before us in the form of ‘Hold My Hand’. And as a person who was never really sold on quite a few of Michael Jackson’ later pop efforts, it’d be fair to say that his finest solo work will forever be found between albums ‘Off The Wall’ and ‘Bad’, because if ‘Hold My Hand’ represents the best of what was locked away in the Michael demo box, then things are going to get ugly from here on out.

Expect a montage video to be out soon. It’ll be all emotional a teary, obv.

It’s clearly all about the money. Anyone who fully believes this song and it’s accompanying album are being released for Michael Jackson himself is seriously deluded and needs a harsh wake-up call. Everything about it screams “money sponge”; the song is being released for the profit and the profit alone, regardless of where those profits end up. Even the release date is strategically timed – the week before the Christmas single release week, so as to maximise sales, but not so much that it has the huge competition from the mighty X Factor winner’s single or any of the countless campaigns all fighting for the top spot this Christmas. It makes me cringe that the music industry has managed to turn even Michael Jackson into an opportunist, after he’s passed, because you just know he’d never want this were he alive.

If I was being judgement-free, I’d rate the song higher – just a smidgeon, mind – but since I’m taking into account how the song came about, and what it’s sole purpose is, I think maybe…

Rating: 2.0 STARS

Download: December 6, 2010 (OUT NOW)

Featured Album: ‘Michael’

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