Business News Legal

Quincy Jones v Michael Jackson Productions: Pitbull on Bad! Whose idea was that?

By | Published on Monday 17 July 2017

Michael Jackson

The legal battle between legendary producer Quincy Jones and the Michael Jackson estate turned into something of a jukebox jury type session on Friday as everyone pondered on who’s idea, exactly, it was to have Pitbull guesting on a remix of ‘Bad’.

As previously reported, Jones is suing Jackson company MJJ Productions and Sony Music in a $30 million royalties dispute. One of the allegations made against MJJ Productions is that it ignored an agreement between Jackson and Jones that said that the latter would always be given the first option to create any remixes of the recordings he had produced for the former. Following Jackson’s untimely death in 2009, MJJ and Sony organised remixes of said recordings without consulting Jones.

The Jones side says that this contract term was as much about giving the producer a say over his and Jackson’s combined musical legacy as it was about trying to secure extra remixing income. With that in mind, the Jones team argues, some of the posthumous remixes of Jackson’s output were sufficiently mediocre to negatively impact on the producer’s reputation.

To try to back up that assertion lawyers presented Michael Fremer, editor of the website, to discuss the posthumous reworks of the Jackson recordings Jones had produced.

In amongst a wide-ranging testimony about said reworks, the Afrojack remix of ‘Bad’ featuring Pitbull – which appeared on the ‘Bad 25’ rerelease album in 2012 – was picked out as a particular dud. According to Billboard, Fremer told the court “I like club mixes” but that this remix of ‘Bad’ was “inconsistent with [Jackson’s] spirit and who he was”.

He later told the US trade mag that that particular rework should never have been released, saying: “Before the trial I did some research and the comments online were really negative about that song. People were outraged. It was just a mess and it should have never come out”.

This may seem to you like a perfectly decent critique of that particular remix, though Fremer’s reviews were ultimately excluded from the trial by the judge as part of a deal between the plaintiffs and defence. Still, that little bit of Pitbull dissing provided some light relief during Friday’s court proceedings, and everyone in court got a good education on Jackson’s music, so all is good.

The case continues.

UPDATE 19 Jul 2017, 12.00: Some additional information about Michael Fremer’s testimony was added.