More than a year after his death, Michael Jackson continues to be controversial.
"Hold My Hand," the brand-new Jackson song featuring R&B singer Akon, was officially released on Monday as the first single off next month's posthumous album, "Michael."
Jackson and Akon recorded the song in 2007; at the time, Jackson felt it was not ready for release. Three years later, Jackson's estate claims that MJ left a handwritten note asking for "Hold My Hand" to be the album's first official single. But Black Eyed Peas star Will.i.am. thinks that collaborators should let the King of Pop rest in peace.
"Whoever put it out and is profiting off of it, I want to see how cold they are to say that what he contributed during his life wasn't enough," he told Entertainment Weekly. "He just wasn't any ordinary artist. He was a hands-on person. To me it's disrespectful. There's no honoring."
But Akon came to his own defense, saying that the song has been improved since it leaked in 2008.
"The world was not ready to hear Hold My Hand when it leaked a couple years ago," he said in a statement. "Now its time has come. In its final state, it has become an incredible, beautiful, anthemic song. I'm so proud to have worked with Michael, one of my all-time idols."
As for Will.i.am's criticism, Akon said he "honestly disagrees."
"That's probably Will's opinion," he told TMZ. "I don't see anything disrespectful about it . . . These albums would have come out if he was alive or dead, so I think this helps to keep his legacy alive."
Personally, the song is a little too syrupy for us, but it might appeal to fans of the inspirational R&B (think "I Believe I Can Fly"). Nevertheless, it will probably be a huge hit, which has us thinking: From "Unforgettable" to "Free as a Bird," what's the best posthumous collaboration of all time?