Pitbull is no Michael Jackson.
That was the gist of the expert testimony that highlighted the fourth day of the trial that pits legendary producer Quincy Jones against the Michael Jackson estate, with Jones claiming that the late King of Pop’s estate breached its contract with him and owes him millions of dollars in royalties from works that include songs from the albums Thriller, Off the Wall, This Is It and Bad.
Jones had sued the Jackson estate and Sony Music Entertainment in 2013, alleging that songs such as “Billie Jean,” ”Thriller” and “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” were re-edited to cut him out of royalties and a producer’s fee. The suit also claimed that Jones’ contracts gave him the first opportunity to re-edit or alter the songs, partly to protect his reputation.
On Friday, Jones’ legal team called Michael Fremer, editor of AnalogPlanet.com, to the stand, in hopes of establishing that some of Jackson’s posthumously released remixes — issued without Jones’ permission — had diminished Jones’ reputation due to their mediocrity.
“I like club mixes,” Fremer told the court, but Afrojack’s 2012 remix of Jackson’s “Bad,” featuring Pitbull, is “inconsistent with his spirit and who he was.”
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael L. Stern, though, later excluded Fremer’s testimony from the case after conferring privately with both legal teams.
After his testimony, Fremer told Billboard that he was “so against” the remix featuring Pitbull.
“Whomever produced it [the Pitbull version] should have said, ‘No.’ 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.”
Fremer testified that he never met Jackson and does not know Jones. The Afrojack-Pitbull rework of “Bad” peaked at No. 18 on Dance Club Songs and No. 45 on Dance/Electronic Digital Songs and sold 19,000 digital downloads in the U.S., according to Nielsen Music. The song also generated 2.2 million on-demand streams — audio and video combined — in the U.S.
During Friday’s trial, which concluded by mid-afternoon, the jurors consisting of mostly women and two men also got to hear and watch a clip of the film This Is It, on which Jones is seeking credit and royalties. The clip showed Jackson in rehearsals for the “The Way You Make Me Feel.”
Jackson’s distinctive vocals lit up the room. Jurors sat mostly stoic, but a few of them showed emotion including a male who was all smiles during the portion of the song, while another female juror closed her eyes and listened intently to the music and lyrics. Even attorney Howard Weitzman, representing Jackson’s MJJ Productions, was seen slightly bopping his head to the music.
By the session’s end on Friday, Stern instructed the jurors to return on Monday and informed them that the trial, which was expected to last 3 weeks, may conclude by the end of next week, one week earlier than originally anticipated.
According to a court spokesperson, no witnesses are scheduled for Monday.