May 11 2017

The Strange Story Of Sonic The Hedgehog 3 And Michael Jackson

A decade ago, while browsing the then relatively new website called YouTube, I found a video that discussed something I never thought I would see: A theory that Michael Jackson was involved in the music for the 1994 video game “Sonic The Hedgehog 3.”

“What? How? Why? Huh? How did I not learn about this?” I had to watch the video, and I did. I was amazed! At this time, I was just beginning to learn of the Sonic The Hedgehog fanbase’s modding and research scene (read, the “not crazy” part of the Sonic fandom) and it was fascinating to see this piece of information added in to all the details I was learning about how these favorite games from when I was a child were made.

The story basically goes something like this: Michael Jackson was brought in to work on music for Sonic 3, being a fan of the game, and being still super popular in the early 90’s: it made sense! However, due to the infamous scandal in 1993, his music was removed… or so the story goes. Many elements of track in Sonic 3, such as the music for Carnival Night Zone matching with Jam, Ice Cap Zone sounding similar to Who Is It and Smooth Criminal, and additionally the credits music for the game sounding much like Stranger in Moscow, from the later HIStory album.

The video itself was good, for 2007 standards – the problem is, while it was good, it was heavily incorrect. Over the past decade, following that video, quite a bit more information on the involvement of Michael Jackson in the game was unearthed.

More nuanced similarities would be found, such as the glass effect in the Carnival Night Zone music being an effect in the song In the Closet, and the eventual discovery of the real origin of the amazing music for Ice Cap Zone, an unreleased song from the 80’s!

This follow up video covers in detail much of what was learned over the prior decade, and is sort of an append to the famous original video.

Of course, by the time it was all said and done, we would learn that it wasn’t MJ directly who composed the music that wound up in the game, but many of his producers and supporting artists – their work, directly with MJ, would direct the style of the games music going forwards, and would become the sound of Sonic 3.

Lastly this video is good for a full summary up to late 2016, of everything we learned, and some additional facts not covered in the prior video. This is an amazing video and certainly worth the watch, if you only watch one video here!

I really find the story to be fascinating, especially as a fan of both Sonic The Hedgehog and Michael Jackson. I still stand, though, that more of the mans work is in the game than people want to think – that being said, the evidence presented is very solid for at least the story we have. You still have to wonder, though…

In any case, I hope you have found this interesting. Certainly a different article from me, yet this was one that was going to happen eventually one way or another – I just recently watched the 3rd video and thought it worthwhile to write about here.


Oh, and as a bonus.. Hard Times, because this song actually is awesome!

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