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‘Sonic’ creator seemingly confirms Michael Jackson worked on the ‘Sonic the Hedgehog 3’ soundtrack

All signs point to Michael Jackson really did work on the soundtrack for 'Sonic 3'.

sonic the hedgehog 2 concept art
Image by Alex Konstad via Twitter/Jeff Fowler

A key figure in the creation of the classic video game Sonic the Hedgehog has seemingly confirmed a long-held rumor that Michael Jackson contributed to the soundtrack of the 1994 threequel, Sonic the Hedgehog 3. As to why Jackson was allegedly chosen by Sega to help with the music, and not the ’90s band Blur, we still don’t know.

Yuji Naka was the lead programmer for the original Sonic the Hedgehog on Sega Genesis, according to the Sonic Wiki. It happens to be Sonic’s birthday Thursday; 31 years to the day since the game came out on June 23, 1991, which many fans of the chili-dog-loving mammal celebrated, We Got This Covered previously reported.

Coinciding with the blue blur’s birthday was the release of Sonic Origins on most modern consoles. The game is a bundle of the first four mainline Sonic games, including Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sonic the Hedgehog CD, and Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles. The latter game is the one to whose soundtrack Jackson supposedly contributed.

Two weeks ago, Katie Chrzanowski, Sonic the Hedgehog’s social media manager, confirmed the Sonic 3 re-release would not use “all of the original sounds from the Sega Genesis version of the game,” according to an interview with Tails’ Channel, a Sonic news Twitter account.

This bit of news of the track replacements immediately struck fans as a tacit acknowledgment by Sega that the rumor that Jackson contributed to tracks on Sonic 3, in an uncredited capacity, was actually true all along.

Even Naka took to Twitter to comment on the situation, saying, “Does Sonic Origins Sonic 3 have a different song?”

Naka followed that Tweet up with a remark that some took as proof positive Jackson contributed to the original music of Sonic 3, which was later replaced on the Sonic Origins re-release.

“Oh my god, the music for Sonic 3 has changed, even though SEGA Official uses Michael Jackson’s music.”

However, take the previous comment with a grain of salt. It may not be the unambiguous acknowledgment of Jackson’s involvement in Sonic 3 that it seems.

Naka explained in a subsequent tweet that when he said “SEGA Official uses Michael Jackson’s music,” he was referencing a TikTok the company made that used Jackson’s instrumental from “Billie Jean,” a tune that is decidedly not part of the Sonic 3 soundtrack.

The TikTok in question is actually pretty funny, despite the somewhat questionable taste of using a Jackson song, given all the controversy. It featured Sonic struggling to grasp a hot mug of coffee with the soundtrack of Jackson’s signature vocal scatting standing in as the blue blur’s own exasperated utterances.

Naka also expressed worry his tweets may be “misunderstood” due to “using a translation tool” to make posts in English, which is not a language he normally speaks. This would seem to indicate Naka is trying to curb expectations about his initial tweet and warn others to not misinterpret his words.

Although Sega has still not officially acknowledged Jackson’s alleged involvement in the Sonic 3 soundtrack, all signs seem to point to this being true, given all that we know about the situation, with this latest change in the Sonic Origins iteration of the soundtrack being just the latest example.

For instance, even though Jackson wasn’t credited in the Genesis game, several of his frequent collaborators were, including C. Circocco Jones, Bobby Brooks, Geoff Grace, Brad Buxer, Doug Grigsby III, and Darryl Ross. Three of the six aforementioned instrumentalists claimed Jackson did indeed work on the game, according to a 2016 article in The Huffington Post. The musicians also claimed that not only did Jackson work on the game, his music ultimately made it onto the final release, too.

Specifically, the music tracks that were replaced in Sonic Origins include the music for the Sonic 3 levels Carnival Night, Ice Cap, and Launch Base, according to a breakdown by the YouTube channel GameXplain.

The music that is taking the allegedly Jackson-composed tracks’ places is revamped versions of some preliminary 1993-era beta compositions by composer Jun Senoue that never left the cutting room floor — until now — according to VG247.

That same article explained that it has been the long-held belief by many that Jackson was in the middle of collaborating with Sega to contribute to the Sonic 3 soundtrack when initial child molestation accusations surfaced about the pop star. The public court drama and controversy involving Jackson prompted the video game company to strike his name from the credits, but apparently not his music, or so one of several theories goes.

According to the article, “The official line from Sega remains that Jackson’s contribution to Sonic 3, which was never formally announced, never even existed.”

Over the years, people have also compared the tracks in the game to some of Jackson’s own songs, such as the Carnival Night Zone track resembling portions of Jackson’s song “Jam,” among other examples.

Regardless, you can get Sonic Origins now and decide for yourself if the replacement tracks are up to snuff; the collection is available on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4/5, Xbox Series X/S/One, and PC.

Danny Peterson
About the author

Danny Peterson

Danny Peterson covers entertainment news for WGTC and has previously enjoyed writing about housing, homelessness, the coronavirus pandemic, historic 2020 Oregon wildfires, and racial justice protests. Originally from Juneau, Alaska, Danny received his Bachelor's degree in English Literature from the University of Alaska Southeast and a Master's in Multimedia Journalism from the University of Oregon. He has written for The Portland Observer, worked as a digital enterprise reporter at KOIN 6 News, and is the co-producer of the award-winning documentary 'Escape from Eagle Creek.'