One popular video game fan theory floating around internet forums and YouTube is that Michael Jackson provided uncredited musical contributions to Sega’s 1994 game Sonic the Hedgehog 3.
According to believers, there are, in particular, 3 pieces of music in the game which have Michael Jackson undertones: The Ice Cap Zone theme, the Carnival Night theme and the music in the end credits.
Apparently, the Sonic end credits music sounds like Jackson’s ‘Stranger in Moscow’ from HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I. The bass in the Ice Cap Zone is similar to that in MJ’s ‘Smooth Criminal’, ‘Who Is It’ and/or the unreleased ‘Hard Times’. And Sonic’s Carnival Night Zone theme mirrors parts of the King of Pop’s ‘Jam’ from his album Dangerous. Take a listen for yourself:
Sega deny that Michael had any involvement at all in their Sonic the Hedgehog series, but some of the games’ credited composers insist he did have an input.
The former Sega executive who worked on Sonic 3, Roger Hector, confirmed that Michael Jackson contacted Sega in the early 1990s to express his admiration for the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise. Sega, who released MJ’s Moonwalker video game, responded by inviting him to their office. After the meeting, the Smooth Criminal singer was given a demo of the game and asked to compose music for it. Hector claims he was “really impressed with how much of a signature Michael Jackson sound there was in this, and yet, it was all new.”
Support for this series of events comes from Brad Buxer, who was one of the composers for Sonic 3’s musical score as well as Jackson’s musical director during his Dangerous album. Buxer said: “he told me he was going to be doing the Sonic the Hedgehog soundtrack for Sonic 3. He asked me if I would help him with it.”
The problem was, during Sonic 3’s production, Michael Jackson was facing accusations of child molestation. And although he was eventually found innocent, it seems that Sega did not want this controversy tied up with their trademark Sonic the Hedgehog series. Buxer, on the other hand, claims that it was Jackson who cut his ties with Sega because he was unhappy with how they were developing and altering his initial compositions. He said: “Michael wanted his name taken off the credits if they couldn’t get it to sound better.”
So, it seems that some parts of Sonic 3’s musical themes echo Michael Jackson’s song structures, and that the game’s composers assert that he was hired to write music for the game. It must, therefore, be concluded that MJ did write the musical score for the game but only part of it was used (and/or altered). The only thing in dispute is whether Sega cancelled on Jackson or vice versa.