don't click here

The Sonic 3 Music Ramble

Discussion in 'General Sonic Discussion' started by Morris, Jun 22, 2022.

  1. ParadoxDreams


    I'm new to the forums, but I'll try & share what I know

    Brad Buxer had zero involvement with the original Late 1990/February 1991 of "Blood on the Dance Floor", as that was originally done by Teddy Riley. All of Brad's contributions were done in Late 1996, when Michael told Brad to "finish" the song, which Brad did by simply working over Teddy's original Instrumental. This also includes the drum pattern, which was of course added by Brad Buxer.

    I'm also certain that Brad was at least pretty involved with those two tracks. The Mini-boss theme uses two vocal samples from Norman Cook's "Skip to my Loops!", and the track "Money" from Michael's "HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I" album uses two samples from that CD for its base drum track, and Brad himself has gone on record saying he worked on the track.

    It is very based of Jam, and in fact, Jam's original writer, Bruce Swedien (rest in peace) was present during the final recordings at Studio One as an engineer (as he was during most of Jackson's albums, but he could've done more).
    • Like Like x 2
    • Informative Informative x 2
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • List
  2. Ben2k9


    We stand to Fight Oldbie
    Manchester, UK
    none at the mo
    CNZ also used the glass breaking sound effects directly sampled from In the Closet, in fact, the main rhythm is actually closer to that than Jam even with the Jam sample. The glass breaking sample is also heard in LBZ too. I personally feel those 2 (along with the ending credits) were the ones definitely worked on by Jackson himself.

    When I did the interview for Huffington Post (link in my sig) I was privy to a lot of information regarding Brad, Michael and the team, what you say is pretty much all correct, except somewhere in the vaults there ARE real recorded versions of the songs worked on by Jacksons team, which will most likely never see the day due to the Sega/MJ copyright feud.
  3. Chimes


    The One SSG-EG Maniac Member
    One of the things I disliked about the other Sonic 3 music thread is that unless I was going in with a bookworm mindset or had specific highlights, it was rather scattered and I couldn't get to the deeper meat of it without going through dozens of pages, so seeing this information compiled into a concise order is very helpful!
  4. McAleeCh


    Random early-morning thought re: Icecap's alternate music from the SEGA Sound Team:

    Icecap Act 1 in Origins - basically no percussion, rest of composition basically the same as Act 2, same lead instrument as Act 2

    Icecap Act 1 in the 1103 prototype - basic (unfinished?) new percussion, rest of composition basically the same as Act 2, now has a unique lead instrument

    Icecap Act 2 - in a fairly complete state and pretty much the same in both Origins and the 1103 prototype

    ...Given that Origins' earlier Act 1 track is almost just the Act 2 track with the percussion removed, then the 1103 proto seems to develop it to try and differentiate it further from Act 2, and bearing in mind the Act 2 track is pretty much complete in both versions yet the Act 1 track is noticeably unfinished... Are we looking at a rare instance where the Act 1 track is actually the remix?
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2022
  5. Palas


    Don't lose your temper so quickly. Member
    Do we have it confirmed that it's rare, or what the creative process was for the tracks? I'm willing to consider a scenario in which they had so many composers available that it became a mostly collective process without a fixed workflow. Maybe Act 1 and 2 composed separately and then swapped by a music director down the line to fit the mood. Isn't that possible?

    It would explain why there's confusion about who composed what exactly: the composers themselves might just not know, or their contributions might have been changed by someone else so it'd be better to just credit everyone as a collective.
  6. Antheraea


    Bug Hunter Member
    actually there was a moment there where I was confused as to which version of Icecap you were talking about, because the MJ version is the inverse of this - the Act 2 is much more stripped back than Act 1 in that case, some parts just having the backing synth and kick drum there (god I just love the production of the MJ Icecap themes, it's amazing that they still hold up).
  7. McAleeCh


    I've realised I'm slightly wrong on the Origins Icecap Act 1 anyway - listening on something other than my phone speaker, I see it actually has the same percussion as the 1103 Sonic 3 proto after all, it's just the muffled sound made the kick drum harder to distinguish. I have to admit, I'd never noticed the weirdly-timed hi-hats until I heard the Origins version; they somehow seem more prominent there.
  8. RDNexus


    Yep, definitely CNZ & Super Sonic themes were the worst victims here.
    ICZ & LBZ have decent-to-good enough themes, I don't mind them at all.
  9. sonicthesnot


    After much research and study of the structure of these songs, I'm pretty sure Tomonori Sawada did the lion's share of the soundtrack, at the very least the following tracks:

    Ice Cap Proto
    LBZ Proto
    Big Arms Boss
    Doomsday Zone
    Flying Battery
    S3 Major Boss
    S&K Miniboss (basically just a shortened rearrangement of Flying Battery)
    Death Egg Zone

    All these share very unique features with one another (hooks, baseline structures, chord progressions) that would really be a coincidence if they were written by a bunch of separate composers. If I had time I'd do a deeper write up but I don't have time now....
  10. Gryson


    I would be shocked if this were not the case. To be blunt: There is just no way the Sega of America of 1993 would allow Michael Jackson's name anywhere near its brand.

    When the allegations hit, many companies were quick to distance themselves. Pepsi ended their huge 9-year partnership with Jackson, for example, and he also lost out on other deals then. The media shit storm against Jackson was incredible. He was the target of every tabloid and TV talk show in the US for months.

    No way was Sega of America, facing the 1993 US Senate hearings on video games (Night Trap, Mortal Kombat, etc.), going to let an alleged abuser of children be in any way officially attached to one of its products.

    Yes, several years after that, Jackson did do more work with Sega in Japan, once the allegations had died down (remember, everything was settled out of court in 1994 and the police never filed charges). That doesn't really have any bearing on what happened in 1993 at STI.
  11. Laura


    Brightened Eyes Member
    Copying from another thread. I think the general timeline is interesting and accurate but I want to make some adjustments which highlight what I think essentially happened. I think it's fairly cut and dry.

    Early 1993:

    MJ agrees to work on Sonic 3. Between this time and the Fall he probably makes at least the foundation of some music cues or perhaps even entire cues together with Buxer (and maybe the team). I think it's very possible that he worked on Carnival Night in some capacity.

    Fall 1993:

    At this point MJ has lost interest in Sonic 3. This may be due to dissatisfaction with the Genesis soundchip or he may just have gotten bored with writing a children's games OST and wants to do something else.

    He tasks Buxer with leading the project in his stead. Buxer has either worked with the MJ Team up to this point or contacts them to help finish the project.

    November 1993:

    SEGA implement the MJ Team tracks. They are nervous about crediting MJ in the game because of the scandal but are relieved to learn from Buxer and the team that MJ didn't have a great deal to do with the finished OST and isn't really interested in it anyway.

    They do not credit MJ. It is hard to know with certainty that MJ explicitly said that he didn't mind that he wasn't credited.


    Sonic 3 is released with the MJ soundtrack.


    Sonic 3 is regularly re-released with the original OST. The only exception is the SAK PC Collection. This could have been done by a mistake (PC ports at the time regularly used outdated prototypes in a shoddy way). Or it could be that SEGA only owned the rights to use the OST in the Genesis soundfont. The game is ported in Jam with no issues.

    Late 2010-2011:

    At this point something major happens. SEGA never again release Sonic 3. It doesn't seem to be serious enough to warrant pulling current games from sale but it is serious enough to warrant never releasing the game again until Origins.

    I think it is at this point when the legal issues begin.
    • Like Like x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • Informative Informative x 1
    • Useful Useful x 1
    • List
  12. DigitalDuck


    Arriving four years late. Member
    Lincs, UK
    TurBoa, S1RL
    Xbox One re-release: am I a joke to you?
  13. sonicthesnot


    I agree that this is a very likely scenario with all the new information - SEGA wanted to replace the Beta turd tracks with the "better" MJ tracks, but there is no way in hell they could be associated with him with the allegations. SEGA catches a massive break when MJ asks not to be credited due to the sound quality - it's totally believable given MJ's perfectionist tendencies. My guess is SEGA didn't implement the remaining MJ tracks into levels like Hydrocity because the MJ tracks were WORSE than the original tracks, or SEGA simply didn't have time. As much as I loved MJ's music, it just doesn't have the same magic when compressed down to the Genesis sound chip (see the Hard Times -> Ice Cap Zone conversion). I believe the Huffington Post speaks mentions numerous "compression issues" with the tracks, and it could be that aside from the 5-6 tracks that made it into the game, the others were unworkable.
  14. ParadoxDreams


    I should probably list my timeline/notes, I mostly based it off what Jackson was doing around 1993 (from my research for a site documenting the entire "Dangerous" era & album that never happened).

    • Pre-9th: During rehearsals for the "Remember The Time" performance at the 1993 Soul Train Music Awards, Jackson injures his ankle after failing a spin, requiring him to be in a wheelchair/crutches.
    • 9th: Jackson attends & performs "Remember The Time" at the 1993 Soul Train Music Awards, winning "Best R&B/Soul Album - Male" & "Best R&B/Soul Single – Male". He is unable to stand during the performance, and is brought to accept his awards in crutches before the performance & in a wheelchair after it.
    • 10th-26th: Jackson & his "entourage" (his bodyguards) visit the SEGA Technical Institute during the evening. His intentions for coming are to congratulate the team for their work on "Sonic The Hedgehog" & "Sonic The Hedgehog 2". During the visit, a random developer asks him if he wants to compose the soundtrack for "Sonic The Hedgehog 3", which he happily obliges. This is the only time period which he could possible visit, as he visited the building in crutches, and he was out of them as early as the 27th.
    Sometime afterwards, Michael contacts one of the "Dangerous" producers, Brad Buxer, to work on the soundtrack for "Sonic The Hedgehog 3". The two had met in July 1989 during the production of the "Decades" album, which would eventually become "Dangerous" after February 1990. Brad worked on a total of 10-12 songs on the album (either writing, synths/pianos, or drum programming), with 7 making it on the album.

    After getting the job from Michael, Brad began to make a team based on people he had previously worked with.
    • Bobby Brooks: A producer & engineer who happened to be living with Brad at the time, who's earliest work with Buxer is on Rori's self-titles Mini-LP in 1985.
    • Doug Grigsby: A producer & bassist who happened to also be living with Brad at the time, his earliest work with Buxer was Martine St Clair’s "Caribou" album in 1990.
    • C. Cirocco Jones: A producer & multi-instrumentalist hired by Brad for the project, his earliest work with Buxer is the Temptations' "milestones" album in 1991.
    • Darryl Ross: A producer & multi-instrumentalist hired by Brad for the project, his earliest work with Buxer is Grady Harrell's 1989 album, "Come Play With Me!"
    • Geoff Grace: A producer & orchestral arranger hired by Brad for the project, who met Brad through the Arizona music scene in the early-80s.
    Nobody from this team worked with Michael Jackson before this project, and all of them (with the possibly exception of C. Cirocco Jones) would work on Jackson's 1995 album, "HIStory: Past, Present, Future - Book I". All work at this point would be working on the project in the background, including Michael attending more meetings with STI staff. He was shown designs, the story, and the general feel of the game, along with being given a "demo" cartridge (which I assume is Roger Hector talk for a prototype).

    This begs the question, what did Jackson really do for the project? It seems everywhere it goes between two extremes, "He did the soundtrack" or "He didn't work on it at all". The truth lies in-between the middle.
    • Jackson of course got the job, along with the materials for the project, which would've likely been forwarded towards Buxer's team.
    • Jackson recorded a bunch of beatboxing samples on a tape for the producers to use as samples, along with his classic "Hoos!". The "2Bad" sessions feature a perfect example of Jackson's god-tier beatboxing.
    • Jackson submitted his own demo to SEGA, where he does every single track with his mouth. He simulated things like horns & strings over a drum track (which I theorize was done by his personal red Linn Electronics Linn 9000). This is extremely common within the production of Jackson's albums, as these types of demos were made often. There are testimonies of producers where Jackson would guitar parts with his mouth, and a guitarist would have to try & replicate that perfectly (such as the demo for "Dirty Diana", which is currently not public).
    • Jackson would give feedback & ideas during the production of the final demos and in the middle of the night. This was also common, with past-producers noting that Jackson would wake them up at 2am to work on an idea in the studio.
    So he did do a good amount of work, his style & influence would definitely be noticeable if the final demos ever leaked to the public. I know Brad recently said he did "1 track", but in casual conversation (like when talking to fellow producer & friend Brad Sundberg) he says "around 2-3 tracks". I believe he wrote about 2-3 tracks at most, including the beatbox demo tape.

    • 25th - The earliest known preparations of the 1993 "Dangerous World Tour" begin, as a cassette is made titled "MJJ Tour '93" is created. For this leg of the tour, Brad Buxer is promoted to Sound Director, a role once occupied by Greg Phillinganes who was busy at the time. He invites fellow Stevie Wonder keyboardist Isaiah Sanders.
    • Around this time, band rehearsals begin for the tour judging by how Michael treated rehearsals in the last tour (1 month band only, 1 month with him). I assume that near the end of the month, the final sessions for the Sonic 3 tracks begin at Record One in Los Angeles, California.
    • Michael requests to be left uncredited for his work done on the soundtrack. Multiple people surrounding the project confirm that it is due to his unhappiness with the sound being produced by the Yamaha YM2612 sound chip found in the Genesis, not wanting to be associated with a product that would devalue his music.
    As noted by people who worked on the project, the tracks were treated less like "video game music" but instead as a regular Jackson album. 41 tracks were produced during a 4-week period around possibly July and August in Record One Studios in Los Angeles, California (More than half of what is normally produced for a regular Michael Jackson album). As mentioned before, Jackson's beatboxing samples were used in these tracks, including his iconic "he-he's", among other sounds Jackson usually produced. During these sessions, two other folks became involved with the project.
    • Bruce Swedien: Legendry engineer who's worked with Michael ever since "Off the Wall" in 1979. He's notable here for being "Jam's" original writer, along with helping with percussion (sleigh bells) on said track.
    • Matt Forger: Another Jackson-team oldie, who began working with Michael during sessions for "The Girl is Mine" around 1982 as an engineer.
    While Michael was present for these sessions & often gave feedback/ideas for the team, he spent most of his time playing the Sonic games in a side-room of the studio. Along with the Buxer-team, SEGA sent devs to hang out & begin compressing songs in the the game. According to Doug Grigsby, not a lot of the space in the cartridge was allocated for sound, which likely led to Michael's dissatisfaction with the sound.

    A lot of folks might point out that "Well, Jackson worked on Moonwalker for SEGA, and that was on Genesis!". It's important to note that Jackson's sound had evolved greatly between the release of "Moonwalker" & the production of the "Sonic the Hedgehog 3" soundtrack. A good example would be Michael's 1987 of "Streetwalker", which would radically evolve into 1991's "Dangerous" (as confirmed by the 1994 Copyright Trial and the 1990 demo for "Dangerous"). Simply put, the sound of the Genesis had not evolved along with Jackson's sound.

    Despite knowing 41 tracks were made, only a few have been made known.
    • Credits: Buxer notes this as the first track made for the game.
    • The Waters (Act 1 & Act 2): I assume both acts of Hydro City Zone since C. Cirocco Jones lists it as "Levels 2 & 3".
    • Carnival Night Zone (Act 1 & Act 2): Used in the final game.
    • Ice Cap Zone (Act 1 & Act 2): Used in the final game.
    • Launch Base Zone (Act 1 & Act 2): Used in the final game.
    • Knuckles' Theme: Used in final Sonic 3-alone.
    • Mini-Boss Theme: Used in final Sonic 3-alone.
    • Competition: Used in the final game
    • MJ Beatbox Demo: The only confirmed song written by Michael, though it's unknown if it even made it to the final demos.
    • Black or White: According to the Pop Fiction video researching the game, a private source mentioned this track was submitted & even digitized. Though, it hasn't been confirmed by anyone else.
    Seeing how "Sonic the Hedgehog 3" has 47 tracks I believe? It seems they pretty much did most of the game. Even Pop Fiction's private source mentions them being hired to do all the zones & the Opening/Ending songs.


    • 4th - The Allegations finally become known to Michael & his team. We know this had to have been one of the days since Brad recalls that the allegations had no effect on the production, but instead gave more pressure to finish the project.
    • 15th & 16th - Two of the known days of rehearsals. The 16th is noticeable as Michael mentions being in pain, and having to leave (crying?) during the middle of it.
    • 19th - After an un-successful attempt to postpone the tour, Jackson flies to Thailand to begin the 1993 "Dangerous World Tour".
    • 24th - The 1993 "Dangerous World Tour" begins in Bangkok, Thailand with a sold-out show. At the same time, the allegations become public. It's well known that Jackson began the show in tears, as he had just heard the news about it going public right before the show began.
    I assume that Brad submitted the final 41-track tape to STI sometime before the 19th. Roger Hector has said before he was impressed by the sound, saying it "clearly had a Michael Jackson sound to it". It seems that they were fully content with using the Buxer-team soundtrack until the Allegations went public near the 24th. The allegations were taken seriously at SEGA, with SOJ being the ones doing the final call to not use his soundtrack. Roger Hector claims that the whole soundtrack had to be replaced after this, with songs being submitted by STI & SEGA of Japan. It's crazy to believe that, but it's possible that "Sonic the Hedgehog 3" just didn't have a unique soundtrack at this point, like early "Sonic the Hedgehog 2" did, reusing tracks from the first game as a placeholder. "Blue Spheres" was reused from "SEGASonic Bros.", which might hint to basically any song being submitted for the game after the allegations. But in all honestly, Roger might be talking about just Howard Drossin.

    • 15th (assumed) - At 10:30am, before the first show in Moscow, Brad Buxer is called into Michael's hotel room. Under the assumption that Michael wants to hear the final Sonic 3 tracks, Brad brings a tape featuring the 41-tracks & a portable cassette player. Once he enters the room, a depressed Michael tells Brad to play the piano found in his room. After playing a few tracks without Michael's mood changing, Brad plays the Credits theme for "Sonic The Hedgehog 3", except a little differently. The song captures Michael's attention, in which he begins to sing over it. By 12:30pm, the song "Stranger In Moscow" had been written.
    Some time in late-October, a prototype of the game is built (which seems to be the prototype we know have thanks to drx & Hidden Palace), which features an incomplete soundtrack (using none of the Buxer-team tracks, despite being submitted at this point, nothing of Howard Drossin's work exists either). This seems to suggest that the Buxer-team tracks were added into the game after the allegations.

    From what I've researched, I think the Buxer-team tracks that ended up in "Sonic the Hedgehog 3" are the ones they digitized back during the production of the final tracks. It's unknown why these tracks were added in after, but I would assume they needed to fulfill the original contract in some way. The Huffington Post article & Brad Buxer's interview with "Black & White" magazine seems to suggest that the producers didn't know the whole soundtrack didn't make it into the game. Maybe the "lawsuit" that potentially happened in 2012 might also be related to them not using all the tracks? We might never know.

    Of course, life goes on after the project. "Stranger in Moscow" continues production in February & quickly grows, using some of the same techniques used in the "Sonic the Hedgehog 3" production. The drum beat from Knuckles' Theme/Mini-boss Theme would be picked up in January 1997 when Brad Buxer was told to finish Teddy Riley's "Blood on the Dance Floor" from the Dangerous album. Of course, it's well known that Ice Cap Zone came from "Hard Times" by the Jetzons, which Brad played keys for.

    "Hard Times" is an interesting case, as Brad isn't actually credited for writing the song, instead going to Bruce Connole. This brings up a very important part about Brad & his character, that he doesn't really care about credit. Even in a lot of songs that are confirmed to be written by Brad, like "Heal the World" or "Stranger In Moscow", he isn't given credit because he simply didn't ask for it. So it's possible that it also applies to "Hard Times".

    Very sorry about how messy this is!
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2022
    • Informative Informative x 17
    • Like Like x 1
    • List
  15. Nik Pi

    Nik Pi

    Sonic 2: Archives
    I still hope that somewhere in a forgotten drawer, in a package, or a box, lies the same cartridge with previously unheard tracks by MJ and Co., and is waiting in the wings. The hour when its contents will become public, and inspire thousands of people around the world to do something great and grandiose.
    In addition, the time allotted to the title screen seems to be too short for both the theme from S2 and the theme from the final S3. Who knows, maybe the developers experimented with music, and this is the remnants of the influence of the theme from MJ?
  16. The Joebro64

    The Joebro64

    I believe Ohshima and Buxer have both mentioned that Sega’s still got the original MJ tapes, but whether they’ll ever see the light of day is a completely different question.
    • Agree Agree x 4
    • Informative Informative x 3
    • List
  17. Morris


    This is just a thought but, it could be that Connole wrote the lyrics, while Brad did the music. It's not uncommon for a lyricist to get credited for "writing the song".
    • Agree Agree x 6
    • Like Like x 1
    • Informative Informative x 1
    • List
  18. ParadoxDreams


    Bingo! That might be it, seeing as the same happened with "Stranger in Moscow".

    Brad has confirmed that they SEGA was given the songs. Oshima is one of the earliest mentions of the beatbox tape, and he mentions that SEGA probably still has that tape.

    It's a lil' weird, as Brad mentions having a demo tape of the songs in the middle of September, while in Moscow. Either they submitted the tracks in August & Brad kept his own copy, or Brad kept the demos on him until submitting sometime after September (Likely sometime in November, before or after the Mexico City shows of the "Dangerous World Tour").
  19. Palas


    Don't lose your temper so quickly. Member
    OMG what a beautiful post.
  20. Snowbound


    Incredible post. I feel like a fly on the wall. You mention a website on MJ’s “dangerous” era. Is there a version of this post with citations on the website?