One of the message board quotes in Todd Van Luling’s excellent new Huffington Post article, “The Michael Jackson Video Game Conspiracy,” reads, “Our long national nightmare of not knowing whether or not Michael Jackson worked on Sonic 3 without a shadow of a doubt is not yet behind us.” That sentiment alone is likely enough to pique the interest of both gamers and Jackson fans, and Luling’s article does an excellent job of weaving together those two very different worlds.
Back in the early 2000s a British teen named Ben Mallison posted an unusual theory on a Sonic The Hedgehog message board. After some intense comparisons, Mallison felt certain that the soundtrack of 1994’s Sonic 3 had been written by Michael Jackson. The music was too similar to Jackson’s to be a coincidence and Jackson’s collaborator and director Brad Buxer was credited in the game. Mallison’s post caught fire in the Sonic fandom, launching one of the biggest conspiracy theories about the game.
Luling’s article delves into the world of Sonic superfans (known as “Blues”) to investigate the truth behind the rumor. It turns out that Jackson did work on the score at one point and his music almost certainly remains in the game, even though Sega maintains Jackson’s score was pulled before the game’s release. Luling speculates that Jackson wasn’t credited both because of the singer’s dissatisfaction with the final compressed score and because of the allegations of child molestation leveled at him at the time.
But more so than getting to any concrete answers, Luling is interested in taking a deep dive into quirky bits of ’90s history—from the online Sonic fandom, to Jackson’s love of Sega, to the shift in perception of the musician following the allegations against him. The fascinating article is well worth a read for anyone interested in learning more about the unexpected collision of two very different pop culture worlds.