Yes, Michael Jackson Composed Music for 'Sonic the Hedgehog 3,' Lead Programmer Confirms

Former Sonic Team lead Yuji Naka addressed the longstanding rumour in a series of tweets
Yes, Michael Jackson Composed Music for 'Sonic the Hedgehog 3,' Lead Programmer Confirms
Today, Sega released Sonic Origins, a compilation of four classic 16-bit Sonic games. One of those games — 1994's Sonic the Hedgehog 3 — features a newly-altered soundtrack. 

This matters due to the fact that, for years, there have been rumours floating around the vibrant Sonic the Hedgehog community that Michael Jackson did uncredited composition work for the game's soundtrack with keyboardist Brad Buxer.

Those rumours started swirling again when fans got their hands on Sonic Origins and discovered that the music for certain levels in Sonic the Hedgehog 3 had been swapped out for new compositions. It was assumed that the music had to be removed because Sega couldn't secure the rights from Jackson's estate, and now that assumption has been semi-confirmed via Twitter. 

As reported by Polygon, former Sonic Team lead Yuji Naka — who was lead programmer on Sonic the Hedgehog 3 — addressed the rumour in a thread of tweets written using a translation tool. 

"Does Sonic Origins Sonic 3 have a different song?" he wrote at first, continuing with, "Oh my god, the music for Sonic 3 has changed, even though SEGA Official uses Michael Jackson's music." 

He followed up with a third tweet, clarifying that his surprise came from Sega replacing Jackson's music in the game while also using "Billie Jean" on the company's official TikTok. Drama! Intrigue! 

According to Polygon's reporting, Buxer has claimed that Jackson was unhappy with the way Sega used his original compositions, so that might also have something to do with their removal. Sega has never confirmed details about Jackson's involvement in the game and he's not credited in any officially released version of the game.

In a recent video Q&A about Sonic Origins, Sonic social media manager Katie Chrzanowski explained that some of the game's original music (i.e. Jackson and Buxer's contributions) was adapted by longtime Sonic the Hedgehog composer Jun Senoue, saying:

While unfortunately we can't use all of the original sounds from the Sega Genesis version of the game, Jun Senoue's been working really hard to adapt the original music that was composed in 1993 for Sonic Origins. He's been going so far as reproducing it with the same sound chip from the Sega Genesis and using his own digital audio tape collection to make this as faithful to the originals as possible.

Check out Naka's tweets, plus a handy video breaking down comparisons between the old and new music.