Produced by

Michael Jackson's "Starlight"

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The title track on Michael Jackson’s hit album “Thriller” began life as a very different song - called “Starlight.” Jackson and producer Quincy Jones intended for the song to be part of a larger concept album about Jackson’s musical maturity. Ethnomusicologist and Soundcheck contributing producer Patrick Rivers joins us with Bruce Swedien, the recording engineer behind the “Thriller” sessions, to talk about the evolution of “Starlight.”

Michael Jackson - Starlight

Guests:

Patrick Rivers and Bruce Swedien

Comments [15]

Marlena

Love You Michael Jackson <3

Jun. 24 2011 06:35 PM
J from everywhere

This is old news to MJ fans..

I actually like this song better than Thriller. *GASP* Yes I said it. This isn't the best version, though. There is a more polished, almost final version. This is a very early version, by the sound of it. Still cool to have.

A lot of his unreleased stuff is great, find the mp3s.

Jun. 24 2011 06:29 PM
Suzy from Europe

@ Jon

How many songs did Michael write on "Thriller" and how many did Quincy write? I can help you with that:

Michael wrote "Wanna be startin' somethin'", "Billie Jean", "Beat it" and "The girl is mine". The best songs of the album! ("Thriller" the song, written by Rod Temperton, only became famous because of the video. But the best songs of the album were written by Michael!)

Quincy Jones co-wrote P.Y.T with James Ingram (though there was an original version of the song which was written by Michael and Greg Phillinganes) and that's ALL he ever wrote on an MJ album! Go figure! He was a producer, making arrangements. His work was important, but I hate it when people give credit to him for what Michael's creative genius should be credited. On his next album, "Bad" Michael wrote 8 of the 10 songs!
I don't know why people make comments when they are totally ignorant about the facts.

Quincy didn't even want Billie Jean on "Thriller"! Did you know that? How crazy is that?

Jun. 24 2011 05:06 AM
Leith from Perth, Australia

There are a few people on here who never want to credit MJ with his dues. Quincy Jones and MJ both worked equally on Thriller. Go read Wikipedia's page on Thriller. MJ wrote four songs for the record: "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'", "The Girl Is Mine", "Beat It" and "Billie Jean".[16] Unlike many artists, Jackson did not write these songs on paper. Instead, he would dictate into a sound recorder; when recording he would sing from memory. Yes he may not have written the lyrics to several of his songs for example Thriller, Human Nature, Man In The Mirror, You Are Not Alone and he always was honest about that. He was quoted as saying "some of the best songs i've sung and i enjoy singing have not been written by me". But none the less he was always heavily involved in the production, sound editing and engineering of those tracks. MJ learnt a lot from Quincy, but also used his own intuition and personal touch a lot too. MJ is in the Songwriters Hall of Fame and he deserves to be there. He has written or co-written many of his own songs on his future albums that came after Thriller. On Bad he wrote 9 of the 11 tracks. On Dangerous he wrote 12 of the 14 tracks. On History he wrote 12 of the 15 tracks. On Blood On The Dance Floor he wrote 5 of the 5 new tracks on the album, the other 8 were remixes of previous songs. On Invincible he wrote 14 of 16 tracks. On Michael he wrote 8 of he 10 tracks. There are also countless of songs he has written that have yet to be released.

Jun. 24 2011 02:02 AM
Leith from Perth, Australia

There are a few people on here who never want to credit MJ with his dues. Quincy Jones and MJ both worked equally on Thriller. Go read Wikipedia's page on Thriller. MJ wrote four songs for the record: "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'", "The Girl Is Mine", "Beat It" and "Billie Jean".[16] Unlike many artists, Jackson did not write these songs on paper. Instead, he would dictate into a sound recorder; when recording he would sing from memory. Yes he may not have written the lyrics to several of his songs for example Thriller, Human Nature, Man In The Mirror, You Are Not Alone and he always was honest about that. He was quoted as saying "some of the best songs i've sung and i enjoy singing have not been written by me". But none the less he was always heavily involved in the production, sound editing and engineering of those tracks. MJ learnt a lot from Quincy, but also used his own intuition and personal touch a lot too. MJ is in the Songwriters Hall of Fame and he deserves to be there. He has written or co-written many of his own songs on his future albums that came after Thriller. On Bad he wrote 9 of the 11 tracks. On Dangerous he wrote 12 of the 14 tracks. On History he wrote 12 of the 15 tracks. On Blood On The Dance Floor he wrote 5 of the 5 new tracks on the album, (the other 8 were remixes of previous songs). On Invincible he wrote 14 of the 16 tracks. On Michael he wrote 8 of the 10 tracks. There are also loads more songs written by him that have never been released as yet.

Jun. 24 2011 01:58 AM
mjfan

A genius at work, Michael Jackson.
Love and Miss You Forever.

Jun. 23 2011 04:06 PM
Moi

Just wanted to add . . . MJ didn't begin to write his own stuff on "Thriller." :) He wrote & composed a bunch of songs on the Jacksons records (like "Blues Away," etc.), and a few on "Off the Wall" too ("Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough," "Workin' Day and Night," etc.).

And I don't think Sony cares about what ppl would think about the not-as-sharp vocals on "Starlight." XD They've officially released other demos in which MJ was just putting down some ideas, mumbling a lot and not singing all out, such as the demo for "Scared of the Moon," and the "Billie Jean" demo, etc. With MJ's approval, no less.

So they're probably just hoarding a bunch of the interesting "Thriller" demos for future re-issues, haha.

Anyway, it's always nice to hear from Bruce Swedien! Good job on the interview, guys. :)

Jun. 23 2011 06:02 AM
Jack

http://audio.wnyc.org/soundcheck/soundcheck062211_thriller.mp3

Jun. 22 2011 09:05 PM
J Klett from Carmel, NY

quite cool to open up the inner workings of how this record was made so people know how much went into them... always good to hear Bruce, who I do some occasional work for... but...

I am quite certain that Michael would HATE having this unreleased material come out. He was all about making it right and these demoes were never supposed to see the light of day.

Jun. 22 2011 02:56 PM
Maude from Park Slope

a few years ago, I was in a box store that was playing MJ's videos inside the store-- and this HUGE crowd of people just stood there around this one screen, completely mesmerized--plenty of other videos playing all around on other TVs.
you can deconstruct the music, say whatever you want about him, but he had "it"--what makes us all stop in our tracks. xx

Jun. 22 2011 02:49 PM
Maude from Park SLope

thank you for this show!
never heard this Starlight version. so good to hear his voice in any new way. I adore MJ, don't care what anyone says.
I love hearing about artist's working processes, and with MJ?! it is intoxicating to hear anything about MJ's working process, esp. for Thriller.

I was maybe 8 yrs old when Thriller came out, I clearly remember a friend's mother absolutely forbidding us to watch Thriller video on MTV, watching it anyway and totally freaking out.
voila! the beginning of everyone's Michael J. obsessions. well, mine anyhow. Thriller was also the first album I bought.

Jun. 22 2011 02:43 PM
JFreely from NYC

Can we download Starlight from this site or elsewhere?

Jun. 22 2011 02:31 PM
e_whitey from NYC

cool to hear, but no discussion of how/why they decided to change it from starlight?

Jun. 22 2011 02:29 PM
barent

oh,lets give michael his due. why do we need to establish a "true genius". i wasn't there,i'll assume the first poster wasn't either. the whole thing was kind of amazing,why parce the acreditation, post mortem MJ.

Jun. 22 2011 02:17 PM
Jon from Manhattan

This is yet another affirmation to my contention that Quincy Jones is the true genius behind Jackson's mid-career musical success.

Jun. 22 2011 02:08 PM

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