When he had to remove this song from Thriller, Michael Jackson lost out on millions of dollars

The King of Pop didn’t release “Behind the Mask” from Thriller because he was unable to come to a royalties agreement with the song’s author. Michael Jackson went from being a pop sensation to a cultural legend because to Thriller. More than 70 million copies of Thriller have been sold globally since its release more than 40 years ago. Hit songs, music videos, and merchandising made up the multimedia phenomenon that was the album and its title track. It brought Jackson, the former Jackson 5 kid vocalist, a great deal of cash. Jackson’s estate is still expanding, even though his net worth was $500 million when he passed away in 2009. Millions were also produced by Thriller for other stakeholders, such as producer Quincy Jones. But one side lost out on the gold.

Michael Jackson Recorded YMO’s “Behind the Mask” For Thriller
Recording Thriller in 1982, Michael Jackson was riding high after the success of 1979’s Off the Wall, his second solo studio album as an adult, which produced two No. 1 successes, “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” and “Rock with You.” On both albums, Jackson collaborated with producer Quincy Jones. Jackson and keyboardist Rod Temperton (who was formerly of Heatwave) wrote songs for each album. Jackson wrote a cover song for Thriller, just as he did with Off the Wall, which has renditions of songs by Paul McCartney (“Girlfriend”) and Carole Bayer Sager (“It’s the Falling in Love,” which Dionne Warwick and Dee Dee Bridgewater also recorded). It arrived from Tokyo all the way.

Japanese post-disco group Yellow Magic Orchestra (YMO) released their peculiar song “Behind the Mask” on A&M Records in 1980. While on vacation in Japan, Quincy Jones heard the song, despite the single’s lack of popularity in the US. Jackson heard Jones’ rendition of the song and added new words and melodic elements. With his signature multi-octave delivery, Jackson reinterpreted “Behind the Mask” as a romantic soul-pop song, in contrast to the original, which features a voice transformed into a robot-like synthesizer. Unfortunately, because Jackson was unable to reach a royalties deal with the song’s composer, YMO keyboardist Ryuichi Sakamoto, “Behind the Mask” was left off of the final Thriller tracklist.

Thriller Became The Biggest Selling Pop Album Ever
Five weeks after the release of the album’s lead single, “The Girl Is Mine,” a comical duet featuring Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney in which they quarrel over a lady, Michael Jackson released Thriller on November 29, 1982. The album’s mediocre start was boosted by the single, which peaked at No. 2. Jackson released “Billie Jean” and “Beat It” as consecutive singles in January and February of 1983. He shot vibrant videos for both tracks, which turned into the first two MTV clips featuring a black musician in a prominent rotation. Thriller became his first No. 1 album at the end of February. Following Michael Jackson’s appearance on Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever, an NBC television special that commemorated the 25th anniversary of Motown Records, Thriller reached unprecedented heights. One million copies of Thriller were sold every week following the May 16 telecast.

It held the top spot for seventeen weeks in a row and made two more appearances for three more weeks that summer. Thriller started a second seventeen-week run at No. 1 in late December, extending the album’s chart life until the spring of 1984. Two No. 1 hits from Michael Jackson’s Thriller, “Billie Jean” (seven weeks) and “Beat It” (three weeks), debuted on the Billboard Hot 100. Seven of the nine tracks on the album were Top 10 hits. The album Thriller went on to become the best-selling record ever. The epic Thriller title track’s music video was created by John Landis, the director of Animal House. The first animated music video for a rock song was the “Thriller” video, which parodies the werewolf horror genre. While Michael made millions of dollars from Thriller, his rendition of “Behind the Mask” remained obscure. But its author achieved widespread recognition among rock critics for his work as an actor, songwriter, bandleader, and solo performer.

Ryuichi Sakamoto Wrote “Behind the Mask” For A Japanese TV Commercial
Ryuichi Sakamoto (1952–2023) became the focal point of Yellow Magic Orchestra, a Tokyo synthpop trio formed in 1978 by two seasoned veterans of the Japanese music scene: multi-instrumentalist Haruomi Hosono, a longtime solo artist who began in the late 1960s Japanese psychedelic rock scene with the bands Apryl Fool and Happy End, and drummer Yukihiro Takahashi (ex-Sadistic Mika Band). “Behind the Mask” was composed by Sakamoto as a jingle for a Seiko watch brand television commercial in Japan in 1978. The British poet Chris Mosdell contributed words to an actual song he wrote using its concept. “Behind the Mask” was included on Yellow Magic Orchestra’s 1979 album Solid State Survivor. The song was included once more on the US edition of X∞Multiplies, a Western Hemisphere YMO compilation, in 1980. Between 1978 and 1984, YMO recorded nine albums, four of which peaked at number one in Japan.

“Technopolis” (No. 9, 1979) and “Kimi ni Mune Kyun” (No. 2, 1983) are two of their Japanese chart hits. Sakamoto began working on his own during YMO’s tenure. Iggy Pop’s rendition of the minor US hit “Risky,” from his 1987 album Neo Geo, came about. Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence, a WWII drama based in Japanese-occupied Java, co-starred Sakamoto and David Bowie in 1983. In the film, POW Maj. Jack “Strafer” Celliers (Bowie) wins over the generally severe camp commander, Captain Yonoi (Sakamoto). Sakamoto received royalties from “Behind the Mask” covers that were based on Jackson’s 1982 demo, even though he was left out of the Thriller cash cow. Eric Clapton discovered “Behind the Mask” through Jackson’s keyboardist Greg Phillinganes, and it went on to become a UK success in 1987. Greg recorded an R&B version for his 1984 album Pulse. Greg was also a member of the Jackson and Clapton bands. The song was warmly received, implying that if Michael Jackson had been given a chance to release the hit, the same might have occurred.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *