Michael Jackson music: Did Michael Jackson write his own songs?

Michael Jackson was a superstar singer whose career spanned decades. The singer’s death in 2009 shocked fans, but more music was released even after that. But many have wondered whether Michael Jackson’s music was from his own talents, or if others wrote his songs.

Did Michael Jackson write his own music?

Michael Jackson did indeed write his own music, but not like any ordinary musician.

While performers such as Stevie Wonder or Prince are instrumental geniuses, MJ did not play any instrument particularly well, though he was able to play a little bit of a variety of musical instruments such as drums, piano and guitar.

Jackson also could not read music, unlike many other famous musicians, and had no classical training in instrumental playing or composition.

However, he claimed in the Dangerous court case of 1994 he could hear full songs in his head, almost like classical composer Mozart.

From court documents reported by NME, Jackson said: “The lyrics, the strings, the chords, everything comes at the moment like a gift that is put right into your head and that’s how I hear it.

“I’ll just sing the bass part into the tape recorder. I’ll take that bass lick and put the chords of the melody over the bass lick and that’s what inspires the melody.”

During this case, which saw songwriter Crystal Cartier take Jackson to court for plagiarism over his song Dangerous, Jackson even beat-boxed in court to show how he writes his songs, explaining his writing process.


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He explained further how he came to write the song Billie Jean: “Listen, you’re hearing four basses on there, doing four different personalities, and that’s what gives it character, but it takes a lot of work.”

In his book Rhythm of the Tide, sound engineer Rob Hoffman described what it was like working with Jackson, and how he approached his songwriting.

He said: “One morning MJ came in with a new song he had written overnight.

“We called in a guitar player, and Michael sang every note of every chord to him.

“’Here’s the first chord, first note, second note, third note. Here’s the second chord first note, second note, third note’, etc etc.

“We then witnessed him giving the most heartfelt and profound vocal performance, live in the control room through an SM57.”

On rereleases of his famous Off the Wall and Thriller albums, Jackson can be heard performing demos with his siblings while he sings a full song.

In one demo, one of his sisters is heard complaining about the sound being too loud while Jackson and another of his siblings is performing.

Of course, no man is an island, and Jackson also teamed up with some well-known songwriters to help finesse his writings, such as Quincy Jones and Rod Templeton.

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