Hot topic Brad Sundberg Seminars: Making Music With Michael Jackson

AlwaysThere

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Some interesting revelations about "Hollywood Tonight" and the Michael sessions:

  • MJ added the funky, David Williams-esque guitar lick between late 2008 and early 2009.
  • Neff-U was the Estate's original elected producer for several tracks (some of which have yet to be released), which he spent roughly a week on with Michael Prince at the latter's home studio. Ultimately, though, Teddy Riley superseded him on "Hollywood Tonight" after impressing with his work on the Cascio tracks.
  • Before submitting the song for Riley's employment, Michael Prince made a number of preliminary edits, repurposing a line from the second verse ("Westbound, Greyhound to Tinseltown to pursue her movie star dreams") in the outro and sampling the kick and snare from "Billie Jean" to enhance the drum pattern.
  • After hearing the track for the first time, Riley approached Michael Prince with relief: "Finally, something I know is Michael."
  • The album mix of "Hollywood Tonight" is more or less a facsimile of the version Neff-U and Michael Prince submitted; Riley replaced nearly every sound, including the guitar lick. (Neff-U was far from an ethical figure in this regard though: his take on "Best of Joy" was similarly a top-to-bottom reproduction, even if it strays close to the original recording.)
 

mjfan_93

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AlwaysThere;4296305 said:
[video=youtube;HHZNvmjz614]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HHZNvmjz614[/video]

Some interesting revelations about "Hollywood Tonight" and the Michael sessions:

  • MJ added the funky, David Williams-esque guitar lick between late 2008 and early 2009.
  • Neff-U was the Estate's original elected producer for several tracks (some of which have yet to be released), which he spent roughly a week on with Michael Prince at the latter's home studio. Ultimately, though, Teddy Riley superseded him on "Hollywood Tonight" after impressing with his work on the Cascio tracks.
  • Before submitting the song for Riley's employment, Michael Prince made a number of preliminary edits, repurposing a line from the second verse ("Westbound, Greyhound to Tinseltown to pursue her movie star dreams") in the outro and sampling the kick and snare from "Billie Jean" to enhance the drum pattern.
  • After hearing the track for the first time, Riley approached Michael Prince with relief: "Finally, something I know is Michael."
  • The album mix of "Hollywood Tonight" is more or less a facsimile of the version Neff-U and Michael Prince submitted; Riley replaced nearly every sound, including the guitar lick. (Neff-U was far from an ethical figure in this regard though: his take on "Best of Joy" was similarly a top-to-bottom reproduction, even if it strays close to the original recording.)
I absolutely LOVE that. MP is just so nice and humble. Always enjoying his interviews. Any idea what other songs MJ was recording at the Bel-Air Hotel in 2008? Obviously „I was the Loser“ and „Best of Joy“. Any other known titles? Regarding Hollywood. So the Demo Version that leaked is from 2008? Hopefully the Estate will release something soon. Hearing these amazing talks about songs that are „yet to be released“ makes me hungry ;)
 

AlwaysThere

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mjfan_93;4296354 said:
I absolutely LOVE that. MP is just so nice and humble. Always enjoying his interviews. Any idea what other songs MJ was recording at the Bel-Air Hotel in 2008? Obviously „I was the Loser“ and „Best of Joy“. Any other known titles? Regarding Hollywood. So the Demo Version that leaked is from 2008? Hopefully the Estate will release something soon. Hearing these amazing talks about songs that are „yet to be released“ makes me hungry ;)

He does! He and Brad seem like such sweet guys.

MP said to the MJ Cast that there were three songs worked on at the Hotel Bel-Air, but never mentioned the songs.

And no, actually! The leaked version doesn't feature any guitars, so I'm assuming it's an early mix.
 

SmoothGangsta

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He does! He and Brad seem like such sweet guys.

MP said to the MJ Cast that there were three songs worked on at the Hotel Bel-Air, but never mentioned the songs.

And no, actually! The leaked version doesn't feature any guitars, so I'm assuming it's an early mix.

I was wondering if he got mixed up regarding the various mixes. He talks about directly sampling the Billie Jean stuff, and that he was glad teddy used it, but that is featured in the throwback mix and not the album version. Interesting to hear that there is a version with extra guitar, could that be the guitar featured on the neff u mix?
 

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I also loved the "it would be a shame if everyone thought all the songs on that album weren't Michael" comment. :cool:
 

smoothvillain

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Very enlightening to hear what MP said about the handling of posthumously released material. We could never have anything truly great because of Sony-hired egotistical producers.
 

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Very enlightening to hear what MP said about the handling of posthumously released material. We could never have anything truly great because of Sony-hired egotistical producers.

You should better blame the executors of the Estate of MJ.
 

dethorro

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Some interesting revelations about "Hollywood Tonight" and the Michael sessions:

  • MJ added the funky, David Williams-esque guitar lick between late 2008 and early 2009.
  • Neff-U was the Estate's original elected producer for several tracks (some of which have yet to be released), which he spent roughly a week on with Michael Prince at the latter's home studio. Ultimately, though, Teddy Riley superseded him on "Hollywood Tonight" after impressing with his work on the Cascio tracks.
  • Before submitting the song for Riley's employment, Michael Prince made a number of preliminary edits, repurposing a line from the second verse ("Westbound, Greyhound to Tinseltown to pursue her movie star dreams") in the outro and sampling the kick and snare from "Billie Jean" to enhance the drum pattern.
  • After hearing the track for the first time, Riley approached Michael Prince with relief: "Finally, something I know is Michael."
  • The album mix of "Hollywood Tonight" is more or less a facsimile of the version Neff-U and Michael Prince submitted; Riley replaced nearly every sound, including the guitar lick. (Neff-U was far from an ethical figure in this regard though: his take on "Best of Joy" was similarly a top-to-bottom reproduction, even if it strays close to the original recording.)


Another interesting revelation from Michael Prince is that Michael was planning to sing more than 90% of the This Is It concert live. According to him, he was supposed to start singing full-out on June 25th or 26th.
 

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I’d like to bring Brad’s recent tweets to your attention. :)

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Ready...?<br>Stay tuned. <a href="https://t.co/N8E7cVKyck">pic.twitter.com/N8E7cVKyck</a></p>&mdash; bsunmedia (@InStudioWithMJ) <a href="https://twitter.com/InStudioWithMJ/status/1295711490440409093?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">August 18, 2020</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Less than 75 days??<br>Get ready!! <a href="https://t.co/IOJXPgnXPB">pic.twitter.com/IOJXPgnXPB</a></p>&mdash; bsunmedia (@InStudioWithMJ) <a href="https://twitter.com/InStudioWithMJ/status/1296243457946800128?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">August 20, 2020</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

While the date would match, I don&#8217;t believe this is a countdown to the US election. :D

So, what is it? Speculation time! :D

Truth runs marathons? :)
 

mj_frenzy

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mjfan_93;4296354 said:
I absolutely LOVE that. MP is just so nice and humble. Always enjoying his interviews. Any idea what other songs MJ was recording at the Bel-Air Hotel in 2008? Obviously &#8222;I was the Loser&#8220; and &#8222;Best of Joy&#8220;. Any other known titles? Regarding Hollywood. So the Demo Version that leaked is from 2008? Hopefully the Estate will release something soon. Hearing these amazing talks about songs that are &#8222;yet to be released&#8220; makes me hungry ;)

AlwaysThere;4296373 said:
MP said to the MJ Cast that there were three songs worked on at the Hotel Bel-Air, but never mentioned the songs.

At the Hotel Bel-Air in late 2008, they were also re-working the &#8216;Scared Of The Moon&#8217; demo song.

Also, there were some reports at that time that stated that by the early 2008 (when Michael Jackson left the Studio At The Palms in Las Vegas in order to move to his new residence in the luxurious Hotel Bel-Air in California), he had already recorded around 100 new songs, in varying degrees of completion, for his comeback album.
 

Paris78

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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Follow <a href="https://twitter.com/InStudioWithMJ?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@InStudioWithMJ</a> with Brad Sundberg .. he's organizing a 5K Michael Jackson RUN !! Loving it!! <a href="https://t.co/m423mDlbjD">https://t.co/m423mDlbjD</a></p>&mdash; MJJJusticeProject #1Billion4MJ (@MJJJusticePrjct) <a href="https://twitter.com/MJJJusticePrjct/status/1305899179559006208?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">September 15, 2020</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
 

Cerate

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mjfan_93;4296354 said:
I absolutely LOVE that. MP is just so nice and humble. Always enjoying his interviews. Any idea what other songs MJ was recording at the Bel-Air Hotel in 2008? Obviously &#8222;I was the Loser&#8220; and &#8222;Best of Joy&#8220;. Any other known titles? Regarding Hollywood. So the Demo Version that leaked is from 2008? Hopefully the Estate will release something soon. Hearing these amazing talks about songs that are &#8222;yet to be released&#8220; makes me hungry ;)

The leaked demo is from 1999 recording sessions ;)
 

NatureCriminal7896

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Paris78;4304584 said:
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Follow <a href="https://twitter.com/InStudioWithMJ?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@InStudioWithMJ</a> with Brad Sundberg .. he's organizing a 5K Michael Jackson RUN !! Loving it!! <a href="https://t.co/m423mDlbjD">https://t.co/m423mDlbjD</a></p>— MJJJusticeProject #1Billion4MJ (@MJJJusticePrjct) <a href="https://twitter.com/MJJJusticePrjct/status/1305899179559006208?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">September 15, 2020</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

[video=youtube;sVXpg4_qqxU]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sVXpg4_qqxU[/video]
 

Mikky Dee

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ScreenOrigami;4301576 said:
I&#8217;d like to bring Brad&#8217;s recent tweets to your attention. :)

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Ready...?<br>Stay tuned. <a href="https://t.co/N8E7cVKyck">pic.twitter.com/N8E7cVKyck</a></p>&#8212; bsunmedia (@InStudioWithMJ) <a href="https://twitter.com/InStudioWithMJ/status/1295711490440409093?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">August 18, 2020</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Less than 75 days??<br>Get ready!! <a href="https://t.co/IOJXPgnXPB">pic.twitter.com/IOJXPgnXPB</a></p>&#8212; bsunmedia (@InStudioWithMJ) <a href="https://twitter.com/InStudioWithMJ/status/1296243457946800128?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">August 20, 2020</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

While the date would match, I don&#8217;t believe this is a countdown to the US election. :D

So, what is it? Speculation time! :D

Truth runs marathons? :)

It's a countdown to Brad's Halloween weekend 5K Michael Jackson Run for charity (posted above, by NatureCriminal7896). I'm fairly sure I put this information in the Miscellaneous Thread as well, a couple of weeks ago.
 

Mikky Dee

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A new story from Brad Sundberg

The Music Box

It's a song that most people have never heard.

Quite often when someone finds out I worked and had a friendship with Michael for nearly two decades they will say something like "I love Michael Jackson!!" I know all of his songs!!"

I smile and say something like "That's great!" I never start quizzing them, because that would be rude.

Truthfully if someone started quizzing me about songs from eras I didn't work on, I would likely crash after a few questions! People ask me about songs from Off The Wall or Invincible and I don't have a clue, because I wasn't there. But I did have the privilege of watching many songs go from concept to finished mix (sometimes taking years), so I have a bit of an advantage with those.

Of course I have also had conversations with "hard-core" MJ fans who don't like "Thriller" because it is overplayed at Halloween. But occasionally I will have them close their eyes and I will instruct them to forget the video and the commercials and the party mixes, let me just play the song for you on a great pair of speakers.
Just listen to it, as if for the first time.

It is usually pretty surprising when they discover how beautifully it was produced, performed, recorded and mixed. Because that's how Michael and his team made music.

Last week I did a podcast called "Random Facts, Memories and Tidbits from the HIStory Album", where I listed and described ten random, well what I just said.
It was fun to put the list together, and quite frankly it could have been much longer, but ten seemed like a good start, and I might add more in future podcasts.
One that did not make this list was the music box. It almost deserves a podcast of its own (which I might do) because it represents the level of quality that we were pushing for.

Of course I am talking about the song "Little Susie", which is one of those songs that few people would know. MJ fans know it, but you get my point.
"Little Susie" is a dark, disturbing song about the death of a little girl. Not exactly a bubble-gum topic for a pop record, but Michael wanted it on the album. It was a very important piece of music for him, so we took it very seriously.

The intro is almost a bit of audio theater, with the footsteps, the ticking clock, the little girl winding the music box and then listening to it.
We painstakingly recorded these sounds at the Hit Factory, and the plan was to simply find a music box sound on a synth and play the melody, but nothing sounded right. So we did what anyone would do in that exact situation and bought a music box and tore it apart, then "played" each note on the comb. (It's really called a "comb", at least according to my Google-machine).

Each note was played and recorded into a sampler, then it was played to make it sound like the little girl had just wound up the tiny machine, with the spring slowing down towards the end.

This little intro (tucked between Pie Jesu and the body of the song) lasts around 70 seconds, but it represents at least two things.
First, Michael wasn't afraid to do things other artists wouldn't even think about doing. He had done extended intros before, and they can be a very powerful lead-up to the song.

And, if he is going to do it, it is going to be done well.

I couldn't and wouldn't put a price tag on the cost involved in creating those 70 seconds, as it was part of a much larger project, but it didn't just happen in an hour, rather there was a good bit of trial and error involved. But we wanted to do it right.
Michael loved theater and building suspense, and this was a classic example. He knew not to go too far, rather let the listener decide what the scene looked like for themselves.

MJ fans, rightly so, either really love "Little Susie" or take a pass on it. It's not really a fun song or something to pop on during a party tucked between "Another Part Of Me" and "Jam", as it would quickly clear the dancefloor.

But that little music box takes me back to a giant studio on West 54th in Midtown, as we put in long hours and long days and long months building a project that we could all be proud of. A project called "HIStory".

And the music box reflects so many things, as no corners were cut. (In the US we have an expression "Don't cut corners", which means don't do a sloppy or fast job to get done faster. Do it right the first time. Of course this is said far more often than actually done.)
We needed a choir for the song "They Don't Care About Us".

There are lots of choirs in NYC, but Michael wanted the choir he knew and loved, so we flew the ENTIRE Andre Crouch choir from LA to NY. This way Bruce could record them his way, and Michael could work directly with Andre to get the sound he was looking for.

I know it doesn't make sense to you, but the little music box reminds me of stuff like that.

The music box reflects how Michael wrote songs, created records, performed for his fans, shot short movies (music videos). He wanted everything done correctly, with as much focus on quality as possible.

I spent a couple hours today rewiring the playback system in my music room. I needed a matching pair of cables for a specific function, and there was no way I was going to drive around the city find them on a rainy Sunday. I had two mis-matched cables, which no one would ever know were mis-matched, except for me. But that would have driven me crazy and been nibbling in the back of my head every time I used that system with a pair of mismatched cables.

So I kept digging through bins of cables and connectors until I found a matching pair. It was the right solution. It was my music box.

Every time I set up a music system for a client or prepare a studio for one of my events I spend as much time as possible calibrating the speakers to make them sound as perfect as possible for my guests. I'm sharing my music box with them.

My daughter Maddie and I have been rebuilding the new version of "In The Studio With MJ", which we hope to premier in Orlando next month. I am going back and hearing songs and nuances that I am so excited to talk about and share their stories.

In it's own way each Michael song is a music box, waiting for it's story to be told.

https://www.facebook.com/inthestudiowithmj
 

Mikky Dee

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Mikky Dee

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This video about Brad's charity project, MJ 5K 2020, was posted 22 hours ago. It explains the project and shows great footage of global fan involvement. I donated to the project, which included purchasing the awesome t-shirt. It was an easy and fun event to be involved in, over Halloween. It will be on again, this year, so check it out, if you're interested in participating!!

:)


 
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