MJ lowering the key of his songs live (discussion)

Themidwestcowboy

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Is Thriller, the album, the first instance where MJ sung so high on the record that he couldn't, to the best of his ability, hit some of those notes live and had to resort to lowering the key on some of the songs?

I was watching some live footage starting from Destiny up til Dangerous and it dawned upon me that MJ never changed the key, except for the song he sung when he was a kid like ben and J5 medley obviously, early in his post Motown career. All the songs from Destiny and Triumph were performed in the key they were recorded in. Even the Off The Wall songs were performed in their original key. This all changed after Thriller. MJ lowered the key on the Victory tour for the first time for songs such as WBSS and Beat It. I'm not too sure about Billie Jean or Human Nature but he definitely lowered the key on the first songs i mentioned. This continues on the Bad Tour. Thriller is changed to a different key (I think a half step) and all Bad songs, save for Bad, TWYMMF and MITM, had their key lowered. Some songs like APOM and Dirty Diana had their key lowered even further.

On the Dangerous tour the keys for the Thriller songs were even further lowered. I think it's really interesting that we thriller tracks such as WBSS and Beat It performed in their original key for the first time on the Dangerous tour, 10 years after he recorded them! Other than that he didn't seem to lower the key for his dangerous songs, but I believe that is because he didn¨t sing them live and that the Dangerous track overall didn't require him to sing as high as he did on the Thriller and Bad albums.

I personally think that MJ really pushed himself and his voice during when recording albums especially during and after the recording of Thriller. Take into account the amount of dancing he was doing as well, I understand why he had to do it but I still find it interesting. One thing that has always fascinated me is the change in his voice from 86-89.

What do you guys think?
 

SmoothCriminal1995

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It's a very good question mate, unfortunately I am not at all knowledgeable enough to answer 😅

But I'm with you that change in Mike's voice between 86-89 fascinates me too. I mean in 1985 when he did We Are The World and Scared Of The Moon, he sounded like Thriller era Mike but then, less than year later, he did WAHTCTW, it sounds like Bad era Mike.

One of the things I always notice as well, is MJ's voice on Another Part Of Me, sounds different to the rest of the album, I know he recorded that for Captain Eo but it shows you how much it changed in the space of two years.

Also as for Munich 1992, I have no idea why they went with that pitch, it's like they just wanted to punish Mike haha. As much as fans want Munich 92 I'd prefer Monza 92, same energy but the show is much tighter

Apologies if I just rambled and didn't answer your question at all mate
 

analogue

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What about the songs that are half lip synced/half sung live. Like Beat It on the HIStory Tour. The lip synced part of the song would be ''sung'' in the original key because it's using the album version of the song, but when the live vocals come in (Usually after the guitar solo) does the band switch to a lower key to help Michael cope better?
 

dethorro

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But I'm with you that change in Mike's voice between 86-89 fascinates me too. I mean in 1985 when he did We Are The World and Scared Of The Moon, he sounded like Thriller era Mike but then, less than year later, he did WAHTCTW, it sounds like Bad era Mike.
I think the change in his voice between 85’ and 87’ is a stylistic choice. He recorded Abortion Papers, for example, some time between late 1983 and early 1984 and his voice sounds much more like it did during the Bad era than on a ballad like Scared Of The Moon or We Are The World, which were recorded a year later.

What about the songs that are half lip synced/half sung live. Like Beat It on the HIStory Tour. The lip synced part of the song would be ''sung'' in the original key because it's using the album version of the song, but when the live vocals come in (Usually after the guitar solo) does the band switch to a lower key to help Michael cope better?
No, definitely not. It would sound terrible lol and the change would be too apparent. He never switched to a different key in the middle of a song while performing it live, as far as I know.
 

SmoothCriminal1995

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I think the change in his voice between 85’ and 87’ is a stylistic choice. He recorded Abortion Papers, for example, some time between late 1983 and early 1984 and his voice sounds much more like it did during the Bad era than on a ballad like Scared Of The Moon or We Are The World, which were recorded a year later.


No, definitely not. It would sound terrible lol and the change would be too apparent. He never switched to a different key in the middle of a song while performing it live, as far as I know.
Really?? I didn't know that, MJ sounds very Bad era on the track as well.
I love MJ's voice between 85-91
 

analogue

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I think Working Day and Night sounds better in a lower key. I prefer it with lower, grittier vocals.
 
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