1981-1983 : Thriller era

All the studio recordings (songs, demos and alternate versions) recorded by MJ during the Thriller era (1981-1983). Songs and poems written but never recorded, live performances, covers and remixes by other artists are not included.

Sources : My personal research, Wikipedia, Michael Jackson: For The Record by Chris Cadman & Craig Halstead, Twitter account of Damien Shields and the amazing archives of the MJCast.

Baby Be Mine (demo) : demo recorded in 1982. Leaked online in 2008. Remains unreleased.

Baby Be Mine : Recorded from April 14 – November 8, 1982. Released on November 30, 1982.

Beat It (demo) : Recorded in 1982 and released posthumously on October 26, 2009 (Michael Jackson’s This Is It album).

Beat It : Recorded from April 14 – November 8, 1982. Released on November 30, 1982 (Thriller).

Behind The Mask : Recorded in 1982. A remixed version was released posthumously on December 10, 2010 (Michael). Original demo was released posthumously on November 18, 2022 (Thriller 40).

Billie Jean (demo 1) : Recorded in 1981 at the Hayvenhurst home studio & released in 2001 (Thriller Special Edition).

Billie Jean (demo 2) : Recorded in 1982 & leaked online. Remains unreleased.

Billie Jean (demo 3) : Recorded in 1982 and used in the “This Is It’ movie in 2009. The full demo leaked in 2018 but remains unreleased.

Billie Jean : Recorded from April 14 – November 8, 1982. Released on November 30, 1982 (Thriller).

Carousel : Recorded in 1982, leaked in 2008. A shorter version was released in 2001 (Thriller Special Edition). The longer version was released on August 22, 2008 (Italian & French versions of King Of Pop).

Don’t Let A Woman Make A Fool Out Of You : Song recorded in 1982 by Joe “King” Carrusco with background vocals by MJ. Released in 1982 (Synapse Gap (Mundo Total).

Goin’ Back To Alabama : Song by Kenny Rogers recorded in 1981 with background vocals by MJ and Lionel Richie. Released on June 24, 1981 (Share Your Love).

Got The Hots : Recorded in 1982. Included in the first acetate of the expanded special edition of Thriller in 2001 but later withdrawn. Finally released on February 8, 2008 (bonus track on Thriller 25 Japanese edition).

Hot Street (demo) : Recorded in 1982 & leaked in 2008. Remains unreleased.

Human Nature (demo) : Recorded in 1982 & leaked in 2021. Remains unreleased.

Human Nature : Recorded from April 14 – November 8, 1982. Released on November 30, 1982 (Thriller).

Just Friends : Song recorded with Carole Bayer Sager and Burt Bachrach in 1981. Michael does background vocals. Released in 1981 (Sometimes Late At Night).

MJ Melody : Written by Michael Jackson in 1982. Song registered with the United States Copyright Office. Remains unreleased.

Muscles : The song was written and produced by Michael Jackson, and performed by American singer Diana Ross. It was released as the first single on September 17, 1982 by RCA from Ross’s Gold-certified album Silk Electric.

Nightline aka Nite-Line (demo) : Recorded in 1982 during the Thriller sessions. The song leaked in 2008 but remains unreleased.

Nymphette Lover : Written by Michael Jackson in 1981. Registered with the United States Copyright Office in November 1984. Remains unreleased.

Peter Pan : Song mentioned by Jackson on the 1993 CD The Michael Jackson Interview. Remains unreleased.

Pretty Young Thing/PYT (demo) : Recorded in 1982. Released on November 16, 2004 (The Ultimate Collection Box Set).

Pretty Young Thing/PYT : Recorded from April 14 – November 8, 1982. Released on November 30, 1982 (Thriller).

Rolling the Dice aka Roll The Dice : Written by Rod Temperton. MJ worked on the song with Temperton and Quincy Jones during the Thriller recording sessions in 1982. Cited by MJ in his 1993 deposition. Remains unreleased.

Say Say Say : Recorded in May 1981 with Paul McCartney and released in October 1983 on Paul’s solo album “Pipes of Peace”.

Set It On Out : Written by Michael Jackson and recorded in 1982. Remains unreleased.

She’s Trouble aka Trouble (demo 1) : Recorded in 1982. It leaked in 2008. Released posthumously on November 18, 2022 (Thriller 40).

She’s Trouble aka Trouble (demo 2) : Recorded in 1982 & leaked in 2008. Remains unreleased.

Slapstick (early version of Hot Street) : Written by Rod Temperton. Recorded in 1982 & leaked in 2008. Remains unreleased.

So Shy : Bill Wolfer ‘s song featuring MJ & The Waters Sisters. Recorded in 1982. Released in 1982 (Wolf).

Someone In The Dark : Recorded in September 1982. MCA Records was not to release E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial until after Christmas 1982. (This was to avoid the audiobook competing with Jackson’s new album, Thriller.) The song “Someone in the Dark” was not to be released as a single. MCA Records breached both conditions, releasing the storybook in November 1982 and giving 7-inch promo copies of “Someone in the Dark” to radio stations. After Epic lodged a $2 million lawsuit, MCA Records was forced to withdraw the album and prohibited from releasing “Someone in the Dark” as a single. Epic executives had felt that MCA was misleading members of the public into believing that the then-recently released single “The Girl Is Mine” was featured on the storybook album. The plaintiffs further requested that MCA Records be banned from working with Jackson in the future and that any other media owned by MCA featuring the singer be prohibited from release. As a result of the legal restrictions that prohibited the public release of “Someone in the Dark” as a single, the promo copies which were made have since become one of the singer’s rarest and most sought-after records; some have been sold for over $1,600. The song’s opening version was later included as a bonus track on the 2001 special edition of Thriller, as well as the box set Michael Jackson: The Ultimate Collection in 2004.

Spice Of Life : Written by Rod Temperton and Derek Bramble in 1982. Was in the running for Thriller, but wasn’t included on the final album and went down the wayside. Later given to Manhattan Transfer. Remains unreleased.

Stand Tall : Written by Michael Jackson in 1982. Song registered with the United States Copyright Office in December 1985. Remains unreleased.

Starlight : Temperton’s first version of Thriller was titled “Starlight”, with the chorus lyric: “Give me some starlight / Starlight sun”. Recored in 1982 and released posthumously on Novemver 18, 2022 (Thriller 40).

State Of Independance : The song was recorded and released in spring of 1982. Donna Summer covered “State of Independence” on her 1982 album Donna Summer produced by Quincy Jones. Summer’s version is notable for its all-star choir which included Lionel Richie, Dionne Warwick, Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Brenda Russell, Christopher Cross, Dyan Cannon, James Ingram, Kenny Loggins, Michael McDonald, and Stevie Wonder.

Sunset Driver : Recorded in 1982. Released on November 16, 2004 (The Ultimate Collection Box Set).

The Girl Is Mine (tape recorder) : In 1981, MJ recorded the baseline of The Girl Is Mine on his tape recorder. This recording was played in public in December 1984 during a court hearing where musician Fred Sanford accused MJ of plagiarism. It remains unreleased.

The Girl Is Mine (demo) : solo demo recorded in 1982. It was released on January 14, 2008 (maxi single “The Girl Is Mine 2008″).

The Girl Is Mine : Recorded from April 14 – November 8, 1982. Released on November 30, 1982.

The Lady In My Life (demo with unreleased lyrics) : Recorded in 1982 & leaked in 2008. Remains unreleased.

The Lady In My Life : Recorded from April 14 – November 8, 1982. Released on November 30, 1982.

The Man : recorded in May 1981 with Paul McCartney and released in October 1983 on Paul’s solo album “Pipes of Peace”.

There Must Be More To Life Than This (demo with Freddie Mercury) : Recorded in 1983 & leaked in 2002. A remixed version was released in 2014 (Queen Forever Deluxe Edition). Original demo remains unreleased.

The Toy (1981 demo) : Written by Michael Jackson and recorded in 1981 for a Richard Pryor movie. The song was re-recorded with new lyrics during the Dangerous sessions, then re-recorded again with fresh new vocals and new (unreleased) verse in late 2008 under the title “Best of Joy” (released in 2010 on the “Michael” compilation). Original demo from 1981 released posthumously on November 18, 2022 (Thriller 40).

Thriller : Recorded from April 14 – November 8, 1982. Released on November 30, 1982 (Thriller).

Thriller (short film soundtrack version) : mix done in 1983 for the short film. Remains unreleased.

Thriller’s Vincent Price Voice-Over Session” Temperton Jones 0:24. Recorded in 1982. Released on February 8, 2008 (Thriller 25).

Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ : Recorded from April 14 – November 8, 1982. Released on November 30, 1982 (Thriller).

Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ (12 extended mix) 6:30 (12″ version) released in 1983 as maxi singles.

Warrior : Written by Steve Porcaro and recorded in 1982. Failed to make “Thriller” album. Remains unreleased.

Who Do You Know : Written by Michael Jackson in 1981. Song cited by MJ in his 1993 deposition. Released posthumously on November 18, 2022 (Thriller 40).

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