Top 10 Michael Jackson Songs That He Never Performed Live

Tags: #Michael Jackson

Michael Wendom

Michael Wendom

Last updated:  2021-03-18 13:07:41

To many, Michael Jackson is still the best music artist that ever walked the Earth. His unique dancing abilities, out of this world videos, and unforgettable songs, make him immortal. Even though he performed live more than a thousand times, there are still many stunning songs he never did in front of his fans. This time we're going to list the best of them, and you'll probably be surprised by some of the entries!

10. We've Had Enough (The Ultimate Collection)

"We've Had Enough" shows us truly emotional delivery by Michael Jackson

This hidden gem was released in 2004 on the "Ultimate Collection" and could be described as a mix of "Earth Song," "Stranger in Moscow, "and "Who Is it." It's another emotional song where Michael talks about conflicts going around our planet while asking soldiers, "If they're for peace, why is there war?" 

Recorded somewhere between 1993 and 2000, the song obviously never had a chance to be heard live. Of all the numbers included on our list, this one would have the least chance of being performed if Michael was still with us.

9. The Girl Is Mine (Thriller)

"The Girl Is Mine" only brought problems to MJ

Unlike artist like Rihanna, Michael Jackson had a tendency not to perform live versions of his duet songs, and "The Girl Is Mine "is another example. Even though it never had a music video, this single almost reached number one on Billboard 100. It was also successful around the world, quickly selling over one million units.

There might be a couple of reasons why Michael never wanted to perform this one. First, it was often considered the weakest song on the "Thriller." Secondly, he was sued twice for alleged plagiarism. While he won these cases, it may have left a bad taste in his mouth. Interestingly, Paul McCartney also never performed it.

8. Keep the Faith (Dangerous)

"Keep the Faith" will instantly make you feel better

Michael and Siedah Garrett wrote "Keep the Faith" as an absolute gem hidden deep in the "Dangerous" album. As the track progresses with its powerful lyrics, it becomes more compelling by adding gospel elements. Michael actually recorded this song very late at night, after his producer Bruce Swedien told him not to leave the studio until he does so.

Since this song was never a single, that could easily be one reason it was never performed live. Also, as it lasts for almost six minutes, it's doubtful Michael could find a place for it on his tour setlist, already a two-hour show full of hits.

7. Who Is It (Dangerous)

It doesn't get much darker for Michael Jackson than "Who Is It"

We loved everything about "Who Is it"! It's such a dark song, with very emotional Michael singing while a strong bass dictates the rhythm. Although some critics did compare it with "Billie Jean," "Who Is It" easily stood on its own. The accompanying high-budget and over six-minute-long video perfectly fits the song, as Michael sings about his cheating girlfriend portrayed by Yasmin Le Bon.

While it performed well on the charts worldwide, we never got a chance to hear it live. The closest we would get was an instrumental piece that should have been used during Michael's canceled "This Is It" tour.

6. Leave Me Alone (Bad)

"Leave Me Alone" is still the best anti-tabloid song

Michael always struggled with the tabloids making insane stories about him, and he channeled these feelings in "Leave Me Alone." The same press that helped spread the rumors praised the song and the music video that earned him a Grammy in 1990. While the song was released as a single, for some reason, it skipped the USA and Canada. It performed very well in the rest of the world, reaching number two in the United Kingdom and the top 10 in many countries across Europe.

As the song and its video won numerous awards, it's hard to explain why he hadn't performed it at all. MJ wrote many songs about the hurt caused by tabloids, but it seems he never wanted to relive these experiences live. 

5. Liberian Girl (Bad)

Can you name most of the stars in the "Liberian Girl" music video?

It has been said that Michael was inspired by Elizabeth Taylor while creating this song, even though no one knows what connects her to Liberia. However, MJ was praised in Liberia for empowering local women! Even though the song begins in Swahili, which is not spoken in Liberia, it doesn't seem that anyone was bothered. 

The "Liberian Girl" video smells like the eighties. It features tens of contemporary stars, including Paula Abdul, Dan Aykroyd, Olivia Newton-John, John Travolta, or Danny Glover. Despite that, the song was a single only in Europe and Australia. Maybe that's the best explanation why he decided not to perform it.

4. Give In To Me (Dangerous)

Michael Jackson looks terrific in "Give In To Me" video

There is something special about "Give In To Me" as besides "Dirty Diana" and "Beat It," this is one of Michael's rare rock songs. Joined by the mighty Slash, the duo displays perfect chemistry in the music video filmed in Munich, Germany.

Unfortunately, this was another single never to be published in the United States. It was very successful in the rest of the world, including New Zealand, where it topped the charts for four weeks. In theory, Michael did perform the song, although only a portion of it during his Oprah special. At least we got that, and the music video that emulates live performance.

3. Say Say Say (Pipes of Peace)

"Say Say Say" was the most successful Michael Jackson collaboration, but it was still never performed live

Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney crowned their friendship with "Say Say Say." Released near the end of 1983, the song became a monster hit, topping the Billboard Hot 100 chart for six weeks while doing the same in the UK, Sweden, Italy, France, and other countries. 

Followed by a beautiful video set during the Great Depression, it looked like the song would become a staple for both stars. However, it was not to be, like was the case with other MJ and Paul's duets. Paul McCartney also never performed this song, even though it was one of his solo career's biggest hits. However, he did release the new version of it.

2. P.Y.T. Pretty Young Thing (Thriller)

Michael Jackson loved this song, so why he never performed it?

While the "Thriller "is full of successes, producers working with Michael at the time said that he especially loved P.Y.T. This song was a family thing since Michael's sisters La Toya and Janet provided backing vocals. Released as the sixth single from the "Thriller," it performed well, even though it never got a music video.

Interestingly, Michael sang a part of the song's demo version during his "Dangerous World Tour" rehearsals. Nonetheless, it wasn't used in the show. The closest we've ever got to hear this song live is Kanye West's "Good Life" performance, which samples it heavily.

1. Whatever Happens (Invincible)

"Whatever Happens" was planned as the fourth single of the "Invincible"

Unless you're a devoted fan, you're probably not aware of "Whatever Happens" that Michael recorded for his under-promoted "Invincible" album. Joined by Carlos Santana, Michael pours emotions while telling a story about a struggling couple. Although critics called it smart and handsome, it was never released as a single, even though it was planned.

As Michael struggled during the period and kept away from the public, the best we could hope was a music video. It's a great shame that it never happened, as "Whatever Happens" is easily on the same level if not better than other Santana's number one collaborations.

This list proves that Michael Jackson had so many brilliant songs that it was apparent that he'll never be able to perform them all. While we can only guess why they were never included on his setlist, at least we can enjoy their studio versions and watch his unforgettable music videos.

Are you surprised by some entries on our list? What is your favorite Michael Jackson song that he never performed live? Tell us in the comments below!

Cover photo: anndromediad/Pixabay


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