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I'm asking specifically about this line which are in the official lyrics:

"Keep on, with the force, don't stop"

There's no way Michael was singing that. It sound more like he sang something like:

"Keep on, with the force, stop!"

Was he skipping the word "don't" or singing something else? The official lyrics don't seem to scan at all if you listen to the song, there are too many syllables there.

Is there a name for this type of thing where a singer changes the words to better fit the rhythm? Why don't they just change the official lyrics to match what was sung?

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    "There's no way Michael was singing that." - what do you mean?
    – AakashM
    Commented Sep 8, 2023 at 13:26
  • @AakashM I mean that doesn't sound like what he was singing if you listen to the song, he appears to miss the word "don't".
    – magritte
    Commented Sep 8, 2023 at 16:26
  • I agree that he is definitely singing "Keep on with the force stop! - Don't stop-..." Watch the official music video on Youtube with subtitles on, he ain't singing the lyrics in the subtitles.
    – Amarth
    Commented Sep 8, 2023 at 18:39

1 Answer 1

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Michael Jackson's Off the Wall album originally had a gatefold cover. The lyrics were printed on the inside, so they can't be "wrong". You can clearly see that's what it says in this image.

enter image description here

However, the published lyrics were not necessarily what was actually sung, merely what was originally written by the song's author [Rod Temperton] and handed to the publishing/record company. It wasn't uncommon back in the days of vinyl that the lead times & production routes for the cover & record processing were considerably separated from the recording & mix - meaning if something was changed in the studio, no-one would think to correct it in the published version.

In the interest of keeping the musical pace, someone obviously decided it sounded better if he actually sang, "Keep on, with the force stop" [oft-recited at the time as 'with a door stop' or 'post box'] and no-one cared enough to fix the official lyric.

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  • Thanks, yeah I assumed that they changed it in the studio during recording. It definitely sounds better the way he sang it.
    – magritte
    Commented Sep 8, 2023 at 16:28
  • Yeah, I can imagine it would sound a whole lot more pedestrian if 'don't' was where 'stop' finally ended up, then 'stop' pushed back to the 4. It's just less 'funky' for want of a better word.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Sep 8, 2023 at 16:32
  • Anecdotally, an album I did waaay back in the 80s had a session vocalist called Dot. Lovely girl, only ever met her the once, in the studio. The album credits called her Don… a bloke I've never met. Even though we spotted it before release, it was never fixed. Too late, they said. Every incarnation of that album to this day [& no, I'm not telling you what it is] still credits her as Don.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Sep 8, 2023 at 16:48
  • The official lyrics delivered with the album tends to often be... crap. Like, completely wrong. This has happened to me numerous times, I've stopped trusting "official lyrics" from the album, they are too often wrong to be used as a reliable source. Conclusion: record companies are overall sloppy when it comes to lyrics.
    – Amarth
    Commented Sep 8, 2023 at 18:38

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