What were your thoughts on George Michael?
Which songs and albums stand out as winners?
Check out my video response below:
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Last week I stated that I would not be writing any more articles till January 2017. However, I felt compelled to express my thoughts on George Michael.
I was shopping in Freedom Furniture early Boxing Day morning when a close friend of mine called me to tell me the sad news. 2016 has been a dreadful year of losing beloved musicians. George Michael has now been included in the quadrant of icons that I was inspired and moved by. The others being David Bowie, Prince, and Leonard Cohen. I also felt an affinity to George Michael because we both come from the same ethnic background. He was Greek Cypriot and was born Giorgios Kyriacos Panayiotou.
George Michael was an all rounder. He had an amazing vocal range, wonderful song writing skills, and could play a variety of instruments. I also admired his philanthropic efforts. He supported a number of worthy causes and certainly put his fame to good use.
I was never a big Wham! fan. Careless Whisper is a gorgeous song and will always be timeless. That track makes my top 6 George Michael songs. Club Tropicana and Everything She Wants are decent and fun tracks but Wham! never made an overall impression on me, excluding the impressing vocals of Michael. I certainly don’t care to ever hear Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go or I’m Your Man ever again. They will never feature on my music playlists.
For me, George really became interesting when he went solo. His duet with Aretha Franklin (I Knew You Were Waiting) was a wonderful combination of talents. His first solo album Faith produced his first killer solo track, Father Figure. What a sumptuous song it is! Monkey was a curious odd track that I always enjoyed. The immensely popular Faith and I Want Your Sex never resonated with me. Faith was always so overly played in general that it would never make my play list.
Freedom! 90 was a winning track. I was really starting to get a sense of his personality, ideologies and struggles via that track. His epic fight with Sony for creative autonomy was obviously present in this song. I could sense that there was a man of depth and substance who was dying to express himself through his artistry. His discomfort with being a heart throb and sex symbol made an impression on me. Sony wanted him to remain as that type of figure. To be pushed as a mere sex symbol/heart throb must be a rather demoralising position to be in. It can be gratifying for a shallow and artificial person but George Michael was neither. It would have been a hollow and unsatisfying position for him to be in.
Older was his greatest album. The material was emotional and dark. The album touched on a variety of music genres and it explored the concepts of life, love, regret, sexual identification, sexual hedonism and promiscuity. Older and The Strangest Thing were beautifully arranged and memorable. Fastlove and Spinning the Wheel were accurate and eloquent explorations of sexuality and the taste for sexual activities unencumbered by need and emotion. You Have Been Loved was full of genuine feeling and thought and It always triggers something inside of me. Jesus to a Child is one of the most beautiful and tender songs I have ever heard. A moving dedication to his late partner, it never fails to move me to tears whenever I decide to listen to it.
His struggles with his homosexuality were explored with such skill on Older. Somehow I understand his struggles with drug addiction, depression, and sexuality from this album. I can’t actually articulate it but I feel that he has given me every reason without even knowing it.
Outside was a humorous jab over his arrest for soliciting gay sex in a public toilet in Los Angeles. It is one of his finest dance tracks but also has a very liberating message to it. It says “No matter who we are and no matter what our sexualities are, we all have sexual desires and kinks”. In addition his dance track Amazing was another joyful track that explored interesting themes. As (Duet with Mary J Blige) and If I Told You That (duet with Whitney Houston) were also great songs that worked well. He had a great knack for selecting collaborations that suited him. Let’s not forget his legendary duet with Sir Elton John! Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me.
I was very lucky to see George Michael live in Melbourne on March 3rd, 2010. He was absolutely amazing and he sung all the main songs that I wanted to hear. He also gave us decent covers of The Police’s Roxanne and Nina Simone’s Feelin Good. My friend and I snuck up the front and I managed to capture a number of photos of him. Below is a photo of him singing Amazing. Vale George Michael.
Check out my final message for 2016 here