The Best of George Michael
by Lisa Dib
The untimely death of fab pop star and all-round cool guy George Michael at 53 years old is another in a long line of LGBT icon losses this year. Michael, along with artists like David Bowie and Prince, challenged the mainstream, redefined masculinity and worked entirely on their own principles. Michael was a vocal and proud gay man who never allowed the media to define him. Here, we celebrate just a few of his greatest hits from a long and stellar career.
Although he was technically still a part of Wham at the time, even writing this with his Wham partner Andrew Ridgeley, 1984’s Careless Whisper was Michael’s first solo joint. And what a starter; the sax in this is practically noir. It’s a deeply 80s number about the guilt over an affair.
I mean, obviously. A ‘rock and roll pastiche’, Faith is simplistic but effective, as so much of pop music is. It relies on nothing more, really, than a few hand-claps, a rock and roll guitar beat and a dash of cymbals. And, of course, Michael’s unparalleled voice.
Somebody to Love (feat. Queen)
I didn’t know this existed before I fell down a YouTube hole in researching for this list, and I’m so happy I found it. So few people could perform a Queen song in Freddie Mercury’s place and do it any kind of justice, but Michael does wonders with it.
Kissing A Fool
A lovely jazz number from 1988. Apparently recorded a capella in one take, Michael creates a modern nostalgic jazz track that has all the makings of a standard.
Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go
This song is the very sound of the 1980s. When you imagine the 80s as a sound and an aesthetic, you think of this song, and this video. From the fluorescent lipstick, to the “Choose Life” tees, to those weird legionnaire hats - it’s all so wonderfully bright, silly and pleasant.
Michael wrote the song in a turning point in the band’s career; released in 1984, Go-Go is Michael’s ode to the energetic pop of bygone eras, and literally never fails to make me feel at least a bit giddy.
Outside is an important song in Michael’s repertoire; released in 1998, the song was a response to his poor treatment in the media after he had been caught engaging in ‘public sex acts’. Although it had been an open secret that Michael was gay, the song was a proud confirmation of his sexuality. He was getting in before the scumbag media could slander him, and took control of his own story.