Pop superstar George Michael passed away on Christmas Day at the age of 53. The former WHAM! singer was one of the biggest pop superstars of the 80s and 90s with 11 UK top 10 hits and sales of over 100 million albums worldwide. The reclusive pop star struggled with fame, his sexuality, a tussle with his music label, drug use, and the death of his former lover in a career spanning 35 years. Bayside Journal brings to you 10 of his best tracks
Michael sent many hearts a-flutter in his tight blue jeans, aviator sunglasses, and BSA motorcycle jacket in the music video accompanying the title track to his solo album Faith in 1987. In the song, Michael sings about having faith in love under a strained relationship. He oscillates between wanting to stay with a pretty girl and leaving her for good and finding a person who doesn’t “throw my heart back on the floor”. Michael’s singing, that video, and those guitar riffs will have you humming the tune for decades to come.
2. ‘Careless Whisper’
Yes, we’ve heard this song so many times, it has now ceased to have any effect on us. But once you go on a purge (it’s hard to; if you are lucky you can) you start appreciating the wonderful songwriting and the real emotion that shines through it. Can any apology be better expressed than “guilty feet have got no rhythm”?
3. ‘Last Christmas’
If you were out and about on Christmas yesterday, chances are you’ve heard this song at least once in the days leading up to Christmas. Another song that is played on repeat this time of the year but is beautiful nonetheless. The song was penned when he was part of pop duo WHAM with Andrew Ridgeley.
I thought you were here to stay
How can love be for a day?
I thought you were someone special, gave you my heart.
There are few people who sing of a broken heart better than Michael
4. ‘Freedom 90’
Although it is one of his most well-known singles with a music video featuring supermodels, this is not your average pop song. Lyrics such as the following speak about the pressures of fame.
And I guess it was enough for me
To win the race a prettier face
Brand new clothes and a big fat place
On your rock and roll TV.
The following verse refers to his battle with his record label for more creative ownership:
All we have to do now
Is take these lies and make them true somehow
All we have to see/Is that I don’t belong to you
And you don’t belong to me
The next verse is about not letting his fans down because he had something to get off his chest.
I won’t let you down…
So please don’t give me up
Cuz I would really, really love to stick around,
5. ‘Too Funky’
This song has no deeper meaning – it is simply about Michael lusting for a man or a woman.
Hey you’re just too funky for me
I gotta get inside, (I gotta get inside)
I gotta get inside of you (So when will that be?).
The song – and yes, the very famous video is very funky and catchy indeed.
6. Fast Love
Single, 20-somethings, who are just looking to have some fun – here’s a song you can definitely relate to.
My friends got their ladies
And they’re all having babies
But I just wanna have some fun
“You could help to ease my mind, Baby, I ain’t Mr. Right,” croons Michael matter-of-factly in the song.
7. ‘A Different Corner’
Michael could sing about everything whether it was one-night stands, sex, or love. In this song, he sings about how scared he is of falling in love and wishes he had not met the person at all. These particular lines constitute of one his most heartfelt and brilliant vocal performances:
Cause I’ve never come close in all of these years
You are the only one to stop my tears
And I’m so scared, I’m so scared.
8. ‘Kissing a Fool’
How many times do people love someone who doesn’t love them back? Or loved someone more than the other person loved them? Michael brings out this sentiment beautifully and talks about moving on:
You are far, I’m never gonna be your star
I’ll pick up the pieces
And mend my heart.
This is because “You’ll never find Peace of mind, Til you listen to your heart”.
9. ‘Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go’
People either love this song or they loathe it.
Pros: Poppy, fun, upbeat, infectious, and so 80s.
Cons: Corny, cheesy, cringe, and so 80s.
But, this is the ultimate 80s party anthem, won’t you agree?
You take the grey skies out of my way
You make the sun shine brighter than Doris Day
Turned a bright spark into a flame
My beats per minute never been the same.
These lyrics are bound to cheer up even your darkest hours.
Although not regarded as one his best singles or a fan-favourite – the song – that was taken off his last studio album ‘Patience’ in 2004 is breezy, upbeat and one of the last George Michael-y singles to have come out.
So now I walk in the midday sun
I never thought that my saviour would come
I think it’s amazing.
He sings this in an almost understated elegance.