Pop icon George Michael passed away over the Christmas period. George Michael was a bonafide 8o’s superstar, ranking up there with the likes of Madonna, Prince and Michael Jackson. In my own tribute to the former Wham front-man, here are my five favourite George Michael songs of all time and I definitely recommend that you give them a listen.
Released in 1984, ‘Careless Whisper’ is a masterful exploration of the consequences that come with cheating on a beloved partner. Heartbreak seeps into every beat, with lines like “Should’ve known better than to cheat a friend / And waste the chance that I’ve been given,” drawing the listener effortlessly into Michael’s despair. Backed by the most memorable saxophone refrain in pop, ‘Careless Whisper’ itself resembles the act of cheating in relationship – its’s heartbreaking, but almost impossible to resist.
Praying for Time
‘Praying for Time’ marked a major departure for George Michael’s style, when it came out in 1990. Gone were the flashy pop gimmicks and in their place came simple, pounding beats and meaningful lyrics. In ‘Praying for Time,’ the star delves into an increasingly materialistic and hateful society, leaning on phrases like “And it’s hard to love, there’s so much to hate / Hanging on to hope / When there is no hope to speak of,” to convey the flaws of modern life. In this post-Trump world, this ballad is more relevant than ever.
Named for the year of its release, ‘Freedom ’90’ is the most infectious, joyful song in the George Michael Canon. A house tune, backed by jaunty piano beats and sprinkles of gospel vocals, ‘Freedom ’90’ is literally George’s cry for freedom. As he sings words “Gotta have some faith in the sound/It’s the one good thing that I’ve got/I won’t let you down/So please don’t give me up,” you feel the singer’s commitment to music in every single beat.
Jesus to a Child
If any song acts as a window into George Michael’s soul, its 1996’s ‘Jesus to a Child.’ Composed after Michael’s lover died, it describes the devastation that comes with losing a loved one. When he breathes out lyrics in the vein of “And what have I learned/From all this pain/I thought I’d never feel the same /About anyone/Or anything again,” you know that the crooner understands that love never really dies, making the song so poignant. Coupled with Latin strings and a smooth vocal delivery, this imbues ‘Jesus to a Child’ with a timeless feel, ensuring that you will never grow tired of this standout track.
2003’s ‘Amazing’ is George Michael’s last major hit and one of his best. It’s one of those rare pop songs, that manages to be both moving and dance-floor-ready. When you hear this tune’s ear-worm of a vocal refrain, nestled alongside clean synths and light percussion, you’ll want to start busting moves immediately. Lyrically, ‘Amazing’ analyses the process of finding new love, after suffering a devastating loss. With phrases like “I think it’s amazing / The way that love can you set you free,” in this track the star reminds us that its impossible to understand love, but that just makes it even more amazing.
And with these five tracks, we’ve only just scratched surface of George Michael’s talent. From ‘Faith to ‘Father Figure,’ ‘Outside’ to ‘Too Funky,’ there are a range of other infectious songs that you should listen to. When you play these songs, you’ll realise that with the passing of George Michael, we’ve lost a man who just knew what makes a hit!