Peppered among my usual lot of new and old discoveries is an appreciation of the brilliant George Michael.
I was never a huge Wham! fan, though I did have my favorites from their brief bright time. (“Everything She Wants,” “Careless Whisper” or “Last Christmas,” anyone?) But when George emerged on his own, he demonstrated a masterful talent for pop song craftsmanship, writing, performing and producing his own material. His post ’80s output wasn’t necessarily prolific or platinum in its appreciation or sales, particularly compared to the massive success of his debut smash Faith, but it was a meaningful and often poignant catalog to the more “talented listener.”
His personal and professional challenges are stuff for other articles. (Read Aja Romano’s cutting piece in Vox on George and the cultural shaming that plagued him.) I will say that “Freedom ’90” from his underappreciated 1990 album Listen Without Prejudice, Vol. 1 was a liberation anthem that gave many closeted gay folk – myself included – the occasion and permission to say “fuck it.” I was so looking forward to more from him, but his path turned a different corner.
For now, let’s apppreciate the music. It was fantastic.