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We pick our favourite George Michael hits ahead of Fastlove : A Tribute to George Michael landing Down Under in May and June 2020
George Michael was an absolute legend.
Not just of pop music but within the international music industry at large. His influence and the impact of his music cannot be understated.
With ten Billboard Hot 100 number-one singles in the nine years between his solo career and his work in Wham!, alongside his much-loved and still widely celebrated 1987 solo debut Faith, his talents as a musician, performer, and songwriter are still now largely unmatched. From heart-wrenching torch ballads to groove-filled bubblegum pop, George Michael’s catalogue traverses musical terrain effortlessly.
With his passing in 2016, he left behind a legacy of truly magnificent songs that will stand the test of time.
Thanks to Andrew Browning and his incredible Fastlove tribute show, we get to relive George Michael’s brilliance all over again. Direct from London’s West End, we’ve heard this is the world’s most prestigious and professionally produced show paying tribute to the life and work of George Michael. Featuring a professional cast of singers, dancers, and a full band performing alongside Browning, you’re in for a spectacular night.
In preparation for the tour to land Down Under in May and June 2020, we’ve dug through George Michael’s back catalogue to pick out some of our favourite tunes. We couldn’t put them in order if we tried.
Though already household names in their native UK, Wham! hadn’t quite hit the big time around the world. That was until this joyous four minutes of pop goodness landed, then suddenly George Michael and his bandmate Andrew Ridgely were launched onto the international stage. The album it came from, Make It Big, went to number one in 11 countries (including Australia and New Zealand) and top five in a further four – all largely off the back of this single. Infectiously catchy and instantly recognisable, all you need to hear is the opening “Jitterbug” for the tune to be stuck in your head. “I think ‘Go-Go’ is undoubtedly the most remembered Wham! song because it is that much more stupid than anything else,” Michael once said.
After Ridgely and Michael parted ways in 1986, marking the end of Wham!, it was anyone’s guess where Michael would end up. But at 24 he showed just how strong his songwriting chops were, releasing the now classic album Faith. Of its many great singles, it is the title track that is still one of his most memorable and enduring hits. With his leather jacket on and guitar in hand, Michael shedded some of the sugary pop elements he’d honed so well in Wham! and instead tackled a classic rock ‘n’ roll vibe. George Michael, the solo artist, was well and truly on the map.
Even before Wham! called it quits, Michael had been giving us all hints about just what he could do if he headed out on his own. And Make It Big’s closing track, the soulful, saxophone-laden ‘Careless Whisper’ does just that. It still has a little bit of Wham! in it – the track was written with Ridgeley long before the duo took off when Michael was just 17. We didn’t know it then, but this was just the start of things to come.
In September 1990, Michael released his second solo album Listen Without Prejudice and with it he had some things to prove. He no longer wanted to be the corny pop singer he’d been for the last decade, instead, he wanted to create a new reputation as a serious-minded artist. It was with ‘Freedom! ’90’ that he did just that. If the lyrics weren’t enough to prove it, from struggling with his artistic identity to criticising the sex-symbol status he’d been lumped with, check out the video, as he – well the supermodels that are standing in his place – set the jukebox, leather jacket and guitar made famous by his ‘Faith’ video on fire. Statement made.
While ‘Faith’ has that iconic, simple guitar line and gritty rock’n’roll edge, the track that follows it, ‘Father Figure’ is a more down-tempo affair. Breathy vocals, layered backing, and with a sexy soul-tinge, this is a dreamy one.
Fight us on it if you want, but there aren’t any better (sorry Mariah) pop Christmas songs than Wham’s ‘Last Christmas’. Maybe it’s because we love a sad-banger to break up all the joy of the festive season, but this holiday break-up anthem is everything. It’s been covered by a range of artists across every genre – from Jimmy Eat World to Taylor Swift, Avril Lavigne to Carly Rae Jepsen – but no matter what, no one is doing it better than the original. Is it too early for Christmas songs?
If you hit play on Make It Big, once you get through the giddy, finger-snapping bubblegum of ‘Wake Me Up’, you land on ‘Everything She Wants’ and in the transition between those two tracks you get a quick look into just some of the brilliance of George Michael’s songwriting. ‘Everything She Wants’ is a lesson in funk-grooves and subtle layering, with its balance between bassy and bright electronics, it’s a little bit glam and a little bit R&B, showing off Michael’s talent as a soul singer.
We could’ve picked another ten or 20 more, that’s how stacked George Michael’s back catalogue is. Relive all his greatest hits when Andrew Browning brings Fastlove to our stages.
Fastlove : A Tribute to George Michael will tour Australia in May and June 2020. Tickets are on sale via Ticketmaster.com.au.