I am no musician, but I know what I like. I write about songs that deserve to be played forever.
Before George Michael's untimely death in 2016, he had faded from view a bit. According to People, he had become a recluse. His neighbors in the village of Goring-on-Thames did not often see the former Wham! frontman. A neighbor told People that the villagers “hardly ever saw him.”
“I think he was a bit of a recluse. He had put on a lot of weight and hardly ever left the house,” the neighbor says. “Occasionally, I think he would pop to the local pub, but he wasn’t exactly a regular in any of the pubs or restaurants there.”
It is a shame that the death of a celebrity can suddenly jar memories, and you find yourself wanting to go back to the songs that reminded you of the singer. It is true in the case of George Michael too. He first came on the scene with the group Wham, and then began a successful solo career. He had some embarrassing moments in the news, but his fans seemed to overlook all that and still loved him as a singer and performer.
Here are some of the best George Michael songs that should stand the test of time.
1. "Careless Whisper"
Let us start with one of his best-remembered songs, “Careless Whisper” while George was in the group Wham. The song was released in 1984 and was written by George Michael and Andrew Ridgely when they were both 17 years old. The song reached number one in 25 countries and sold over 6 million copies. The website Independent stated that George was frustrated that a song he wrote when he had no experience in relationships was one of his biggest hits. The article states he wrote the song on a bus out of boredom on his way to work as an usher. In an interview with Big Issue in 2009 he wondered why the song had such an effect on people. He asked, “Is it because so many people cheated on their partners? Is that why they connect with it? I have no idea, but it’s ironic that this song—which has come to define me in some way—should have been written right at the beginning of my career when I was still so young…”
The song is beautiful, which is the real reason it was so successful. The saxophone, the dreamy tone, and the tale of boy has girl, boy cheats, boy loses girl, and then boy realizes just what he has lost. They all combine to create an unforgettable song.
2. “Everything She Wants”
George released “Everything She Wants” while he was with the group Wham. This song was released in 1984, and it was on the album Make It Big.
George had mixed feelings about the success of the song "Careless Whisper", but he was very proud of this song, and included it in his shows. He also stated in an interview “Everything She Wants” was his favorite Wham song. He stated he first wrote the drums and synthesizers for the song, and lastly added the vocal.
George liked the serious subject matter and felt it was more serious than the other pop songs he and Andrew had made. The song is about a man who is a newlywed and realizes that no matter how hard he works it will never be enough for his wife. The song also states a baby is on the way, and instead of being happy he replies, “if my best isn’t good enough how the hell can it be good enough for two?”
The song has a great beat and a good storyline. The public loved the song too. It became a number one selling gold-certified hit. It was also a song that had Wham tied with the Bee Gees for having three number one songs from a single album. The other two songs were, “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go", and “Careless Whisper”.
3. “Last Christmas”
Next on the list is “Last Christmas”. It took the death of George Michael for this song to appear back in the Top Ten after 31 years. George said the song was about a failed relationship, not really about Christmas. It has become a Christmas standard, especially in the UK. The song has a light and bouncy sound although the lyrics of a relationship that didn’t pan out reveals a sadder feeling. George remains optimistic and vows to give his heart to someone special this year.
4. “I Knew You Were Waiting for Me”
George sang a few duets in his career and one of his great songs is “I Knew You Were Waiting for Me”, with Aretha Franklin. It was released in 1987, and it was a Grammy-winning number one song.
The website Songfacts wrote that the duet was the brainchild of Clive Davis. Originally, the song wasn’t written to be sung as duet; it was pitched to Tina Turner and to Aretha Franklin. The song took her to the top of the charts a place she hadn’t been since her song “Respect” 20 years ago. George didn’t try to outsing her or copy her style. He sang more laid back, and let Aretha do her thing. They blended well together and the proof is a Grammy win and a number one for them both.
George's first solo album was entitled Faith. That album produced the first single also entitled "Faith". George wanted to have a more adult persona. The song reached number one in America and was the best-selling song in America in 1988. In the video he is playing a guitar but he said he didn’t know how to play the guitar and was totally faking it. He just wanted to look more macho. The song has that early rock sound to it, and you can’t help but think of Elvis whether hearing the song or seeing the video. It is a very catchy song.
6. "Father Figure"
Another great song to come from the album Faith was "Father Figure". It was released in 1988 and it too reached number one. The music video is about a relationship between a cab driver and a model. George loved to perform this song at his concerts. The lyrics sound a bit obsessive and like there may be a bit of an age difference between them, but that is speculation. One thing the song has a hauntingly beautiful sound to it.
7. “One More Try”
The album Faith produced another masterpiece with the song "One More Try". It too reached number one, and it is easy to see why.
It is a beautiful ballad about a man who isn’t sure he wants to get involved in a new relationship because he has been hurt so many times before. The song gives the singer a chance to get into that emotional place that shows just how talented George was as a singer and performer.
This song was one of his favorites to perform at his concerts. Mariah Carey recorded the song on her album Me. I am Mariah... the Elusive Chartreuse. It is a perfect song for her to show off her vocal chops, and it was the perfect song for George and it moved him light years away from the light pop of “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go”.
8. “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me”
George seemed to have great luck with duets, and he proved it with the song “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me”, released in 1991. George would sing this song at his concerts, and one day Elton John surprised him by showing up and singing the song with him. The crowd went wild, and record sales proved how dynamic this duo was together.
They were friends for years until 2004 when Elton John told the press stories about George's marijuana use. George later quit taking the drug. Elton and George reconciled in 2011, and Elton was very upset when he heard the news of George’s death. According to TMZ Elton was deeply devastated by George’s death saying, “ I am in deep shock. I have lost a beloved friend-the kindest, most generous soul and a brilliant artist. My heart goes out to his family and all his fans. @GeorgeMicheal#RIP.”
9. “Praying for Time”
The song "Praying for Time" was released in 1990, and it reached number one in the Billboard 100. It came from the album Listen Without Prejudice. He said no event caused him to write the song. He wondered why it was so hard for people to be good to each other. The song sounds even more relevant today as more and more humanity against man goes on.
10. "Freedom 90"
“Freedom! 90”, released in 1990, has a great beat and it reached number 8 on the US charts. This was a great hit for George.
According to Wikipedia, by 1990 George had grown tired of fame. "At some point in your career, the situation between yourself and the camera reverses. For a certain number of years, you court it and you need it, but ultimately, it needs you more and it's a bit like a relationship. The minute that happens, it turns you off ... and it does feel like it is taking something from you." He decided that he no longer wanted to do photoshoots or music videos, saying, "I would like to never step in front of a camera again."
He got models to perform in the video, and while George wasn’t in the video he was around for the taping of it. He drank wine with the models and was like one of the gang. This song is so danceable, and it also gives the listener a glimpse of how things had changed for him. George was no longer that youngster from Wham.
11. “Kissing a Fool”
The last song of George Michael’s best songs is entitled “Kissing a Fool”. Once again this song came from the album Faith which should be a greatest hits album for all the great songs that came from it. This song has a jazzy sound to it and it was a departure from his previous songs. George sang it beautifully with his warm tones and with the great emotion that he could bring to every song. He proved he could sing any style and do it well.
We'll Always Miss You, George
George Michael left this world too soon. We are fortunate, however, because we have all of his recordings to listen to, and because of that he will always be around to entertain us with his beautiful songs, his entertaining videos, and his wonderful voice. May you live forever in song.
cfjots (author) from Conway, SC on January 03, 2017:
Thank you Florishanyway for your comment and for sharing your memory of how George played a part in your life.
FlourishAnyway from USA on January 02, 2017:
RIP George Michael. I remember loving his music and making out to it during one magic summer long ago.