That Panayiotou kid is doing alright for himself
August 24, 2014 1:16 PM   Subscribe

30 year ago last week, on August 18, 1984, Careless Whisper reached the top spot on the UK music charts, ending Frankie Goes To Hollywood's 9-week reign with their single Two Tribes. The debut solo track from George Michael, it ushered in the career of a global music superstar that continues to this day.

The track was included on Wham!'s album Make It Big (album version), and in the US it topped the charts credited to Wham! ft. George Michael. (Ironically, unlike most of Wham!'s previous hits which were penned by Michael alone, this solo hit was penned by Michael and Andrew Ridgely.)
B-side: Careless Whisper (instrumental)
Two years later, while still with Wham!, Michael would release his second solo single, this time the track A Different Corner, included on Wham! albums Music From The Edge Of Heaven (US and Japan) and The Final (worldwide). Written, sung, played, arranged, and produced by Michael, it was the first of many tracks where "solo artist" truly meant exactly that. Once again, it was an international chart-topper.
B-Side: A Different Corner (instrumental)
1987 saw Michael release a non-album single, I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me), a duet with Aretha Franklin. Reaching #1 on both sides of the Atlantic, it would be Franklin's last #1 single.
B-sides: I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me) (instrumental), I Knew You Were Waiting For Me (extended remix), I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me) (Percapella), I Knew You Were Waiting (edited remix)
Later that same year, George Michael began a serious run on the international charts with the pre-album-release lead-off single I Want Your Sex. Once again an international top-10 hit, despite numerous threats at and actual moves to censor the song, it announced Michael as a new kind of artist, one much more frank about sexuality than had been the norm (albeit at this point largely disguised and closeted). The song had three "rhythms", which were split as single b-sides or as cd bonus tracks, but which were mixed into a single unit on the extended Monogamy Mix. The single mix was subtitled "Rhythm 1 Lust"
B-sides: I Want Your Sex (Rhythm 2 Brass In Love), I Want Your Sex (Monogamy Mix) 1) Rhythm 1 Lust, 2) Rhythm 2 Brass In Love 3) Rhythm 3 A Last Request, Hard Day, F.R. David - Don't Go (Spain),
No video was made for the followup single from George Michael's album Faith, Hard Day [see above]. It had already been featured as a b-side to I Want Your sex, and it didn't achieve mainstream chart success.
B-sides: Hard Day (Shep Pettibone Remix), I Want Your Sex (Monogamy Mix) [see above]
None of these three preceding singles could have prepared the globe for the release of October 1987's single Faith. A global top-10 hit, spending weeks at or near the top of the charts, it remains a defining song of the late 1980s.
B-sides: Faith (instrumental), Hand To Mouth
The followup single to that global blockbuster was Father Figure, which once again achieved top-40 status in nearly every country that tracks such statistics. (It was RickRolled out of the top spot in the UK by, well, exactly the song you might expect.)
B-sides: Love's In Need Of Love Today (live), Father Figure (instrumental)
One More Try was the next single from George Michael's Faith album. It was the second-longest-running #1 single for 1988 in the US, tied with Poison and just behind Steve Winwood.
B-sides: Look At Your Hands, One More Try (Live Gospel Version)
Continuing his hot streak of singles off this one album, Michael next released Monkey, which was once again a Top-40 hit in many countries, and which hit the Top-10 in the UK and #1 in the US. The video mix was quite different from the version of Monkey from the album.
B-sides: Monkey (extended version), Monkey (A'Cappella), Monkey (extra beats), Monkey (7" Edit)
Even the final single from Faith proved to be a success, although not like the others. 1988's Kissing A Fool managed to hit #5 on the US charts, and broke the top-20 in the UK (peaking at 18), but after the success of the previous releases, this felt like a disappointment.
B-side: Kissing A Fool (instrumental)
It was nearly two years before George Michael released a new single. Praying For Time emerged in August 1990, and while it did reach #1 in the US, it fared less well in other markets (while still reaching the top-10 in most of them). A decided departure from his previous videos, this would feature only lyrics floating on a blank background, and George Michael himself would not be seen. This would be Michael's last number one single in the US.
B-sides: If You Were My Woman (live), Waiting (reprise)
The second single from Michael's Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1, Freedom 90 continued his statement of distancing himself from his previous star hunk status. The video not only did not feature Michael at all, it also included images associated with his Faith video being blown up or set on fire or otherwise destroyed. George enlisted an A-list cast of supermodel friends to lip-synch his lyrics, and while the single broke the top 30 in most countries, it didn't manage to duplicate the success of previous singles by Michael (or even its namesake Wham! song Freedom which climbed high in the charts in the US and Canada).
B-sides: Fantasy (an apparent Faith leftover track), Freedom (Back To Reality Mix)
Waiting For That Day was the third single from Michael's second solo album. No official video was ever released, and the single charted well enough, but never reached the high position expected of a single by George Michael. The B-side Mother's Pride was subsequently released as a single (also without a video), and did fairly well especially in the US during the midst of the Gulf War.

Heal The Pain / Soul Free was the next release from Michael from the Listen Without Prejudice Vol 1 album, with the A-side and B-side flipped for US release. It falied to perform well on either side of the Atlantic, regardless of which track was featured. No videos were released for either of these songs.

The final single from Listen Without Prejudice Vol 1 was Cowboys And Angels. It became the first George Michael single not to break into the Top 40 in the UK, and was Michael's longest single to date, tracking at well over 7 minutes. Again no video was release for this single.
B-side: Something To Save
At this point, George Michael started to feud with his record label. He would not put out another album of original material under his own name for several years, but he would continue to release singles.

The first of these non-album singles was Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me, a live cover and duet with Elton John. It stormed up the international charts like nothing from his recent solo album, and proved not only that Michael still had chart-topping talent but that he could breathe new life into old standards and make a modern audience sit up and take notice.
B-sides: I Believe (When I Fall In Love It Will Be Forever), If You Were My Woman, Fantasy [see above], Freedom (Back To Reality Mix) [see above]
Too Funky was originally intended as part of the follow-up to Listen Without Prejudice Vol 1 (Vol 2???), but with Michael in a fight with his label, he instead donated this and two other songs to the Red Hot + Blue Project's second benefit album Red Hot + Dance. The single broke into the top 10 in both the UK and the US, along with several other countries. The video contains callbacks to the video for Freedom 90, with supermodels taking the focus, and with Michael appearing in the video, albeit as minimally as possible. The obligatory remixes of the single were all part of the package, but the new non-album track Crazyman Dance is recognized as one of Michael's stronger tracks across his career, documenting the plight of a mentally ill homeless man in the midst of an urban landscape.
B-Sides: Too Funky (Extended), Too Funky (Digital Mix) [crappy quality, sorry], Too Jazzy (Happy Mix), Crazyman Dance
George Michael continued to display his vocal prowess (while still eschewing original material) by joining the band Queen to replace deeply missed vocalist Freddie Mercury for a version of Somebody To Love, which was quickly followed up with live covers of Seal's track Killer blended with Papa Was A Rolling Stone, included on Michael's Five Alive EP. [original mixes of this track are difficult to locate online] Killer/Papa Was A Rolling Stone (PM Dawn Remix), Killer/Papa Was A Rolling Stone (NYC Club Mix), Killer/Papa Was A Rolling Stone (Very Vocal Club Mix), Killer/Papa Was A Rolling Stone (Killer Papa Dub)

After a long absence from writing original material, George Michael reëmerged with Jesus To A Child in late 1995. After all the years out of the video limelight, Michael seemed to finally have made peace with using his physical presence to promote his music. The song reached the top of the UK charts and placed high in many other music charts worldwide, showing that everyone was ready for new original material from this composer who had remained dormant for over five years.
B-side: Older (instrumental)
George Michael's third solo album, Older, was released in 1996, five years after his last original material was put out as a single. This new album featured a new, more mature style of songwriting, which had been hinted at in earlier albums but which was offered here in full bloom.

The second single from the album, the first after its release, was Fastlove, a song about looking for the quick hookup and sexual gratification. It would chart highly around the world, but it would to date be the last George Michael song to break into the US Top 100. The new, more mature Michael would take some getting used to, especially after the creative silence during his feud with his record label.
B-sides: I'm Your Man '96 [Wham! cover], Fastlove (Fully Extended) [this blends remixes of Fastlove and I'm Your Man '96 into a single long track], Fastlove (Summer Mix)
Michael's next single, Spinning The Wheel, was his third from Older and his third in 1996. It rose to #2 on the UK charts, being held out of the top spot by Spice Girls track Wannabe.
B-sides: You Know That I Want To, Safe, Spinning The Wheel (Forthright Club Mix), Spinning The Wheel (Jon Douglas Remix)
Early in 1997, Michael released Older, the title track from this latest album. Not a worldwide hit, it did make it to #3 on the UK charts.
B-sides: I Can't Make You Love Me, Desafinado [with Astrud Gilberto of "The Girl From Ipanema" fame], The Strangest Thing (live) [recorded at the BBC in late 1996]
Star People '97 is a re-recorded track quite different from the album version, and was the fifth single from Older. It reached #2 on the UK chart and #1 on the US Club chart.
B-sides: Everything She Wants (Unplugged), Star People (Unplugged) [tracks taken from MTV Unplugged], Star People '97 (Galaxy Mix), Star People '97 (Forthright Club Mix), Star People '97 (Galaxy Dub Mix)
Michael collaborated with Toby Bourke on Waltz Away Dreaming, the lead single for Bourke's album Room 21. It reached the UK Top 10 in 1997. While not strictly a George Michael single, it continued his string of hits as a songwriter.
B-side: Things I Said Tonight (Live Demo Version)
The sixth single from Older was a double-A Side featuring You Have Been Loved / The Strangest Thing '97. (Michael was continuing his new habit of reworking tracks for single release, in this case quite a change from the album version.) It was kept from the top spot in the UK charts by Elton John's Candle In The Wind charity single.
B-sides: Father Figure (Unplugged), Praying For Time (Unplugged) [again taken from MTV Unplugged]
After this final single from this album, George Michael folded his record label Ægean Records, and began releasing non-album singles. The first of these was 1998's Outside, a song which comments on Michael's recent arrest for engaging in a lewd act in a Beverly Hills public restroom, an event which forced Michael to publicly admit his homosexuality for the first time. The single charted in the top 30 in many countries, including another #2 slot in the UK and hit #3 on the US Club chart.
B-sides: Fantasy '98, Outside (Jon Douglas Remix)
Mary J. Blige joined Michael to cover Stevie Wonder's As, released as a single in 1999. It was yet another Top 5 UK hit, peaking at #4.
B-sides: A Different Corner (live at Parkinson), As (Full Crew Mix), As (CJ Mackintosh Remix), As (Beyond Real Mix) [unavailable], As (Jonathan Peters Remix), As (Maurice's Millennium Mix)
Whitney Houston remade If I Told You That to include George Michael in 2000 when she included it on her Whitney: The Greatest Hits album. It was a top-40 hit in several countries, and peaked at #9 in the UK. It did not chart in the US.
B-sides: Fine, If I Told You That (Johnny Douglas Mix), I'm Your Baby Tonight (Dronez Mix)
After being fairly quiet as a solo artist for several years, although still in the public eye, George Michael suddenly returned in early 2002 with an apparent one-off single, Freeek! [probably NSFW]. A fairly substantial hit around the world (except for in the US where it was not released), the song would be reworked as Freeek! '04 when it was eventually included on his fourth solo album, Patience.
B-sides: Freeek! (The Scumfrogs Mix) [unavailable], Freeek! (Moogymen Mix), Freeek! (Max Reich Mix), The Long And Winding Road [recorded at the Concert For Linda]
Another apparent one-off single was released in 2002, the politically-charged Shoot The Dog (previously). The video was animated by satirical UK television series 2DTV. The song reached #12 in the UK charts, but once again was not released in the US. The song would also be excluded from the US version of Patience, but included in international releases.
B-sides: Shoot The Dog (Moogeymen Mix), Shoot The Dog (Alexkid Shoot The Radio Mix)
Another period of silence from George Michael followed, from late 2002 until early 2004, when he released Amazing, the lead-off single for his fourth solo album, Patience. (Well, technically the THIRD single, but this was the first directly associated with this new album.) This single and album marked Michael's return to Sony, the album he fought with acrimoniously over a decade previously. Amazing peaked at #4 in the UK, but topped the US Club chart.
B-sides: Amazing (Jack 'N' Rory 7" Vocal Mix), Amazing (Full Intention Club Mix)
Flawless (Go To The City) was Michael's next single, and it once again hit the top of the US Club chart, but only reached #8 in the UK.
B-sides: Please Send Me Someone (Anselmo's Song) (Alternate Version Edit), Flawless (Go To The City) (Album Version), Flawless (Go To The City) (Jack 'N' Rory Vocal Mix), Flawless (Go To The City) (Shapeshifters Remix), Flawless (Go To The City) (Boxer Mix), Flawless (Go To The City) (The Sharp Boys Hot Fridge Vocal Mix)
To close out 2004, George Michael released Round Here, a quiet meditation on his childhood in London. The song did not perform well on any charts (peaking at 32 in the UK).
B-side: Patience
The final single from this album was released in late 2005, John And Elvis Are Dead. It was a digital-only download and thus was ineligible for any music charts.
B-sides: Edith & The Kingpin (Live At Abbey Road), Praying For Time (Live At Abbey Road), For The Love (Of You), Precious Box (Shapeshifters Remix)
An Easier Affair was released in 2006 to promote his greatest hits collection Twenty Five. It reached #13 in the UK.
B-side: Brother, Can You Spare A Dime? (Performed At Pavarotti And Friends)
Michael would team up with Mutya Buena for This Is Not Real Love, also released in 2006. The single performed modestly on the charts.
B-sides: Everything She Wants (Remix), I'm Your Man (Extended Stimulation Remix), This Is Not Real Love (Moto Blanco Mix), This Is Not Real Love (Moto Blanco Dub) [unavailable]
In 2008, December Song (I Dreamed Of Christmas) was released as a free download on George Michael's website, appropriately enough on Christmas Day. A commercial single was released the following year, and again in 2010 and 2011. The 2009 release saw the song debut on the UK chart at #14, and likely would have climbed higher if the entire run of the physical release had not sold out in under 24 hours.
B-side: Jingle (A Musical Interlewd) [unavailable]
George Michael's cover of New Order's True Faith was recorded and released in 2011 as a charity single for Comic Relief. Controversy was stirred by the more-than-liberal use of Vocodor-like technology on the track. The track got to #27 on the UK charts.
B-side: True Faith (Instrumental)
Also in 2011, in honor of the wedding of William and Kate, Michael released a cover of Stevie Wonder's You And I (We Can Conquer The World), retitled as You And I, for free on his website, requesting that all who download the track donate to charity.

It would be over a year until Michael released another single. White Light was released in August 2012, and the lyrics reflect on his battle with pneumonia the previous year that nearly resulted in his death. The song peaked at #15 on the UK charts.
B-sides: Song To The Siren, White Light (Voodoo Sonics Remix), White Light (Kinky Roland Remix), White Light (Steven Redant & Phil Romano Divine Vox Remix), White Light (Stereogamous Bath Housse Mix), White Light (Jackman & Thomas Remix), White Light (David Kay Remix)
For his 2014 live album Symphonica, Michael released a cover of Terrence Trent D'Arby's Let Her Down Easy. The track was recorded live, but new radio rules in the UK forced Michael to remove all audience sounds from the track to make it eligible for airplay. The song failed to crack the top 40 in the UK.
B-side: Sign Your Name [US only] [unavailable]
Well over 30 years as a recording artist and song writer. Over 40 singles, many more of them giant successes than even mild failures. George Michael has hinted at a new album, which would only be his sixth. This impressive catalog of singles may continue to expand as the years continue.
posted by hippybear (78 comments total) 92 users marked this as a favorite
My default excuse for not dancing, to this day, is "Guilty feet ain't got no rhythm."
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:21 PM on August 24, 2014 [12 favorites]

hmmm, I was thinking "something sounds wrong about that version of "Somebody to Love." They changed the key for Michael - it's a whole step lower for him (nice post, though!).
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 1:29 PM on August 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

This is an amazing post but I can't help but spare a thought for Andrew Ridgeley and Son of Albert.
posted by chavenet at 1:32 PM on August 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

"Careless Whisper"? What song is that? *click*

[Saxophone solo]

Oooooohhhh, that song.
posted by zabuni at 1:32 PM on August 24, 2014 [6 favorites]


sorry metafilter all future posts will be subpar
posted by elizardbits at 1:43 PM on August 24, 2014 [23 favorites]

Also please enjoy the MTV unplugged version of Freedom '90
posted by elizardbits at 1:47 PM on August 24, 2014 [5 favorites]

I actually just played this song last night by the fire pit.

In 2000 or so, I was visiting my relatives in Vietnam for the first time since we'd left. I was super-stressed in the days leading up to the trip -- 4 weeks in a, for all intents and purposes, foreign country with my entire family. It was craziness.

After 36 hours of travel, we all piled up into a cab in HCMC. The first thing we heard? A Vietnamese cover of "Careless Whispers." We all looked at each other and cracked up.

We would hear that song, covered by dozens of bands, almost every time we went into a commercial establishment or took a cab for the entire month. It haunted us as we awkwardly met our cousins and tried not to cry over how much our paths had diverged. It greeted us when we took them to the mall for ice cream and to buy the kids new clothes for the first time. It accompanied our arguments with shady taxi drivers who kept getting "lost" all over town.

The trip was emotionally wrenching for many reasons, but in my head that song is the soundtrack to one of the most meaningful times in my life, and I still smile whenever I hear it.
posted by snickerdoodle at 1:49 PM on August 24, 2014 [14 favorites]

I came in to make a lazy Arrested Development joke, but then I saw the depth of the post and my lazy joke was stunned right out of me.
posted by hydropsyche at 1:50 PM on August 24, 2014 [7 favorites]

Also also re: the Shep Pettibone remixes of the late 80s/early90s - this was when I think I really realized all the things that could be done with remixes. The various disco remixes I'd heard before then were just so samey in essence to the original songs that they were unsatisfying when presented as something new.
posted by elizardbits at 1:58 PM on August 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

The only flaw in this obsessively complete post is the absence of the WHAM! hits that first put George Michael on the pop-cultural map, particularly the enjoyably bizarre "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go". The first known use of the word "Jitterbug" in a pop song in over 30 years, maybe 40. Not to mention the simulated live performance video with the sudden wardrobe change from "CHOOSE LIFE" t-shirts to gym shorts and yellow gloves... Nope, there's no way I can think of G.M. without THAT song earworming me...
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:01 PM on August 24, 2014 [9 favorites]

it ushered in the career of a global music superstar that continues to this day.

It does? *reads post* ...huh. Who knew?
posted by entropicamericana at 2:01 PM on August 24, 2014 [3 favorites]

Like many folks my age I enjoy George Michael's hits, but I can't say I'm a fan really. Either way he's had my respect ever since "Freedom '90."

P.S. Outstanding post, hippybear.
posted by ob1quixote at 2:02 PM on August 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

yellow gloves

excuse you they were fluorescent yellow fingerless gloves
posted by elizardbits at 2:03 PM on August 24, 2014 [5 favorites]

oneswellfoop: I had considered doing an "addendum" at the bottom of the post, getting into his years with Wham! and some of the other things he's done which would be interesting to watch (like the video thing he put out just before Listen Without Prejudice Vol 1, and his MTV Unplugged performance in its entirety, and several other things)...

But I realized, with something this extensive, having a unity of purpose would probably be best, so I stuck to just his singles.
posted by hippybear at 2:07 PM on August 24, 2014 [3 favorites]

So at the time "I Want Your Sex" came out, I had my first serious girlfriend. I was a virgin (or at least counted myself as one); she was most definitely not, which was something of an issue between us. It wasn't as if I was planning on saving it for marriage, I just wanted things to proceed in a linear fashion, A, B, C, D, such that I would not go forward to the next step until I was reasonably proficient at the current step, rather than plunging towards intercourse like a missile or something, which had been her plan somewhere around week two. Her backup plan was constantly nagging me about it and looking for opportunities to change my mind, and then hassling me when I did not, plus a lot of unproductive wrestling.

The release of this song also managed to overlap with a rise in ubiquity of Cherry Coke and create endless opportunities for teasing me. She would offer to get sodas and then say, "Are you sure you don't want a ... cherry Coke?" And then "I Want Your Sex" would come on the radio or MTV, her green eyes would light up with wickedness, and I'd think "here it comes, she's going to do the dance again, isn't she?"

This song will always be linked in my mind with finding my girlfriend had stealthily swapped out my soda for a cherry version while I was in the restroom.
posted by adipocere at 2:11 PM on August 24, 2014 [3 favorites]

I am a huge Oakland A's fan, and so of course I associate Careless Whisper with Josh Reddick as it's now his walk-up song.
posted by ORthey at 2:11 PM on August 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Epic post is epic. And awesome.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 2:21 PM on August 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

No offense to everyone else who would may have also done this topic justice, but as I realized what it was going to be, I totally thought "please be hippybear, please be hippybear" before checking the post's author.

posted by MCMikeNamara at 2:29 PM on August 24, 2014 [3 favorites]

My first concert was the Faith tour, and I flew to Dallas a few years ago just to see a George Michael concert with the childhood friend whose mom took us to the Faith concert. And I can still recite all the words to Wham Rap. This post is the best post.
posted by Mavri at 2:30 PM on August 24, 2014

Fantastic post. And, wow, that cover of "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime" is as good as it was unexpected. Unleashing the pipes on that one.

I associated GM with some of the most stylish of the music videos back in the day, including my favorite, "Too Funky." "Making of" video here. Thierry Mugler's "director's cut" video here. HD split-screen version here.

That tune was a mixtape staple for ages.
posted by the sobsister at 2:31 PM on August 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

omg, unraveling the samples used in the Freedom '90 Back To Reality mix is amazing. neneh cherry, sinead o'connor, and something else i can't figure out.
posted by elizardbits at 2:45 PM on August 24, 2014

It's times like this that I realise just how many of his songs I know, without classifying myself as a fan. Goes to show how much he has settled down in a corner of my head without me realising. (See also: Duran Duran).

Excellent post, hippybear.
posted by arcticseal at 2:47 PM on August 24, 2014

What, no love for George Michael's haunting cover of "They Won't Go When I Go"? I actually prefer it to the original by Stevie Wonder.
posted by orange swan at 2:51 PM on August 24, 2014 [3 favorites]

I don't even much like GM, but I am favoriting this post, because damn, son.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 2:54 PM on August 24, 2014 [3 favorites]

One upon a time, people used to bug trumpet players with "Can you play Feels So Good"? (because laymen don't know the difference between a trumpet and a flugelhorn)

Years later the pressure was off the trumpet/flugel players, and everybody started bugging sax players with "Can you play that Sexy Sax Man thing?"

Trumpet players snickered.
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:55 PM on August 24, 2014 [3 favorites]

August is the new December! Epic, epic post.

Although I can't help but think most of these links will be dead in 6 months...
posted by nevercalm at 2:56 PM on August 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

*slow clap building to riotous applause *
posted by The Whelk at 2:56 PM on August 24, 2014 [5 favorites]

[original mixes of this track are difficult to locate online]

here is a live version though
posted by elizardbits at 3:01 PM on August 24, 2014

I still hate this song. It was music like this that made me become a metal fan.
posted by jonmc at 3:25 PM on August 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

You've sent me down a rabbit hole of late high school and college memories. Oh, those songs. It's the sad ones that have stayed with me the most -- the ones I'd listen to over and over and over and OVER AND OVER AND OVER again while trying to get over some heartbreak or another. Sigh.
posted by BlahLaLa at 3:30 PM on August 24, 2014

Freedom 90 continued his statement of distancing himself from his previous star hunk status. The video not only did not feature Michael at all, it also included images associated with his Faith video being blown up or set on fire or otherwise destroyed. George enlisted an A-list cast of supermodel friends to lip-synch his lyrics...
That video was directed by some guy called David Fincher.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 3:39 PM on August 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

This is what a standing ovation on Mefi looks like.
posted by a halcyon day at 4:00 PM on August 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

Front and center at the 30th birthday party for this song, of course, was undoubtedly Sexy Sax Man Sergio Flores. You go where the love is.
posted by Rykey at 4:06 PM on August 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

*slow clap building to riotous applause *
Or rather, slow clap building to something like this, with tambourine...
posted by ikahime at 4:09 PM on August 24, 2014

On preview, Damn you Greg_Ace for beating me to the punch.
posted by Rykey at 4:11 PM on August 24, 2014

Look at my butt
posted by stevil at 4:12 PM on August 24, 2014 [10 favorites]

I remember when the radio stations wouldn't play I Want Your Sex, and it was a huge deal. There was some stupid, inferior dubbed version ("I Want Your Love") and it was terrible so we all went and bought the single. (Remember the cassingle?)
posted by desjardins at 4:20 PM on August 24, 2014 [4 favorites]

I have a drunken theory that everyone has a favorite song. Most people protest that 'no, I couldn't possibly pick just one', but I wheedle and cajole and buy them drinks until they come up with it - and EVERYONE realizes that 'yep, there's this one song...' ('Into the Mystic' by Van Morrison, BTW) I remember an outrageous bender in NOLA until my drinking partner admitted to 'Freedom '90'. Excellent post.
posted by ersatzkat at 4:25 PM on August 24, 2014

The student projects from a book history class on campus are currently on display in the library I work in. I didn't take a close enough look at the illuminated manuscript...
posted by avocet at 4:26 PM on August 24, 2014 [4 favorites]

This is where I talk about how much I like the song Fastlove. I felt like it represented who ( maybe) George Michael really was, and, IMHO, was sung in, for lack of a better word, a more adult style. When I got the Older cassette, I played that song over and over. The video is cool too, but I didn't see it till years later.

And let me remind those of you who haven't already read it on Metafilter that Andrew Ridgeley ended up married to one of the women from Bananarama - how cool is that?
posted by wittgenstein at 4:28 PM on August 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm never gonna post again
Guilty fingers got no rhythm
posted by Renoroc at 4:45 PM on August 24, 2014 [3 favorites]

Wow. This is a hell of a post.

"Freedom" is still one of my all-time favorite songs. It could be an Elton John song, if Elton John was, you know, cool....and that funky all the time.
posted by biscotti at 5:03 PM on August 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

George Michael is way undersold in terms of his influence. Lots of male pop/R&B singers owe him a huge (largely unacknowledged) debt. They all love to give props to Marvin Gaye and Prince and Stevie Wonder, which is great and all, but most of them (Robin Thicke and Justin Timberlake, I'm looking at you) wouldn't have careers if it weren't for ripping off blueprints George Michael drew up.
posted by blucevalo at 5:12 PM on August 24, 2014 [9 favorites]

Carless Vespers.
posted by Greg_Ace at 5:21 PM on August 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Srsly, "Freedom 90" (both the song and the video) are iconic. I imagine there are a ton of artists who would kill just to have a single hit so indelible.

On some podcast recently--I want to say Throwing Shade?--someone happened to mention the video and everyone started riffing on its imagery ("Can't...get out... of this...sweater!") and every bit of it was clear as day in my mind's eye, nearly a quarter-century later.
posted by psoas at 5:34 PM on August 24, 2014

Really, a hell of a post.

In case you haven't seen or heard it, the Wax Audio mash-up Careless Rebel.
posted by and for no one at 5:37 PM on August 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Started reading this and got about a paragraph in and just thought, "OH MAN, I LOVE HIPPYBEAR POSTS!"
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 5:43 PM on August 24, 2014 [5 favorites]

Killer/Papa was a rolling stone
posted by slater at 5:43 PM on August 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

Ha, I'm starting a job soon and in the break room there is a label that says "Careless Whispers" on the edge of a table. Someone asked why that was there, and the response was that they play that at five to get people to leave the office. I mentioned that to some friends, blanked out on the name, and described it as "the most obnoxious sax solo ever." Three people immediately said, "Careless Whispers." The Sax Solo. The Legend. The Earworm.
posted by sfkiddo at 5:52 PM on August 24, 2014

I will admit I learned one thing from this post: Careless Whisper and Baker Street are, in fact, different songs.
posted by item at 6:11 PM on August 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

particularly the enjoyably bizarre "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go"

particularly something. But enjoyable? No. Not for me. Not even slightly. And then there's that time that someone tried to get me fired from a DJ gig for refusing to play it for them. Thus was my loathing for it crystallized. EVERYTHING I COULD CONCEIVABLY HATE IN A POP SONG.

Anyway, Andrew Ridgeley drew the map.

great post, by the way
posted by philip-random at 6:17 PM on August 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

chavenet: "This is an amazing post but I can't help but spare a thought for Andrew Ridgeley and Son of Albert."

I don't know, Ridgely has the co-writing credit on Careless Whisper, so I think he's done pretty well off of that.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:31 PM on August 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Look at my butt

posted by Halloween Jack at 6:33 PM on August 24, 2014 [3 favorites]

Whoa. Thank you for this. Amazing.
posted by ltracey at 7:01 PM on August 24, 2014

WHAM! -- the living deities of the '80's. Loved Wake Me Up Before You Go Go and I'm Your Man (and the former song was utter nonsense -- no wonder the significant other of the song never told him about going dancing -- he promised to go out dancing, but then wants to stay at home -- sheesh!). As a pre-teen, Careless Whisper was just so out there for me, placing me squarely in the Born Yesterday camp (hanging out in school halls is not quite the same as hanging out on street corners, but I digress). They were a fun duo -- such eye candy that could actually sing. Faith was a great song, too -- still gets me dancing after all of these years. What a voice.

Thank you for the uber-post! Jitterbug!
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 7:22 PM on August 24, 2014

Holy cow! Most comprehensive post of 2014?

GM just never turned my key much, but I do admit the sax solo is iconic.
posted by BlueHorse at 7:26 PM on August 24, 2014


I remember wearing out those instrumental B-sides when I was a kid. Not enough artists do that!

And the gospel version of "One More Try" still wrenches my gut after all these years.

One year in middle school, every class had to pick an "official" song to march into the pep assembly to. My class voted in "I Want Your Sex" by a landslide. Some Bon Jovi song was hastily substituted by the administration.

We use to change lyrics, of course. Instead of:
Sex is natural - sex is good
Not everybody does it
But everybody should
Sex is natural - sex is fun
Sex is best when it's
One on one
We'd sing,
Sex is natural - sex is good
Sex is best
In a cape and hood
Sex is natural - sex is fun
Sex is best when it's
Over and done
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:51 PM on August 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

I recently wandered upon GM's cover of "I Can't Make You Love Me" from MTV Unplugged, a great rendition that left me wondering how his pipes have held up through the years. Very grateful to find his 2012 performance at Palais Garnier Paris--his voice is even more refined and nuanced these days.
posted by prinado at 8:12 PM on August 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

George Michael is way undersold in terms of his influence. Lots of male pop/R&B singers owe him a huge (largely unacknowledged) debt.

Like George Michael getting RickRolled off the charts?
posted by stbalbach at 8:39 PM on August 24, 2014

Look at my butt


Some mistakes were built to last.
posted by hippybear at 9:03 PM on August 24, 2014 [3 favorites]

I guess we're far enough along in this thread that I can say that I find the track Precious Box (off Patience) to be remarkable. From the way the track builds to the way the lyric is constructed to the intelligence and insight given to the themes being explored, it's utterly magnificent.
posted by hippybear at 9:12 PM on August 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

I realise I'm in a minority, but for me, this is the definitive version of Faith.

(From The Smell of Reeves and Mortimer.)
posted by ZipRibbons at 12:38 AM on August 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

English scientists use it to calibrate their instruments!

Great post!
posted by persona au gratin at 2:02 AM on August 25, 2014

... that continues to this day.

um seriously? Nostalgia value is not really the same as continued relevance.
posted by mary8nne at 5:50 AM on August 25, 2014

Nostalgia value is not really the same as continued relevance.

And influence is not really the same as relevance.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:44 AM on August 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

I included "Faith" on a compilation CD I made for my father - a huge Bo Diddley fan - of "all the songs I can find with the Bo Diddley riff in them". It's actually a really cool compilation, and Dad loved it - except for "Faith." When he said that that was his only complaint about the thing, I told him, "Dad, I had to put up with that when I was 18, I see no reason why you should also go unscathed."

A tangent: I saw the Tennant/Tate production of Much Ado About Nothing in 2011, which was set in the 80s and thus filled with kitschy references. The music for the show was highly influenced by Wham - one scene change was set to "There Was A Lover And His Lass" set to music that was obviously inspired by "Careless Whisper," and the "Sigh No More" rendition at the end reminded me of "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" (and remained insidiously stuck in my head for three days).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:19 AM on August 25, 2014

Known to London cabbies as "The bubble with the stubble". his media profile hereabouts is mostly based on his habit of crashing expensive cars when very stoned, and unapologetic antics on 'Ampsted 'Eath...
posted by Devonian at 7:57 AM on August 25, 2014

I haven't listened to "Careless Whisper" in a long time but as I listened, something jumped out to me that I didn't notice at the time, it reminded me a lot of the earliest Sade... beautiful saxophone line, slow latin-ish rythym, soulful singer. "Your Love is King" was released as a single in February, 1984 but only made it to #5 in the UK. The time was right for slow sax ballads, i guess.
posted by rjd at 9:25 AM on August 25, 2014

Great post. Like many I am torn about the greatness/schmaltziness of the sax solo but I remember it note for note decades on, so that says something.

The worst sax line from those days has gotta be from "The Heat Is On" by Glenn Frey, especially if you combine it with the video. The recording has one sax player but the video has a different player (Beverly Dahlke-Smith if you believe Wikipedia). She does this little dance while playing that cracks me up. Pretty much every time a song comes on Spotify that has any sort of bouncy or peppy sax, I break into the "sax down, sax up" dance. Rock forward, air sax. Lean back, air sax. Repeat to the music. It's easy!
posted by freecellwizard at 11:58 AM on August 25, 2014

...I'll take female sax players from the 80's for $100, Alex.
posted by and for no one at 1:09 PM on August 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

Also, I do a version of "I Want Your Sex" as sung by Ethel Merman.

Go on...try it, you know you want to.
posted by biscotti at 5:47 PM on August 25, 2014

So, despite Symphonica being a chart-topping album, the first single from it didn't perform well at all. But he's not giving up! He released a second single from it (that is not in the post above), the Newley/Bricusse tune Feeling Good.

Frankly, while I love what I've heard from Symphonica, especially the instrumental arrangements (no idea who did those, but wow!), I do sort of wish he'd just sit down and listen to White Light a couple of times and put out a new album of original material. Patience was excellent, and we need more of that.
posted by hippybear at 11:03 PM on August 25, 2014

The worst sax line from those days has gotta be from "The Heat Is On" by Glenn Frey

And where exactly does Tim Capello's cover of The Call's I Still Believe (from The Lost Boys) land on your list?
posted by hippybear at 12:23 AM on August 26, 2014 [2 favorites]

freecellwizard: “The worst sax line from those days has gotta be from "The Heat Is On" by Glenn Frey, especially if you combine it with the video.”
hippybear: “And where exactly does Tim Capello's cover of The Call's I Still Believe (from The Lost Boys) land on your list?”
Yeah, I'm gonna have to agree with hippybear. That song from The Lost Boys is much worse. Even if “The Heat Is On” where David Woodford played the sax (it was Beverly Dahlke-Smith in the video) were the worst — and I don't think it's even close not to mention any blame probably goes to Harold Faltermeyer and Keith Forsey — Frey made up for it with “You Belong to the City” with Bill Bergman on the sax.

Then again if I had my druthers I'd be in a 10-piece band so…
posted by ob1quixote at 2:24 AM on August 26, 2014

The boy can write songs! Three standouts always hit the sweet spot of fun + I want to play on endless repeat: "Careless Whisper" was very important to angsty, teen me. I remember thinking there was no better song in the world. And then Debi Thomas skated to "One More Try" at the Calgary Olympics skating showcase, and his superior songwriting skills were confirmed. Finally, there was but don't even get me started on "Last Christmas" (though I guess it really is a rip-off of "Can't Smile Without You.") I hadn't realized what a huge fan of George Michael I definitely was! Thanks for the walk down memory lane, starting with late high school. Maybe I'll get tix to his next tour.
posted by Pocahontas at 9:09 AM on August 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

I can't favorite this post enough. This is the second consecutive night I've spent following links and enjoying the music. Thanks, hippybear.
posted by slmorri at 8:46 PM on August 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

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