Remembering George Michael
"Listen to your heart"
Mourning the Loss of an Icon
This morning, as I am writing this article, I am listening to all my favorite Wham! music and watching video after video of George Michael singing and dancing his way into the center of an iconic pop legend status. His smooth soulful vocals saturate my senses as the complementary music ebbs and flows throughout a danceable tune, while his music videos exhibit tastefully exotic and erotic sexual images. I am reminded of my teenage years when New Wave ruled radio and MTV.
As Seen on MTV
MTV in 1984
Even though my listening choices this morning exclude the flashing M, the variety of vocals and instruments, and the multitude of names and faces associated with New Wave, I am still transported back to a time when George Michael’s voice was new to not only me, but the entire world. It feels impossible to believe that the first time I heard Wham!, or Wham UK, as they were briefly known, was over thirty years ago, in 1984.
When New Wave Ruled
In the '80's
Then and Now
1984 was the same year the AIDS virus was discovered, Vanessa Williams resigned as Miss America after unauthorized nude photos of her surfaced, and Beverly Burns became the first female captain in the world of the Boeing 747 jumbo jet. Today, the treatment for AIDS has been reduced from the cocktail to a single pill, and dramatically slows the progress of the disease. Vanessa Williams went from being the first African American Miss America to being a well-respected all around entertainer in Hollywood and on Broadway, and Beverly Burns went on to captain the DC-9, DC-10, Boeing 757 and Boeing 767 jetliners as well as the most technologically sophisticated airliner at the time, the Boeing 777, before retiring in 2008. 1984 was also the same year Ghostbusters, Footloose, Born In The U.S.A., and Purple Rain were released. Marvin Gaye was shot by his father in 1984, Terms of Endearment won Best Picture at the Academy Awards, crack cocaine was first introduced in Los Angeles, and Band Aid, featuring the top British music artists of the time, including George Michael, recorded and released “Do They Know It’s Christmas,” with all proceeds going to fight the famine in Ethiopia.
1984 Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet
Wham! recorded and released Michael’s own holiday song, “Last Christmas,” the same year as the chart topping “Do They Know It’s Christmas.” Wham!’s recording of the popular holiday tune remains the most successful version available, even after being covered by at least twelve other artists, including American artists Hilary Duff, Ashley Tisdale, Carly Rae Jepson, Taylor Swift and the cast of Glee. Wham!’s original version charted at number two, right behind “Do They Know It’s Christmas,” while the most successful cover, belonging to Ariana Grande, only charted at number twenty-six with revamped lyrics interpreted as a woman-done-wrong breakup song. Personally, my favorite covers are Taylor Swift and Ashley Tisdale’s, however, neither compare to the original.
Top British Artists Asking, "Do They Know It's Christmas"?
A Holiday Classic
December 25, 2016
As I go back and forth between writing this article, checking facts, and skipping cover videos, I can’t help but read the comments left on the video site over the years. Occasionally I am startled by a post made within the past twenty-four or so hours, and am instantly, painfully, reminded that this sultry voice I am listening to will never again deliver the same amount of joy as when it was new because it will be forever tinged, from this day forward, with the knowledge that George Michael died on Christmas Day, 2016.
George Michael Forever
A Self-Assured Man
I am having difficulty in finishing up this article, because I don’t want to turn off the music. I don’t want the videos to end. I want to remember George Michael as I have always known him – as a provocative and talented entertainer with a human side who was neither afraid to embrace his sexuality nor compelled to flaunt it in front of the entire world. Because he was comfortable with himself.
“You'll never find peace of mind until you listen to your heart.”— George Michael
I couldn’t agree more.
RIP George Michael
© 2016 Rafini