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SDE’s 10 best George Michael songs

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I’m still in shock at the news of the untimely death of George Michael. However, while we mourn his passing, let’s remember how much fantastic music he produced. Below represents a personal list of my favourite George Michael songs (Wham! and solo) at this moment in time. Such was the quality of his output, it could easily be ten other songs, but these are ones I’ve always loved and returned to over the years and decades. Each selection comes withYouTube audio…

Blue (Armed With Love)

A rare non-album B-side, Blue (Armed With Love) backed up number four hit Club Tropicana in the summer of 1983. It was a semi-instrumental composition and the economic keyboard-y production was more in keeping with what would follow in 1984’s Make It Big. A different version was sung live, notably Blue (Live In China), although George also lip-synched to an unreleased studio version on UK TV’s The Russell Harty Show. Blue (Armed With Love) is only available on CD via the original Japanese CD single of Club Tropicana. Blue (Live In China) is on the CD of Music From The Edge Of Heaven, which was a US-only single-disc version of the 1986 double album career summary, The Final. In the UK, only the cassette and vinyl versions of The Final featured Blue (Armed With Love).


Careless Whisper

In later years, George was quick to dismiss Careless Whisper, probably because the song came so easily to him, so young, but it was a magical combination of a very commercial record, with a smart lyric that somehow didn’t (and doesn’t) get dulled by overfamiliarity. Also, George worked very hard on the song, rejecting the original recording, produced by Jerry Wexler, and re-recording it with himself in total control of the production. It’s that version that was a transatlantic number one single. The Wexler version (have a listen) did surface briefly on the Japanese 12-inch and a limited edition UK 12-inch. It has never been issued on CD.


Everything She Wants

George rarely embraced his Wham! recordings in later years, but clearly had a soft spot for Everything She Wants, for which he made an exception. It was the only Wham! song he performed on MTV’s Unplugged in 1996 (which is part of the bonus content in the forthcoming Listen Without Prejudice reissue). Everything She Wants was a double-A side with Last Christmas and so peaked at number two due to Band Aid’s Do They Know It’s Christmas? but it became the third number one from Make It Big in the USA. The six-and-a-half minute remix is far from superfluous, since it contains and added bridge and new vocal elements from George.


Battlestations

George was a songwriter from the top-drawer, but to say he was not prolific is an understatement. When you consider that all the recordings for Make It Big were in the bag by autumn 1984, in the following two years only four further Wham! recordings were made – I’m Your Man, The Edge Of Heaven, Where Did Your Heart Go? and Battlestations. Clearly Prince-influenced, Battlestations was the B-side to the last single The Edge Of Heaven, although slightly confusingly was the lead song on the UK 12-inch of the same single. This high quality extra track sign-posted the direction George would take on 1987’s solo album Faith. His ability to pull melodies out of thin air on this minimalistic track, still impresses.


Hand To Mouth

It’s interesting to reflect just how big Faith was in America, compared to the UK. None of the singles went to number one over here and Father Figure didn’t even make the top ten. In the USA four of the six singles hit the top spot which meant at the age of 25 George had had been responsible for SEVEN number one US singles (he would go on to have three more). There were few songs on Faith that didn’t end up on an A-side or a B-side and album track Hand To Mouth was selected as the B-side to Faith. The lyric concerns aspiration and the American Dream (“I believe in the gods of America / I believe in the land of the free”) and two disenfranchised characters for whom things don’t work out. It’s a very thoughtful work and lacks the bombast of some of the tracks on the album. Richard Marx’s 1991 hit Hazard has a remarkable similar verse melody and tone…


Father Figure

The third single from Faith is a superb composition. George’s breathy vocal delivers a fine melody which culminates in the gospel-infused chorus. The song ran for over five and a half minutes and wasn’t edited for the single release. The B-side was an instrumental version, which wasn’t included as a bonus track on the 2011 reissue of Faith. If you want that on CD you’ll need to dig deep for an original CD single.  There was no 12-inch extended version of this song.


Waiting For That Day

Praying For Time delivered George a top ten single, but that aside, none of the 45s from his second solo album, Listen Without Prejudice, Vol 1 were even top 20 hits in the UK. Second single Waiting For That Day deserved much better than peaking at number 23. The ‘funky drummer’ sample roots it to the era, but despite this, Waiting For That Day has a timeless vibe and benefits from a personal lyric of self-examination (“everybody’s talking about this new decade, like you say the magic numbers then just say goodbye to the stupid mistakes you made”). Segueing into You Can’t Always Get What You Want at the end brings the song to a perfect close.


Soul Free

Freedom ’90 – aka ‘the fast song’ from Listen Without Prejudice – is undoubtedly an impressive piece of work but it’s something of a ‘jigsaw’ of a song and the mid-paced album-closer Soul Free is easily its match for me. This sounds AMAZING if you crank it up and George delivers an incredible vocal. Surely this dance track would have been a sizeable hit had it been released. A rare, promo-only radio edit of this track appears on the forthcoming super deluxe edition of Listen Without Prejudice.


Crazyman Dance

Crazyman Dance was the B-side to Too Funky. It’s a more interesting and slightly ‘darker’ song than the A-side and boasts an epic widescreen production.  You get the feeling George was letting loose a little bit and just having fun on a track that could be tucked away out of sight. Another number that will feature on the LWP reissue (SDE only).


Spinning The Wheel

Right slap bang in the middle of Britpop and the return of  ‘the guitar band’, George delivered his third solo album Older and was rewarded by six singles that all went top three in the UK (including two number ones). A remarkable achievement. Spinning The Wheel was the third 45 and the first from the album not to go to number one! It was also his first single to have a non-album B-side (You Know That I Want To) since Freedom ’90 (that was backed with Fantasy). This slinky, atmospheric track has a hypnotic quality and even a John Barry-esque feel in places.


That ends the SDE list. What would be in YOUR top ten? The pure pop of Wake Me Up Before Your Go Go, perhaps? Other maybe the political commentary of Praying For Time? Leave a comment with your personal favourites!

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David

1. Amazing
2. Nothing Looks the Same in the Light
3. You Know That I Want to
4. Crazyman Dance
5. Come On
6. Blue
7. Precious Box
8. I Can’t Make You Love Me
9. Cowboys and Angels
10. Fastlove

Todd R.

Was CRAZYMAN DANCE the music used for GM’s Soda ads here in the USA?

HS

Excellent list Paul.
Mine would be (if I stick only to solo singles):

December Song
Jesus To A Child
You Have Been Loved
Amazing
Cowboys And Angels
Careless Whisper
Too Funky
Fast Love
A Different Corner
Praying For Time

His body of work, especially up to the 00’s really was excellent.

Chris Balfour

Hi all….hoping someone can help me. I believe i had a vinyl version of Everything She Wants once (no longer since giving away my vinyl) and it had a remix that i haven’t been able to find since. It had what i can only describe as some electronic drums splashes in the middle, as well as the echoey “tell me” bits from George that are in the extended mix that’s easy to find

If someone knows what i am talking about then please tell me what this version is called.

Paul W

Not one mention for Nothing Looks The Same In The Light? Always been a favourite of mine, but to be honest there were very few mis-steps over his first 5 albums.

Funnily enough, the kids (11 and 6) both decided a few weeks ago that their favourite Christmas song is Last Christmas, which has been my favourite for years. Only Mrs W differs, favouring Fairytale Of New York.

Steven Pickup

My vote goes to Shoot The Dog, oh and maybe Flawless, oh George.

Pete Miles

No “Last Christmas”?

Incidentally, the RSD coloured 12″ of that has been going for up to £100 on eBay over the last 3 days. That’s a lot of money for an unplayable pressing…

George was an angel.

David Hannah

The Final included the single version of Blue, not the live version. Battlestations is definitely up there as one of the best Wham! songs

Derek

Tough to pick but here goes ( in no specific order)

Heartbeat (from Make it Big)
Everything she wants
Praying for Time
Mother’s Pride
Tonight ( cover of Elton John song)
Monkey
Outside
Cowboys and Angels
I knew you were waiting for me
Freedom (Wham)

AnthonyC

It’s too painful and inappropriate to be discussing George Michael re-issues as at this time as it feels like grave robbing.

For those desperate for re-issues, don’t hold your breath.

George owned the vast majority of his masters and licensed out his music. Whoever is appointed in his will to control his estate will have the final say.

So don’t expect record labels any time soon to be digging into vaults for demos and unreleased tracks.

:-(

pinkfloyd

In the midst of GM sad passing, & the delayed LWP v1 reissue (incomplete & incoherent, I must add) isn’t it time for Faith 30?
This time, stuff everything into 3cd+2dvd?
We miss George, we want more…
& speaking of that, how about that overdue Wham! complete box set in memoriam…
Over to you, Mr Ridgeley

Paul Kent

Listen Without Prejudice… that’s my top 10! As close to perfect as an album can get.

An honourable mention to Round Here, though. I grew up in George’s neck of the woods, in a place called Burnt Oak. The song and video are particularly poignant for me, as they bring back memories of places I knew so well. Like George, I played in Kingsbury Park. I went to Roe Green Primary School (as seen in the video). I also went to see Star Wars at Colindale cinema which was subsequently converted into a snooker hall (also seen in the video). Thanks for the memories, George.

Eightiesaddict

1. Bad Boys
2. A Different Corner
3. Monkey
4. Everything She Wants
4. Fastlove
5. Amazing
6. Outside
7. I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)
8. Killer/Papa Was Rolling Stone
9. Someone To Love
10. Freedom

Paul, I hope you do one of those posts that has all the rare or collectors items throughout the years. I love those posts.

Michael

1. The Strangest Thing
2. Cowboys & Angels
3. Hand To Mouth
4. Jesus To A Child
5. Mother’s Pride
6. A Different Corner
7. Freedom ’90
8. Father Figure
9. White Light
10. Nothing Looks The Same In The Light

MARK LEVY

I’m just wondering if Sony will be thinking about releasing an all new compilation of tracks by both WHAM and GEORGE MICHAEL perhaps as part of the Essential series of albums.

aubrey

Nice list Paul. Real shame about George. But his songs will still be heard long after the tabloid infamy fades. Here’s my top ‘ten’…

1. Jesus To A Child
2. Everything She Wants
3. Heal The Pain
4. A Different Corner
5. Freedom ’90
6. Faith
7. Wake Me Up Before You Go Go
8. Careless Whisper
9. My Mother Had A Brother
=10. The Edge Of Heaven
=10. Last Christmas
=10. Battlestations
=10. Club Tropicana

tom

I know it’s a bit of a throwaway track but I love Ray of Sunshine from the 1st Wham LP. Agree about Blue, a brilliant track which I only heard on the B side to Club Tropicana(another superb single). In fact I loved Wham. George’s solo stuff wasn’t really my thing though.

Christopher

Wrap Her Up. Thanks for the list. Enjoyed it!

Daniel

Praying for Time will always be a favorite. This week I’ve been shocked at all the GREAT covers of Last Christmas that I never heard! James Dean Bradfield, Paul Dempsey,..even Darren Hayes! Fitting tributes but done years ago.

Todd R.

Only five solo albums……:(
trivia here…”Crazyman Dance” first had its drum sequence hinted at in a diet coke commercial feat. GM during the FAITH tour…..
lets hope Andrew will help lace together the Wham! reissues…….

Michael khalsa

Father figure as well. Great song.

Michael khalsa

Nothing looks the same in the light
Like a baby
Last Christmas
Blue
Everything she Wants
A last request
Cowboys and angels
Desafinado
Where or when
If you were there

Armin

My favourite non-single tracks by my favourite singer. RIP!

1. Something To Save: Underrated Song, very strong melody and beautiful arrangement.
2. Star People: One of his best uptempo songs with great lyrics.
3. Fantasy: Incredibly catchy track. Should have been a single.
4. Cars And Trains: Moody Song with strange lyrics. Is it about suicide?
5. Look At Your Hands: Sounding a bit more aggresive than usual, similar to The Edge Of Heaven.

Ern

One More Try – Great vocal control, always loved that track.
We will miss a great artist who wrote some memorable tunes that come out of him as natural as his amazing voice.

Hans

“I can’t make you love me” is such a beautiful song. Just heard Bonnie Raitt’s version on the radio but George’s version is better.
My other favorite track is “Jesus to a child”

RIP

Hans

Jim

so great to see the love for Battlestations and Blue (Armed With Love)!

another hidden gem must surely be Nothing Looks The Same In the Light

very difficult list to compile, but:

1. A Ray of Sunshine
2. Soul Free
3. Freedom
4. Freedom ’90
5. I’m Your Man
6. Hard Day
7. Monkey
8. Praying for Time
9. Waiting for That Day
10. Where Did Your Heart Go?

RIP George

Lon Pinkerton

1. Cowboys & Angels
2. Waiting For That Day
3. A Different Corner
4. The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
5. Kissing A Fool
6. Where Did Your Heart Go?
7. This Is Not Real Love
8. Safe
9. Hand To Mouth
10. Hard Day

Teunis

His version of the Song to the Siren is amazing too. Het had the perfect voice for it and didn’t overdo it.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vDIvTCweoCw

Steve Marine

WAITING (REPRISE) is my favorite George Michael song, by far. It’s absolutely perfect.

Other favorites include (in random order):
Precious Box
Freedom ’90
They Won’t Go When I Go
A Different Corner
Hard Day
Battlestations
Last Christmas
Everything She Wants
Careless Whisper

I’ve always wished he had been more prolific, but I feel so very grateful for what he’s given us. Hopefully there’s a few songs in the vault that will see the light of day.

ChrisGa

Monkey
Waiting For That Day
I Knew Your Were Waiting (For Me)
Fastlove
Too Funky
Kissing a Fool
I Want Your Sex
Praying For Time
Freeek!
Outside

Phil Fogel

I still can’t accept that he is gone, it was way too soon, his career was cut too short. I still want another album and tour :(

A top ten is so hard but here.

Praying For Time
Freedom 90
A Different Corner
Blue Armed With Love
Careless Whisper
Something To Save
Heal The Pain
I’m Your Man
Freedom (Wham!)
Waiting For That Day

Gord

Devastating loss. Such an incredible talent as performer; musician and songwriter. Gone too too soon.

My top 10 could also change to a completely different set based on time and mood, but for now and fairly consistently favourites (in no particular order) are…

Kissing A Fool
Precious Box
Too Funky
Edge of Heaven
Praying For Time
Tonight*
Freeek!
Freedom ’90
A Different Corner
Cowboys & Angels

Four (FOUR!) of my top 10 artists of all time (Bowie, Pete Burns, Prince and now George Michael) have all died within a year. Too few icons left, so the likes of Madonna, Alison Moyet and Annie Lennox need to be taken to a hermetically sealed bunker until mid 2017 at the earliest.

* My favourite cover of George’s though with covers of This Mortal Coil; Bonnie Raitt; Elton John; Dead Or Alive and the Bee Gees in amongst his choices of other artists songs, the guy not only wrote incredible music himself, but had a fantastic ear for the works of others too.

TouchMyBoosh

Difficult, but right off the top of my head:

Praying For Time
Cowboys & Angels
Freedom 90
Father Figure
Spinning The Wheel
Waiting For That Day
Heal The Pain
Too Funky
Something To Save
Waiting (Reprise)

… tried to ignore the bigger hits and Wham! stuff, also loved some of the layer stuff he did.

… and his version of Somebody To Love with Queen was truly earth-shaking (up there with the likes of Lorde’s tribute to Bowie, actually perhaps the best live tribute I’ve ever seen).

RIP old friend, you were magical.

SimonP

I think there was an extended version of Father Figure. No idea how official it was, but there was Philippino 12″ that had a duration of 8:45. Allegedly…

Jon

The beautiful “Jesus to a Child” will always be my favorite song of his…so many brilliant tracks to mention…definitely love Battlestations, Wham Rap ’86, Father Figure, I Want Your Sex, I Can’t Make You Love Me…s

R.Naud

Faith
Killer (Papa was a rolling stone)
Everything She Wants (Remix)
Careless Whisper
Heal the pain (with McCartney)
The Edge of Heaven
A Different Corner
Father Figure
Last Christmas
You Have Been Loved

Jason Brown

Personal favourites, from what I’ve heard over the years…

1) Wham! Rap (Wham!)
2) Outside
3) I’m Your Man (Wham!)
4) Flawless
5) Spinning The Wheel
6) A Different Corner
7) Round Here
8) Too Funky
9) Jive Talkin’ (Boogie Box High)
10) Monkey

Gareth

The 2 which really do it for me are ‘Precious Box’ (could listen to it for hours and hours) and his version of ‘The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face’ (my favourite version of that song). Such a talent. Hopefully he is at peace now.

baward

They contunually change from for me, such is the quality of his songs, but ‘Amazing’ is er, amazing!

Catweazle

Wasn’t really a fan but saw him live at the Freddie Tribute and was well impressed.
‘Heal the Pain’ is one song of his I really love. When I first heard it I remember thinking ‘Macca would kill for a song like this’ – great that the two of them later got to record the song together!

alex

I like all the covers he made !
he was the perfect man+voice for the Queen after Freddie died !

AnthonyC

It’s impossible to list George Michael’s songs as they are all of such high quality and get more sophisticated as his song writing talent developed.

However any list should include December Song which personified the quality of direction he was moving into.

I just desperately hope, the new album that was finished, does get a posthumous release!

I’m going to miss him deeply!

:-(

Jakob

I would definitely include his 2012 single “White Light” which I felt was somewhat criminally ignored.

lee bowler

1) Freeek!
2) Monkey (Jam and Lewis Remix)
3) Everything She Wants (Remix)
4) Fastlove
5) Father Figure
6) Blue (live)
7) Jesus to a child
8) Waiting for that day
9) Too Funky
10) Battle stations

I adore George and it’s so sad that he is no longer with us. Always came across as a genuine, warm and intelligent man. Such an a talent – probably one of the UKs best male singer/song writers

Dave

Father Figure for me. Lush production and tremendous singing.

Eric

Can’t believe Father Figure slipped my mind. There is always one!

Eric

My absolute favourites would have to include:

Cowboys & Angels
Hand To Mouth
Precious Box
Hard Day
Everything She Wants
Praying For Time
Older
Spinning The Wheel
Club Tropicana
I’m Your Man

..with honourable mentions to Heal The Pain, Freedom 90, Battlestations, I Want You Sex, A Different Corner and John & Elvis Are Dead.

A magnificent singer and songwriter, whose latter artistic decline shouldn’t obscure what a brilliant catalogue of work he amassed in the time he was here.

Chris

Hard to order them, but…
Kissing a Fool
Last Christmas
Somebody to Love (w/Queen)
Freedom
Father Figure
A Different Corner
I’m Your Man
Where Did Your Heart Go
Freedom ’90
Fastlove

Enrico G.

My personal favs:
– A different corner;
– Spinning the wheel;
– John and Elvis are dead.
R.I.P., Genius.

Inge Kjetil Bratset

My favourite has always been “A different corner”

Otto

I just love the 12″ of Monkey.

gb

nice one. how could I forget Monkey!?! love that song. just remembered how
I was real disappointed that it wasn’t played at the NEC gig I saw (according to
wikipedia wasn’t played at all on the second – european – leg of the tour)

*and* (no idea how!) I somehow managed to forget I’d seen a cover to
cover gig?!! earlier today I was like ‘hang on the Faith gig wasn’t the last time
I saw him’ … at the time I was a bit disappointed it had so many covers
and wasn’t a LWP tour per se. that said, it was a great gig and we were
right near the front. I took some photos … now where are those negs?!!

and I agree with the person who mentioned about the ESW 12″ (song
structure) … just stunning. been watching wham ‘Final youtube footage.
(great) memories coming back (george getting us to sing the woah woah
woah bits in Edge of heaven) makes you feel good for a second and then
sad straight after.