So I ended my last post with the video to “Last Christmas” by Wham because it was the last song played at our studio Christmas party and it is a serious guilty pleasure for me like most songs by George Michael/Wham. Then, a few days later, George Michael dies on Christmas Day. That is just one of those eerie coincidences that leads me to believe the universe is less random than we think.
And, somehow, I’ve felt compelled to write something about his music. Maybe it is just the strangeness of it all and a way of potentially balancing the scales if my post played any part in some grand universal plan. I’m never going to claim to have been a big fan. Back in the day, when his music was out, I was seriously in to hair metal. No self-respecting metal head is going to admit to liking two English boys with perfect hair doing a bunch of pop tunes.
But you couldn’t ignore that part of the music scene because of the videos and it was hard not to end up singing along to certain songs. Over time, I’ve accepted that I have a wide range of musical tastes and I try not to deny it anymore. I did admit on Facebook to “Last Christmas” being such a guilty pleasure so at least I’m out there on that.
I think it has been tempting for people to mention him along with artists like David Bowie and Prince who we also lost this year. Frankly, I just don’t think he was in their league as far as an innovative musician but that’s not a bad thing. Music is like all art forms in that it is subjective and what speaks to you may not speak to me. There is certainly a place for bouncy, upbeat, dance-able pop tunes and that’s what he did best.
I also have to say that I’m not one who gets all that shaken up by the death of a celebrity. There is certainly a sadness for what they represent and it is another sign of the inevitable march of time. Still, whenever a bright flame is put out, it does make the world a bit darker. There wasn’t a lot of depth to his music but a lot of it was fun to listen to and made people happy. That makes him worthy of some matter of tribute.
So, let’s start with the obvious choice. The shorts. The pink t-shirt. The fingerless gloves. The hair. The jumping and leaping around. Even the scenes of screw up in the video. It all adds up to fun and pure pop gold.
This one is another favorite of mine. Granted, there is the women hating theme but we all know there are bad people in the world and so this is a song about one of them. Love the synth beat through the whole things but it is a song that tells a story and I can put myself in his place as he sings about a relationship that started good like all do but has ended badly. “I don’t know what the hell you want from me”. “I’ll tell you that I’m happy if you want me to” “I don’t even think that I love you” “If my best isn’t good enough than how can it be good enough for two”. Yeah, there’s a lot of sadness and anger and hopelessness in among the happy beat which speaks to me for some reason. The Andrew Ridgeley backing just appears totally out of place though.
Duets can be hit or miss. Two singers who sound great apart may not mesh. But this one worked for me. The opening beat is great. The call and response where Aretha says things like “I knew you did” was just so her. I mean you look up diva in the dictionary and her picture will be there. With all her history and success, this one song was a match of equals. And it is hopeful and uplifting and all that. Positive message with a good dance beat and two wonderful singers. Beat you sing along.
I’ll admit to kind of forgetting about this one but I really love. Get past the “Yeah, yeah, yeah” at the beginning and you’ve got the great horn section. Musically, to me, this seems a little different from other Wham songs. A little bit more edge – if Wham was capable of having an edge. The words are a little forgettable which might be why I overlooked it but I love the music. High energy.
OK, I’m going to admit that I’m a sucker for a well constructed ballad. Yes, my head banging friends would probably be ashamed of me for admitting that although we did all enjoy the power ballad those groups put out. But I can really get into the right kind of ballad. There has to be what I’ll call layers within the music which is what I meant by well constructed. I suspect that is not a real music term so I’m just making up my own but if you had a guy at a piano singing a song, it wouldn’t be for me. I need the whole arrangement and I love the pacing changes where it goes from slow and just him with a little instrumentation to more sweeping passages. Now, I have to admit that the lyrics here make no sense to me and there is a bit of “ickiness” for me to deal with which detracts from the song. Could have picked Careless Whisper but I kind of like this one better and it is my blog.
Well, those are some of my favorites. I’m sure you’ve got your own which is OK because music preferences are personal. Not sure if all the videos will slow things down for those of you trying to read. Apologies if they do.
RIP George Michael