Over a career that has lasted over 30 years, George Michael has been responsible for some of pop music’s most iconic songs. Starting his career early in Wham! which he formed with close friend Andrew Ridgely in the 80’s and after releasing hits like Wham Me Up Before You Go Go, Club Tropicana and I’m Your Man, George went solo in 1987 with his debut solo album, Faith.
Since the release of Faith, George Michael has delivered periodic releases that have been critically acclaimed and have garnished the icon with countless industry awards including 2 Grammy’s, MTV Video Music Awards and Ivor Novello Awards among many others.
Considered one of music’s most successful artists of all time, over the past few years George has taken back to the stages of the world delivering his songs to the masses. His last tour, Symphonica, saw George Michael perform a range of songs that have not been performed live before, a string of covers and some unreleased songs from his latter albums in new arrangements.
With the live Symphonica album being released this month, we thought it only appropriate to take a stroll through George Michael’s solo career and countdown our favourite hits from one of music’s most iconic figures:
Though there are many George Michael songs that could fall into this list, Freeek is one of the tracks that has always had a regular play on our iPod. the video is fantastic and the combination of grinding dance beats and S&M driven lyrics go perfectly together here.
9. Shoot The Dog
As with Freeek, Shoot The Dog came from George’s Patience release in 2002 and again, also comes hand in hand with one of the most memorable (and controversial) videos of his career. The track is a hit or miss among most George Michael fans with most dismissing the track due to its contrasting style when compared to previous Michael pennings but we just love this number. It’s different but it works!
8. Praying For Time
A cinematic song if ever there was one, Praying For Time is a timeless ballad within the GM catalogue. It’s thought provoking lyrics sit confidently within the tracks powerful instrumentation. The line “charity is a coat you wear twice a year” pretty much sums up the vibe that runs thick through this hit. The track also served the singer well in the U.S where it hit the number one spot in 1990.
7. Careless Whisper
No Top 10 George Michael list would be complete without Careless Whisper holding one of the positions. It’s considered one of the ballad genres most iconic inclusions and for good reason. The song was written in Michael’s Wham! days but is considered a solo hit for the singer. Heartbreaking and honest with a prominent saxophone riff, the song reached number one in 25 countries in the late 80’s and is regarded one of Michael’s signature hits.
Like Careless Whisper, Faith is one of George Michael’s biggest successes and most widely recognized singles. And who can forget the video; George in tight blue jeans, a leather jacket and aviator glasses and that image of the jukebox is engrained in pop culture forever.
5. Too Funky
The music video for this single is probably as equally memorable as the song itself with the 4 minute extravaganza featuring like likes of Linda Evangelista, Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington and Cindy Crawford strutting their stuff on the runway and behind closed doors. The song is one of George’s most camp and cheesy-pop oriented solo hits – and that’s just what we love about it!
When Older was released in 1996, Fastlove solidified George Michael’s place within modern pop music when it was released as the records lead single. It is a slick, ultra-modern dance-pop track that sits quite contrasting to the rest of the Older tracks but has held up exceptionally well over the past almost-20 years since it was offered to us.
3. A Different Corner
This track held our top spot for many years, until the Top 2 in this list came along. A Different Corner is one of George’s most intimate yet minimalistic songs in terms of instrumentation; a deep synth hums in the background with a brief guitar strum showing up on the original version of the song behind George’s emotive vocal arrangement, allowing the focus to remain on the singers outstanding vocal skills from start to end.
2. The Strangest Thing
Most people will find our inclusion of The Strangest Thing an odd choice for a Top 10 but we adore this song. The version of the track on Older is absolutely breathtaking. The detailed instrumentation and George’s flawless, whispery vocals are sublime here. The lyrics are also, in our opinion, some of the best he has written and they still cause goose bumps when we listen to the song today.
1. You Have Been Loved
Another track from 1996’s Older, You Have Been Loved is our all time favourite George Michael song. Telling of a mother who is grieving for a son that has died too young and conveying this through graphic and highly emotional lyrics, this song pulls at the heartstrings at every available opportunity. It is songwriting at it’s finest!
George Michael’s new album Symphonica is out this month and includes the new single Let Her Down Easy.