You can’t blame a year for the deaths that occur in the span of its existence, but fuck. 2016 has taken pioneers of movies, sports, music, and pop culture. We lost George Michael yesterday, Christmas Day. His family said he passed away peacefully at 53 years old. It still stings. It still brings tears to my eyes when I hear his distinctive voice.
Micheal began his musical career as half of Wham! with Andrew Ridgeley. The duo cranked out pop hit after pop hot from 1981 - 1986. Michael decided to embark on a solo career, releasing Faith in 1987. I was 8 years old and always loved his music, though I sometimes thought I would get in trouble for listening to songs like “Father Figure” and “I Want Your Sex”.
Michael was a successful solo artist, but it didn’t make him happy. He was trying to fit into the mold society expected him to fill: a sexy straight man singing provocative and catchy pop songs.
I should note here that I think the reason we are all mourning the losses of 2016 so heavily is that we have lost artists that fought against the status quo. Bowie. Prince. Cohen. And now Michael. They refused to have their careers dictated by the expectations of record labels. They did not allow others to tell them how to be an artist, instead losing money and sometimes sales in order to do what they wanted to do. Whenever you lose people who say fuck you, I do what I want, it is a dark time indeed.
Michael released Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1 in 1990. I remember adoring and being completely obsessed with the model-filled video for “Freedom ‘90”, as Michael would refuse to appear in the song blasting his “Faith” days. Michael would go on to lend his voice to duets with artists like Elton John and the remaining members of Queen.
I won’t go into the ridiculous outing of Michael, but I will leave you with these videos of his amazing voice to fill the hole he’s left in the musical and artistic world.