Below is the write-up about George Michael’s song “Father Figure” from the book “The Billboard Book of Number One Hits: The Inside Story Behind Every Number One Single on Billboard’s Hot 100 from 1955 to Present” by Fred Bronson.
Writer: George Michael
Producer: George Michael
February 27, 1988
GEORGE MICHAEL’S third single from his Faith album was the sixth number one single of his career. He had three chart-toppers as half of Wham! and one with Aretha Franklin before reaching the summit on his own. “Father Figure” returned him to the top of the Billboard Hot 100.
“The initial concept was completely different from the way the song turned out,” George replies when asked about the genesis of the song. “In fact, the initial concept for ‘Father Figure’ was to make it a kind of mid-tempo dance track. And what happened was I wanted to hear something in my mix so I happened to cut out the snare on the board and suddenly it changed the whole entire mood of the track. Suddenly it just seemed really dreamy. And this was halfway through writing it-because I was writing the song as I was going along in the studio. And I just thought, well, hey, this is actually much better! So I worked the rest of the feel of the track around this kind of spacey type sound. And it ended up, in my mind, being the most original sounding thing on the album,”
“Father Figure” entered the Hot 100 on January 16, 1988. It was the highest debut of the week, at number 49. “Faith” was still in the top 10, sitting at number nine. Six weeks after its debut, “Father Figure” was number one.
The song continued George’s transformation from bubblegum pop star to serious musician. “When (a) group has as strong an image as Wham! did, you feel restricted by it,” George contends. “You do feel that if you try to do anything which is very personal, it tended to clash personality-wise with what Wham! was supposed to be. Wham! really was much more me as a 16, 17-year-old. Much more Andrew’s (Ridgeley) input as well, from the personality angle. And then suddenly that restriction was lifted. I realized I had the freedom to write exactly what I wanted to write. And (I) set about doing that.”
Elaborating on that theme to Judy Wieder, George said, “It’s nerve-wracking. When you’re given the freedom to do what you like because you’re no longer part of a group, you’re also given the freedom to make mistakes. I don’t think I’ve made mistakes with this album. I think it’s very honest, very much a progression that people can follow and enjoy. If I’m wrong, well, that will because it’s all down to me now.”
George also emphasized to Weider that he had control over his own career, in every aspect. “All professional decisions have always been mine. The more I learn how to do something, the more I have to be the one to do it. The video thing is a good example. Once I learned how to do it, I pretty much did and still do all the directing and editing. I like my decisions. I’ve been pleased with the results. How can I work for months on something musically and then just hand it over to someone else to produce or film? I know a lot of artists can do that, but I can’t. I can’t even hand over my songs for other artists to record. I’ve been asked to work with Barbra Streisand and other artists that I’m quite flattered about, but I still write very few songs and they’re so personal to me. To be very honest with you, and I hope this never happens, the only way I could turn over my stuff to someone else is if I were to become less possessive about my music.
THE TOP FIVE
Week of February 27, 1988
- ‘Father Figure’ – George Michael
- ‘What Have I Done to Deserve This?’ – Pet Shop Boys with Dusty Springfield
- ‘She’s Like the Wind’ – Patrick Swayze featuring Wendy Fraser
- ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’ – Rick Astley
- ‘Hungry Eyes’ – Eric Carmen
- An Audience with George Michael: Interview with Chris Evans (1996)
- George Michael Interview with Capital FM Radio with Dr. Fox (Dec 1998)
- George Michael on ‘Listen Without Prejudice’ (1990)
- George Michael’s Interview with the Gay Magazine ‘The Advocate’ (1999)
- A Year in the Life of Wham! as Told by George Michael (Smash Hits Yearbook, 1986)