An article by Robert K. Oermann reviewing the George Michael album Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1 in the Tennessee USA newspaper The Tennessean on September 21, 1990.
Three years ago it was I Want Your Sex, but now George Michael’s theme song seems to be “I want your mind.”
At 27, the international pop sensation has issued an album of troubled contemplation, deep introspection and outright rejection of his teen idol status. Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1 hit the stores two weeks ago and has already spawned the top-10 hit Praying for Time.
The single finds the heartthrob searching for kindness and humanity in a world where, “It’s hard to love when there’s so much to hate/Hanging on to hope when there’s no hope speak of.” He sings of a society where “the rich declare themselves poor” and where charity “is a coat you wear twice a year.”
That’s fairly somber stuff for a guy who first hit the top singing Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go.
And it’s just one example of new musical maturity. Mother’s Pride is an anti-war song in these days of sabre rattling. They Won’t Go When 1 Go swells with choral gospel harmonies, all sung by the star. And the love songs have an intensely poetic, enigmatic quality.
Perhaps most startling on the new collection is Freedom ’90, a song that spits in the face of the image-making power of MTV that has been so important to Michael’s rise to pop princedom.
“The George Michael in the videos doesn’t really exist,” says the star in his new Columbia Records press kit. He has stated that there will be no video for Praying for Time and that handsome models will star in his Freedom ’90 clip instead of himself.
“Basically, my days in video are over,” he says in this week’s Gavin Report magazine cover story.
“The songwriter is real. And so are the songs. The only thing that really matters is making music that will still mean something to people in 20 or 30 years time.”
If that sounds audacious and ambitious, so be it George Michael has long harbored more depth than the press has ever given him credit for.
He has said he was a pudgy, unattractive, unhappy child. Born Georgios Panayiotou on June 26, 1963, he was raised by a Greek immigrant fattier and English mother north of London. He craved attention and acceptance. Along with his boyhood friend Andrew Ridgeley, Michael dreamed of the glamorous life of pop superstardom.
The two friends got what they wanted in Wham!, achieving British stardom in 1982 and scoring five topic U.S. hits 1984-86 Wake Me Up Before You Co-Go, Everything She Wants, Freedom, I’m Your Man and Edge of Heaven.
Ridgeley has admitted that he became a lazy drunk while Michael blossomed as an artist. Careless Whisper, the latter’s first solo single, appeared in 1984. He’d written it when he was 17. By the time of the finale Wham! album, Music from the Edge of Heaven, Michael was writing almost all the songs, playing most of the instruments and producing the whole thing.
His first “official” record on his own was 1986’s I Knew You Were Waiting for Me, an international smash and Grammy Award winner.
Michael crafted his 14-million selling debut LP Faith throughout 1986-87, issuing l Want Your Sex as its teaser single in the summer of 1987. Despite being banned by 30% of U.S. radio stations, it went to No. 1. The album’s title tune followed it to the top.
As 1988 dawned, Michael’s collection was a sensation, yielding the hits Father Figure, One More Try, Monkey and Kissing a Fool, plus a tour that took him through Japan, Europe and America.
- George Michael Interview with Capital FM Radio with Dr. Fox (Dec 1998)
- George Michael: The Reluctant Pop Star (Calendar Magazine, Sept 1990)
- BBC Hardtalk Interview with George Michael (2003)
- Wham!’s Last Week, Smash Hit Magazine (July 1986)
- ‘George Michael, Seriously’ from Rolling Stone Magazine (1988)