Mr. Michael has everything a pop star requires for longevity. An avid student of American pop-soul music, he possesses a strong enough white soul voice to have held his own in a duet with Aretha Franklin (the No. 1 single ”I Knew You Were Waiting”) and to deliver a Stevie Wonder ballad (”Love’s in Need of Love Today” on the television special ”Motown Returns to the Apollo”) with compelling clout. At the same time, his voice has a vestigial teen-idol sob that complements his furry-eyebrowed, pug-nosed good looks. For along with everything else, Mr. Michael is a sex symbol.
But the most important factors in Mr. Michael’s longevity are his extraordinary skills as a songwriter, arranger and producer. Able to write in almost any contemporary pop style, he is not reliant upon other songwriters for his material or upon outside producers for a sound.