This article was written by Mark Cooper for The Record Mirror published on October 9, 1982.
George Michael likes dressing up for the clubs: at the moment this means dressing down. “ Faded Red Label Levi’s are the current article, 501s with button-up flies. you can’t have patches except on the inside but you should have bears. They should be faded but not bleached.
George can tell because he’s a self-confessed sociologist as well as a writer with Wham. According to George, 1982 lacks a leading style: “When the new Romantics started clubs were in; now people are saying there’s nowhere to go. There’s no direction in the music or the styles. You need some direct idea or extreme commitment in youth culture, otherwise you just end up with revivals and endless covers. Like this year …”
Wham’s first record celebrated the benefits of unemployment and rejected dead-end jobs. Wham’s second record ‘Young Guns (Go For It)’, celebrates the boys about town and rejects dead-end marriage.
George and guitarist/partner Andrew have a fairly definite identity for boys who reckon you use culture is currently between generations: “All the people involved in the Blitz scene became New Romantics and collected around Spandau. Now they have grown older and disappeared and there’s no one coming up from underneath.”
These lucky boys are too busy offering their pertinent observations to be the new generation itself. “ Where the young sociologists!” says George, tongue-in-cheek. Still, Wham do claim to speak for in about a new generation of kids, the hip unemployed and the latest crop of Soul Boise. so far the form they’ve used is American — rapping. Even the girl on Young Guns sounds American. How come?
“ I just think white English rap voices sound stupid. If I did it any other way it would sound like a Barron Knight’s comedy record. We’re trying to be satiric, not comic. American accents are more rhythmic — English accents just sound blunt to English ears.”.
Being keen student of Pop politics, Wham are keen that Young Guns should not be dismissed for its apparent sexism: “If you take it as it is, it’s a sexiest lyric but it’s intended as an observation. Most of the blokes we know are always accusing each other of being tied down. And it does happen. Because of basic biological differences, women naturally want security more. We’re not encouraging the situation, just commenting on it.”
Wham are already accustomed to accusations of giving offense since Wham Rap supposedly offended the unemployed. “A few writers said that,”, answers George. “But we never offended the people who count. He said 70% of our records in the North where the majority of unemployment is. Anyway we were out of work and on the dole when we wrote that”.
Their comparative success still surprises Wham: “I look at us and think my God, how did we manage that? It’s not even as if we’ve had to work — the songs were good enough to get us signed up pretty quickly….”
Surprisingly the Wham! boys are actually keen to get to work: “It’s because we now have a job we expect to work. There should be a little more to this job than waiting around but until you’ve had a hit there isn’t much to do. We don’t have a band so we can’t rehearse. A good job that you really enjoy and that keeps you busy is the best state to be in. Unemployment is better than a terrible job”
George brims with confidence. He’s looking forward to proving that Wham have more to offer than smart image building singles in the rap style: “I know our song writing has depth and width. We’ve got eight or nine hits in demo form. I don’t look at any other bands and wish I was in their position.”
And your friends, George, now that you’re no longer on the dole?
“Our closest friends are all really pleased for us. Most of them are working in a sheet metal firm, one went to Kodak. A lot of our friends were in the lower stream and are doing manual work while the people from the same stream as us went to University. We never wanted to go.
- Wham! Teen Dreams Come True (NME, 1983)
- George Michael: Artist or Airhead? (Musician, 1988)
- An Audience with George Michael: Interview with Chris Evans (1996)
- ‘George Michael, Seriously’ from Rolling Stone Magazine (1988)
- Wham! (New Musical Express, 1982)