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Interview With Gary Numan: Emergency On Planet Earth



In our interview with Gary Numan, the synth-pop visionary tells Classic Pop of writing about global catastrophe during a pandemic, the struggles to sustain his career rebirth and the truth behind his attack on Spotify. By John Earls

Gary Numan Intruder

The day before Classic Pop last spoke to Gary Numan in 2019, he’d written a new song called Intruder. Numan was excited about the track, thinking it could form the basis of a companion album to the near-future climate change catastrophe imagined on 2017’s Savage

Sure enough, Gary quickly began planning a whole LP based on the idea of Intruder, summarised by the singer as: “If the Earth could speak, what would it say and how would it feel about mankind’s treatment of it?”

That soon evolved into pondering how the planet would fight back against the ravages done to it by humanity. Then, within months, came the pandemic. 

“It’s been weirdly fascinating making this album during COVID,” says Gary. “When the virus came along, it slotted straight into everything that I was already talking about, in a way that I could only say was very sad and unfortunate.” 

Coronavirus specifically inspired snarling new song The Gift but, as Gary says, “There are places on the album where I hint that COVID is the first of many similar defences that Earth is planning to cleanse itself.” 

Despite having seemingly prophesised the global pandemic, Gary insists he isn’t a complete soothsayer. He admits: “I was entirely convinced when I first heard about it that COVID would be like swine flu: a moment of fear that wouldn’t touch the vast majority of people, where the world could basically tick along like before.” 

He’s been diligent about safety, though even someone whose music is so aware of mankind’s impact slipped up at first, confessing: “There was one guilty mistake I made.” Gary, his wife Gemma and their three teenage daughters have lived in California for nearly a decade.

When the kids were sent home from school, to mark the enforced break the Numans went to the cinema the same night. Gary recalls: “The cinema was only half-full. I thought: ‘The reason the kids are now home is because of the virus and here we are, out at the cinema, with no masks. I’m being a bit stupid here.’” 

With the vaccine rollout progressing fairly smoothly, there is a chance that prolific live performer Numan can soon get back on tour, though his analogy on how he feels right now is typical of his blunt humour: “Things are getting better. But you know when you’re bursting for a wee? That last 10ft before you get to the toilet is always the worst bit. Life will get better, but not today: today still feels really shit. Financially, not touring is beginning to feel noticeable. There are worries creeping in I’ve not had for years. 

“If I have to go back to the way I lived a few years ago? Fucking hell, not that again.”

That Numan is starting to sense financial worries feels cruel when he’s only recently celebrated his biggest success for decades. Savage reached No.2 in the UK, his first Top 10 album since 1982’s I, Assassin. Only Foo Fighters’ Concrete And Gold prevented Gary having his fourth No.1 album.

“When I got the call saying Savage had got to No.2, I cried like a baby for a good seven minutes,” he states simply. “I’m so focused and driven, I’m sometimes unaware of the fears lurking just underneath. Hearing that chart position flipped a switch. I didn’t even say, ‘Oh, great!’ I just went, gone: tears. There’s a huge amount of fear, worry and anxiety underneath my projects. Bizarrely, it’s only success which brings that out. You’d think Savage doing so well would be the moment of ‘Phew, brilliant!’ No, it’s terror.”

Read more: Gary Numan Superfan

Read our 2019 interview with Gary Numan

Gary’s wilderness period, what he calls “my terrible middle years of selling my soul”, has been well-documented. He’s fascinating talking about cherishing the justification that success brings, while doing everything he can to avoid deliberately chasing it.

Having achieved a No.2 album last time out, there is a worry that anything less than a No.1 would mean Intruder could be seen as a backward step from its predecessor.

“The stress I felt to make an album after Savage did so well is enormous. It doesn’t get better,” Numan acknowledges. “But it can’t be all about chart positions. It just can’t. If I’m being honest, another

Top 10 album with Intruder would be great. Two albums ago, I’d have died happy to be Top 10, and I have to remember that.” 

Making Savage was the most pressure Gary has felt under to achieve success, when previous album Splinter had returned him to the Top 20 in 2013: “The first song I wrote after Splinter, Bed Of Thorns, was entirely about the pressure I felt in trying to write new music. It was lucky I found an idea about climate change!”

In fact, the initial inspiration for Intruder’s title track came from Numan’s youngest daughter, Echo. Then aged 11, the first poem she ever wrote essentially distils the album’s theme about writing from the planet’s viewpoint – it’s printed in Intruder’s artwork.

“Echo’s poem talked about how sad and hurt the planet feels,” explains Gary, as enthusiastic as any proud parent. “She’s written dozens of poems since and she’s so clever in the way she sees the world. The seed of Intruder started from there. 

“I already knew that I didn’t want to move away from Savage’s core idea of climate change, because my children are still so bothered about it, as am I. I wondered what variations there were within that story of ‘What would Earth say?’ over 12 songs.” There’s a big laugh, as Gary adds: “Intruder has many spokes, but it’s one core idea. It’s a one-trick-pony idea for an album if ever there was one!” 

The album ends on a bleak one-two sucker punch. First comes the optimism of Now And Forever, almost a make-up song between Earth and humanity. That’s followed by the apocalyptic The End Of Dragons, which imagines the end of mankind.

Now And Forever was one of the last songs I wrote for the album,” Gary reveals. “But I didn’t think Intruder should end on any vaguely optimistic tone. I tend to be ridiculously optimistic. If you put a gun to my head, I’d think, ‘Nah, you don’t have any bullets in that.’ But the truth is, the planet is in a really dangerous place.” 

At least the more eco-friendly Joe Biden has replaced Donald Trump as US President, which Gary accepts as cause for slight hope. He’d have preferred the younger Kamala Harris or Peter Buttigieg to become President, but says of Biden:

“He’s a good man, who’s put really good people around him in his team. Whereas Trump was a terrible man, who put even worse people around him.” 

A fan of Greta Thunberg, Numan believes it’s her generation that might rescue the planet. “What Biden and the others are doing now is sticking on leaky Band Aids to cover a severe cut,” he believes. 

“It might just be enough to stem the blood flow, until a real doctor turns up. If saving the planet is going to happen, it’ll come from today’s teenagers. All we can hope is enough half-hearted measures are put in place by the current lot, to give them time to activate what really needs doing. It’s difficult to be hugely optimistic but, human nature being what it is, if there’s a chance we will probably find a way.”

Read our interview with former Ultravox frontman John Foxx

Read our article on the cover art of Depeche Mode

That Gary Numan is able to ultimately strike an optimistic note about the future of mankind, even when discussing his sombre new album, is typical of a musician who’s a lot more upbeat in person than you’d expect from his persona as the ultimate dark lord of synth-pop.

Having reignited his career with the uncompromising industrial edge of 1994’s Sacrifice, Gary’s music since has been a totem of steely intent. But there’s always been empathy in his songs, too, a rallying cry for outsiders.

The honesty at the core of his lyrics is matched by how Numan conducts himself in interviews – there’s none of the guarded shield put up by many artists who’ve faced the media for as long as Gary has been famous.

That straightforward nature makes for easy sensationalism. In January, Numan made headlines when he revealed one of his songs – he didn’t say which – earned him just £37 in royalties despite notching up a million streams on Spotify.

Mention of the story is the only time Gary looks pained during our conversation. He hadn’t meant to be “courtroom accurate” in quoting the figures, as he thought it was funnier that the sheer amount of paper spat out by his printer in printing off the “pointlessly detailed royalties statement“ was worth more money than the earnings detailed on the statement in the first place.

Gary is also frustrated that his comments have since become misinterpreted, having become widened in their reporting to appear to be an attack on record companies as well as streaming services like Spotify. That has placed the singer in an invidious position: he’s on the side of the artists, but doesn’t have a particular beef against record companies.

“My comment wasn’t about record companies at all,” he sighs. “My opinion has been used as a stick to beat labels with, which is unfair. It’s put me into a position where I feel I have to defend record labels, when the truth is there’s some flexibility there, too. I’ve been dragged into an argument I didn’t want. 

“I want to make it clear that I wasn’t talking about record label payments, but there’s room for improvement there and I’m very much on the artists’ side. I feel like I’m walking along a fence that gets narrower and narrower.”

In Gary’s eyes, “everyone has been fucked over by the amount streaming services pay.” He castigates the major record labels for agreeing those royalty rates with the streaming services, in return for getting equity in Spotify, Apple Music and co. “Streaming companies say they’re barely struggling along as it is on the tiny pittance they pay already, which clearly isn’t true,” he fumes. 

“You’re talking a fraction of a cent per play, which is then divided among artist, label and publisher, so the artist gets a fraction of a fraction. Musicians can’t survive from streaming income, and its pro-rata system means it benefits most the artists who are already doing well, rather than artists who are struggling.”

Numan would rather see royalties go towards the artist being listened to, rather than put into a larger pot.

Given the meagre money that artists make from streaming, would Gary even consider music to be a viable career if he was starting out now? There’s no hesitation in his reply that he’d definitely try, as he points out “old-school royalty rates were pretty rubbish, too.”

In his view, there could at least in theory be advantages to making money from streaming, as he explains: “Under the old royalty system, you needed to be successful for some time before you saw any benefit, because your initial success only paid back the advance the record label gave you to make your album – an album which the label then owned anyway. The whole system was fucked from top to bottom, and now it’s only fucked in a different way.”

He continues: “Although streaming rates are unfair, while your music is up on Spotify, it’s constantly selling, even if it’s only in micro amounts. If you sell an album on CD or vinyl, the buyer can listen to it for 50 years and never pay for it again.

“In that sense, streaming is better for artists. But only if it’s fairly paid, which it isn’t. As streaming royalties are so small, you’re currently better selling a CD for a tenner.”

According to Numan, his audience has finally begun migrating from buying CDs and vinyl to listening to his music on streaming.

“My streaming income is alright now, but I couldn’t live the way I do now from streaming. If it wasn’t for songwriting publishing and live income, I’d have to make drastic changes. Where I’m lucky is that, when there isn’t a pandemic, I tour constantly. I do very well there. Also, I wrote Cars. That one song alone sees me right.” 

The curtains are drawn to block out the early morning Californian sun as Gary talks to Classic Pop, but the chandelier, tasteful high-backed chairs and sleek wooden surfaces that can be glimpsed on Zoom suggest the Numan house is as classy as you’d expect from someone who’s revived his career so elegantly since those regrettable middle years.

It’s just as classy that Gary accepts the part Cars has played in his career, as he acknowledges: “If I hadn’t written Cars, I wouldn’t be living in this house. I got a snyc deal just this morning from a Swedish company to use Cars that’s worth a fortune, a mental sum of money. My life would be very different if it wasn’t for that one song and I’ve written hundreds of them. The truth is, even with a career as long as mine and with the success it’s given me, the majority of my lifestyle is from one song that did particularly well.”

Gary is aware of the irony that Cars is from The Pleasure Principle – one of three albums made inside a year, along with Tubeway Army and Replicas.

Considering the stress that following up a No.2 album now brings, how the hell was he able to be so casually prolific at the start of his career? “I think it’s because the success I’m having now is a second chance,” he considers. “Having known how low a career can get, that’s much harder to escape.

I was so much more casual and blasé at first, so I didn’t feel under any pressure. It all seemed so easy. I later learned how hard it can be, but at the time? No, it just felt simple. That’s not arrogance, just youthful stupidity!”

Gary has told us before how much he regrets his early 90s albums Outland and Machine + Soul, saying of the latter: “What a stupid title for a record that has no fucking soul at all.” Does he ever get fans who tell him those albums aren’t so bad after all?

“Yeah – bless them, they don’t know any better,” he smiles. “Look, it’s not that Machine + Soul is musically a bad record. It’s just not a good Gary Numan record, because it has very little of me in it.”

Part of Numan’s creative renaissance is also down to careful management of his career. Gary now manages himself, so he can use instinct on how far to exploit commercial opportunities alongside the spirit of the tough music that’s made him thrive for over 40 years.

But managing himself nearly cost Gary the most fruitful relationship since his creative rebirth, with his producer Ade Fenton. Numan and former dance DJ Ade have worked together since 2006’s Jagged, but fell out after Splinter, when Ade was Gary’s producer, keyboardist in his live band and co-managing his career outside North America, after Numan took on a manager for the US when he moved there in 2012.

“I was being given different information by different sides,” recalls Gary. “Little frictions started to creep in. In the end, I had to go with one camp or the other and I went with the American management. That caused grief with Ade.”

The pair didn’t speak for two years. “We didn’t thrash any of it out. It all built up, until there was a big falling out. It was all so unfortunate, as Ade was getting bad information about me, too. My wife was talking to Ade, trying to build bridges, but I was having none of it. But then Ade sent me a lovely message of sympathy when my mum died, which broke the ice. At that point, Gemma jumped in and said, ‘You should meet up and talk about what really happened.’”

The pair met at the home of Richard Beasley, drummer in Gary’s touring band. “We learned a lot about the bad information on both sides, what mistakes we’d both made.” 

In the interim, Gary had tried working with other producers, largely from the practicality of needing someone new but also to see if his music could work with other creative partners.

“I had a lot of recommendations from friends, and prospective producers were sending examples of their work,” Gary remembers. “I met a few people, but there was no one I really liked. Nobody felt in tune with what I wanted to do. Once we decided to work together again on Savage, Ade became my best friend again.

“In terms of the writing, I’m on my own. But I know that, once I ready a song to a certain point, I can stop worrying about it. Ade takes my unpolished piles of embers and turns them into art. I don’t know how many albums I’ve got left in me, but I can’t imagine going anywhere else. We’re a team for the rest of my career.”

How long the rest of Gary Numan’s career lasts is a question that had begun to trouble the singer before COVID made touring impossible. Numan looks well, his raven hair matching his black T-shirt, his ready smile also part of a charm that keeps him looking younger than 62. But Gary admits: “I’d been talking to Gemma before the pandemic about carrying on for another three years and that’d be it. Another couple of albums, another couple of tours and I’d be done. And, now that I haven’t toured for 18 months, every part of me thinks: ‘Fuck that. Let’s do this forever!’

“I didn’t realise how much I love all of this until I wasn’t allowed to do it. When I tour regularly, I don’t miss it. Because I’m always planning a tour ahead, I most liked the bit in between when I’m doing normal stuff. But I really miss the excitement, the passion, being with friends and hanging out with them.”

Gemma comes on tour with her husband and Gary says: “She misses it, too. The lifestyle I’ve chosen for decades is to have periods away from the normal world to have adventures. It’s your reason for being. It’s not just financially that not touring affects me, it’s a whole chunk of my life that’s just gone. I cannot wait to get back out there.”

Cancel plans for Gary Numan’s retirement, then. He’s around for as long as he’s got – or the planet has had enough of humanity, whichever comes first. 

Gary Numan’s official website

Read more: Making Ultravox’s Vienna




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40 Best George Michael Songs




Best George Michael Songs
Best George Michael Songs

In this list of the best George Michael songs, we list our favourites from 2012 to 1982… By Ian Wade

With some George Michael songs ranking among the most famous of the last few decades, you might imagine his 34-year career to be chockablock with hits. However, the actual smashes listing is surprisingly slim. Official Wham! albums (Make It Big, Fantastic and half of The Final) offer up no more than two dozen songs in a laser-precision career, half of which were top five hits, four of them actual No.1s (Last Christmas managed a paltry No.2 and had to settle for becoming the biggest-selling runner-up in UK chart history).

As a solo turn, George’s five studio albums offered up 55 tracks, and each of those albums had at least 70 per cent of their contents released as a single in one form or another. Of course, there are also numerous one-off singles, charity projects and collaborations, both credited and uncredited. 

Listening back to his output as a whole, one is left with an overwhelming impression of a perfectionist at work. Yes, he could have pulled his finger out and left us with another couple of albums, but what remains are some of the most famous songs of all time… and a legacy of few mis-steps.

For the purpose of this list, we focused on singles, ideally official ones released during his lifetime, and not some grotty opportunist fan-fleecing exercise (we’re looking at YOU, Club Fantastic Megamix). It was a tough list to narrow down, and some inclusions may raise eyebrows.

Runner-ups include his version of Rufus Wainwright’s Going To A Town, album gems such as My Mother Had A Brother, spare singles such as Waiting For That Day and Starpeople, plus Wham! nuggets like A Ray Of Sunshine and Where Did Your Heart Go. It’s also bad news for Toby Bourke… and we felt it was, shall we say, unfair to pitch Andrew’s solo efforts alongside George’s.  

The inevitable bangers are all present, as are some of the lesser singles that indicate where he was on his artistic path. Over a quarter of our chart is taken up by UK chart-toppers – four with Wham! and seven solo – and some of the songs that you maybe assumed were massive, but actually weren’t.

It’s a catalogue of iconic singles that have raised millions for charities since 1991: songs about life on the dole, Club 18-30 holidays and the Iraq War; heartbreaking ballads about bad lovers and lost loves; songs about coming out, going out and being yourself; that one about a lousy Christmas… and there’s a fair bit of sex, too, be it monogamous, no strings attached, cyber or illicit outdoor shenanigans. So settle in for a voyage of a man who wanted to be famous, became famous… and wasn’t wild about it. 

Best George Michael Songs countdown

40 WHITE LIGHT, 2012

Released on the 30th anniversary of his first hit, White Light is probably best known as the song he performed after Freedom ‘90 at the 2012 Olympics closing ceremony. Responding to criticism that he used the event to plug his new material, George said: “It was my one chance on TV to thank you all for your loyalty and prayers, and I took it. And I don’t regret it.” The promo starred Kate Moss; “I wasn’t in the Freedom video – I just missed it,” she said around the time. “That would have been amazing.”

39 TRUE FAITH, 2011

George struggled with Twitter in the days before it became a binfire, even prompting some tips from Rachel Roberts in The Guardian. When it was announced that he had covered New Order’sa True Faith for Comic Relief, the singer was very pro-active tweet-wise urging fans to buy it (though many found the song slightly odd). George stole the show when he appeared with James Corden in a short film where the two of them had to ‘save Comic Relief’, a sketch which inspired Corden’s Carpool Karaoke concept.


On the last date of his 25 Live tour, George announced that December Song would be available for free from his website over Christmas 2008. The song was properly released the following year as part of an EP. This reflection on Christmas past was written with the Spice Girls in mind – and then Michael Bublé – but George decided to keep it for himself. It could have got higher than No.14 had enough copies been available after his performance on The X Factor.


One of two new tracks, alongside the first release An Easier Affair, recorded for Twenty Five – this time highlighting Wham! hits alongside his own – This Is Not Real Love saw him teaming up with ex-Sugababe Mutya Buena. The single reached No.15 in November 2006. Mutya appeared on stage with George at one of the Earls Court shows as part of his 25 Live dates. Mutya said, “Starting off again as a soloist and working with George Michael was a pleasing moment. I’m not sure if it was crazy but it was special.”


Flawless had already been a hit for New York trio The Ones in 2001. George, aware that he may have picked up new young gay fans via Outside, wanted to celebrate them and the idea of heading to a city to be themselves. It was only after he went on a date and the freaked-out fan said he liked Flawless that he went for it. He told Attitude, “Don’t you think that’s like my first proper queen’s record? I think it’s important that I can be out there and say that I’m a big tart and still have a big smash album.”

35 ROUND HERE, 2004

Round Here was a song about George’s childhood in Kingsbury Park, Hertfordshire, his birth and first day at school, reflecting on how his parents first got together, and how Wham! was formed to the music of The Specials, The Jam and ABC ”falling like rain to the streets… when all that I wanted was to be someone”. The song has a special place in his follower’s hearts, and places mentioned in the lyrics are visited as part of a ‘Round Here Walk’ for various charities. 

Best George Michael Songs – Round Here

34 AMAZING, 2004

Amazing was dedicated to Kenny Goss, with whom George was in a relationship from 1998 until 2011. Speaking at the time, George said “It is remarkably unusual to hear me singing something so lovey-dovey. Normally, I am better at writing about misery… the great thing is that I still feel the undying love.” The song hit No.4 in the UK, was a big hit across Europe and No.1 in the US club charts. “Amazing reminds me of Wham! more than anything I’ve done.”

33 SHOOT THE DOG, 2002

Built around a sample of the Human League’s 1981 classic Love Action (I Believe In Love), Shoot The Dog saw George back in protest mode after 20 years against Blair and Bush, especially in the wake of the Gulf conflict. It faced a barrage of hostility. As he told Trevor McDonald ahead of release, “I’m not stupid – I knew I was going to walk into a wall of criticism because these are very reactionary times, but they’re also very urgent times and I felt that I had to do this.”

32 FREEEK!, 2002

Having recharged his batteries after the release of Songs From The Last Century, George began the new century preparing his next album, which would arrive in 2004 in the shape of Patience. Structured around Breathe And Stop by Q-Tip, Try Again (Aaliyah) and N.T. (Kool & the Gang), the overtly sexual Freeek! dealt with how the internet was starting to impact modern romance, aided with a futuristic video by Joseph Kahn. It went to No.7 in March 2002.

Best George Michael Songs – Freeek!

31 AS, 1999

The second new track recorded for Ladies & Gentlemen (but not included on the US version) was a cover of Stevie Wonder’s As, in a duet with Mary J Blige. As Mary told The Guardian, “I grew up watching Wham! and George Michael on MTV. And when he met me, he was like: ‘I love you! You’re the greatest!’ Just to be recognised by him was amazing. So the next day, when the scandal blew up, I was like: ‘Oh shit!’ But that never stopped me from loving him.”

30 OUTSIDE, 1998

Just in case anybody was still on the fence regarding his sexuality, George Michael came out of the closet, turned it into firewood and torched it with Outside. Released ahead of his Ladies & Gentleman compilation, this joyous ode to alfresco fun came a few months after his arrest for indulging in ‘lewd behaviour’ at a Beverley Hills public toilet, resulting in a £500 fine and 80 hours of community service. Denied the top spot by Cher’s Believe, it’s gone on to become just as celebrated a gay anthem.


 The Older campaign concluded with the release of You Have Been Loved as a double A-side with The Strangest Thing ’97. Originally written for Anselmo, the song picked up additional airplay thanks to the national mood after the death of Princess Diana on August 31 that year (the airwaves heavily featured gentler singles such as The Verve’s The Drugs Don’t Work and Oasis’ Stand By Me). George got to No.2 behind the overwhelming sales juggernaut that was Elton John’s Candle In The Wind ’97 re-do.


For the single release of Older’s title track, an EP was put together featuring album cut The Strangest Thing alongside covers of Antônio Carlos Jobim’s Desafinado, in a duet with Astrud Gilberto, and Bonnie Raitt’s I Can’t Make You Love Me. Originally written by Mike Reid and Allen Shamblin, it first appeared on Raitt’s 1991 album Luck Of The Draw. A top three hit for George in the double A-side format, this and Desafinado would appear on his Ladies & Gentlemen hits compilation instead of Older.


It’s easy with the benefit of hindsight to believe that George’s music was full of gay longing, but having skirted around and dallied with the subject for years, Older was possibly George’s first album to address his homosexuality. Spinning The Wheel, a sort of ‘open relationship blues’, was almost a counterpart to Fastlove. Speaking to Attitude, he said: “It wasn’t written from a personal point of view, where I was complaining about someone sleeping around. I suppose it sounded like that though, didn’t it?” 

26 FASTLOVE, 1996

A song about no-strings-attached sex, wherein George nips out for a bit of frisky action, with the words “in the absence of security, I made my way into the night” suggesting that such nocturnal activities were something he’d been enjoying long before any arrests or tabloid exposés. Another straight-in-at-No.1 in the UK, the song interpolates Patrice Rushen’s Forget Me Nots. Adele sang it at the Grammys when they paid tribute to him, restarting the song as Michael was “too important to her” to not get it right.

Best George Michael Songs – Fastlove


Freed from contractual palavers, George was faced with far more pressing matters in 1993 when his lover Anselmo Feleppa died from an AIDS-related brain haemorrhage. After being unable to write for 18 months, George penned these lyrics in just under an hour. Having performed it at an MTV Awards in Berlin in 1994, the song was released in January 1996 and became a worldwide hit. According to Esther Rantzen, George secretly donated all the proceeds to her Childline charity. 

24 FIVE LIVE EP, 1992

It would be a good round on Pointless, trying to remember who else past Metallica and Bowie joined Queen to perform at the Freddie Mercury Tribute at Wembley Stadium (you’d probably be in single-figure territory if you recalled that Paul Young, Seal and Liza Minnelli also had a sing). The highlight, however, was George Michael’s set where he performed Queen’s ‘39, was joined by Lisa Stansfield on These Are The Days Of Our Lives and stole the show with a rendition of Somebody To Love.

23 TOO FUNKY, 1992

In 1992 George helped put together the compilation Red Hot & Dance, alongside numbers from Seal, Madonna and EMF as part of the Red Hot Benefit series that had been one of the first AIDS charity efforts from the music business. He donated three new tracks, Happy, Do You Really Want to Know and Too Funky. The latter became a Top 5 hit in the UK aided by a video reuniting some of the supers from his Freedom ‘90 promo. With legal action just around the corner, this was his last single for Sony.

Best George Michael Songs – Too Funky


Elton and George first performed this song together at Live Aid in 1985, and George helped out on Elton’s Ice On Fire album later that year. George performed it on his Cover To Cover tour, and for the final show at Wembley Arena on 23 March 1991 he brought out Elton as a surprise guest. It was the first time George had entered the UK singles chart at No.1, and it gave Elton – whose original had only reached No.16 in 1974 – his third chart-topper as a bonus.


According to George, this song concerned a short-lived multi-love dilemma: “It’s about a strange love triangle involving a woman who’s madly in love with me and a man who I was madly in love with, and none of it came to anything… but I got a good song out of it.” Reaching No.45, the single may not have been the hit it should have been but it works wonders in context of Listen Without Prejudice and is a fan favourite. The sax solo was by Andy Hamilton, who’d parped over Duran Duran’s Rio.

20 HEAL THE PAIN, 1986

Heal The Pain had been a very Beatlesy-type number on Listen Without Prejudice, and on its original release as a single reached No.31 in 1991. In 2005, when appearing on Chris Evans’ BBC Radio 2 show that December, George revealed that he had recorded a version of the track the previous week with Paul McCartney, in whose style the song was written. That version was later added to the greatest hits collection Twenty Five in 2006, and in 2008 it was released as a single in the US.

Read more: Wham! – Fantastic

Read more: George Michael – Listen Without Prejudice Vol 1

19 FREEDOM! ’90, 1990

Iconic, and possibly the one song that people would immediately think of with George Michael, Freedom! ‘90 only managed a (for George) lowly No.28 position. The video, possibly just as iconic, was directed by David Fincher and featured supermodels direct from the cover of Vogue lip-syncing to the lyrics, intercut with symbols of George’s past, most notably his Faith leather jacket and guitar, bursting into flames. It was covered by Robbie Williams as his hastily-released first solo single.


After finishing the Faith campaign and tour in the summer of 1989, George had wanted people to focus more on his songwriting. He told the New York Times: “No event inspired the song. It’s my way of trying to figure out why it’s so hard for people to be good to each other. I believe the problem is conditional as opposed to being something inherent in mankind.” In the film that accompanied the reissued album in 2017, Liam Gallagher reckoned George displayed “Lennon in him” on this number.

17 ONE MORE TRY, 1987

Possibly one of George’s finest moments (even Elton John wishes he’d written it) One More Try featured one of his greatest vocal performances. It was a very personal song: George said it was “about my attitude coming out of my last relationship and into this new one when I was pretty unwilling to be open to anything”. Another US No.1 on both the Billboard and R&B charts, it made No.8 in the UK. Incidentally, despite the ubiquity of the album at the time, none of the singles from Faith went to the top in Britain. Unbelievable.

Best George Michael Songs – One More Try


Released as the third single off Faith, Father Figure was an altogether more mysterious affair compared to the country-billy romp of the previous single. The video, with George as a cabbie who picks up model Tania Coleridge, further established his heterosexuality for US buyers, although he’d admitted he’d had sex with men at this point. It earned director Andy Morahan an MTV award. Spoiling his run of Top 10 singles when it stalled at No.11 in the UK, it spent two weeks at No.1 in the US in early 1988. 

15 FAITH, 1987

While held off No.1 in the UK by the Bee Gees’ You Win Again, Faith spent four weeks at the top in the US and went on to be the biggest-selling single of 1988. The iconic and knowingly camp imagery of the video, with George rocking out with a guitar was a sort-of marketing move, seeing as he didn’t actually know how to play. His reasoning: “Americans – if you stick a guitar on, you’ve got a bigger penis, simple as that.” Smash Hits cheekily took to asking him if he’d ever been sick in his cowboy boots.

14 I WANT YOUR SEX, 1987

It’s strange to conceive now the rumpus that George’s ode to rumpo caused back in June 1987. The BBC banned it: Michael responded, saying “The media has divided love and sex incredibly. The emphasis of the AIDS campaign has been on safe sex, but the campaign has missed relationships. It’s missed emotion. It’s missed monogamy. I Want Your Sex is about attaching lust to love, not just to strangers.” The equally fruity video featured him and his then-girlfriend, model Kathy Yeung, both mostly naked. 


An ambition of George’s was to record with Aretha Franklin, and the pair teamed up on this Narada Michael Walden-produced track and scored a transatlantic No.1 in January 1987. The writers were Simon Climie and Dennis Morgan; it became Aretha’s only UK chart-topper compared to George’s third (or seventh, including Wham!) and only her second in the US, almost 20 years after Respect. It won a Grammy for Best R&B Duo/Group Performance.


So that was it: the rumours were true. As A Different Corner hit the top of the charts, George and Andrew announced they would bow out with a single, album and concert in June. Released as a double-pack single with an updated Wham Rap!, plus Battlestations and a cover of Was (Not Was)’s Where Did Your Heart Go, the single became their fourth and final No.1. George reckoned no one listened to Wham! lyrics, so had written The Edge Of Heaven as “deliberately and overtly sexual, especially the first verse”.


George was still technically half of Wham! when he released his first ‘proper’ solo single – Careless Whisper has been billed as ‘Wham! featuring George Michael’ in many territories – and he was only the second – after Stevie Wonder – to hit the No.1 spot with a song written, arranged, performed and produced by one artist. “I was only 19,” he revealed to an audience in 2014. “The best critique I ever heard of that song was from a friend of mine who said, ‘It’s beautiful… pathetic, but beautiful.’”

Read more: Making George Michael’s Patience

10 I’M YOUR MAN, 1985

Ten months in pop is a lifetime, so when Wham! spent much of 1985 away from the charts and touring around the world, these portents of doom – plus George’s fresh beard – suggested that they were about to split. The song was, George declared, all about sex, and a video filmed at The Marquee club rammed this point home. Released in September, I’m Your Man became the duo’s third UK No.1, and was the last song they performed together at their Final show at Wembley Stadium the following year.


Released as a double A-side with Last Christmas, Everything She Wants – the fourth track taken from Make It Big – helped buoy sales into the new year when DJs flipped the record over. The song tells the tale of a man in a loveless marriage, realising that with the news of a baby he can’t easily back out of it (it could quite feasibly be the subject of Young Guns reflecting on his lot). When it reached No.1 in the US, Wham! became the first band since the Bee Gees to have scored three chart-toppers from one album. 


It would have been nice to end 1984 with a third (or fourth) No.1, but Band Aid’s rush-released juggernaut Do They Know It’s Christmas blew everything else out of the water (although George appeared on that too). All the same, this became the biggest-selling No.2 of all time, with UK sales of just under two million. It’s also one of the most streamed Christmas songs ever, with its annual reappearance in the charts now as much a part of the season as disappointing crackers and flammable jumpers.


A bold move, launching a solo career just after you’ve had your band’s first No.1 with a line about “not planning on going solo” in it – but George was a canny operator. Written by the pair when they were only 17, the version they recorded topped the charts in 25 countries and sold six million copies. “I’m still a bit puzzled why it’s made such an impression on people,” said George to The Big Issue in 2009. “I was only 17 and didn’t know much about anything – and certainly nothing much about relationships.”


Famously based on a note that Andrew had left on his bedroom door, this was George’s tribute to pop from the Fifties and Sixties, featuring nods to familiar elements of past hits. The real drummer George had planned to use was late, so he kept the Linn drum beat he’d used on the demo. Heralded as a surefire No.1 – the duo believed it would enter at that position, something very few acts managed in those days – it entered at No.4 and jitterbugged to the top the week after. 


Breaking from the strident Brit-funk of the first few releases, Club Tropicana solidified Wham! as a true pop package. During this period George was in court trying to get out of his deal with Innervision, but that seemed miles away as he and Andrew – dressed as airline pilots, with Dee and Shirlie as air hostesses – cavorted about in Speedos and drank cocktails in Ibiza in the legendary video, sending up the Club 18-30 cheap package holiday boom. It became their fourth Top 10 hit in nine months, hitting No.4.

3 BAD BOYS, 1983

Keen to capitalise on Young Guns, George hastily knocked up a romp about teen rebellion accompanied with a hugely camp video with the leathered-up duo looking like highly unconvincing teenagers. “I wrote to a formula for Bad Boys… that’s something I’d never done before and have never done since,” he admitted. While most people would make the most of a No.2 single, George’s feelings were made known. Fans were disappointed when it failed to make it onto 1997’s The Best Of Wham. 


Had someone who worked on Saturday Superstore not spotted Wham! performing in Stringfellows, their history would have been very different. Having made that TV debut with the addition of Dee C Lee and Shirlie Holliman, Top Of The Pops invited them on to the show as a last-minute replacement for another turn, even though the song lay outside the Top 40. A few weeks later, they found themselves with a Top 3 single. Oh, and the female vocal isn’t Dee or Shirlie – it’s session singer Lynda Haynes.


Following The Message and Rapper’s Delight, bands such as Modern Romance, Haircut 100 and Spandau Ballet flirted with rap, but no one had gone full ‘lyrical flow’, especially not on a debut single. This Brit-funk banger failed to ignite in June 1982 but reached No.8 when re-released after the success of Young Guns at the start of 1983. Even Paul Weller admired the unemployment-tackling lyrics, and the Special AKA poked fun at it with Bright Lights in 1984. 

Enjoy this article on the best George Michael songs? Then check out our Top 40 Vince Clarke tracks feature

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Watch “I Know That He Loves Me” by Autoheart




This was a good spot if, I DO say so myself. London-based indie-pop group Autoheart dropped “I Know That He Loves Me“, on Adele New Music Friday. The track is the first taste of their third studio album, “hellbent“. And, it looks like the band are going with their plan of releasing this album on the 29th, October. Which isn’t very long to wait, is it? I for, one, am very hyped at the news. More gorgeous Autoheart songs are on the way. I know without hesitation these will be worth the wait. And will also undoubtedly be very, special pieces of music, as always is the way with them.

But there is more… they also unleashed a stunning music video for the new track. (Another, because all of Autoheart’s music videos are beautiful art forms in themselves). Directed by Joseph Wilson, the clip focuses on strong visual storytelling. A young man is attempting to make sense of his feelings. Yet is confused and torn by having being raised on the teachings of religion. Confliction arises when coming into contact with sources of discrimination, and attempts at brainwashing and propaganda take hold. His soul is troubled, but he is strong of self-worth. He looks to the light and makes his way in life the best he can.

Listen on Apple Music

“I’ve been caught up in a whirlwind, I’ve been living in a dream. And, I’m losing all perspective nothing’s ever what it seems. But I know that he loves me, I know that he loves me back.” (lyrics)

The song narrative and the candid, almost poetic lyricism, contained within are of the high standard they always meet. This is why I am always happy to wait for new music from the band. They are consistently good. When I am writing about them. They make me really think about the subject at hand on a psychological level. No other band does this to me, but Autoheart does. I have listened to and watched the track multiple times, absorbed a lot from it. Wow, do I feel, enriched. I cannot imagine the feelings that will surge through me when the album drops. I know listening to what Jody, Barney, and Simon have to say. Will only help me have a greater understanding as an LGBTQ ally and become a better human being, though.

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Watch “Time” (Hearts Full Of Love” by Erasure




Hello, new Erasure video, what a pleasant sight for my eyes you are!

You may or may not have seen the legendary synth-pop duo of Vince Clarke and Andy Bell surprise-released the “Ne:EP” while setting out on the UK leg of “The Neon Tour” two weeks ago. (They have been randomly popping up on TV doing some promo about it.) Because as Andy stated, he no longer updates, has turned off social media. This release may have indeed passed you by. (I am an Erasure Info subscriber and had the heads-up about this). It also made some kind of sense to unleash a video for the EP’s lead track “Time” (Hearts Full Of Love) on the weekend these tour dates started to be wrapped up.

With the tour dates rescheduled more than once. The “Ne:EP” has been issued as a little extra bonus. An add-on if you will, to the eighteenth studio album “The Neon” and “The Neon Remixed” edition. In addition to the track “Secrets” which appears on the (remixed edition) “Ne:EP” is comprised of four new tracks that didn’t make the album.

Listen on Apple Music

That was a lot of information to take in, wasn’t it?… Anyways I hope you’ve got the gist behind the release of this quite fabulous Stephano Barberis directed music video. The fandom has been quick voicing their approval of this digital-creative masterpiece, because Andy and Vince appear in it. The clip does have a concept of time running through it and is spectacularly visually appealing. The link between this video and the video content Stephano created for “The Neon” tour, is probably being missed by most people, though.

A good call from the record label this time, I think, insisting that this track be released. “Time” (Hearts Full Of Love) is a classic slice of Erasure for me. The track mix used in the video is particularly on-point with their very early hits of thirty-five years ago. Most artists and musicians have (should have) the desire to keep pushing the music forward. But sometimes, giving the fans (loyal and new ones) a few goosebumps of nostalgia once in a while is a good thing. 23 year old me in the front rows of the Hammersmith Odeon on The Phantasmagorical Entertainment Tour is definitely dancing now.

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