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Making Duran Duran: Rio – Classic Pop Magazine



Duran Duran: Rio epitomised the 80s with its aspirational glamour. But it wasn’t all style – the record itself was packed with classic songwriting… By Mark Lindores

Duran Duran Rio

When Duran Duran touched down on British soil having returned from their first headlining tour of the US in September 1981, they did so with a relentless fervour and enthusiasm to achieve their ambition of global domination.

The trip had seen them taste the high life they craved and, with the outline of what would become their magnum opus firmly in place, Planet Earth would soon be theirs for the taking. 

“That trip to America was the most exciting thing that had happened to us,” Nick Rhodes told VH1 in 2002. “We had just come back when we started work on Rio, so that energy that you can hear throughout the record is a direct result of that trip.”

Needing a follow-up to maintain the momentum of Girls On Film, the group went into the studio to record a standalone single, My Own Way. It reached No.14 in the UK and, although it wasn’t meant to be on the next album, it was later re-recorded and included.

On returning from their US tour, far from being burnt out by life on the road, the band was desperate to begin their second album. “We already had a lot of material ready and we knew as soon as we started working on the songs that there was something in our chemistry that just kept coming up with more and more music,” said Le Bon.

Having absorbed a wide range of influences while travelling, Duran Duran had cultivated a sound uniquely their own, amalgamating heavy funk polyrhythms, percussion effects and harmonically complex synth riffs. Though they were not part of any ‘scene’ that was around at the time, their distinctive sound incorporated elements of them all and was reflected in the naming of the album.

“To me, ‘Rio’ was shorthand for the truly foreign, the exotic, a cornucopia of earthly delights, a party that would never stop,” John Taylor wrote in his book In The Pleasure Groove: Love, Death And Duran Duran.

Once again with producer Colin Thurston at the helm, the sessions went incredibly smoothly, an outpouring of creativity bristling with energy.

“It was a combination of a band at the top of its game who were just having so much fun playing together every day, with a producer who knew exactly how to channel what he was hearing,” says John Taylor.

Sure enough, the Rio sessions at London’s AIR Studios produced a plethora of stadium-sized anthems that would provide the perfect soundtrack for Duran Duran to fulfil their ambitions of graduating from Hammersmith Odeon to Wembley to New York’s Madison Square Garden at 12-month intervals. 

Though Rio is marked by the triumvirate of career-defining hits Hungry Like The Wolf, Save A Prayer and Rio, a high standard is maintained throughout the album. Cuts such as Hold Back The Rain, New Religion or Lonely In Your Nightmare were likely to have been monster hits had they been released as singles, while a last-minute addition to the album, The Chauffeur, highlighted the band’s darker, more experimental side. 

Released on 10 May 1982, Rio reached No.2 in the UK and spawned a further three Top 10 singles, establishing Duran Duran as the biggest pop group in Britain.

Although regarded as pop’s hottest pin-ups, it was unusual that there was no photograph of the band on the front cover; instead, the sleeve of Rio carried a painting by US illustrator Patrick Nagel (they turned down an offer from Andy Warhol “because he had already done it for The Rolling Stones”) with graphic design from Malcolm Garrett, resulting in one of the most famous covers of the era.

Although their meteoric rise had them marked out as The Beatles’ successors in terms of Britpop ambassadors, Duran Duran were keen to hang on to the club crowd who had embraced them as a dance act with their first hits.

Read our article on Duran Duran’s Seven And The Ragged Tiger

Read our feature on Duran Duran’s 1990 album Liberty

They became one of the first bands to take advantage of the art of remixing songs, recording alternative or extended ‘Night Versions’ of songs, specifically for nightclubs, often available as 12” singles or EPs.

“We always did the Night Versions of the songs for clubs, but at that time we had to record them live,” recalls Roger Taylor. “You couldn’t cut them up on the computer and make loops as you do now. We played them live, and as some of these mixes were over 10 minutes long, they were quite difficult to do. If someone made a mistake, we’d have to go back to the beginning and start all over again.”

The Night Versions were important for the band, particularly in the US, where Duran Duran was marketed as a dance act. As Rio had underperformed Stateside on its initial release, an EP of remixes, Carnival, was offered that met with a much better reception.

Deciding to push the dance side of the band in the States, EMI hired producer David Kershenbaum to remix the album. A remix of Hungry Like The Wolf reached No.3 in the US, their breakthrough hit there, while the new version of the album also fared much better, peaking at No.6.

Any doubts the band had as to whether they had broken America were cast aside when 12,000 fans descended on a record store signing in New York.

As visual identity was becoming a more predominant force in the industry, the aesthetics of the group became a major factor in their appeal, with the Duran HQ turning into a creative hub of music, video, fashion and design.

“We really made an effort with the videos, the style and the artwork,” insists Nick Rhodes. “We saw ourselves as more of a multimedia corporation than a rock band.”

A meeting between director Russell Mulcahy (who had directed the video for Planet Earth) and Paul and Michael Berrow resulted in the decision to join the group in Sri Lanka – where they were holidaying to unwind after their US tour – and Antigua to film a series of promos originally planned as a ‘video album’. This was something of a revolutionary concept.

Russell, a self-confessed “frustrated film director”, was assigned with creating the images that would transform the way pop music was processed. These videos were no longer just a marketing tool to promote a single: Russell’s vision – with James Bond and Raiders Of The Lost Ark as reference points – was for a series of ‘mini movies’. 

Hungry Like The Wolf, Save A Prayer and Rio all garnered heavy rotation on the new 24-hour music station MTV and made Duran Duran the first idols of the video age.

The channel gave them a platform to create a vivid visual landscape in which they portrayed themselves as Price-clad pop playboys, pursued across tropical seas by body-painted beauties. 

Read more: Duran Duran Superfan

Read our feature on Duran Duran’s cover art

As Britain faded to grey, gripped by a recession, record numbers of unemployment and the Falklands War, these vibrant videos proved the perfect antidote to the bleak times. “We didn’t have an axe to grind, we didn’t have a political agenda,” says John Taylor. “We just wanted to have fun and wanted everyone around us to have fun.” 

With eventual sales of six million copies, the success of Rio launched Duran Duran to the top of pop’s premier league.

The epitome of style and substance, they were at the forefront of the second British invasion of America, where they were dubbed the “prettiest boys in pop” and “the Fab Five”, while back home they sparked scenes of hysteria that hadn’t been seen since Beatlemania, with John Taylor’s five-year residency at the top of the Most Fanciable Male category in the Smash Hits Winners Poll confirming him as the band’s heart-throb. 

After three decades of hits, Rio is regarded by the band, their fans, and their former nemeses the critics as a pop classic and the pinnacle of Duran Duran’s career. 

Writing in his autobiography, John Taylor describes the album as “the sound of what happens when a group of passionate, music-loving, fame-hungry guys are given some support, nurtured and put to work harder than any of them thought possible. Every one of us is performing on the Rio album at the peak of our talents. THAT is what makes it so exciting.” 

Duran Duran: Rio – The Songs

Opening with a cataclysmic crash – actually a recording of Nick Rhodes throwing iron rods into a grand piano, played backwards – Rio has a driving beat, a funk-inspired bassline, rocky guitar licks and innovative arpeggiator synth sounds and displays all the trademarks of the ‘Duran Duran sound’.

A hybrid of an early demo, See Me, Repeat Me and Stevie’s Radio Station by TV Eye (a band featuring ex-Duran singer Andy Wickett), Rio reached No.9 in the UK. The song has a double meaning: “Rio” is both a metaphor for America and for the band’s desire to make it big there.

My Own Way
Intended as a single-only release to bridge the gap between Girls On Film and the band’s second album, My Own Way is a slice of spiky new-wave pop recorded at London’s Townhouse Studios in October 1981 and released as Duran Duran’s fourth single, peaking at No.14.

It was remodelled and slowed down in 1982 for its inclusion on Rio. The song is one of the band’s least favourites; it is ignored by both 1989’s Decades and 1998’s Greatest compilations and has rarely been performed live on any of their tours.  

Lonely In Your Nightmare
A firm fan favourite, this downbeat, guitar-driven affair perfectly showcases Andy Taylor’s skills. It was remixed by David Kershenbaum for the US album, with extra lyrics and longer instrumental sections. A singles video was shot, but the plan was vetoed and it was only included on the Duran Duran video album. The shoot took place in London and Sri Lanka alongside the Hungry Like The Wolf and Save A Prayer videos.

Hungry Like The Wolf
According to Andy, this was the result of “fiddling with the new technology that was starting to come in”. Completed in one day, it featured a Roland

TR-808 drum machine and a Roland Jupiter 8 synth, plus a Le Bon lyric comparing the pursuit of a lover to the wolf from Red Riding Hood. The song took Duran Duran’s career to a new level, reaching No.6 in the UK. Six months later, a remixed version reached No.3 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Hold Back The Rain
An all-time Duran Duran highlight, this perfect fusion of stadium rock and punky pop was written during the US tour as a plea from Le Bon to John Taylor to curb his hard partying.

Simon wrote the lyrics on a sheet of paper and put them under the door of John’s hotel room; they have never discussed them to this day. As a B-side to Save A Prayer the song garnered heavy airplay, leading many to hail it the great “lost Duran Duran single”.

New Religion
The closest Duran Duran ever got to John Taylor’s dream of blending punk with Chic, New Religion mixed dark synths and guitars with a funk-driven bassline inspired by Stay from David Bowie’s Station To Station.

Lyrically, the song is “a dialogue between the ego and the alter-ego”, translated by using multi-tracked vocals to represent the protagonist’s inner turmoil.

Last Chance On The Stairway
Perhaps the most overlooked song on Rio, Last Chance On The Stairway is an ode to sexual desire, lifted by a superb guitar solo from Andy Taylor and a hint of the bizarre (a marimba?!).

The hook-laden melody and perfect lyrical structure are testament to how tightly Duran Duran were operating as songwriters and musicians at this point. Any track from Rio could have become a Top 10 hit, and this underrated gem is no exception.

Save A Prayer
As Duranmania began to explode, Save A Prayer, though a ballad, was just too good to leave languishing on an album. The lush melody, the multi-layered harmonies, Nick’s exotic synths, Andy’s guitar and Simon’s melancholic vocals all built into a glorious yearning chorus; it’s a resounding pop triumph which evokes Roxy Music, and it is perhaps their greatest moment.

Le Bon’s lyrics are a lament to seduction culminating in the live-for-the-moment line “Some people call it a one-night-stand, but we can call it paradise”. Reaching No.2, it was their biggest UK hit to date, only kept from the top spot by Survivor’s Eye Of The Tiger

The Chauffeur
Originating from the notebook of poetry that Simon Le Bon presented to the group at his first audition, the Rio version of The Chauffeur was very different from its demo.

Originally an acoustic-based song, Nick Rhodes stripped it back and rebuilt it with a sequencer, reinventing it as the most experimental moment on the album – a sinister synth-infused comedown after the fervent non-stop energy of the rest of the album. Despite having no single release, the song is often cited as one of the band’s best.

For more info on Duran Duran check out their official website here

Read more: Scritti Politti’s Green Gartside interview




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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.

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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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