Why I loved… George Michael (R.I.P.)

One of the biggest mysteries in my youth involved George Michael, or rather Wham! One morning I came into my classroom and there were two Panini Klebebilder (stickers/figurines) featuring Wham! on my desk. Some secret admirer must have put them on my desk because they knew I loved the pop group. I have never found out who it was. Still, I thought it was a very romantic gesture. 😉

Having said that, George Michael didn’t so much touch the romantic streak in me. While I wanted to marry Morten Harket, the singer of A-ha ❤ , I never had similar feelings for George Michael (mind you, George Michael had his (forced) coming-out as late as 1998!), and not only because I was more infatuated with Andrew Ridgeley during their career as Wham! Just imagine a 17-year-old girl watching the music video for „I Want your Sex‟ for the first time!

Man, that was HOT! Again, for those of you who are much younger: these were the 80s – we didn’t grow up with YouPorn or explicit lyrics and videos nowadays abundant in mainstream pop music. How exciting for a seemingly demure adolescent girl to sing along with these lyrics:

Sex is natural – sex is good
Not everybody does it
But everybody should
Sex is natural – sex is fun
Sex is best when it’s….one on one

From then on, George Michael was the embodiment of sex in pop music to me – even when he didn’t feature in the music video, like in the iconic „Freedom! ’90‟, in which female and male supermodels of that time lip-synched the lyrics. Somehow it made me feel a little bit like a model myself when I was dancing and singing along with it.

After being arrested for „engaging in a lewd act“ in 1998, he had to come out as being gay. This did not change my opinion of his sex appeal. Instead I applauded his turning this seemingly highly embarrassing incident into the unapologetic song „Outside‟.

George Michael never tried to hide his sexuality, after his coming-out he was very open about his sexual appetite, which included anonymous sex. Even though I’m not into that myself, I respect that he didn’t let himself be ruled by norms of „normal sexual behavior‟. As long as it’s consensual, people should be free to live their (sex) life as they like – straight, gay, bi, BDSM, whatever…

No, George Michael was by no means a saint (add to his sexual escapades a number of arrests for driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs), and he admitted openly that he sought attention with his music, yet, what I, for one, didn’t know, he also donated a lot of his money to charities, its causes ranging from help for people living with HIV/AIDS (Terrence Higgins Trust) to providing anonymous counseling for children and adolescents (Childline). Apparently, George Michael also struggled with depression, especially after his mother’s death in 1997.

I didn’t really keep up with his personal life at all, since what I cherished most was the artist, the musician, the entertainer. To me he was one of the most important pop stars of the 1980s and 1990s – beside Michael Jackson and Prince. He could even stand his ground as a „stand-in‟ for Freddie Mercury when performing „Somebody to Love‟ live with Queen.

I’d like to finish off with the outstanding duet of Elton John and George Michael „Don’t let the sun go down on me‟:

It’s truly sad that Christmas 2016 really was George Michael’s „Last Christmas‟. As much as I had been fed up with radio stations playing that song every Christmas for the past 30 years, it now carries a quite melancholic ring to it. Rest in peace, George!