Monday, July 06, 2009

Music Video Monday: George Michael

In honour of our just completed Independence Day weekend, today's music video is by none other than George Michael and his song "Freedom '90," featuring supermodels Linda Evangelista, Naomi Campbell, and a few others I don't remember at the moment. This song and video was an act of rebellion by George Michael who was attempting to be taken more seriously as an artist (it came from his album Listen Without Prejudice, Volume 1, which was the follow-up to his mega-successful Faith, that made him a sex icon to millions of teenage girls everywhere).

I guess George Michael got tired of being a musical gigolo, shaking his ass and acting like a male sex fantasy for teenage girls (I still remember which girls in high school were lustily dreaming about him instead of doing their class assignments). He wanted us to believe that he had no control over his image during his Faith days. However, his career proves that "sex sells" (to a point, I'd add) in our culture. Girls loved him when he sang sexually explicit songs and had provocative videos, but as soon as he got serious with his follow-up albums, he essentially killed his career until he got outed in a public bathroom in the late 1990s (doing the Senator Craig thing way before Senator Craig was caught doing it himself).

Back in the 10th grade, a friend of mine and I made fun of the songs titles on the Faith album. The girl who loved George Michael had argued that most of his songs weren't sexual in nature. My friend and I refuted her claims as we went song by song. Even "Monkey" wasn't immune ("why can't you do it, why can't you set your monkey free? Do you love the monkey or do you love me?"). This was the guy, after all, who recorded a song called "I Want Your Sex." Not only that, he had three different versions of the song (Rhythm 1 was called "Lust", rhythm 3 was called "A last request"). Other suggestive songs include "Father Figure", "One More Try", and "Kissing a Fool." Even the video to "Faith" was suggestive. The most popular girl in the class raved that watching the video made her want to "eat his ass." This was a tenth grade girl we're talking about! When it was revealed in the mid-1990s that George Michael was gay, it made me wonder what all these teenage girls I knew in high school who swooned over him thought. Back in high school, the boys were calling him gay to the girls denials.

Record companies might have some controlling demand over an artist's image, but I never bought George Michael's complaints about being sold as a sex symbol. He didn't seem to mind it much when the money kept rolling in as his debut solo album became the biggest selling album of 1988. His problem was that he got way too serious with a more mellow sound and his fan base grew up.

I consider "Freedom '90" to be his best video...because he's not in it. I did have a thing for Linda Evangelista for awhile because of this video...and I generally am not attracted to supermodels. Like him or not, his best songs always had a dirty funk to them ("Everything She Wants", "I Want Your Sex", "Happy", and "Fastlove"). His jazzy tunes like "Kissing a Fool" or mellow "Praying for Time" simply put you to sleep. But, he wanted his freedom and he got it.

**Sorry...the video is out of sync with the music. The other versions on YouTube are unable to be embedded to my blog, so this will have to do.

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