I have never had any desire to listen to George Michael. Nothing about his music has ever really struck me. I find myself listening to this record only because of my podcast.
It’s a weird combination of cheese and kitsch with earnestness and bravado. As someone who has only recently started (seriously) listening to music like this in the last couple of years, I am not quite sure what to do with it.
Michael has a real knack for melody and I’d say that nearly every one of the melodies here is quite strong.
The lyrics are a little less consistent. When Michael is being earnest, he’s usually appealing or at least relatable. When he’s singing about sex, I can’t say that I relate much (which is basically a problem for me with all men singing about sex, regardless of who its with) and I find the social comment song to be rather weak. Still, I don’t mind most of the lyrics which are not about social comment or sex I just don’t love them.
Michael is a dynamic performer with a rather great voice. He occasionally resembles Freddie Mercury (on “Kissing a Fool” in particular) and he has that charisma. I suspect that’s why he’s so beloved by his fans. (That and how danceable – and hummable – some of this music is.) I also appreciate the Prince-esque manipulation of his voice when he duets with himself. That’s probably my favourite part of the record.
Despite the rather varied musical styles on the record though, much of it is still really mired in 1980s production, including synth bass. The surprising thing is that there are songs which are not mired in this production – there are a few tracks here made with organic instruments which hold up a lot better than the ones driven by synths (at least to my ears).
There’s just not enough of the latter stuff for me, and not enough that I like to really care much about it.