7 times George Michael blew us away with phenomenal cover songs

14 April 2022, 14:52

George Michael has a back catalogue of exceptional cover songs.
George Michael has a back catalogue of exceptional cover songs. Picture: Getty

By Giorgina Hamilton

George Michael's top 7 cover performances, from 'Killer' by Seal to 'The Long and Winding Road' by the Beatles proves the star's vocal range was unparallelled.

George Michael was more than just a pop star – he was a vocal powerhouse.

The Grammy and Brit Award-winning artist sold over 100 million record sales and had ten albums reach the Billboard 200.

But amongst the platinum selling albums and worldwide arena tours something often gets forgotten: George Michael has a back catalogue of exceptional cover songs.

From 1981 to 1986 George became world famous alongside Andrew Ridgeley in pop duo Wham!, but few knew the true power of the voice hidden behind the classic pop anthems.

By the time the shy boy from East Finchley ventured out as a solo artist in 1986, it quickly became clear the young singer's voice was unparalleled. A star – and his exceptional singing voice – was born.
By the time the shy boy from East Finchley ventured out as a solo artist in 1986, it quickly became clear the young singer's voice was unparalleled. A star – and his exceptional singing voice – was born. Picture: Getty

By the time the shy boy from East Finchley ventured out as a solo artist in 1986, it quickly became clear the young singer's voice was unparalleled. A star – and his exceptional singing voice – was born.

Just days after his death in 2016, The Independent wrote: "No one else could stand up anywhere, anytime, and sing anything – and sing it brilliantly and always in his inimitable style — in the way George Michael could.

Whether it was performing the Beatles iconic 'The Long and Winding Road', 'Killer' by Seal or Nina Simone's jazz classic 'Feeling Good', George Michael gave us some of the best cover versions of a generation and made them his own.

An emphatic Sam Smith put it best: “He was his own genre. If he sang it, it’s a George song.”

Here are 7 of George Michael's best ever cover performances:

  1. 'The Long and Winding Road' by the Beatles

    George Michael performed a moving version of the Beatles' hit 'The Long and Winding Road' in tribute to Linda McCartney.

    The concert took place at the Royal Albert Hall on April 10, 1999 almost a year after Paul McCartney's wife had died of cancer.

    Other stars who performed on the night included Elvis Costello, Tom Jones, Sinead O'Connor and Marianne Faithfull, with proceeds split between a selection of animal rights charities.

  2. 'The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face' by Roberta Flack

    Written by Ewan MacColl, 'The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face' is arguably one of the most moving songs of the 20th century.

    George Michael performed the song numerous times in his lifetime and this version at Earl's Court in 2008 blew everyone away.

    The concert was filmed for Live in London, the first DVD of George Michael's career, selling hundreds of thousands of copies worldwide and earning platinum status in the UK and Australia.

  3. 'Roxanne' by The Police

    'Roxanne' by The Police was one of the hits George Michael covered and recorded in the late nineties.

    In 1999, George Michael released his album Songs from the Last Century, a collection of song covers that he particularly loved and gave 'Roxanne' a jazz makeover.

    George later said Sting was one of the British songwriters he "respects the most" and he wanted to add a "jazzy" aspect to the famous track.

  4. 'Killer/Papa Was A Rolling Stone' - Adamski & Seal/The Undisputed Truth

    In 1991 George Michael performed a blend of 'Killer' and 'Papa Was a Rollin' Stone' live at Wembley Arena.

    The video shows a young George Michael at his very best: holding a crowd of thousands in the palm of his hand.

    The stunning track was released on 1993 EP Five Live and stayed on the Billboard charts for 12 weeks, peaking at number five.

  5. 'Feeling Good' by Nina Simone

    George Michael's 2008 version of Nina Simone's famous 'Feeling Good' is astounding and he later released the song in 2016, the last single before his death.

    Nina Simone's song was written by British songwriters Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse and was released during the height of the civil rights movement in 1965.

    The track has been covered by everyone from Michael Bublé to Adam Lambert, but George's is a timeless classic.

  6. 'I Can't Make You Love Me' by Bonnie Rait

    Even if it's a song you might not know by name, it's hard not to be affected by its moving lyrics and emotional delivery as soon as you hear it.

    George Michael covered Bonnie Rait's 'I Can't Make You Love Me' in 1997 with his version reaching number three in the UK charts.

    Mojo Magazine voted "I Can't Make You Love Me" the eighth best track on its The 100 Greatest Songs of All Time list announced in August 2020.

  7. 'Somebody To Love' by Queen

    Perhaps one of the most famous moments of George Michael's career, 'Somebody To Love' by Queen has gone down in history as one of the greatest covers of all time.

    Taking to the stage at Wembley Stadium for The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert on April 20, 1992, George impressed the world with his powerful vocals and incredible range.

    The performance was so good that even David Bowie was impressed – now that's saying something.