George Michael's 20 greatest songs ever, ranked
15 April 2021, 12:49
George Michael left behind a legacy of truly fantastic songs that will stand the test of time.
Here are George's 20 greatest tunes to make for a perfect playlist. And if you're looking some Wham! anthems, we've got you covered here.
Originally an alternative dance track by New Order in 1987, George Michael covered it in 2011 in support of Comic Relief.
Throughout the song, it is noticeable that George's vocals are electronically masked using a vocoder, which garnered mixed reactions at the time. In response, he said: “People like to make exceptions for me”.
First released in 1990 as the B-side to his single 'Waiting for that Day', this track was reworked with Nile Rodgers in 2017.
Released posthumously, the song was included on the re-release of George's classic album Listen Without Prejudice.
Perhaps a tad underrated compared to his other classics, but this was a great comeback from George in 2004.
Taken from his album Patience, the song is about and dedicated to George Michael's partner at the time, Kenny Goss.
I Can't Make You Love Me
Bonnie Raitt first recorded this heartfelt ballad in 1991, and George later wanted to record a soulful cover version.
His version was originally included as the double A-side with 'Older' in 1997, and was later included on his Ladies and Gentlemen compilation.
Waiting for that Day
Although George wrote this song alone, the chords and rhythm are similar to The Rolling Stones' 'You Can't Always Get What You Want'. A co-writer credit was given to Mick Jagger and Keith Richards.
It also samples James Brown's often-sampled 'Funky Drummer', but he wanted to do it in a totally different way.
"I had this idea of taking something or taking that particular drum track and placing something completely different, something completely out of context, over the top of it," he said. "I thought I'd put something completely folk over the top of it."
Kissing a Fool
This jazzy ballad was written about George's insecurities as a soulmate and partner due to the baggage and reputation with which he came.
His vocals were recorded in a cappella in just one take. Incredible!
As (with Mary J Blige)
This song was originally by Stevie Wonder on his iconic Songs in the Key of Life album in 1976.
George teamed up with Mary J Blige for a duet cover version for his Ladies & Gentlemen compilation.
Heal the Pain
George first released this song in 1991, having written it in the style of a Paul McCartney ballad as a tribute to him.
14 years later, he asked McCartney to record it as a duet, and later included it on his 2006 ‘best of’ compilation Twenty Five.
The song sees the singer(s) telling a potential lover that their partner is not treating them with the kind of love respect that they can offer them.
This fun disco song from 1998 was seen as self-deprecating track about his arrest six months earlier by an undercover police officer in California, an incident which prompted him to come out as gay.
The song reached number two in the UK, and was kept off the top spot by Cher's huge comeback track 'Believe'.
Somebody to Love (with Queen)
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Included as the first track on the Five Live EP, George's version went to number one in the UK.
One More Try
This was written for George's debut album Faith, and reached number one in the States.
The ballad is about a young man's hesitancy to enter into a new relationship because he had been emotionally hurt so many times in the past. It finishes with temptation taking over, with George singing the song's title for the only time.
'Fastlove' was released as a single in 1996, and reached the number one spot in the UK Singles Chart, where it stayed for three weeks.
It contains a sample of the Patrice Rushen hit 'Forget Me Nots', which was also sampled in Will Smith's 'Men in Black' a year later.
Jesus to a Child
'Jesus To A Child' reached number one in the UK in 1996, and remains one of George's best-known love songs.
Hauntingly beautiful, it's thought that George penned the words in less an hour. The song is a melancholy tribute to his lover Anselmo Feleppa.
Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me (with Elton John)
George surprised his fans on tour in 1991, with this special appearance from Sir Elton John to perform the latter's classic anthem. They had previously done so at Live Aid six years previously.
It was so popular that it was released as a single, and reached number one in the UK.
George also performed the song as a fantastic duet with Luciani Pavarotti.
This funky song was written, arranged and produced by George himself. The song became one of his most popular and enduring tracks.
It also introduced the world to George's iconic leather jacket and blue jeans combo. It topped the US charts in 1987 and reached number two in the UK.
Praying for Time
This is a sombre look at people suffering from poverty and injustice, and how the passage of time can sometimes be the only way to heal.
George said: “No event inspired it. It’s my way of trying to figure out why it’s so hard for people to be good to each other. We’re taught that you have to grab what you can before it’s gone. It’s almost as if there isn’t time for compassion.”
George's relationship with record label Sony fell apart, and he refused to make a music video for the track, resulting in an early version of the lyric video.
A Different Corner
Following up on the success of 'Careless Whisper', 'A Different Corner' was the second solo single released by George Michael and helped him to become the first solo act in the history of the UK Singles Chart to reach No.1 with his first two releases.
Speaking in 2014, George said: "I think you can tell that 'A Different Corner' is genuinely the sound of a man who's heart's been broken. I was 19 and the best critique I ever heard of that song was from a friend of mine who said, 'It's beautiful, pathetic, but beautiful.'"
Two months after his death, Coldplay's Chris Martin performed a cover as a tribute to George at the Brit Awards, which featured the late singer appearing in a powerful duet.
George was trying to free himself from his label Sony at the time of this song. They created an image for him to promote his Faith album, and George was now trying to distance himself from it.
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In the video, all the Faith trademarks explode: the jacket, the jukebox, the guitar. The video also featured many supermodels from the era: Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, Christy Turlington and Tatjana Patitz.
Taken from George's chart-topping album Faith, he wrote this song before his homosexuality was public knowledge. The lyrics are purposely ambiguous.
The music video, which starred model Tania Coleridge as his love interest, and saw Michael play a cab driver to Colderidge’s high fashion model, and was co-directed by the singer.
The song is about loving someone in every aspect: wanting to be that everything to their object of affection. Although it was his first to not reach the top 10 in the UK, it topped the US charts.
This was the song that made people stand up and take notice of George as a credible artist outside the pop fun of Wham!
Released when he still in the boyband with Andrew Ridgeley, the song topped the charts around the world. Co-written with Andrew when they were 17, the song took inspiration from stories from Michael’s early romantic experiences with two different girls.
He later said: "The whole idea of 'Careless Whisper' was the first girl finding out about the second – which she never did. But I started another relationship with a girl called Alexis without finishing the one with Jane. It all got a bit complicated.
"Jane found out about her and got rid of me. The whole time I thought I was being cool, being this two-timer, but there really wasn't that much emotion involved.
"I did feel guilty about the first girl – and I have seen her since – and the idea of the song was about her. 'Careless Whisper' was us dancing, because we danced a lot, and the idea was – we are dancing...but she knows...and it's finished."