Song of the Day #385: ‘Faith’ – George Michael

faith20 Best Songs of the 80s – #17

Here’s an example of a song and an artist that transcend the 80s… George Michael’s next album, Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1, came out in the early 90s and was even better than this one. That album represented his creative peak, however, and what followed was many years of silence and then a very public fall from grace.

And the wonderful Faith album holds up to this day, not as an 80s relic but as an involving, passionate work. If I were arranging this list strictly by the quality of these songs, this one would be near the top. But ‘Faith’ does crack my list of 80s favorites because I have strong memories of Michael’s transition from Wham! fairy to solo sex symbol.

I might have included one of those Wham! songs today, but I’ve already featured ‘Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go,’ the one that sticks with me the most.

So instead I’m going with the song (and video) that made it abundantly clear that this cute-guy makeover was going to work. ‘I Want Your Sex’ was the first video from the album but it’s this one that made the bigger impression. That jukebox, that pair of model’s legs, that guitar, that jacket, those jeans… that ass (my sister was particularly fond of the last item).

It’s no coincidence that Michael, wanting to be loved for his music and not his sex appeal, literally blew up this jukebox and jacket in the video for ‘Freedom (’90)’ several years later. In fact, I don’t believe he appeared in a single video from that album.

On a side note, watching the video just now, I’m struck by how not dated it is. I can totally see Kanye West in that jacket and those shades (though not the blue jeans, admittedly).

Well I guess it would be nice
If I could touch your body
I know not everybody
Has got a body like you

But I’ve got to think twice
Before I give my heart away
And I know all the games you play
Because I play them too

Oh but I
Need some time off from that emotion
Time to pick my heart up off the floor
And when that love comes down
Without devotion
Well it takes a strong man baby
But I’m showing you the door

‘Cause I gotta have faith…

Baby
I know you’re asking me to stay
Say please, please, please, don’t go away
You say I’m giving you the blues
Maybe
You mean every word you say
Can’t help but think of yesterday
And another who tied me down to loverboy rules

Before this river
Becomes an ocean
Before you throw my heart back on the floor
Oh baby I reconsider
My foolish notion
Well I need someone to hold me
But I’ll wait for something more

Yes I’ve gotta have faith…

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5 thoughts on “Song of the Day #385: ‘Faith’ – George Michael

  1. Kerrie Rueda says:

    Okay, I apologize for my delayed presence here on the blog, but Mom and Heather have been in town until today and this is the first chance I’ve had to get caught up. That said, this is THE MOST EXCITING THEME EVER!!! I just got finished saying (yesterday morning, in fact, before seeing the theme), that the 80s was the greatest era in music. My mother disagreed, but I gave her a nod for Frank Sinatra as a compromise and she relented. :)

    The first three songs you’ve featured are all perfect examples of what made the 80s, well, the 80s, but TODAY you are really getting somewhere. George Michael is one of the poster children of that era and my dear brother actually took one for the team and escorted me to the Faith concert (amidst a sea of screaming teenage girls). As I recall, we had a great time (I more than he, no doubt) and it remains one of the great memories of my adolescence. The glasses, the jacket, the ass (eloquent, Clay) all remain iconic images and (like so many John Hughes movies), were part of the definition of our generation.

    I just can’t wait to see what else makes your list. This is totally awesome! :)

  2. Amy says:

    Hey! I was admiring his guitar ;)

    You’re absolutely right that there is NOTHING dated about this song or this video. It’s so crisp and funky, and, well, just plain good. And I would put “I Want Your Sex” against “Relax” any day to demonstrate how a song ca be overt without being preposterous. It is truly sad that George Michael’s “fall from grace” has kept him from writing and performing more great songs like these. He should be our generation’s Elton John (albeit a much hotter Elton John :)), the artist he admires so much and whose “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” he memorably sang in concert.

    I still don’t understand why GM hasn’t returned. The COMEBACK is something we Americans particularly embrace, so come back, George Michael!! (and without the flu that kept you from full singing voice on American Idol a couple of years ago)

    Wonderful pick. This one would be very high on my list, as it captures my sense of the 80′s completely.

    (Oh, and welcome back, Kerrie :) I told Clay you’d be here today!)

  3. Clay says:

    Having listened to a ton of 80s music on XM radio in recent weeks, I have to say I agree with you that it’s the decade that stands out most in terms of consistently strong, interesting songs. Sure, the 60s had giants like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones but the field wasn’t as deep. The list of excellent 80s songs is a mile long and includes so many bands who were never heard from again.

  4. Dana says:

    In an odd way, I somehow knew there was talent behind Wham even as he sang Wake Me Up….There was just an obvious pop sensibility to that song, with great production and Michael’s outstanding voice.Then came Careless Whisper, which was more Michael than Wham, and the talent became even more conspicuous.

    So, when Michael released his first solo album, I was hooked. He had me with I Want Your Sex, sealed the deal with Faith, and blew me away with One More Try and the incredible Kissing a Fool. While Listen Without Prejudice is undoubtedly a more “mature” record, I take some issue with the notion that it is a “better” record. Faith is pretty great from start to finish–and it even has a song called Monkey–setting the stage early on for Clay’s love of the primate reference in songs (see Counting Crows)

    It is a shame that Michael lost his way after those 2 great albums, but maybe there is a comeback still left in him. Just stay off the drugs and stop having sex in public places!

    As for the ongoing debate as to best music by decades, I find the appreciation for 80′s music interesting because, in the 90′s, critics largely slammed the 80′s as an empty decade, without the gravity of the 60′s or the songwriters of the 70′s. Elton John, so powerful in the 70′s, was doing lesser work in the 80′s. The radio had largely left behind greats like Jackson Browne, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Randy Newman, etc… And while Springsteen, Michael Jackson and Billy Joel hit commercial highs, they were carry overs from earlier decades and, arguably their 80′s work (with the exception of Jackson) may not have been their best.

    Then again, I am actually old enough to remember critics of the 80′s bashing the 70′s for being the 60′s light, culminating in the dreaded disco sound. It seems that, with the benefit of time, critics and music lovers alike tend to forget the bad and remember the good, and so each of these decades looks far better now than they did then. Indeed, it is the 90′s that seems to be getting a knock of late, but let’s see how that music is viewed in the next decade (and let’s also see if the 00′s get trashed)

    But here’s the thing: The 80′s brought us MTV, and with that, it brought us a whole host of new music, some bad, but much of it pretty decent. Wham and Michael may have succeeded without MTV, but can anyone really question how much they were aided by it? And would anyone have known of A-ha without MTV?

    I, of course, remember the 80′s fondly. I never listened to music more than I did then. So, I too am loving this trip down memory lane.

  5. Clay says:

    The MTV point is a great one… it really did give all of these bands an outlet and created a thirst for new music that probably directly resulted in all the great 80s songs we know and love.

    I’m considering doing a theme like this for the 90s as well, but poking around the Web for lists from which to compile my own favorites, I’m just not seeing the same depth or quality.

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