Pop singer, George Michael, has passed away at the age of 53. With the amount of times he emancipated himself throughout his life, whether in his music career or personal life, it is fitting that he passed away on December 25th, a day dedicated to new birth.
There has seldom been a more emancipating music video by a recording artist than “Freedom! ’90.” Although he was forced to make a video to promote this single, what Michael offered is nothing shy from a brilliant fuck you to the industry that was making him do it.
Not only did he not appear in the music video at all, but George Michael’s most noteworthy video has him destroying iconography from his previously most noteworthy video up until that point, “Faith.” In “Freedom! ’90,” the British singer-songwriter burns his signature BSA ‘Rockers Revenge’ leather jacket, blows up the jukebox that begins the music video for “Faith,” and has his acoustic guitar burst into flames, signifying a clear departure from his old pop persona and a venture onto something new.
Although not a new idea, the featuring of a number of well-known supermodels lip-syncing the lyrics in lieu of Michael’s presence is also an eminent part of the video. It reinforced Michael’s separation from his past and places a barrier between it and his future. The presence of beautiful supermodels also suggests what the music industry is turning into — an industry obsessed with visual appeal of physical sex appeal rather than the quality of the actual music.
Sadly, it seems like after the release of this single/video, Michael’s career never returned to the same heights it had once attained. Ridden by scandals and the constant questioning of his sexuality, he became subject to the fate that eventually becomes inevitable for many pop stars — having their personal controversies overshadow their art.
On this Christmas Day 2016, let us hope that George Michael knows that his artistry did not go unnoticed. From his fresh-faced days as part of the duo Wham!, to his most recent 2014 symphonic album, his audacity to change throughout his life surely inspired countless of other artists. For that, he will not be forgotten anytime soon.
Watch the videos for “Faith” and “Freedom! ’90” below.