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TGJ Replay: George Michael’s ‘Faith’

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george michael faith album cover 600x600 TGJ Replay:  George Michaels Faith

 

Welcome back to TGJ Replay!

Designed much like our ‘Retro Rewind’ and ‘From the Vault’ features, ‘Replay’ is That Grape Juice‘s newest reflective segment and acts like a written quest, if you will, to re-spin the gems and jams of yesterday.

Unlike its retrospective predecessors, ‘Replay’ looks to dust off and showcase entire albums (and eras) from a library of pop and Urban pop music hits.

Now, as a fan of the gems lent to R&B by its blue eyed soul artisans, we’ll use this opportunity to spotlight George Michael‘s ‘Faith’ (which celebrated its 27th birthday just last month)!  Get into it below:

Wham collage thatgrapejuice 600x448 TGJ Replay:  George Michaels Faith

 

Spring 1986 brought with it a surprising farewell to top-selling U.K. duo Wham!  Comprised of British singer-songwriters George Michael and Andrew Ridgely, the twosome rose from mere obscurity to worldwide chart domination in just 3 years on the saddle of songs like ‘Bad Boys’ and ‘Club Tropicana.’  Garnering enough buzz to see their name in mention with the day’s top Brit hitmakers Culture Club & Duran Duran, by the time their tune ‘Wake Me Up (Before You Go Go)’ was released, America was finally waking up to embrace the boyish doublet and helped hoist the song right to the top of the Hot 100.

Showing themselves no one-hit wonders, the tune’s followup, ‘Careless Whisper,’ would make even more noise and follow in its footsteps and skyrocket right to the top of U.S. charts.  The songs were such massive successes that by the end of 1985 ‘Whisper’ would be the year’s top song with ‘Wake’ following at #3.  But, despite the singles’ impressive respective performances on charts, Michael found himself unimpressed with making music targeted to “teeny-boppers” and began to lean more toward adult-contemporary offerings akin to ‘Whisper.’ Ridgely disagreed.

The conflict would leave fans keen to see another Wham! album in their laps quite disappointed as the pair announced an amicable split the next year.

george michael thatgrapejuice TGJ Replay:  George Michaels Faith

The reception of ‘Careless Whisper’ would prove itself a double edged sword for Michael.  Yes, it gave him the platform to launch his solo career given that the song and its accompanying video were billed a “Wham! featuring George Michael” song, but its success would only intensify the pressure for him to match it on the solo front.

The confidence he needed may have come aboard his solo assistance on Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin‘s early 1987 hit ‘I Knew You Were Waiting.’ Greeted with open arms by worldwide consumers, it appears America was indeed waiting for more George as the venture landed his name atop Billboard tallies yet again.

From there, it was all systems go.

Spending the rest of 1987 writing and recording his first solo album, Michael’s hands were involved in every single aspect of the project’s production from vocals and lyrics to playing several instruments.  Ensuring the set’s ingredients aligned with his vision, the collection of tunes – christened ‘Faith’ – would see him depart from the cookie-cutter content of his former group to address adult themes such as sex, love, infidelity, and subtly address some of his own demons – namely his repressed homosexuality.  The album not only thematically abandoned much of the concepts that lined Wham! albums, but its recipe of R&B, soul, pop, funk, and rock would see it do so sonically as well.

Evidence of this was easily located via the album’s first single ‘I Want Your Sex’:

Intent on completely distancing himself from his boy band beginnings, ‘I Want Your Sex’ came as a parent and censor’s nightmare.  Many argued it promoted promiscuity despite being littered with messages of safe sex practice and monogamy.  Because the tune’s lyrical composition and accompanying video – while tame by today’s standard – sent shockwaves across the industry in the late 80s, it was heavily censored for television and banned by most radio stations.

The backlash proved no deterrent for fans who still helped the number shoot straight to #2, a true testament to their support of Michael’s solo ventures (given the absence of industry support).  The aforementioned was cemented by the time the set’s title track was released:

Just two weeks before the release of his first solo album, Michael tapped its much safer title track as the follow-up to the ever-controversial ‘Sex.’

If ‘Sex’ secured the launching pad for a career by his lonesome (and even temporarily helped divert from those pesky gay rumors), ‘Faith’ (the song) would be the vehicle to send him into the stratosphere.  Reaching #1 before 1987’s end, the number would act as the truest indicator of how well his inaugural full length solo venture would be received.


By the end of 1988, George was pop’s top troubador.  On the hems of six top 5 singles (four of which were consecutive #1 hits), he entered history books as the first and only British act to have four #1 singles on the Hot 100 from one LP. Elsewhere on Billboard, the album ‘Faith’ showed seemingly unyielding staying power.  With 51 non-consecutive weeks inside the Billboard 200 Top 10 to its name, including 12 weeks at #1, the project, like its title track, would see itself at the top spot on 1988’s year end chart.  The feat made Michael the second act in history (behind the Beatles) to be #1 on a year end chart more than once (1985’s ‘Whisper’ & 1988’s ‘Faith’).

Later winning the 1988 ‘Album of the Year’ Grammy, Michael’s success rivaled that of Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, and Madonna. When the dust settled, ‘Faith’ was certified diamond in the U.S. and has been clocked at 25 million sold worldwide to date.

Let us tell it, George Michael is still pop’s top blue-eyedsoulster.  Coming in as the first truly successful white R&B/soul singer of the video era, this man ushered in a cool unbeknownst to the 80s generation of black audiences from the Caucasian persuasion.  This accomplishment was evidenced by ‘Faith’ becoming the first album by a white singer in history to top the Billboard’s R&B charts.

Interestingly blazing a path that the likes of Justin Timberlake and Nick Jonas would follow (leaving pop groups to traipse across unadulterated R&B terrains in their solo work), we’ll argue Justin Bieber, Robin Thicke, and many other crooners – both blue eyed soulsters and none – have taken a page from ‘Faith’….quite disappointingly in most cases.

It’s never a surprise to hear us bumping ‘Father Figure’ or ‘One More Try’ here at TGJ headquarters.  But, you tell us:

Your thoughts?

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19 Comments

  1. November 23, 2014 at 9:33 am
    bleeding gums says:
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    Great album. His new live album is really good, best live album released in recent years IMO

  2. November 23, 2014 at 9:52 am
    JOHNVIDAL says:
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    FINALLY!!! TGJ reporting about something different and truly successful in record breaking ways (well, still not really but yeah, more than last two weeks episodes of Replay).
    I knew this George Michael album was very successful in the USA too (not just in Europe), but didn´t know it got the Best Album of the Year award (I´m assuming at the grammys?). That is really surprising to me. I knew about the several #1 hits it had in the USA. I didn´t know about it selling diamond in the USA either.
    And one last thing: like I´ve said many times when Sam bashes Mariah Carey for no reason… This are the people that were there when Mariah Carey made it into the business: where are they on the charts now? Why should Mariah be more than she already is nowadays when none of these other colleages are? Where is George? Where is Lenny Kravitz? Phil Collins? Roxette? all the rock bands? Where is Janet? Exactly! Nowhere. So why should Mariah be more successful in 2014 than what she is (when she already is more than these I mentioned) or why should she retire when all these people keep releasing their stuff cause they love it and are real musicians and singers? Sam is a hater.

    • November 23, 2014 at 11:12 am
      SMH says:
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      The difference is that none of those artists’ careers were anchored by payola, unlike Mariah, whose early success is attributed to the fact that she was married to the boss, who would manipulate other Sony artists’ sales in order to inflate hers. It’s not a coincidence that her sales started falling once Mottola kicked her to the curb.

      • November 23, 2014 at 1:31 pm
        JOHNVIDAL says:
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        What the hell does that have to do with Sam wanting Mariah to have the success artists have at their prime now in 2014 when it´s clearly impossible for anyone????
        Oh and btw, Mariah´s sales, even though good till this day, started to slow down more to her change to R&B and hip hop leaving pop behind (and the worldwide masses as a result).
        Seriously, your comment was not needed and was not the point of this post or my comment or Sam´s biased ways. By your logic, why has Mariah more success in the 00s and 10s still than any of those artists if Tommy left Mariah´s life in 1997? Stop being pressed. Payole is used constantly and the big stars have always been a priority for their labels. Don´t make me stat with examples.

    • November 23, 2014 at 2:24 pm
      Brian310 says:
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      You remind me of those old bitter people who just sit around hating and being grumpy all day, Mariah isn’t the music industry there were/are plenty of other artist with great accomplishments and the replays have highlighted them.

      • November 24, 2014 at 6:43 am
        JOHNVIDAL says:
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        My point exactly is that NO, Replay has not been highlighting enough super talented and iconic eras. They almost always remind us of the same (who usually are not that outstanding).

  3. November 23, 2014 at 10:44 am
    Stephy Tha Lambily says:
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    His only iconic era.

    • November 23, 2014 at 1:36 pm
      JOHNVIDAL says:
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      At least he has one. Remember when Sam tried to make it seem as if that good R&B album by Destiny´s Child (just that) was iconic last week? :)

  4. November 23, 2014 at 10:54 am
    IHATEjohnvidal says:
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    John, please. just because an album isn’t iconic or doesn’t break records doesn’t mean that it’s not worth talking about.

    many of the most celebrated, yet underrated albums in history have no awards or records to their name. That does not make them any less valuable.

    Faith is literally one of my favorite albums of all time even tho i was only 2 when it came out. That shows the impact this man had on music. He wasn’t just a cute face, unlike these acts these days. he had substance

    • November 23, 2014 at 1:37 pm
      JOHNVIDAL says:
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      I agree on everything you say. Did I say otherwise? People need to read correctly.

  5. November 23, 2014 at 11:09 am
    Nene Leakes says:
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    Who?

  6. November 23, 2014 at 11:15 am
    TheElusiveLamb says:
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    25 million? Wow! The Mimi shade… inevitably I knew it would be back again, but I know in my heart, TGJ’s love will never end

    • November 23, 2014 at 12:32 pm
      Stephy Tha Lambily says:
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      What Shade???

  7. November 23, 2014 at 1:14 pm
    omarion baby mom says:
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    I definitely approve of this post. Thanks for highlighting someone who isnt bey or rih for once

    • November 23, 2014 at 1:39 pm
      JOHNVIDAL says:
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      About time! I swear these people don´t listen to anything released before 2000 and from other genres.

  8. November 23, 2014 at 1:43 pm
    MATT says:
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    F@GGOT!

  9. November 23, 2014 at 2:20 pm
    DMWN says:
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    Did you say that FAITH celebrated its 17th birthday last month? LMAO! How’s that when it came out in 1987? Wait a minute, is it 2004? Cool. Better than 2014.

  10. November 23, 2014 at 5:23 pm
    Stephy Tha Lambily says:
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    EVERYONE used Payola… Still does to this DAY! Idiots

  11. November 23, 2014 at 9:27 pm
    Fancy BISH says:
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    FAITH still sounds fresh to this day, with just the right amount of production and Michael’s beautiful voice taking center stage….One More Try is sublime! Father Figure is so soulful! Truly a masterpiece of blue eyed soul and R&B…LAWD ;)

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