George Michael: A Different Life, BBC4

by | Jan 24, 2008 | All, Reviews

What to say if you liked it

An illuminating profile of one of the best singer/songwriters in the history of British music.

What to say if you didn’t like it

The unofficial, risible Pop Idol of 1982 tells his story that only contains the sliver of intrigue because of the previous duplicity over his sexuality.

What was good about it?

• The remarks about George from some of the better contributors weren’t the usual placid, fawning idolatry you may expect. Elton John said he could be “difficult”, and his father Jack remarked: “I always told him he couldn’t sing.” Meanwhile, Boy George was his usual spiteful, provocative self, “We all thought George was in love with Andrew (Ridgeley).”

• George’s striking honesty in the interviews that shaded in the rather blank impressions we retained from the time before he came out, such as hiring his “girlfriend” to star in the I Want Your Sex video. We learned about how his first lover Anselmo, whom he met at a concert in Brazil, died from an Aids-related illness around the same time as Freddie Mercury succumbed to a similar condition. And also about his early doubts he expressed to Shirley during the making of the Club Tropicana video.

• At Wham!’s farewell concert, underachieving Liverpool forward Harry Kewell seemed to be on bass guitar.

• The camaraderie still evident during George and Andrew’s interview, that quickly washed away the traces of awkwardness which were initially apparent.

• While Wag The Dog was no classic, the video at least showed an admirable bravery to stand up to Bush’s mindless tyranny over Iraq and Blair’s embarrassing consent.

George, Pepsi and Shirley still looked suspiciously young. The same could not be said for the weathered, but still very sanguine, Andrew.

What was bad about it?

• The pitiful standard of some of the contributors such as Simon Cowell, Mariah Carey, Geri Halliwell and Paul Gambaccini.

• The appalling Wham! fashion that reached its zenith in the Top Of The Pops appearance for Young Guns (Go For It) – George and Andrew donned slip-on shoes and leather jackets. Plus, the designer stubble that in 1988 caused facial skin rashes to be the second most frequent health complaint among young women.

• Boy George’s intricate, smothering make up around his eyes that typifies his now tiresome, ostentatious and irrelevant persona.

• Some of Wham!’s music sounded horribly dated; most notably Everything She Wants, with its very flabby bass synth, and Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go.

• When George gets annoyed his voice, becomes nasal and makes him sound like Simon Cowell.

• The Freedom video, starring “five gorgeous babes”, that helped formulate the great “supermodel” myth of the early 90s where pretty, but hardly astonishingly beautiful, women were elevated to a deification way beyond what they and the fashion industry deserved.

• The video with hundreds of George Michaels reminded us of The Matrix: Reloaded. Not a pleasant memory.

• Noel Gallagher, a man whose career barely lasted 18 months before falling into a catatonic cycle of bland repetition, has the audacity to criticise George for Wag The Dog. Of course, Noel has never snuggled up compliantly in the lap of a politician himself.

• The high priest in charge of brainwashing the public through trivial pop Simon Cowell gave a lousy reason why Wag The Dog was a mistake. “I don’t think someone like George Michael should be making political records. Americans will be offended, and Americans have made him a lot of money.” Americans also have the right to think for themselves, but perhaps after years of sacrificing expression and creativity on the high altar of pap, Simon is oblivious to such a concept.

Luke Knowles

Luke Knowles


Editor of the website and host of the podcast. A general TV obsessive. I've been running the site since 2008 and you can usually find me in front of the TV. My Favourite show of all time is Breaking Bad with Cracker coming a close second. I feel so passionately that television can change the world and I'm doing my little bit by running this site. You're Welcome!


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