Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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George Michael

  • Faith [Columbia, 1987] B+
  • Listen Without Prejudice: Vol. 1 [Columbia, 1990] C+

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Faith [Columbia, 1987]
As everybody but avant-bigots knew from hearing Wham! on the radio, Michael can prove that photogenic and popwise aren't mutually exclusive while combing his hair with his left hand. Substance, depth, simple human decency--that kind of stuff is more problematic. So the show of soul, in the grain of the lyrics as well as the voice, makes a difference. But let no one forget that the vulnerability and compassion here purveyed are staple commodities of the truly popwise, and that the album's only conceptual coup, "I Want Your Sex," stands as an ambiguous publicity stunt worthy of Madonna herself. B+

Listen Without Prejudice: Vol. 1 [Columbia, 1990]
Who has this boy been listening to? Morrissey? Anita Baker? June Christie? Harry Connick Jr.? Whatever the sleazy details, his announced decision to hold off on the dance music till next time half-proves he doesn't know as much about stardom as he thinks, and the ruminations with which he proclaims his seriousness finish the job. As a public figure he's no Bono or Boy George--he's a good-looking, replaceable teenybop idol. So only teenyboppers, and not too damn many of those, are likely to care that he feels demeaned by false fame. It's as a musician that he's won respect, and not even a pop musician--a dance musician. Ironic, isn't it, that the danciest thing here is yoked to (and undercut by) his highly unoriginal thoughts on this matter? And though the McCartneyesque "Heal the Pain" sounds like a hit ballad, most of this cocktail music is no more interesting than the cipher who sings it so "well." I'm betting it doesn't move a quarter of Faith's units, which ought to enhance his appreciation of dance music pronto. C+