Pop icon George Michael died on Christmas Day. He was 53. Even though appearances and albums slowed down in his later years, Michael continued to enjoy widespread fame. Of course, nothing matched the celebrity he attained performing in the boy band Wham!, and then during his early solo career in the 1990s, which saw hits such as Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go and Careless Whisper.
The pop star was also known for his incredibly stylish music videos, which were starkly different from the usual offerings of models and beautiful faces. One of his most famous music videos, for the single Freedom ‘90, was a commentary on exactly that aspect of the music business.
Directed by David Fincher, who would go on to make the dark satires Fight Club and Gone Girl, the video featured five models, but Michael himself was absent. The song was about Michael’s views on fame in Hollywood and the music industry and their obsession with good looks.
Looking back on the song on its 25th anniversary in 2015, model Cindy Crawford, who appeared in it, said, “MTV had changed the face of music – all of a sudden it mattered what musicians looked like. The video had a dark humour. It was saying, if you have to be beautiful to sell music now, let’s just put five beautiful faces in there.”
In another video, the singer poked fun at his own legal troubles. The first single since he was released from prison for being caught in a “lewd act” Outside used radio samples from his arrest for the satirical video, which was a commentary on illusions of decency and what was accepted as normal in society.
In Father Figure, which won Michael the Best Direction of a Music Video award at the MTV Music Awards in 1988, black-and-white imagery is used to great effect. Seemingly a traditional love story between two beautiful people, it uses flashbacks to tell an engrossing tale.