July 21, 2008

George Michael Hit Influences Others After 20 Years

By Glenn Gamboa, Newsday, Melville, N.Y.

Jul. 21--It's been 20 years since George Michael's massive world tour for his solo debut, "Faith," which is diamond-certified and still one of the biggest-selling albums in history. His new tour, "25 Live" -- supporting his recent greatest hits package "Twenty-Five" and its single, "Heal the Pain," a duet with Paul McCartney -- is a comeback of sorts, a return to American arenas for the first time in 17 years. Despite all his career ups and downs and run-ins with the law, Michael has remained a pop culture force since his debut as a rapper (!) and singer in the U.K. duo Wham! in 1982, inspiring all sorts of references:

Limp Bizkit (1997): The rap-metal band turns up the guitars on Michael's hit "Faith," injects some mosh-pit enthusiasm and lands itself its biggest pop hit.

"Arrested Development" (2003-2006): Teenage son George Michael Bluth, played by Michael Cera, was always referred to as George Michael, in theory to differentiate him from the family patriarch, but also to conjure references to the singer. Cera has graduated from the TV series to become a movie star and speculation is high that "Arrested Development" may become a movie itself.

"Eli Stone" (2008): Granted, it's more substantial than a reference since Michael did appear several times in the ABC drama, but the show was centered on a lawyer who hallucinates Michael performances and makes decisions on what the singer tells him to do.

Tapes 'n' Tapes (2008): The indie-rock sensations named the song from their recent "Walk It Off" album "George Michael" because they thought the guitar riff sounded like the opening of Michael's "Faith."

Estelle (2008): For her new video, "No Substitute Love," the British singer-rapper re-creates the iconic opening of Michael's "Faith" video, with a jukebox and a guitar. She also picks up a bit of the song's melody for the song's verses.

WHO George Michael

WHEN|WHERE 8 p.m. today and Wednesday, Madison Square Garden

INFO $49.75-$254.50; through Ticketmaster, 631-888-9000, ticketmaster.com


To see more of Newsday, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.newsday.com

Copyright (c) 2008, Newsday, Melville, N.Y.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

For reprints, email [email protected], call 800-374-7985 or 847-635-6550, send a fax to 847-635-6968, or write to The Permissions Group Inc., 1247 Milwaukee Ave., Suite 303, Glenview, IL 60025, USA.