If you listened very carefully, about 1 hour 17 minutes into the Olympic closing ceremony, you could hear an incredible sound.
It was the sound of George Michael’s goodwill being squandered.
After he’d performed a rousing version of Freedom – well, as rousing as it could be, given that it was in a throat-saving, lower key than normal – gorgeous George launched into his second song.
I didn’t recognise it.
At first I thought this was because I’m not Down With The Kids, that it was it a more recent hit of George’s that I didn’t know. And then it became perfectly clear…
Nobody recognised it.
Because it was his new single.
Released last month – and thus previously heard by approximately 0.00000001%* of last night’s global television audience (*not official figures) – White Light may well have been upbeat and inspiring, but a) I was too busy shouting at the television to hear the lyrics and b) no one pays attention to lyrics the first time they hear a song, anyway. Maybe they did in the days of Cole Porter and Ira Gershwin, but not anymore.
In short: when you’re performing at an event like THE BLOODY OLYMPIC CLOSING CEREMONY, you do NOT sing your obscure latest single. The event isn’t about you, it isn’t about you plugging your records, it’s about the people you’re performing for.
And as such, George should have given us one of his crowd-pleasing hits. Such as:
Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go
An upbeat, singalong classic. When they said that The Kinks’ Ray Davies was going to lead the crowd in a singalong of Waterloo Sunset last night, I did wonder: “How?”, and was sadly disappointed on realising that, yes, the only vaguely singalong part of Waterloo Sunset is the little ‘la la laaah’ bit. I’m sorry Ray – it’s good, but it’s no “I wanna hit that HIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGH!!”
I’m Your Man
Not only would singing “I’m your man!” to a global audience of millions satisfy George’s ego, but, like Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go, this is a hit with a retro feel and thus beloved of both young and old. Plus, it has a footstomping, four-to-the-floor beat, which would have perfectly suited the Camerons, Boris Johnson and all the other white, British people in the audience who were spotted clapping on the ‘one’ and the ‘three’ to The Spice Girls.
One of the best-loved Wham! songs, and rightly so, this would have suited the ‘school disco’ mood of the closing ceremony perfectly. It would also have been a great nod to the hosts of the 2016 games, Rio – “Fun and sunshine, there’s enough for everyone” – and thus would have meant bringing on the Brazilian dancing girls early. And what’s not to love about that?
I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)
If they weren’t going to honour the contribution Climie Fisher made to British pop music in the closing ceremony, they could at least have included this song, which was written by him. A joyous, rousing ’80s number, it would have fitted perfectly because George knew we were waiting for him! (Well, partly him, but mainly The Spice Girls). Plus, Jessie J could have stood in for Aretha Franklin. Heaven knows she stood in for everyone else.
OK, so “Bah dah dah/Bah dah dah/Bah dah dah dah dah” isn’t the most meaningful of lyrics, but George then does go into telling us that we’re amazing. He thinks we’re amazing. And London, the Olympians, the Gamesmakers, everyone who made the Games happen, were. Amazing.
Yes, it’s a cover. But that didn’t stop Kaiser Chiefs from doing Pinball Wizard or Ed Sheeran doing Wish You Were Here. Imagine Stevie Wonder’s clap-a-long, epic tune booming out from the stadium… imagine the huge closing ceremony choir backing him on the chorus… imagine, yes, Jessie J standing in for Mary J. Blige. Epic.
The Club Fantastic Megamix
For some inexplicable reason, this track hasn’t made it onto Spotify. It’s almost like George is embarrassed of it. But don’t be, George! It’s a lovely, upbeat, summery mix – sorry, megamix – that would have fitted in perfectly. Because goodness knows, plenty of other performers (hello Norman Cook, The Spice Girls) were doing Jive Bunny And The Mastermixers-style medleys of their hits.
Flawless (Go To The City)
Not only have the Olympics been flawless (absolutely flawless), but they took place in a city! Yes. “You’re beautiful… you’re a star,” George croons in Flawless – and how appropriate that would have been. True, he would also have had to sung the line “You’re more than just a f**ked up piece of ass”, but considering Eric idle got away with saying “shit”, he could probably have swung it. And just imagine how wonderful the look on David Cameron’s face would have been then. Priceless. Absolutely priceless.