Despite his recent lack of popularity in the United States, like many people I figured I had plenty of time to celebrate the musical career of George Michael while he was still alive. Unfortunately, I was wrong, and while George Michael (whether solo or with Wham!) was an obvious choice for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame given his importance to the music of the mid 80’s through mid 90’s in the United States, and after that in the UK and other areas, such encouragement now will be rewarding someone who will not be around to share in that recognition and honor. I will state at the outset that there are many songs from George Michael’s career that I happen to appreciate, and a few that I find deeply alarming for their lyrical content and meaning , but his talent and achievement was undeniable, and I believe we have an obligation to give honor and credit where it is due apart from any personal feelings or prejudices based on the standards set by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, which states that induction is for those who have had influence on the course of music in the Rock & Roll Era . George Michael met that standard and exceeded it.
The Influence Of Wham!/George Michael
There is a Hugh Grant romantic comedy called Lyrics & Music whose humor depends on a knowledge of the band Wham!. Wham appeared on Live Aid, and George Michael himself proved to be a person of enduring popularity who helped lend a hand to hitmakers like Aretha Franklin, Queen, Deon Estus, Whitney Houston, Elton John, and Mary J. Blige. Even after the loss of popularity in the United States due to being outed through the alleged entrapment by a police officer, his music remained popular in the UK and other countries around the world even after he was no longer a mainstay on American radio. Whether in combination with Andrew Ridgeley in Wham or on his own as a solo artist, George Michael was a major figure in the world of music for a period of three decades. Such a career is well worth honoring and appreciating given the fact that he has given the world enduring music that will be played on the radio for many decades to come.
Why Wham!/George Michael belong in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
Why does Wham belong in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame? Despite only releasing three studio albums during their career, all of them went at least gold in the US, and one went 6 x platinum. Although the band’s time together was fleeting, the songs created during that time have endured, like the band’s 3 US #1 hits (“Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go,” “Everything She Wants,” and “Careless Whisper”) and 3 other top ten hits (“Freedom,” “I’m Your Man,” and “Edge Of Heaven”) and one song that did not chart that remains a Christmas standard even now (“Last Christmas”) . As a solo artist George Michael’s popularity picked up right where Wham! left off, with a diamond-selling solo debut, two additional multi-platinum albums (including a compilation), and another platinum album in the United States and even more sales abroad. As far as solo hits are concerned, George Michael was a hit-making machine for a decade in the United States with enduring songs like his #1 hits “Faith,” “Father Figure,” “One More Try,” “Monkey,” “Praying For Time,” and his hit duet with Elton John on “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me.” Then there are his enduring top 10 smashes like “A Different Corner,” “I Want Your Sex,” “Kissing A Fool,” “Freedom ’90,” “Too Funky,” “Jesus To A Child,” and “Fast Love” as well as his duets with other artists on such songs as “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me),” “Heaven Help Me,” and “As .” This is not even to consider those songs of his that were massive hits in the UK and other nations after his popularity faded in the United States, which only added to his importance and influence around the world. That he did all of this while struggling with his sexuality and his original music label Warner Brothers was even more impressive in retrospect. The man performed and recorded music like he didn’t have a lot of time on this planet, and we can see that he was not wrong to be a man in a hurry, for he truly didn’t have as much time as everyone else would have thought.
Why Isn’t Wham!/George Michael In The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
George Michael was likely a bit of a polorizing figure, and it’s quite possible that many people were not sure whether to judge the careers of Wham and George Michael as separate or together. Considering that George Michael’s career in Wham! only lasted a few years and his solo time on the hit parade only lasted a decade, it is possible that the sheer productivity of those periods has escaped many critics. Even apart, both Wham! and George Michael are worthy of induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame to help address the chronic shortage of acts starting in the 1980’s, although there is a case for combining the two which would make an unassailable case with more than half a dozen hit albums, more than half a dozen #1 hits, and influence that extends beyond music into the world of cinema and even haute culture (witness the music video full of supermodels for “Freedom ’90”). There aren’t any excuses for the lack of induction of George Michael, even now that we cannot expect any further music from him, and we ought to honor Andrew Ridgeley as well for Wham!. As to why this hasn’t been done already, I don’t know.
Verdict: Put him/them in. No excuses, nor any delays. A sympathy vote is entirely possible at this point for Wham and/or George Michael in future years as his career is brought into general awareness and focus. It’s a shame it took that to put his career front and center, though.
 See, for example:
 See, for example: