2016 Refuses to give up, takes George Michael

george michael
Image: georgemichael.com

Looks like 2016 has every intention of going out like a bull in a china shop. Rather than slink away like the miserable little shit the year has been, its opted to take yet another beloved music icon – George Michael. The Wham! front man and British pop icon passed away on Christmas Day.

The specificity of the day Michael passed feels like 2016’s Mark David Chapman-esque interpretation of an homage. Basically, the whole thing just sucks. George Michael has become yet another casualty in the extensive list of pop culture icons to leave this world for whatever the next may be. It’s been reported that Michael’s death was “unexpected but not suspicious,” and that he died “in bed, lying peacefully.” The specific cause of death will likely come within the days following his death, once funeral plans are set.

Michael sold tens of millions of albums throughout his highly publicized career and was a bastion for the LGBTQ community. At the age of 19, George Michael confided in his Wham! bandmate Andrew Ridgley and one of his two sisters that he was bisexual. His sister suggested that he keep his sexuality private from his parents, so as not to cause a rift in the family. In 1999, Michael fell in love with a man, thus ending his struggle with his bisexuality, and fully embracing his sexuality.

Michael’s career was a storied one. He began his career as a performer with the band Wham!. Comprised of Michael and Ridgley, Wham! formed in 1981, when the pair met at Bushey Meads School in Bushey, near Waterford, England. The band first started out as a ska band called The Executive, which featured three other members that eventually left the band. Michael and Ridgley then canned The Executive, and moved their musical machinations toward pop music, forming Wham!.

Wham! went on to sell 25 million certified records between the years of 1982 and 1986, one of the most prolific runs by any pop band in history. Despite the band’s wild success, it will likely be best remembered for its indispensable contribution to the Christmas songbook, “Last Christmas.”

Following the breakup of Wham! in 1986, George Michael began making music for “more sophisticated” audiences, and thus began his career as a pop star. George Michael released 8 #1 records in the UK throughout his solo career, and all ten of his releases were top 10 debuts. His final album, Symphonica, was released in 2014.

George Michael’s death comes on the tail of the widely publicized cardiac arrest of Star Wars star Carrie Fisher, just going to show that 2016 is as unpredictable in its end as it was at its beginnings. George Michael’s vivacious personality will be sorely missed in the coming year in which outspoken personalities will surely be much needed.

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Sean McHugh

Sean considers himself a poor man's polymath and finds solipsism amusing. Feel free to follow him on Twitter at @mchugh_sean, or not. That's fine.