George Michael, 1963-2016

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2016 pulled a fast one on us; after suffering a heart attack on a plane, I thought that Carrie Fisher was going to be the next victim of the year’s relentless assault on beloved celebrities. I was fully prepared for the sad Christmas news that Fisher had passed; the news about her condition was conflicted and part of me kind of respected 2016 for going big – taking Princess Leia from us during the holidays is not an amateur move. That’s kind of baller.

So when my sister-in-law broke the news last night that George Michael had died, I was doubly hit. On the one hand, this was not the news that I was expecting to hear and with all due respect to Ms. Fischer, the news of George Michael’s death was much more painful for me. While I am not much of a Star Wars fan, George Michael was an integral part of the soundtrack of my childhood and early adulthood.

George Michael had an amazing voice; that often gets forgotten due to the attention that his personal life often received, but that man could SING. He was one of the few artists who could make the transition from basically a boy band (Wham!) to a successful adult solo career. He matured as an artist and his sound was always evolving. His album Songs From The Last Century reinterpreted some classic songs; his cover of “Roxanne” transforms into a completely different song in his capable hands.  His early stuff may have been the most popular, but I was particularly fond of his dance singles in the mid to late 90s. He was as comfortable singing ballads and he was performing bangers. He was never not good; when I was having a bad day, I would put on Ladies & Gentlemen: The Best of George Michael and dance it out like Meredith and Christina on Grey’s Anatomy.

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It’s sad to think that this talented voice has been silenced.

George Michael also did a lot to influence my early thoughts about homosexuality; he was unabashedly himself and was proud to be an openly gay man at a time when such honestly about your sexuality was no guarantee that you would continue to have commercial success. He was still sexy and masculine even when I realized that he was gay; that seems so obvious now, but at the time this was an important message for people to learn. For young LGBT kids in the 80s and 90s, I imagine this was essential. For me, George Michael helped educate me on the spectrum of sexuality beyond my own experience. Michael was flawed, but that doesn’t diminish his impact.

I’m very sad that we lost George Michael at such a young age. His passing has made me reflect on how important his songs were to me. I’ve spent the last few days since I heard the news going through his catalog and not only listening to my favorite songs but reminding myself of some of his lesser hits that I also really enjoy, even if I haven’t heard them in a while. I probably didn’t appreciate George Michael as much as I should have when he was alive. To celebrate him and his legacy, I’ve compiled the songs that I love the most. Feel free to share your favorites in the comments. Rest in peace, Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou.

  • “Fast Love”:

 

I have friends that cannot hear this song without thinking of me, apparently because I played it so damn much. This is probably my favorite George Michael song of all time. If you hear this song and you don’t want to dance a little, I’m not sure what is wrong with you.

  • “Faith”:

 

This is probably the closest challenger to “Fast Love” as my favorite George Michael song. Between this video and the video for “Born in the U.S.A.”, I’m pretty sure this solidified my appreciation of a man in a nice pair of jeans.

 

  • “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go”:

 

This is the song that introduced George Michael (and to a lesser degree Andrew Ridgeley) to the world. My god, this video is so quintessentially 80s. I’ve heard this song probably thousands of times and it still makes me smile. That’s a good pop song.

 

  • “I’m Your Man”:

 

I hadn’t heard this Wham! song in probably two decades, but as soon as I heard the first few notes I was transported back to my childhood.

 

  • “One More Try”:

 

George Michael just straight up kills this ballad.

 

  • “Freedom ‘90”:

 

Though George Michael wasn’t publicly out yet, this song solidified my suspicion that he may be more interested in men than women. Between the blowing up of his outfit from “Faith” and the lyrics “Sometimes the clothes do not make the man,” I was only 13 when this song was released, but I just knew.

Pop Culture Odds and Ends – Epic Roundup edition

So it appears I went a little overboard this week with the links; I was freaking out that I was behind schedule on this post and just started plugging away in compiling links. Next thing you know, the document was nine pages long. I guess I just kind of lost track of what I was doing. So while you wade through all the pop culture goodness I’ve cultivated for you over the last two weeks, I’m going to consider taking a nap after a job well done.

  • Chris Brown is facing possible jail time after an alleged hit and run incident. That’s kind of like getting Al Capone on tax evasion.
  • Don Draper’s childhood home is a real place (and for sale), though it was heavily CGIed for Mad Men. Michael Jackson’s Thriller video and scenes from Chinatown were filmed in the same neighborhood.
  • Get off the ledge – Robert Downey, Jr. is confirmed for Avengers 2 and Avengers 3.
  • Breaking Bad is the latest TV show to get its own beer. Anyone in Albuquerque want to send me some?
  • Um….am I the only one that finds it odd that they are using an Eminem song in the trailer for Despicable Me 2?

 

  • Starz has officially announced a new series Outlander, based on the books by Diana Gabaldon. Not sure it is for me, but sounds interesting.
  • No shocker here – Dan Harmon finally watched the 4th season of Community and he wasn’t a fan.
  • Flavor Flav’s last chicken and ribs restaurant has closed. Fun fact – Flavor Flav is inexplicably one of my Twitter followers (Word up, Flavor FLAV!).
  • Stephen Colbert’s mother passed away last week. If you haven’t seen his touching tribute to her, it is a must watch. I bawled through the whole thing.

 

  • The national nightmare is over – Twinkies, Ho Hos and the rest of the Hostess cake family will return to shelves July 15. I’m guessing the people who dropped a ton of cash to stock up are feeling kind of foolish right now.
  • Someone (brave) got an Arrested Development inspired license plate:

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  • The Faceblock App from the new episodes of Arrested Development can now be downloaded.
  • Shark Week is coming in August – and if this promo is an indication, it’s going to be particularly twisted. RIP Snuffy.

 

  • CNN breaks down the accuracy of the recent Lifetime movie on Jodi Arias (which yes, I watched). Good job CNN – no worldwide crises you should be covering.
  • Nick Swisher and his actress wife Joanna Garcia have released the first picture of their baby daughter and she is just precious:

 

Welcome to the world, Emerson Jay!

Welcome to the world, Emerson Jay!

 

  • Finally! One of Taylor Swift’s (alleged) exes has (allegedly) written a song about her. Oh John Mayer – I knew you were the one that was douchey enough to do this and I love you for it.
  • Jon Stewart was on the Egyptian version of The Daily Show. It switches over to English about 2.5 minutes into the interview

 

I’m still reeling from the death of James Gandolfini and am touched with the various ways he has been honored:

  • The New York Yankees took a moment to observe his passing:

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  • Holsten’s Ice Cream, the locale for the final scene of The Sopranos, saved a table in his honor:

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  • Sesame Street posted a clip of his 2002 appearance:

 

  • Gary David Goldberg, creator of Family Ties and Spin City, passed away. Michael J. Fox remembers him.
  • I’m regretting that I didn’t go to the Wilco’s Solid Sound Festival – it happened only a hop, skip and a jump away in North Adams, MA. I’m especially bummed I missed Wilco’s all cover set, but now I can listen to it online in its entirety.

 

  • Happy 50th birthday to Georgios Kyriacos Panagiòtou (George Michael to the uninitiated).  In honor of half a century, here’s one of my favorite songs:

 

  • A new poster has been released for the final season of Breaking Bad (did anyone else internally yell out Fame? Just me? Moving on….)

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  • Men’s Wearhouse has fired their founder (and star of their commercials). I’m guessing they didn’t like the way he looks.
  • The Village Voice has an interview with my favorite member of The Roots, Questlove.
  • A Street Fighter parody – with cats. My Pumpkin would dominate in this.

 

  • Among the new Houseguest on this season of Big BrotherRachel’s sister (if you watched the show, you know what this means).
  • Late Night with Jimmy Fallon was really exceptional last week – great guests and fun bits – but this Super Mario Brother’s rap is really fantastic:

 

  • Speaking of…this photo makes me deliriously happy:

Rob Stringer Honored As UJA-Federation Music Visionary Of 2013

 

  • The first episode of the Stephen King miniseries Under the Dome did very well for CBS. The rich get richer.
  • An infographic of Leonardo DiCaprio movies.

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  • The first trailer for the upcoming Lego movie has been released:

 

  • This screencap pretty much sums up the 90s:

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  • Parks and Recreation will kick off its sixth season with an hour long episode that takes place outside Pawnee.
  • Disney has (thankfully) decided to change the name of the upcoming Muppets sequel from The Muppets…..Again! to Muppets Most Wanted.

 

  • Ridley Scott. Cormac McCarthy. Brad Pitt. Michael Fassbender. Penelope Cruz. Javier Bardem. Cameron Diaz. All associated with one movie – The Counselor

 

  • The actor in this character might look familiar – he was the awful Oliver on The O.C.

 

  • OK – I PROMISE this is the last Kanye-related thing this week. He made a terrible short film to promote his new album Yeezus that features fellow Kardashian baby daddy Scott Disick and Kim BFF Jonathan Cheban. They are not great actors, but this is kind of hilarious since Disick has always given off an American Psycho vibe. Glad to see he owns his sociopathic-ness.

 

  • This isn’t really pop culture related, but it’s far too crazy not to share (and it happened a few towns over from me).

As always, we end with the mashups and supercuts

  • Here’s montage of famous movie actresses, edited to make their heads explode

 

  • Wonder what it would be like if John Lennon auditioned for The Voice? Wonder no longer

 

  • I’m still not tired of Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky;” listen to it performed by President Obama:

 

  •  A supercut of all of Troy McClure’s credits on The Simpsons

 

  • Jon Snow gets an 80’s style training montage, as it should be:

 

  • This supercut seems to indicate that David Letterman is kind of obsessed with drums:

 

  • A supercut of zombie headshots

 

  • And finally – Hannibal’s open credits get an Arrested Development make-over:

 

Have a great week!