The expectations were very high for George Michael's first solo album. He had led Wham! to six top 10 hit singles and three #1s in just three years. The first two solo singles were top 10 hits, and "Faith" was released as the title song from his first solo album. It is a simple pop-rockabilly production that was an instantly catchy hit. The genius of the song lies in the elegantly spare production and songwriting. The "Faith" video includes iconic images of George Michael in tight jeans leaning on a jukebox and dancing around playing a guitar. "Faith" was a top 10 hit around the world and a #1 smash in the US.
"Father Figure" followed "Faith" as the next single from the album Faith. It was originally intended as a dance track, but George Michael preferred it as the sensuous ballad it became in the final mix. The impeccable production mixes such subtle elements as finger snaps into a shimmering stew that erupts in the familiar chorus. Surprisingly, "Father Figure" was George Michael's first single to miss the top 10 in the UK, but it went straight to #1 on the pop singles chart in the US. It also crossed over to the R&B chart reaching #6.
The "90" was added to this "Freedom" to distinguish from the earlier Wham! hit titled "Freedom." By 1990 George Michael was a bit soured on the image he had earned at MTV and with the music establishment. "Freedom! 90" finds him literally destroying elements of his image in the music video - "Faith's" leather jacket, guitar, and jukebox. It all occurs to the tune of one of his most engaging uptempo songs. George Michael refused to appear in the music video and instead employed a troupe of lip-synching supermodels. The result was a top 10 hit in the US, but "Freedom! 90" barely made the top 30 at home in the UK.
For "Amazing," George Michael created a heartfelt tribute to his partner Kenny Goss. What he created amounts to an uptempo, danceable gay wedding song. While pop radio in the US ignored the release, it was heavily embraced by dance clubs and became George Michael's third #1 dance hit in the US. Back home in the UK "Amazing" reached the top 5. It was his biggest hit there in five years.
In 1998 George Michael was arrested for "lewd acts" in a public toilet and made headlines around the world. The incident prompted him to come out publicly as gay and create the single "Outside" in response. It is a clever, humorous response to the event and another catchy uptempo hit. "Outside" reached the top 3 of the dance chart in the US and #2 on the pop singles chart in the UK. The accompanying music video pokes direct fun at the arrest and societal discomfort with open sexuality.
For George Michael's first official solo single following the breakup of Wham! he unleashed the intensely sexual "I Want Your Sex." Faced with threats to not air the accompanying video on MTV, a segment with the words "Explore monogamy" was inserted. Musically, "I Want Your Sex" uses a complex funky jazz rhythm in the multiple mixes of the song. Despite, or because of, the controversy "I Want Your Sex" reached #2 on the pop singles chart in the US and #3 in the UK.
The hesitant love ballad "One More Try" was George Michael's third consecutive #1 hit from the album Faith. It features vocals that show the powerful range of his voice. In addition to topping the pop chart in the US, "One More Try" brought George Michael back to the top 10 in the UK.
The single "Too Funky" was donated to the charity project Red, Hot + Dance. It was George Michael's last single with Sony Music before he began legal action to end his contract with the label. A spoken word clip from the film The Graduate, "Would you like me to seduce you? Is that what you're trying to tell me?" is included in the mix. "Too Funky" reached the top 10 in the US and was a top 5 hit in the UK.
"Fastlove" is a single from George Michael's 1996 comeback album Older. It is an ode to no strings sexual arrangements. There is a re-sung chorus of Patrice Rushen's "Forget Me Nots" included in the backing track of the song. "Fastlove" to date is George Michael's final top 10 pop hit in the US and his last #1 hit at home in the UK.
"Praying For Time" is George Michael's most political major hit single. He addresses directly the role of religion and prejudice in creating societal ills. "Praying For Time" to date is his final #1 hit single in the US. George Michael refused to appear in a music video accompanying the song or appear on the single's promotional artwork.