BBC Radio 2 has celebrated George Michael’s songwriting with a Top 40 listeners’ poll to mark four decades since his first chart impact.
Five years after his death on Christmas Day in 2016, George Michael’s reputation as one of the UK’s most successful singers and songwriters remains firmly established.
Wham!’s Last Christmas is currently at No.2 behind Ed Sheeran & Elton John, while the Estate of George Michael recently renewed its long-term music publishing deal with Warner Chappell amid intense interest from rival firms.
George Michael has become a streaming mainstay with 24.8 million monthly listeners on Spotify, thanks to a successful catalogue campaign by Sony Music CG. The Twenty Five compilation is comfortably in last year’s overall Top 75 albums with 92,145 sales in 2021 (just 308 sales less than it managed in 2020). According to the Official Charts Company, the album has 1,398,159 sales to date.
In the new poll, Radio 2 listeners have crowned Careless Whisper as their favourite George Michael song. It was announced by Scott Mills as the culmination of Your Ultimate George Michael Song, a three-hour special which counted down the Top 40 songs written by George Michael as voted for by listeners.
The vote, which took place in December as part of Radio 2 Celebrates Songwriting season, was launched to mark 40 years of George Michael as one of the world’s best loved singer-songwriters. He first broke through in 1982 with Wham!’s Top 3 single Young Guns (Go For It).
Careless Whisper was written by George Michael and his Wham! bandmate Andrew Ridgeley. The song - his first solo record - was released in July 1984 and reached No.1 in the UK. It also topped the charts in America, Australia, Canada, France, Holland, Italy, Ireland, South Africa and Switzerland. George Michael’s Careless Whisper won the Ivor Novello award for being the Most Performed Work in 1984.
The George Michael Estate said: "George would be delighted, just as we are, that Radio 2 listeners have voted Careless Whisper as their favourite George Michael song. George had a long-standing and treasured relationship with his audience and we are all moved to see that the bond is as strong as ever. We would like to thank you from the bottom of our hearts and wish you all a happy New Year for 2022."
Andrew Ridgeley said: “I am delighted that Radio 2 listeners have voted Careless Whisper paramount of a stellar constellation of songwriting gems. It is testament to the timeless and fundamental essence of the song the teenage George and I considered the jewel in our, very slender, songwriting repertoire that it’s youthful, but beautifully expressed lament of lost love endures to touch the hearts of listeners still.”
Jeff Smith, head of music, Radio 2, said: “Careless Whisper is a modern classic which is as emotive today as it was when it was released in 1984. It’s the ultimate heartbreak ballad which perfectly encapsulates the feeling of love lost.”
To be eligible for inclusion on the station’s voting list, songs must have charted in the UK Top 75 and have been composed by George Michael, either on his own or as a co-writer, from his time in Wham!, as a solo artist, or when he sang with other artists as a part of a duet.
Wham! had five UK No.1 singles and 10 Top 10s, with their singles spending a combined total of 203 weeks in the Top 75. George Michael launched his solo career with Careless Whisper and enjoyed seven UK No.1 singles and 23 UK Top 10s, with his songs spending 309 weeks in the Top 75.
The George Michael chart aired on BBC Radio 2 and is available to listen back now on BBC Sounds.
Radio 2 will also broadcast George Michael - Older At 25, a two-part documentary narrated by Melanie C (9-10pm, January 1 & January 2). George Michael At The BBC, which airs on Radio 2 at 7-9pm on January 2, celebrates the life and career of George Michael through his performances and interviews on the BBC.
BBC RADIO 2 POLL OF GEORGE MICHAEL’S TOP SONGS
1. CARELESS WHISPER - No. 1, 1984
2. A DIFFERENT CORNER - No. 1, 1986
3. PRAYING FOR TIME - No.6, 1990
4. FAITH - No. 2, 1987
5. LAST CHRISTMAS - No. 2, 1984 & No.1 2020 (Wham!)
6. COWBOYS AND ANGELS - No. 45, 1991
7. JESUS TO A CHILD - No. 1, 1996
8. FREEDOM 90 - No. 28, 1990
9. FATHER FIGURE - No. 11, 1988
10. FAST LOVE - No. 1, 1996
11. EVERYTHING SHE WANTS - No.1, 1984 (Wham!)
12. CLUB TROPICANA - No. 4, 1983 (Wham!)
13. YOU HAVE BEEN LOVED - No.2, 1997
14. ONE MORE TRY - No. 8, 1988
15. KISSING A FOOL - No. 18, 1988
16. WAKE ME UP BEFORE YOU GO GO - No. 1, 1984 (Wham!)
17. WAITING FOR THAT DAY - No. 23, 1990
18. FREEDOM - No. 1, 1984 (Wham!)
19. OUTSIDE - No. 2, 1997
20. AMAZING - No.4, 2004
21. I’M YOUR MAN - No. 1, 1985 (Wham!)
22. HEAL THE PAIN - No. 31, 1991
23. THE EDGE OF HEAVEN - No. 1, 1986 (Wham!)
24. SPINNING THE WHEEL - No. 2, 1996
25. OLDER - No.3, 1997
26. YOUNG GUNS (GO FOR IT) - No. 3, 1982 (Wham!)
27. DECEMBER SONG (I DREAMED OF CHRISTMAS) - No. 14, 2009
28. TOO FUNKY - No. 4, 1992
29. WHAM RAP! (ENJOY WHAT YOU DO) – No. 8, 1983 (Wham!)
30. FLAWLESS (GO TO THE CITY) - No.8, 2004
31. I WANT YOUR SEX - No. 3, 1987
32. THIS IS NOT REAL LOVE (WITH MUTYA BUENA) - No. 15, 2006
33. STAR PEOPLE 97 - No. 2, 1997
34. BAD BOYS – No. 2, 1983 (Wham!)
35. THE STRANGEST THING 97 - No.2, 1997
36. AN EASIER AFFAIR - No.13, 2006
37. ROUND HERE - No. 32, 2004
38. FREEEK! - No. 7, 2002
39. WHITE LIGHT - No. 15, 2012
40. WALTZ AWAY DREAMING (WITH TOBY BURKE) - No. 10, 1997 (Toby Bourke/George Michael)