A Documentary About Making George Michael’s ‘Trojan Souls’ Has Surfaced on YouTube

Just days after George Michael’s abrupt death at age 53, an 81-minute documentary following the making of the late artist’s never-released project Trojan Souls. The album was reportedly intended to feature a variety of artists Michael admired performing alongside his own work. According to Idolator, musicians including Aretha Franklin, Elton John, Sade, Seal, and Anita Baker were invited to contribute.

The documentary, filmed in 1992 and/or early ’93, offers an intimate look inside Michael’s creative process: there’s footage of the singer experimenting with chords on the keyboard, playing with his guitar, composing arrangements vocally, and even jamming out with Wendy Melvoin, a member of Prince’s band The Revolution.

Check out the full doc below.

Elton John recorded a draft of vocals for “This Kind of Love,” intended to have been put on the album. You can listen to a rough cut of that below.

John went on to release Duets, an album with a similar concept to that of Trojan Souls, which featured the Elton-George collaboration “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me.”

How George Michael Woke Up the Eighties

George Michael made me take me music videos seriously by not taking them too seriously himself. First time I saw him was as the star vocalist in Wham! It was “Wake Me Up Before You Go Go.” GM and Andrew Ridgeley, both in white togs, dancing—and most impressively—prancing about on a soundstage eternity, somehow reminiscent of ‘60s-TV variety shows. In 1984 that gambit was retro enough to proclaim a new camp vanguard of ‘80s British pop which was experiencing post-punk, post-disco ascendance at the time.

When GM appeared  close-up in that music video , his hair unabashedly frosted and him singing to the camera and beaming a smile that instantiated the lyric ”You make the sun shine brighter than Doris Day,” “Wake Me Up Before You Go Go” seemed a happy act of gender-crossing identification. It was so resoundingly, bouncingly gay that some of us smiled, immediately recalling that the Wham! album was titled Make It Big. It was a slap, a tickle, a wink, a grin.

Plus, GM’s lyrics shout-out to that most distinctively mellow-voiced white female pop vocalist of the baby boomer era was a sign of superb musical taste—and of his acumen that was to be proven to the world when his solo debut album Faith (featuring the uncanny anthem  “Father Figure”) broadened the emotional scope of modern pop.

Two significant gestures made “Wake Me Up Before You Go Go” historic:

First, in that close-up, GM wearing a pink shirt and yellow fingerless gloves, hugs himself as he sings. But this was not narcissism—or at least not a garden variety blossoming of wannabe superstar ego. It jacked a good-looking boy-band singer’s vanity up so high it achieved stratospheric stardom, defying the straight heartthrob appeal that male ingénues had  faked ever since the casting-couch was invented. GM embraced his gayness for all the world to see. Add it up: The Doris Day reference (Terence Davies hadn’t yet paid tribute to Doris Day with ”At Sundown” in The Long Day Closes), artificial colors (who needs La La Land?) and forcefully contrived happiness told viewers GM used the music video genre to demand a gay place in the pop firmament, orbiting somewhere near Prince, Michael Jackson and Morrissey .

Second, the silly dancing—part-chorus boy glee, then, alongside female back-up singers, part- cheerleader pom-pom pomposity. It allowed GM to switch costume into white short-shorts that showed off lithe, tanned thighs. This also went beyond narcissism; GM wasn’t just showing-off to flaunt himself. Bypassing the gender-bending shock produced by David Bowie and Boy George as well as the cock-rocking Heavy Metal studs, GM’s flaunting revealed something sexual in the world that was also exuberant.  (As GM jumps about, you can hear a comic voice boom “Jitterbug” in the background, name-checking a once-radical, wild dance fad that soon was widely accepted ) Everyone who saw “Wake Me Up Before You Go Go” knew it. And felt it.  And, whatever their reaction, knew something more about themselves.

Back in the day when music videos were taken seriously and The Village Voice included that visual form in its annual national pop music poll, I had begun to chronicle the emerging art form and had raised some eyebrows by listing “Wake Me Up Before You Go Go” as one of 1984’s very best. It’s still that—and more.  Cheerful, seductive, confessional—but a deceptively light-hearted cultural landmark.  Honor and remember that now-lost frivolity; it is every reason George Michael’s art should be taken seriously.

GM’s voice was insouciant and he clearly learned how to jam from his British pop ancestors’ love of American R&B singing. His live-recorded Elton John duet ”Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” perfected innuendo and passing-of-the-torch. They harmonized like twin bitches. So each star’s awkward phases of personal and public identity, embarrassment and pride, tell of shared gay experience and maturity. When GM’s ass-shaking became a too-public tabloid disgrace and when his showbiz appearances looked fiendish (sporting a toxic seducer’s goatee that updated the ’70s porn star moustache cliche), the sun had gone down on a once-ecstatic career.  Yet who could forget the reprobate’s former radiance? Who is so without their own sins that they could not forgive his? Furthermore, any gay man who has heard “father figure” knows he is George Michael’s brother.

Stars React to the Sudden Death of George Michael

Photo: Wikipedia

Yesterday, the beloved singer, songwriter, and musical legend George Michael was found dead in his home in Goring, Oxfordshire, England. A police statement reported that “At this stage the death is being treated as unexplained but not suspicious,” and Michael’s managers, Michael Lippman, told The Hollywood Reporter that the death had been due to heart failure.

Michael made a splash on the international music scene in 1983 when he released his debut album, Fantastic, as part of the musical duo Wham!, with his school friend Andrew Ridgeley. His career, both with Wham! and as a solo artist, included many major awards from both the UK and America and millions upon millions of records and singles sold. Mr. Michael came out as gay in 1998 after being arrested for lewd conduct in a Los Angeles men’s room, and had been a proud supporter of AIDS activism and gay rights before and after his arrest.

Today, stars and celebrities the world over grieve the loss of this truly prolific artists. Below, we’ve compiled some choice responses to the loss.

 

Leave It To the xx To Make ‘Last Christmas’ More Of A Bummer

One of the most synthtastic, falsetto-packed Christmas songs of all times got a makeup from another UK duo who are also fans of high pitches and synths, but for a completely different result. Wham!’s catchy ditty about holiday heartbreak, “Last Christmas,” got a reimagining from The xx during their session on BBC Radio 1’s Live Lounge, and made it, well, sound like The xx. That is to say, the gloomy, contemplative music fits the message of longing rather well. Anyway, have a listen below, via the band’s SoundCloud.

Six Iconic Moments In Soda Marketing

New Yorkers are up in arms this week thanks to Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s new plan to ban extra large sizes of full-calorie soft drinks from being served at restaurants, movie theaters, and other fat factories. Some people are for the ban while others think it’s facist, but what we’re busy thinking about is how soda, no matter how sugary, has contributed to culture.

Over the years, soda brands have made a point to hire celebrities to pimp their brands, but there’s been a special relationship between musicians and the carbonated community that’s churned out some iconic images. Of course they’re advertisements and are therefore designed to be catchy and attractive, but over the years soda brands—or at least Coke and Pepsi—have used their massive, corn syrup-soaked wallets to bring us unforgettable moments.

Check out some of our favorites below.

There was Michael Jackson for Pepsi:

And George Michael for Diet Coke:

Robert Palmer and his ladypals found Pepsi, well, simply irresistible:

 

Whitney Houston for Diet Coke:

 

Beyoncé, Britney Spears, and Enrique Iglesias for Pepsi:

 

And, of course, Coke’s famous sing-along:

Links: Courteney Cox & David Arquette Call It a Day, Kate Moss Says Coke Helped Her Career

● Longtime couple Courtney Cox and David Arquette have been separated for a few months, leading many to wonder just what kind of “fiction” Cougar Town really is. [TMZ] ● American Idol‘s Crystal Bowersox, who placed second, was married in an “earth-friendly hemp and cotton gown,” and yet she wonders why Real America did not vote for her. [People] ● Paris Hilton is taking bathroom breaks with boys. [Page Six]

● After being caught snorting cocaine on camera, Kate Moss says her salary has doubled, giving misguided hope to the washed up everywhere. [PopEater] ● It is normal, when reading headlines like, “Daniel Radcliffe Looks Forward to Sex With Broadway Dancers,” to wonder worriedly, “What would Dumbledore think?” [HuffPo] ● George Michael, in jail for drunk driving, has been unleashed again upon the world’s consciousness, while “Freedom” rings from mountaintops. [CNN]

Links: Amber Rose and Reggie Bush Score, Hot Dog Eating Champ Starved in Jail

● Kanye West’s ex Amber Rose has been spotted with NFL star and Kim Kardashian ex Reggie Bush, completing the dreaded Celeb Square and opening the gates of Hell. [NYDN] ● George Michael smashed his car into a London store, but was not given a breathalyzer test, demonstrating the continuing perks of having written “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go.” [PopEater] ● Jersey Shore‘s The Situation “expects to be a millionaire by the end of 2010” thanks in part to his new vitamin supplement, which may or may not kill brain cells. [Page Six]

● Though he didn’t compete in this year’s contest, former hot dog eating champ Takeru Kobayashi did rush the stage and get arrested. About jail, he said, “I am very hungry. I wish there were hot dogs in jail.” [Daily Intel] ● Photos of Lindsay’s dad Michael Lohan and Tiger Woods’s old flame Rachel Uchitel only give us a peek into what was certainly a monumental meeting of the minds. [TMZ] ● If you didn’t get enough national pride over the holiday weekend, try Great Moments in American History with Robert Pattinson. [Celebuzz]

Frieze Art Fair Draws Crowds, Gwyneth Paltrow

Wielding a brand of hipness all its own, the annual Frieze Art Fair in London resembles the Sundance Film Festival in its ability to attract celebrities and other influential personalities. So even though the economy has everyone purchasing art with more caution than in years past, it hasn’t put a dent in those looking to take advantage of the steadily cooking art market. Some celebrities include Gwyneth Paltrow (perhaps “influential” is a stretch in this case) and perpetual Craigslist champion George Michael. Also seen gallivanting around were art-scene fixtures such as advertising mogul/gallery owner Charles Saatchi and art partronette Daria Zhukova. The Frieze Art Fair ends Sunday.