Faith sold over 20 million copies and earned a Grammy for Album of the Year. It spawned hit songs like Faith, Father Figure, and I Want Your Sex. It transformed George Michael’s image from a cutesy teenybopper crush into a full-fledged sex symbol. It rocketed him into superstardom.
With his follow–up album, George Michael rejected it all.
At the height of his fame, Michael began to feel burdened by the pressure of his success. He decided no more photo shoots and no more music videos. This was during the height of the MTV era. A time when image was as important, if not more important, than the music itself. Music videos were a necessity for a successful album.
Michael eventually relented and made a video for Freedom, the first single off Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1. But with it he decided to reject everything that made him famous.
Michael doesn’t appear in the video. In his place are supermodels lip syncing his lyrics as his famous iconography from his past burns.
The song becomes even more powerful when you consider Michael wasn’t just rejecting what made him famous; he was rejecting the person everyone knew him as. Although he wouldn’t come out as gay publicly until an embarrassing public incident years later, everything was right there in the lyrics.
I think there’s something you should know
I think it’s time I told you so
There’s something deep inside of me
There’s someone else I’ve got to be
Take back your picture in a frame
Take back your singing in the rain
I just hope you understand
Sometimes the clothes do not make the man