By Gregory Crofton
Of course George Michael was different than the rest of us. He had an incredible voice and could dance better than Madonna — but I bet you didn’t know he wrote and recorded his own music.
Michael was the British version of Prince, in a way. Though not as nearly prolific as the purple powerhouse from Minnesota, Michael, like Prince, had a messy split with his record label, and kept tight artistic control over all of his work.
“GEORGE MICHAEL: FREEDOM,” an autobiographical documentary that premiered on Showtime last month, details his court battle with Sony, and tells the story of the death of his boyfriend from HIV.
I was flipping channels when I found this documentary. I caught the very end of the film, the part where Chris Martin of Coldplay sings “A Different Corner,” a love song by Michael that I had never heard. So I found the film “On Demand” and watched it from the beginning.
I was a fan of Michael’s “I Want Your Sex” and “Father Figure” in the 80s. Those songs, and the Wham! song, “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go,” were all I knew about his work.
I also knew that when you play his music very loud on a good stereo, the sound quality was like the nothing I’d ever heard. This must be because Michael recorded it.
Just as he maintained control over his music, Michael did the same with this documentary by writing and directing it. He worked on the film right up until his death on Christmas in 2016.
What all of this means for the film is that it’s a little hard to stomach at times — especially the scenes that cut to him typing up his own story. It’s very clearly a one-sided and promotion-oriented documentary. But ultimately it still makes for a good watch, and it will likely expose you to some of Michael’s tunes you had no idea about.