It has been nearly two years since British recording artist George Michael has been on the charts. Finally he's back with a follow-up to his extremely successful pop album, "Faith." His new soundtrack entitled "Listen Without Prejudice" was released last fall. It is a work of art that I think most will find inspirational and intriguing.
Before detailing the album's contents, it is necessary to explain that George Michael has changed since we last heard from him. He is no longer the sultry young man commonly seen sporting a black leather jacket, tight jeans, and dark sunglasses as in his "Faith" days. He now wants to be known as a mature and serious singer and songwriter. To fully erase his image as a sex symbol, he has decided to stop making videos that feature him and, at least for now, to limit the number of concerts in which he performs; so people will focus all of their attention on his music, which is what he says he's really all about.
Reflecting on the lyrics in "Listen Without Prejudice," which Michael wrote and produced, you realize he is desperately trying to provide an explanation for his change of character. As he states in the album's reprise, his success "filled my pockets and emptied out my soul." The line "You look for your dreams in heaven, but what are you supposed to do when they come true?" further expresses his difficulties in dealing with his success.
Finally, he concludes both the reprise, and his problems as a star, by stating "There's a way back for every man, so here I am. Don't people change? Here I am. It is too late to try again? Here I am." Then he applies the title "Listen Without Prejudice" to urge his listeners to forget his old image and not cover him with labels and stereotypes.
I think the most appealing quality of "Listen Without Prejudice" is the depth and seriousness that George Michael expresses in his ideas about the social situation in the world today. Since his greatest desire is to be viewed as a mature and serious musician, I think most will agree that he earns that credit with his "Praying For Time," a song about the shortcomings of the world today, which Michael believes include poverty, hate, crime, and the absence of hope. The main theme, is "It's hard to love, there's so much to hate, hanging on to hope, when there is no hope to speak of." He also makes interesting points about poverty and crime, but I think that the most fascinating part of the song is Michael's belief that we are no longer God's children. As he explains it, God "must have let us all out to play, turned his back, and all God's children crept out the back door."
Of its ten songs, only two have fast beats, a quality which lovers of fast and lively dance music will not find very appealing. Also, most of the instruments are simple and there are no catchy tunes. The provocative lyrics are mainly what make the songs great.
In conclusion, I think that "Listen Without Prejudice" is extraordinary in many ways. Not only is the music enjoyable and entertaining, one can find inspiration in both messages contained in the music and in the man who created it. n
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.