George Michael: 11 Key Collaborations, From Band Aid To Beyonce
First and foremost, it goes without saying that George Michael’s greatest musical partnership was his very first one, pre-solo stardom, with Wham! pal Andrew Ridgeley. The pair turned out a number of memorable hits between 1983 and 1986, including “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go,” “Freedom,” “Last Christmas” and “Everything She Wants.”
Michael did, of course, go on to find phenomenal success as a solo artist, and along the way he collaborated both in the studio and on stage with many of music’s greats — including soul divas, rock gods and even his own bass player. Below, enjoy a chronological roundup of just some of the late crooner’s best pair-ups.
Band Aid, “Do They Know It’s Christmas” (1984)
Perhaps rivaled by only Wham!’s “Last Christmas,” this charity single was arguably the biggest holiday tune to come out of those pre-Mariah Carey days of the 1980s. George Michael was part of an iconic lineup of pop greats (including Bono, Boy George, Simon Le Bon, Sting, Phil Collins and Bananarama) lending their talents here to help combat famine relief.
Elton John, “Nikita” (1985)
From the United States to Australia to Germany to the United Kingdom, this Berlin Wall-themed synth ballad charmed the music-buying masses. In addition to its hit status at the time, the song was also notable for its two backing vocalists: Nik Kershaw and a still-in-Wham! George Michael. The latter’s contributions here might have been slight on the surface, but they would pave the way for a much bigger pairing with Sir Elton half a decade later.
Aretha Franklin & George Michael, “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)” (1987)
Absolute pop bliss. George proved he had what it took to stay on top with iconic Aretha Franklin duet “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)”, released in that crucial period after the dissolution of Wham! but before Michael’s debut solo album, Faith.
Deon Estus, “Heaven Help Me” (1989)
Deon Estus, Wham!’s bassist, also lent his skills to George Michael’s first two solo albums. In return, Michael co-wrote, produced and sang backing vocals on this tranquil ballad for Estus’ debut solo LP, Spell. It subsequently became a Top 5 hit in the US and Canada.
George Michael & Elton John, “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me” (1991)
George and Elton first performed “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me” together at Live Aid in 1985, while part of a roster that included a multitude of other music stars of the day. Six years later, Michael brought John on stage for a surprise rendition of the track during the former’s Cover To Cover Tour stop in London, and it went over so well that a single was released later in the year. This version became Michael’s seventh (and final) chart-topping single as a solo artist in the US.
George Michael & Queen, “Somebody To Love” (1992)
Michael joined David Bowie, Elton John, Annie Lennox, Liza Minnelli, Seal and the remaining members of Queen for a live Freddie Mercury tribute concert held at London’s Wembley Stadium in 1992. His rendition of “Somebody To Love” was a magical moment during the lengthy concert, and it was released a year later as part of Michael’s Five Live EP.
George Michael & Mary J. Blige, “As” (1998)
This soulful duet cover of “As,” a song originally recorded by Stevie Wonder for his seminal Songs In The Key Of Life LP, was included as a new track on Michael’s 1998 collection Ladies & Gentlemen: The Best of George Michael. Though it became a Top 10 hit in the UK, George and Mary J.’s collaboration was oddly left off the North American release of the double-disc set.
Whitney Houston & George Michael, “If I Told You That” (2000)
And here we have the only George Michael-related tune to have a “Darkchild!” call-out. Houston’s 1998 My Love Is Your Love track “If I Told You That” was overhauled as a duet with Michael two years later for its inclusion on Whitney: The Greatest Hits.
George Michael & Mutya, “This Is Not Real Love” (2006)
An underrated gem from Michael’s second hits collection, Twenty Five. Here he trades mournful lines with ex-Sugababes member Mutya Buena like “baby, don’t wait for me like some angel of tragedy.”
George Michael & Paul McCartney, “Heal The Pain” (2006)
Beautiful and Beatles-esque, “Heal The Pain” first appeared on Michael’s 1990 sophomore LP Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1, but was re-recorded with Paul McCartney for 2006 hits collection Twenty Five. The result is the melding of two of pop’s most memorable voices.
Beyonce & George Michael, “If I Were A Boy” (2009)
For Queen Bey’s London O2 Arena gig in June 2009, she brought George Michael on stage in a jaw-dropping moment for a surprise duet of I Am… Sasha Fierce hit “If I Were A Boy.” Sadly, the pair never released a proper version of their pair-up, but you can watch and listen, amidst the audience’s ecstatic screams, above.