It's hard to believe that it's been a full year since George Michael passed away.
His death on Christmas Day 2016 capped off a pretty awful 12 months for music, during which we lost several other legends – including David Bowie, Prince and Leonard Cohen.
The good news is that his memory lives on and his music continues to age beautifully - so with that in mind, and to commemorate his first anniversary, here are his ten best songs in no particular order:
1. Wham! - 'Freedom'
There were any number of Wham! songs we could have picked, but the sheer exuberance of this one makes it our favourite. His solo track of the same name was undoubtedly an anthem and a statement of intent, but this one – a whimsical pop song about the complexities of a relationship – is a giddy, underrated gem.
2. 'Jesus to a Child'
This track – and the album it was taken from, 1996's 'Older' – signalled a new era for George, proving that he was just as capable of gorgeous balladry as he was of spunky, throwaway pop tunes. It's simply a beautiful, poignant song written in memory of his former partner and first love Ansemlo Feleppa, who died in 1993.
3. 'Spinning the Wheel'
Another track from 'Older' - a slinky, sexy finger-clicking number that sees him warn his lover that he won't stand for promiscuity. From the suave jazzy vibe to the incredible versatility of his voice, it's a winner.
Look, we're just going to come out and say it: Fastlove is simply one of the best pop songs ever written. It's nearly 22 years old and it still sounds fresh as hell; it's catchy, funky, sharp, lyrically clever and it has that indescribable magic ingredient that makes it a song to listen to over and over again.
5. 'Praying for Time'
Taken from his superb second album 'Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1', the influence of this song can still be heard in pop music today – whoever wrote Harry Styles' 'Sign of the Times', for example, owes a debt to this tune. An epic pop ballad that draws in elements of rock and addresses social injustice in its lyrics, it's a true goosebump-raising stunner.
6. 'Father Figure'
One of the best things about George Michael as a songwriter was that he never took the obvious route to a love song. This is a perfect example of that skill; an ode to a lover who wanted “something special, something sacred in your life” framed in a completely unexpected way. In the hands of anyone else 'Father Figure' may have come off as trite or misunderstood - but with George's tender vocal and the soft throb of that bassline, it's a powerful, complex love song.
The title track of his1987 debut still stands up thirty years later. 'Faith' had some cracking songs, from 'Kissing a Fool' to 'I Want Your Sex' and the above-mentioned 'Father Figure' – but this is the most iconic; the first track from his debut solo album that stuck a flag in the ground for this new era – an era cemented by that cooler-than-cool, swoonsome video in which he rocked a leather jacket like few men can. Often covered but never bettered.
8. 'One More Try'
Many of George Michael's songs often saw him use his voice in a more subtle manner; the craft and lyrics were so solid that he didn't need to oversell the vocal. On this one, he really let fly – and the results are just glorious.
This was George at his tongue-in-cheek finest, defying the tabloid headlines who declared him a sleazebag and poking fun at his arrest for public indecency. On top of the wry lyrics, it's a brilliantly perky, upbeat, disco-influenced pop tune that's impossible not to shimmy along to.
10. 'Careless Whisper'
It's true that saxophones and '80s songs generally make for a formula that doesn't age well – but not 'Careless Whisper'. Alright, so it may have been drawn from the cheesier end of his canon, but you'd have to have a heart of stone not to be stirred by that chorus.