From 'Wake Me Up' to 'Last Christmas,' George Michael's Chart-Topping Hits (and More) | NBC Chicago

From 'Wake Me Up' to 'Last Christmas,' George Michael's Chart-Topping Hits (and More)

The man and his deep catalog of hit songs won't be soon forgotten.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    George Michael, an English singer, songwriter and record producer, rose to fame as a member of the music duo Wham!. The artist died in late 2016. (Published Sunday, Dec. 25, 2016)

    George Michael came on the scene in the early 80's, when pop stars like Prince and Michael Jackson ruled the airwaves and MTV reigned supreme.

    Michael not only carved out a special niche for himself on his way to becoming one of the biggest solo selling acts of all time, he matured into a significant voice, drawing attention to social ills as he climbed the charts. Suddenly, he was no longer a boy band heartthrob but a critically acclaimed solo act.

    Here are all of his singles, with Wham! and as a solo act, to reach No.n 1 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart, plus a few more significant songs. 

    A Look Back: British Pop Singer George MichaelA Look Back: British Pop Singer George Michael

    Wham!: "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" (1984)
    Peak: 1
    Weeks on chart: 24

    Its infectious hook aside, it would have been easy to dismiss Michael and Wham! partner Andrew Ridgeley even as this song shot to the top of the pop charts. With lyrics like "You put the boom-boom into my heart / You send my soul sky high when your lovin' starts," no one would have blamed you at the time if you thought you were witnessing the birth of a one hit wonder. Wrong.

    "Careless Whisper" (1985)
    Peak: 1
    Weeks on chart: 21

    "Careless Whisper" was Michael's first solo single even though he was still performing in Wham! when it was released. It was also the song that teased fans with a taste of his career to come, and its immense success likely gave Michael the courage to break out as a solo act.

    Wham!: "Everything She Wants" (1985)
    Peak: 1
    Weeks on chart: 20

    The Wham! song that's so good you almost feel compelled to file it under Michael's solo work. But no, this tune about a man becoming increasingly desperate to please a materialistic partner was all Wham!, and it was one of the duo's most critically acclaimed efforts. And to be fair, it's Andrew Ridgeley's lyrical contribution of "Uh huh huh / Oh, oh, Uh huh huh / Doo doo doo / La la la la" that truly sets this song apart.

    "Faith" (1987)
    Peak: 1
    Weeks on chart: 20

    If George Micheal has a signature song, you'd get little argument that it's "Faith." Those lyrics. That baseline. The video. The jeans. The shades. Everything about the song was made to create an MTV megastar and that's exactly what the song did.

    "Father Figure" (1988)
    Peak: 1
    Weeks on chart: 17

     

    The third single from the "Faith" album, this song became Michael's sixth No. 1 single (including three as a member of Wham!).

    "One More Try" (1988)
    Peak: 1
    Weeks on chart: 18

     

    A ballad revolving around a man exploring his hesitancy to enter or revisit a relationship because he had been emotionally damaged introduced the audience to a George Micheal light years away from his "Wake Me Up" days.

    "Monkey" (1988)
    Peak: 1
    Weeks on chart: 16

     

    "Monkey" became Michael's eighth No. 1 U.S. single, and the fourth consecutive from the "Faith" album. Its success propelled the singer into the rarefied air occupied by the likes of Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston, the only other artists who had four or more consecutive No. 1 singles from one album during the 1987-1988 era.

    "Praying for Time" (1990)
    Peak: 1
    Weeks on chart: 14

      

    This was Micheal's last song to occupy the top spot on the U.S charts and arguably one of his most haunting. A somber reflection on social ills and injustice, the song was lauded by critics.

    BONUS

    "Freedom" (1990)
    Peak: 8
    Weeks on chart: 14

    The third single from "Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1" that takes the same name as an earlier Wham! song, "Freedom '90'" was a major hit and went to No. 8 in the U.S. So confident was Michael at this point in his career that the video, directed by David Fincher, starred a host of supermodels. Michael didn't appear anywhere in the video.

    Wham!: "Last Christmas" (1985)

    "Last Christmas, I gave you my heart. But the very next day, you gave it away. This year, to save me from tears, I'll give it to someone special."

    There is a bitter irony that Michael's death was reported on Christmas day. This song will no doubt be played religiously in the coming days, as 2016 comes to a somber end.