I recognize that my definition of “fun” is quite different from most people, but I’d like to think I’m not the only person to derive some degree of pleasure from scouring the most official-looking of “best of all time” lists and trying to find albums that aren’t necessarily bad but are clearly on the list to either pad the damn thing or appease certain sections of the audience. There’s something to be said for aiming for completion, sure, but do albums like The Slim Shady LP and Rubber Soul belong in the conversation of the best albums of all time, even if you expand that list to include five hundred items? I’m not saying they are bad, but…well, I’d consider it a dealbreaker if I were on a date with someone who was well on to becoming my soulmate if she said that she thought that goddamn Rubber Soul was better than Sgt. Peppers or Revolver or The White Album. Fingers would be pointed. Voices would be raised. Authorities might be alerted.
My point, besides a general warning of how easily a date with me can go sour, is that I’m perfectly willing to accept that certain albums make these sort of lists more to make a quota, whether it be demographics or just pure numbers, than to celebrate what is truly the best music of all time. I figured Faith by George Michael represented a great example of one of these picks, a work by a proudly-gay artist that made no bones about its gayness and how the singer was likely singing about being in gay love. I ain’t no homophobe, mind, but I figured Faith‘s acclaim came from what it meant to gay men and women rather than it being a pop masterpiece, and in that sense, I don’t know that I’ve been more wrong about anything before in my entire life.
Put simply, Faith might be the best pop album of the 80s. It is easily better than Thriller, the easy pick for the best pop album of its decade. I’ll get into my issues with Thriller some other time, but the meat and potatoes of what I’m trying to say is that Thriller has flaws while Faith is flawless. If I had to find a critique to level against it, it would be that those who really don’t care for the electro-pop sound that dominated the 80s might not care for Faith, which represents the best permutation of that sound. Then again, I can’t acknowledge that as a true critique as that all comes down to niche preferences. In all other measurable ways, Faith is virtually perfect.
The pacing is perfect; Faith feels like a perfect DJ set, with no song lasting a second longer than it has to and the slow jams kicking in right when the dancing shoes start to scuff. The compositions are stunning; the title track is most known for its main riff but slowly introduces more elements throughout, and the ten-minute minisaga of “I Want Your Sex” comes across as a precursor of Justin Timberlake’s longer tracks (even the requisite 80s ballad of “One More Try” works thanks to being perfectly placed in the tracklist). As for the singing, well, hey, it took me long enough to learn that George Michael was one hell of a motherfucking singer, a dude with masterful range and exceptional breath control. The compositions could have been wack and Faith could have worked on the strength of Michael’s voice.
I’m using a lot of superlative terms here, but that’s because Faith earns them. If you’ve ever overlooked this album because you thought it wouldn’t be your thing or whatever, stop whatever the fuck you’re doing right now (yes, right now) and crank this shit. It’s on Spotify and free to Amazon Prime users. You’ve wasted enough time in your life. Do it. Do it now, you shit.VERDICT: OWN
Read past editions of Own It or Disown It.