George Michael Deals With Arrest Via Upcoming Hits Lp
LOS ANGELES -- The greatest-hits album that fulfills pop-singer George Michael's final commitment to his former Sony label will hit stores Nov. 10. It will contain two new songs, one which creatively addresses his recent arrest for lewd behavior in a public restroom.
The 35-year-old pop singer's potentially controversial new single, 'Outside,' contains sound clips from a news report aired after his arrest in a Beverly Hills park popularly known as a gay cruising area.
' 'Outside' will chart as high as George wants it to,' said Amanda Gardonyi, who runs an unofficial, Canada-based fan mailing-list dedicated to Michael. 'Given the right video and a little press by George, it should go [to] #1. I think it's one of the best songs he's written in years.'
The two-disc set, Ladies & Gentlemen, The Best of George Michael , contains 28 songs from Michael's solo career. None of the work from his former bubblegum-pop duo Wham! is included on the album, though his hit 'Careless Whisper' -- which Michael recorded as a solo-effort during the Wham! era -- is one of seven #1 U.S. hits in the collection.
Additionally, the double album includes several tracks that were previously available only on tribute albums or compilations, including a rendition of Queen's 'Somebody to Love' performed with the surviving members of the Brit-glam-pop group during the 1993 tribute concert to that band's late lead singer Freddie Mercury.
'I'm glad he went with a double CD,' Gardonyi said. 'He's a brilliant enough songwriter that he deserves it.'
Gardonyi, whose mailing list is called YogMael after Michael's nickname, also said she was pleased with the track listing but disappointed that the song 'Waltz Away Dreaming,' a ballad Michael dedicated to his late mother, appears only on the cassette version of the album. The song was the first release on the singer's own label, Aegean.
'I know he couldn't include everything, but he left out one of his absolute best tracks,' Gardonyi said.
Since his arrest for lewd conduct after being picked up last spring by an undercover officer for committing an unspecified act in a park's public restroom, Michael has not spoken much about the incident publicly. He did acknowledge he was gay on CNN three days after the arrest and again during an online chat with fans last summer. He was convicted May 14 on the lewd-conduct charge; he was fined 0 and ordered to perform 80 hours of community service.
On 'Outside,' however, Michael has chosen to address the incident -- which he has publicly referred to as humiliating -- creatively for the first time.
'Outside,' which will be released officially Tuesday, begins with the sound of a police siren and contains a radio clip of a newsperson reporting on Michael's arrest. Michael's spokesperson at KSA Publicity, Michelle Schweitzer, did not return calls regarding the video for the song.
According to a record-company press release on the album, the video is being directed by Vaughan Arnell, whose credits include Michael's 'Fastlove' and clips by acid-R&B rocker Jamiroquai and popsters the Spice Girls.
In response to speculation that the 'Ladies & Gentlemen' title of the album is a reference to public-restroom terminology, Gardonyi argued that Michael typically uses the expression for introductions onstage and said she didn't believe the title is necessarily a reference to his arrest.
The district attorney handling Michael's lewd-conduct case, Kathy Solorzano, said she would have to hear the song before she could make her own call.
'I don't see him trying to diminish his conviction or the circumstances that led to his conviction,' Solorzano said. 'He has never made any public statement diminishing the crime itself or the activity in terms of it being an offense against social laws and morals.'
Solorzano said she asked Michael's attorney, Ira Reiner, to keep her updated on the status of the community service Michael has been ordered to fulfill as part of his conviction. However, she said that the lawyer has not returned her calls. Michael does not have to show proof of his 80 hours of service until his Nov. 10 deadline, which is the same date Ladies & Gentlemen hits stores. One of the conditions of Michael's lewd-conduct conviction is that he is banned from the Beverly Hills park where the offense occurred.
Also included on the album are Michael's duet with pop-icon Elton John on John's song 'Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me' and a collaboration with soul-queen Aretha Franklin on 'I Knew You Were Waiting.'
Michael promised fans during the online chat that the new album would include three new songs. Now only the U.K. release features that third number, a duet with R&B singer Mary J. Blige on the Stevie Wonder song 'As.'
Here is the track listing for Ladies & Gentlemen, The Best of George Michael , according to his official website:
CD 1 :
Jesus to a Child
Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me (with Elton John)
You Have Been Loved
Kissing a Fool
I Can't Make You Love Me
Heal the Pain
A Moment With You
Desafinado (with Astrud Gilberto)
Cowboys and Angels
Praying for Time
One More Try
A Different Corner
CD 2 :
Star People 97
Killer / Papa Was a Rolling Stone
I Want Your Sex (Pt. 2)
Spinning the Wheel
Waiting for That Day
I Knew You Were Waiting
Somebody to Love