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George Michael performing in Antwerp, Belgium, in 2006. (CC BY 2.0 photo / Wikipedia)

The music world was surprised to hear the news that George Michael, pop singer, songwriter, producer, and one half of the 1980s duo Wham!, had died at his home on Christmas day. John Covach, rock historian and director of the University’s Institute for Popular Music, summarized Michael’s impact on and influence in an essay for CNN.

Considering his status at the time as a teen heartthrob, it might surprise some fans to learn that George Michael served as producer of the “Make It Big” album and that he also wrote all but one of the songs on that record.

Covach focuses on Michael’s talents as as songwriter, producer, and his range as a performer, looking beyond the “bubble gum” nature of his early celebrity.

Still, the enormity of Michael’s previous commercial success sealed his fate in terms of history: for most fans he will always be defined as the buoyant singer of “Wake Me Up Before You Go Go” and “Faith.” Scholars will likely also note that he was an exceptional musician, producer, and songwriter.

Read the article on CNN.

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