184. George Michael – ‘Outside’ (1998)

I’d service the community
But I already have, you see”

Taken from the album Ladies & Gentlemen: The Best Of George Michael

Also released on 25

UK #2, AUS #13

I was quite young when George Michael was arrested in the Los Angeles toilet block, and certainly not in his target audience, so by the time I started figuring out how great he was I had never known a “pre-gay” George. I think most will agree that as embarrassing as it was at the time, and as much as it effectively ended his career as a major artist in America, more good came from the incident than bad. George was able to be more open with the public, ending years of speculation, and if he had never come out we probably never would have got songs like ‘Shoot The Dog’, ‘Flawless’, ‘Freeek!’ and of course, ‘Outside’.

This is one of the funkiest, most infectious and most fun of all George’s latter-day singles, and before you even get to the amazing video there’s the classic disco song to take in. “I think I’m done with sofa, I think I’m done with the hall”, George sings in a comically deep vocal tone, before he switches to his trademark sunny voice for the purpose of telling us how great it would be to have sex out in the open. From the police siren at the start to his sly dig at the community service sentence he was given, ‘Outside’ is gloriously tongue-in-cheek, not to mention hand-in-pants.

The video was just the icing on the cake. Featuring a whole host of different couples deciding to “get it awwwwn” outdoors, and then George himself dancing in a bathroom that transforms into a disco – while dressed as a police officer. It was the best he could possibly do, career-wise, and his reputation as a super-serious-proper-artist was out the window, but with it came a new audience, seemingly a new excitement in his career. Older is a classic album of pain and regret, but the post-incidentPatience was an even better record of euphoria and escape. ‘Outside’ was the beginning of that transformation.


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