George Michael: 20 Essential Songs

The best of the pop icon's hits, duets and reinventions

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Aretha Franklin and George Michael, "I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)" (1987)

It's telling that one of the greatest soul twosomes of all time, Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, show up in the video for "I Knew You Were Waiting (for Me)." The 1987 duet between George Michael and Aretha Franklin was Michael's third single since going solo, and it gave the Queen of Soul and her up-and-coming admirer a relatively blank canvas on which to let their voices meld. And meld they did, with Michael gracefully proving he had the guts, chops and humility to do right by the Do Right Woman herself. "I was nervous [about singing with Franklin]," he admitted in his biography Bare. "I knew that Aretha would get the melody and then take it all over the place, which sounds great, but the thing also needed tying down. ... I just tried to stay in character, keep it simple. It was very understated in comparison to what she did." The song won Michael his first Grammy – and made it clear that he was, first and foremost, a soul singer aiming for the top tier.

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