"Praying for Time" (1990)
If Faith was Michael's statement of liberation, 1990's Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1 was his declaration of intent for the years to come. The lead single from that album, "Praying for Time," is a protest song disguised as a somber ballad. Its searching lyrics about inequality and diminishing hope for the future, and the way Michael's pleading performance grows from a resigned whisper to a despairing yawp, make it a protest that still rings true a quarter-century after its initial release.