The world lost an icon over the Christmas holiday when singer-songwriter George Michael died peacefully in his bed from what is being reported as heart failure. At 53 years of age, Michael left an imprint on the music industry, but also on the film industry, as his No. 1 hit songs -- all 10 of them -- have lent memorable music to unforgettable film scenes over the years. The thing about George Michael's music is that it's so catchy and recognizable, it never could be a subtle background track. It had to become PART of the movie, in question.
Let's run through a few of our favorite movie moments set to the soundtrack of George Michael's musical career, starting with one of the most recent from our beloved, fourth-wall-breaking, foul-mouthed anti-hero.
At the end of Tim Miller's Deadpool, Ryan Reynolds actually sings along with George Michael's 1984 hit Careless Whisper, making Michael part of the final scene as they pull back, show off all the carnage from the final battle, and then leave Wade and Vanessa to... ahem, rekindle their relationship. Perhaps I Want Your Sex will be held for Deadpool 2.
I basically can't hear Wham's Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go without screaming "Orange Mocha Frappuccino!" For that, we have Ben Stiller to thank. Stiller used George Michael's cheery be-bop of a pop track to show a gaggle of fashion models cutting loose and driving around town. It starts well, with a playful fight at a gas station involving those windshield wipers and that gross gas station water. It ends horribly, though, when the models escalate to gasoline, and then think it's smart to light a match.
"This dude real OG up in here!" He is, indeed, and that point was proven once again when Keegan Michael-Key used Michael as a barometer of street cred, telling a tall tale about Michael having to kill off Wham! colleague Andrew Ridgeley when he chose to go solo. There's a George Michael theme all through Keanu, though, so if we didn't choose Freedom, we would have gone with the drug trip set to Faith (a very popular George Michael track for the movies), which comes with a very funny cameo:
Beverly Hills Cop II
There's something beautifully '80s about the pop-synth music of George Michael, so I'm partial to the '80s movies that used his songs when they had real heat on them. And yes, when you have a hit song like I Want Your Sex, a filmmaker is going to take the natural step and play it during a strip club scene. Here, Axel Foley (Eddie Murphy) pretends that Taggart (John Ashton) is former President Gerald Ford so they can infiltrate a California strip club, and George Michael's grind-tastic track plays perfectly in the background.
The Rules of Attraction
Is there a more iconic image from George Michael's illustrious career than his near-perfect rear end shaking, in jeans, to the rhythm of Faith? And I mean that with no disrespect. Despite all that George Michael accomplished, he understood, in the age of music videos, that nothing would sell a song faster than a lasting image, and his hip shake in the Faith video ranks up there with Elvis Presley twisting his hips for conservative fans in the 1950s. Everyone tried to copy the look, including this memorable scene from the dark and twisted The Rules of Attraction. Well played, Russell Sams.
A Night At The Roxbury / Hot Tub Time Machine
Careless Whisper is used frequently in comedies (like Deadpool), and has a dreamy quality that lends itself to a montage of footage, as Will Ferrell and Molly Shannon learn in the SNL-inspired A Night At The Roxbury feature-length skit. I don't love the karaoke-worthy temp track version of Careless Whisper used in this. You couldn't spring for the official George Michael track? But a sad Chris Kattan downing whip cream straight from the can earns this scene a spot on our list. We also almost went with this, even though it's super short:
Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
Will Ferrell must love George Michael as much as Keegan Michael-Key's Keanu character loves George Michael. He used Careless Whisper in A Night at the Roxbury. And he encouraged John C. Reilly to sing Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go as he picks up a pillow a prepares to smother someone as the end credits of their NASCAR spoof drew to a close. That seems like the appropriate way to end this list of movies that put George Michael's impossibly catchy songs -- the soundtrack of all of our lives -- to amazing use. What did we miss? Do you have a favorite? Share it in the comments below.
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Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. Sean created ReelBlend, which he proudly cohosts with Jake Hamilton and Kevin McCarthy. And he's the author of RELEASE THE SNYDER CUT, the Spider-Man history book WITH GREAT POWER, and an upcoming book about Bruce Willis.