Joanne’s Picks

This page is just for fun and ever-changing. I’m Antiguan and Barbudan writer Joanne C. Hillhouse. I like books (and you might like mine), I like music, I like movies, I like TV. So, I’m just sharing some of what I like. Keep checking back as I’m always keeping things fresh.

So the ‘80s, which covers part of my childhood and part of my teen years (the coming of age years) continues to die one beloved pop culture icon at a time. And, yeah, I’m not one of those people too cool (or too Caribbean) to admit I have pop culture icons…many of whom are connected to the 80s (for a primer watch the original We are the World video where they are all gathered, minus a Madonna, a Whitney, a Bowie, or two)…too many of whom died in 2016 …some, like Prince, I carried with me beyond my impressionable teen years (making his death less a nostalgic haze, though there was some of that too, and more a shockwave, as he was also a living artist I was still engaged with as a fan)…some, like George Michael, I’ll forever connect to that period in my life (and I hadn’t kept up with his music much beyond that time). Hearing of his death on Christmas day led to a re-discovery of his music. Shame it took that to make me find him again because I still love these songs (or love them anew).

My Top 10 (1 to 10):


I was past my GM fan girl stage when this one came out but a kick ass video, catchy rhythm, infectious spiritedness (a freedom that echoes the words), strong lyrics that spoke to anyone daring to claim themselves for themselves (said I gotta get myself happy or as I used to sing said I got get my soul/get me some happy) have made this an enduring favourite. The kind of song you close your eyes, dance, throw your head back and shoutsing along to.


What can I say, I’m a sucker for a cheesy ’80s love song (not that cheesy opening bit with the guys in trench coats at the top of the video though), I forever and ever genuflect before the Queen (Aretha: the Voice, the Soul, the Diva), and I just love how much fun chemistry they have (just look at them, or close your eyes and hear it in the riffs). Plus, hello hello George not only rocked his ’80s era jeans, white tee, fabulous hair, leather jacket, and all around hotness but he (then a young popster, a lightweight some might say, not me, but some) held his own vocally with the Queen. Think about that.


Okay, so we didn’t understand what he was singing about at all of 14 but we felt it (the earnestness, man!); don’t tell us we didn’t. Look at George rocking his crucifix earring and being the epitome of ’80s cool.


The quiet poignancy and complexity of this one both musically and lyrically still touch something at the core of me. And you have to admit that this is hardly pop lite…classic. Also, another great vocal performance.


Great song, great stage craft (the dramatic build of Elton – the song’s originator’s well-timed entry), great communication and respect between their voices (I know this is a George post but I especially love Elton on this, plus their voices play well together). Love this so much. Like I could listen to it on a loop. I might try that.


Okay, there’s a story behind my love of this one, but that’s personal.


I already copped to MOSTLY leaving George behind in the ’80s, so I found this one through either Mary J. or Stevie (as I’m a fan of both), but boy am I glad I did. Stevie is one of a kind to be sure but Mary does Mary so well here and George delivers another strong, effortless vocal, and they’ve got chemistry; what else do you need. p.s. there’s an old vid of Stevie/George duet-ing that I dug up since his death; see clip in the Bonus section.


This is George at the intersection of Wham! and Faith. I was present please for the latter, but I don’t remember checking for Wham! This song though – that peak-80s sax solo, yearning vocal, lyrics we knew like we’d lived it, George in the video looking delicious – I heard that.


Okay, what I just said about Wham! is my truth but you have to admit this is fun. Plus George is doing that dance every white guy in every 80s teen movie did at some point during the requisite prom/school dance scene. But he’s more fun to watch.


Remember this one? I do. Don’t judge me.

BONUS CLIPS


Queen’s Somebody to Love… or the kind of tribute I wish George had had at the Grammys (love Adele but was underwhelmed by both the song choice and the energy of that tribute).

You know what’s cool, the rehearsal footage was just as dope:

Chris Martin’s voice is not as strong as Adele’s or George’s, and the song (A Different Corner) is similarly somber but I liked this Brit Awards tribute a lot more than the Grammys, maybe because it felt like it was more about him and not the artist delivering the tribute:

Oh and here’s the (legendary) Stevie Wonder duet-ing with (early career) George that I mentioned (Love’s in Need). I spot some nerves but he settles in to it nicely.