While learning it I was challenged by how the phrasing shifts to accommodate lyrics that don't stick to a meter or rhyme. It took a while to get the hang of when to launch into a line at the start of a bar or hold back a beat. Particularly this line:
I keep my distance but you still catch my eyeBy the time I recorded it, George Michael had announced he was gay. It interested me that the first-person lyrics, while not specifically written from the perspective of a male, infer that the lover being addressed is male:
A face on a lover with a fire in his heartMany lyricists write songs for other singers. Musicians like Prince, for example, had a number of their hits delivered by others.
A man undercover but you tore him apart
Maybe next year, I'll give it to someone,
I'll give it to someone special
However, in hindsight, I wondered if George had not felt the need to hide his sexuality in what would become an early hit.
So, as George's manager announced that the singer had died from heart failure on Christmas, it surprised me that the lyrics also say:
Last Christmas, I gave you my heartGeorge Michael's phrasing gives the impression that the words were just as important to his songwriting as the melodies. Another characteristic is his sincerity, it somehow seems dated when compared to the irony and ambiguity found in pop music today. It makes his apparent heart failure seem so much more poignant.