After its exclusive world premiere early this morning on BBC Radio 2, Sony Music has released “Fantasy,” a revamped single by the late singer-songwriter and icon George Michael. First recorded in the late 1980s and initially positioned to appear among the tracks on Michael’s widely-acclaimed 1990 album, Listen Without Prejudice, Vol. 1, the song has been carefully re-worked and mixed by R&B legend Nile Rodgers, who also supplied a newly-recorded rhythm guitar line.
Rodgers became involved at Michael’s request last year as he prepared to release the song as a commercial single to launch a planned conjoined re-issue of Listen Without Prejudice, Vol. 1, and an official version of his 1996 appearance on MTV Unplugged. Nearly ten months after his tragic passing in December of last year, the highly-anticipated project will finally arrive on October 20 via Sony.
Reported to be one of Michael’s favorite compositions, the up-tempo groove melodically fuses qualities from “Faith” and “Freedom ’90.” The arrangement puts his vivacious tenor, with a few fun electronic vocal effects added in post-production for good measure, front and center as it leaps between muted drum thumps and handclaps. Rodgers’ characteristic guitar lick is fresh as always, albeit a bit more restrained and mixed back than the full-bodied stuff he supplied for Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” or Diana Ross’ “Upside Down.”
Hearing Rodgers and Michael in such a natural pop-funk embrace makes “Fantasy” three minutes and thirty seconds of pure joy. You often don’t realize how vital someone’s voice is until it’s silenced. Michael’s passion, humanity, and talent have left a tremendous void in pop music.
Accompanying the re-issue of Listen Without Prejudice, Vol. 1/MTV Unplugged will be a documentary entitled Freedom that will span Michael’s illustrious three-decade career set to air this fall on Channel 4 and BBC Worldwide.
Narrated by Michael himself, who had been working on the film up until his passing, the documentary will feature Stevie Wonder, Elton John, Liam Gallagher, Nile Rodgers, the Freedom ’90 supermodels (Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Christy Turlington, Tatjana Patitz and Linda Evangelista), Mary J. Blige, Tony Bennett, Mark Ronson, Tracey Emin, Jean Paul Gaultier, Kate Moss, Ricky Gervais, James Corden, and many more.