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Nov 13

GEORGE MICHAEL – “Fastlove”

Popular70 comments • 6,310 views

#738, 4th May 1996

fastlove “All that bullshit conversation, baby can’t you read the signs?”. This is a curious record: there’s little in pop like the way “Fastlove” marries seductive form – the discreet grind of its mid-to-uptempo groove – with an impatient candour that undermines it. Other seduction jams enjoy their playfulness, however frank they are about its endgame. “Fastlove” is wary of allowing itself that generosity.

“Into the night” the singer goes, and in the night details are obscured. The setting is anonymous, the partners are anonymous, and so the music we’re hearing slips into anonymity too. A snatch of a different record – Patrice Rushen’s “Forget-Me-Nots” – drifts across the track, like a song you half-notice in a bar when your mind’s on other things. Later singles along these lines suggest that this kind of glossy light funk is something Michael is drawn to, or at least feels suits him – on “Fastlove” there’s a suspicion that the setting is deliberately generic, just more of the “bullshit conversation” – tiresome requirements before the singer scratches his itch. And then what? Back into the night, I guess.

Anything you can use to build you can use to fill a hole: sex is no exception, and “Fastlove” is as clear-eyed about motives as it is about everything else. “In the absence of security,” Michael lays it out, “I made my way into the night…. I miss my baby.” You can, if you like, take the song in a dyad with “Jesus To A Child” – the outcome of a healing process on one hand, some of its less solemn detail on the other – but while that single demanded an autobiographical reading, here it feels more of a reach.

And anyway, “Fastlove” protests too much. Lyrically George is playing the pick-up artist, but the record is never as brittle or cold as it threatens to be. If this is him on numbed autopilot, it just shows that his sweetness and flirtation runs deeper and comes more naturally than the exhaustion. He’s a humane performer even when he pretends otherwise.

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Comments

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  1. 61
    fivelongdays on 11 Nov 2013 #

    If I had to sum up this in one word, it would be Tasteful. It’s a tasteful tune, with smooth vocals about how George will meet you in a Tasteful club, buy you a Tasteful drink, take you back to his Tasteful apartment and have Tasteful sex with you. Tastefully.

    It always sounds like background music, and, although it wasn’t at number one for as long as I remember it being (it was there for three weeks, but to my recollection it felt like six) there’s not really much I can say about this. Four.

    Incidentally, Sale of the Century isn’t as good as it’s B-side, the reply rather fantastic Package Holiday. Sleeper were unfairly maligned, that’s true, and The It Girl isn’t THAT good, but their debut, Smart, is the rarest of things – a sexy indie record.

    And Tonight, Tonight? Just LOVELY. Would undoubtedly get a ten.

  2. 62
    wichita lineman on 13 Nov 2013 #

    “You can take the song in a dyad with Jesus To A Child…” That’s how it has always sounded to me, which makes Fastlove a very honest record. The way it splits in two with the (pretty cheesy – intentionally?) scratching dividing impatient, groping George on the first section and mourning George (“In the absence of security”) on the second is, I think, quite remarkable.

    He seems a smooth mover, clubbing and shagging with that cheeky but rather melancholy synth-whistle hook as his motif. But it’s only an attempt to hide an absence that he can’t shake off – this is only revealed on the later section, with Patrice Rushen’s Forget Me Nots as the ghost of his lost love. George shakes his head, quietly singing to himself – “I miss my baby” – as his one night briefly stand looks away. He’s still on the pull, though (“that’s right!” he winks, unconvincingly), and the song eventually dissolves into un-seductive electronic noises that are closer to Gary Numan’s Telekon than Luther Vandross.

  3. 63
    Billy Hicks on 15 Nov 2013 #

    59 – Salt Tank’s entry at number 40 was the actually quite beautiful early trance track ‘Eugina’, the radio edit of which can be listened to at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoZ9PFBT5LY . Only discovered it recently from a friend who had the original vinyl.

  4. 64
    dpf removal liverpool on 3 Feb 2014 #

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  5. 65
    Andrew Farrell sent back from the future on 3 Feb 2014 #

    Classic series 20 spambot there, tortured glimpses of sentience but nothing threatening as yet – the series 30 would at least have enough contextual nous to finish “Writing about onward to peer you actually, bay-beh”.

  6. 66
    Tom on 20 Jan 2015 #

    If you’re a subscriber to Maura Magazine, the new issue – first under Brad Nelson’s editorship – has a piece from me expanding on and revising this piece and the “Jesus To A Child” one. http://www.mauramagazine.com/issue/537cf406c873d91fb3ee934e/hard_day

  7. 67
    Erithian on 7 Jan 2016 #

    Enjoying this on re-listen, rather more than I recall doing at the time. I found myself wondering about the kind of person who would go on the pull with this as the soundtrack – a BMW driver or someone who aspired to be, whose friends are all having babies but he still reckons he’s it, while looking to others to be two stops short of Alan Partridge. And maybe that’s the character George is portraying in the song, while the video shows what a more interesting proposition he is himself. The new image is consciously Odder as well as Older, as if he senses that being outed is just around the corner but he can handle it. I found the song boring at the time, but I reckon I can take it on its own terms now – well-produced, confidently delivered by a bloke who knew what he was doing.

    I forget though – have we discussed the dreaded Olympic closing ceremony appearance anywhere?

  8. 68
    Izzy on 7 Jan 2016 #

    He was alright I thought? Giving it his all to connect with the folks in the front row – some eighty yards away. Wearing all black, and shades, and debuting a new track, all brave if questionable choices in the circumstances.

  9. 69
    Chelovek na lune on 8 Jan 2016 #

    #68, I think Sir Humphrey might reasonably describe George Michael’s cover of New Order’s (quite, quite brilliant) “True Faith” as “brave” (and it really was that, in all senses of the word), but the Olympic appearance was surely some way beyond that – quite possibly he was going through a tough spell at the time, but debuting a new, far from instantly (if at all) appealing or catchy song to a global audience during a ceremony of major national import…..I’m not sure that “ill-advised” begins to cover it. I’d be interested to hear a coherent case arguing that he didn’t completely blow it, but I would take some persuading…

  10. 70
    hectorthebat on 5 Mar 2016 #

    Critic watch:

    1,001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die, and 10,001 You Must Download (2010) 1002
    The Guardian (UK) – 1000 Songs Everyone Must Hear (2009)
    Face (UK) – Singles of the Year 25
    NME (UK) – Singles of the Year 45
    Pop (Sweden) – Singles of the Year 20
    Spex (Germany) – Singles of the Year 5

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