While the title filled me with immediate dread (given Michael’s serious bout of pneumonia last year), suggesting this was going to be some cloying pop star confessional (overlooking as I am, various lines about music, along with the power of his fans’ prayers, saving him) “White Light” isn’t the worst Michael effort committed to binary.
Part Giorgio Moroder, with a hint of Pet Shop Boys, “White Light” dances in similar territory to the more electro experiments on 2004’s Patience album. There’s also fair use of Michael’s recent penchant for the Vocoder. (Few caught last year’s True Faith New Order cover, but once over the shock of an entire vocal varied through said device, Michael’s interpretation was really rather fine.)
While I can’t shake the feeling that the former Wham man (this is intended as a — marketing ploy, ahoy — 30th anniversary celebration of Wham’s debut. Which, given that Andrew Ridgeley doesn’t appear on this, as neither did he any of the duo’s records or in concert, doesn’t change anything) could knock these kind of tunes out in his sleep, in truth I’m not sure Michael is all that bothered — in a Prince kind of way — about whether his singles are global smashes anymore.
Sure, some PR agents will probably walk the plank if the singer gets to feeling we’re not talking about him enough. But then again, why shouldn’t acts put songs out merely because they want to, rather than only once they’ve been tweaked and remixed and market road-tested and rewritten (with added Will.I.Be.Boring rap) for years, so as to ensure they’re number one across the entire known universe?
So, in short: Not bad, but not brilliant. It’ll be a hit, because he’s got fans – and it’ll no doubt turn up on Greatest Hits packages, simply because his ego will demand it. People will talk about it – not least Michael himself, as he relives (if you’ll excuse the choice of words) his illness for the next three months in various publicity articles. But, other than that, it’s merely alright. I think the best word to be used is: functional.