was Michael's first solo album, and second single as a solo artist (after "I Want Your Sex
"). He was previously a member of the pop duo Wham!, and was trying to change his image so he would appeal to a more adult audience and be taken seriously as an artist, something that wasn't easy after hit singles like "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" and "I'm Your Man." In the video, he appeared with stubble, a biker jacket, and strategically torn Levi's.
When the album was released, Michael explained why he chose this song as the title track, saying: "It represents the way I feel at the moment. It's kind of another word for my hope and optimism. You know, faith to me is just really such a strong word and the more I got into the idea of the song being the single, the more I liked the idea of using it as the title track."
In 1990, Michael released the song "Freedom '90
," where he denounced the image he created in the video for "Faith." In the video for "Freedom '90," he blows up the jukebox from the "Faith" video and sings, "When you shake your ass, they notice fast, and some mistakes were built to last." Also, the black leather jacket he wore in the "Faith" video (and several other videos based on songs from that album such as "Father Figure
") is set on fire.
Faith won the Grammy award for Album of the Year. It spent six non-consecutive weeks at #1 in the US. First topping the chart on January 16, 1988, it surrendered to Tiffany's debut album for the next two weeks before moving back to the top spot for another five. It was the biggest-selling album of 1988 in the US (10 million-plus there, 20 million-plus worldwide), and this title track was the biggest-selling single of the year.
This song has a very unusual intro: it starts with the sound of a church organ playing the tune from the 1984 Wham! hit "Freedom
" (not "Freedom '90
"), recalling the era Michael is distancing himself from in this song. The organ was actually a Yamaha DX7 synthesizer set to the pipe organ preset. Chris Cameron played it.
This was one of the first digital recordings, which allowed Michael to put the song together piece by piece. His vocal was done line-by-line, and sometimes word-by-word, as he would write lyrics at the microphone and record them on the spot. It was a very tedious process, with Michael scrutinizing every syllable, but the end result was a very polished track with the emotional feel he was looking for.
The Scottish session player Hugh Burns did the guitar solo and the rhythm parts, which were modeled on the Bo Diddley beat, which can also be heard on "Not Fade Away
" by Buddy Holly and "Desire
" by U2. For the solo, Burns played in the style of a '50s Sun Records recording, which engineer Chris Porter then drenched in reverb. George Michael worked with Burns for hours to get the guitar sound synched to his vocals.
The music video was a landmark for Michael, who was very particular about how he was presented in the clip. He said in a 2009 video commentary: "I was so overly conscious of my image at that age and so insecure that I had developed a costume for real life, which was that. The only thing I added was the pose. So I knew there was a camp aspect to it. And by then I'd had sex with men, so I was a little less clueless as to how to portray myself."
The video was directed by Andy Morahan, who also did the videos for "Father Figure
" and "I Want Your Sex
If you grew up in the '80s with MTV, you probably have the image of George Michael playing the guitar in this video somewhere in your memory bank. Michael, however, doesn't know how to play guitar and was completely faking it - something very obvious to any guitar player. Why did he do it? "Americans, if you stick a guitar on, you've got a bigger penis, simple as that," he said.
This song plays a key role in the ABC TV series Eli Stone. In the first episode, Eli hears this song in his head and has visions of George Michael. This leads to a major lifestyle change, and focus on faith, as Eli begins using his job as a lawyer to do the right thing. George Michael and his music would appear throughout the first season of the show.
The song was recorded in two different studios. The vocals and some of the tracks were done at Puk Studios in Denmark, which was chosen for its quality equipment and lack of distractions. The track was finished (including the guitar solo) at Sarm West Studios in London, where Michael and Wham! did most of their recording.
At the 2003 BRIT Awards, Ms. Dynamite performed this with lyrics changed to show opposition to the war in Iraq. Michael, himself a vocal campaigner against the war, did not appear at the ceremony but duetted on the song in a pre-recorded video.
Limp Bizkit covered this on their first album in 1997, and for a while it was their best-known song. On their album, the song is Track 9. After it ends, a "special track" called "Stereotype Me" is heard; this special track can't be heard if you were to hit play on track 10, the only way to hear it is to wait until the end of track 9. Limp Bizkit continued to use these special kind of tracks more on their later CDs.
Sunglasses were part of Michael's look for the Faith album, but for about a year after it was released, he wore them constantly to avoid making eye contact with people he didn't know, as he couldn't deal with those interactions.
When Rob Thomas started his solo career after years in Matchbox Twenty, he patterned it after Michael's transition to solo artist. This is evident in Thomas' first solo video, for "Lonely No More
," where many of the elements from the "Faith" video appear.