This funky monkey was the fourth US #1 hit from George Michael's debut solo album, Faith
. Like most of his songs, he wrote it himself, but he got a lot of help putting it together.
Michael enlisted producers Jimmy Jam
and Terry Lewis to work on this track after he heard a remix they did for the Janet Jackson song, "Nasty
." Jam and Lewis were the top songwriting/production duo of the era, responsible for many of Jackson's hits and also tracks by New Edition, Robert Palmer and The Human League.
Jam explained in the Billboard Book of #1 Hits
that Michael loved their "Nasty" remix because he's into chords, but whenever you put chords on something, it takes the funk out of it. But somehow Jam and Lewis were still able to keep "Nasty" funky.
Michael told the pair that he had envisioned "Monkey" more melodic with chords but he was on a deadline when recording it, so he didn't have time to do it. Jam and Lewis completely reworked the song, even getting Michael to rerecord the vocals.
"There are some – as he would call them – dodgy notes on there, but it doesn't matter. It fits what the track is doing, and I think it sounds great," explained Jam. "George Michael is very talented," he added. "Not only as a vocalist, but his conceptual ideas are great. He knows how he wants something to sound."