I actually liked the elegiac sound of “Playing for Time” on his Listen Without Prejudice album. But I’m not at all sure why entertainers like Michael feel they have to insert politics into their songs, when most people listen to music to escape from the events of the day. Having heard my share of Crosby and Sinatra from my father, I can’t remember a political statement from either of them (except maybe for obvious WWII, let’s kill Hitler and Tojo stuff–that’s not politics, that’s common sense). The Beatles and Stones of the 1960s kept their political statements sufficiently vague so that most of their late ’60s stuff is still very listenable today.
The exception of course are John Lennon’s political songs, both with the Beatles and with Yoko–and those songs had a very, very short shelf life–their expiration date expired with the arguably the end of Vietnam and most definitely the end of the 1970s. (I cringe whenever I hear “Imagine” these days, whereas most of Lennon’s stuff with the Beatles is still amazing and fresh.)
I do think that pop music fans have short memories–and if Michael starts thinking of making music that entertains–and sells–rather than proselytizing, his career could rise from the grave. In the meantime, RIP, you old Whammer.