Freedom (George Michael)

When I hear (or play) this song, I always find myself belting out the chorus.

‘Aaaaaaaalllll you have to Dooo now….’

Why? What makes this chorus so addictive? Let’s look into it from a songwriting point of view.

This song is percussive and rhythmic, and conveys this message from the start with the choice of instruments to start the song. Then the piano theme comes in on 0:24 – again very rhythmic. Over this are the vocals – all quite syncopated (offbeat) and percussive in themselves. No long notes – lots of syllables fitted into each line.

On 1:46 the bridge or pre-chorus comes in. The song is a minute and a half old at this point and still he is building us up, creating tension but also funk with these consistent rhythmic themes on the drums/percussion, piano and vocal lines.

But now the bass joins in. It starts to meander more here than it had been up to now, and instead of marking the root note of the chord, it plays around a bit more, again in a funky percussive way. You also have extra vocal lines, Building, building.

Also consider the placement of the vocal lines.

The first line of the verse…’heaven knows I was such a young boy’ – ‘Heaven’ comes in on beat 2. The next line – ‘I was every’ – comes in before beat 1 – on the ‘i’ of 4 to be exact.

The first line of the bridge…’I think there’s something you should know’ – ‘I’ comes in a fraction after beat 1 – again on the ‘i’ of 1 to be exact. Each line of the bridge follows this pattern.

So, by the end of the bridge, we’re almost 2 minutes in, and what we’re crying out for is a long strong note, something on beat 1, something that makes us feel at home and that we want to celebrate that fact. And right on cue, at 2:07 the chorus hits us. ‘Aaaaaaaaaaaalllll you have to Dooo now’…

Boom. This is what we have been building to. A long note, on the home chord, on beat 1 of the bar.

Release. Relax. Sing. Freedom.

I'm Kieran and I play piano. Actually I do a bit more than just playing - I teach others how to play, and I write music, arrange it and host/produce shows.

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