George Michael - I Want Your Sex (1987)
- 80's score: 2.58
"I Want Your Sex" is a song by the English singer and songwriter George Michael. Released as a single in late May 1987 (U.S.) ...
"I Want Your Sex" is a song by the English singer and songwriter George Michael. Released as a single in late May 1987 (U.S.) and early June 1987 (UK), it was the third hit from the soundtrack to Beverly Hills Cop II and the first single from Michael's debut solo album Faith. It peaked at number two in the U.S. and number three in the UK, and was a top five single in many other countries.
The single was certified platinum by the RIAA for sales in excess of two million in the United States. It was also the recipient for Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Original Song. The song's radio airplay on the BBC was restricted to post-watershed hours due to concerns that it might promote promiscuity and could be counterproductive to contemporary campaigns about AIDS awareness.
Part 1 of "I Want Your Sex" was recorded in August 1986 at Sarm West Studio 2, London, roughly 2 months after the Wham! split that June. It was written entirely in the studio, with George Michael playing all the instruments: a LinnDrum, a Roland Juno-106 and a Yamaha DX7. George explained why he wrote the track this way in International Musician and Recording World magazine:
"I didn't want to write a song as such. I wanted to make a record. When it comes to making dance records I'm much more able to do them as I go along in the studio, because it's much more about sound and rhythm. I deliberately wanted to make a record where if you stripped it down to what was left of the song, there wasn't much of a song there."
Michael admitted that the track was "really easy to do", but it was difficult in the sense that he intended it to be a dance record, so he "had to do something something new with it every 16 bars" for the song's arrangement to "hold up interest-wise".
The "squelching" bass sound heard in the song's introduction was caused entirely by accident, as engineer Chris Porter described:
"We were working on a song, again we just had a Juno, LinnDrum and DX7, and we connected them all up so that we could run them off MIDI. After doing some programming, we returned to the studio the next afternoon, I pressed 'play' on the tape machine, the MIDI obviously wasn't right and everything started making these weird noises. The drums were triggering random sounds on the Juno and DX7. starting to make what you now hear as the intro on 'I Want Your Sex': a strange squelching, pulsing bass sound.
I went, 'Oh, damn, I'll reset it,' and George said, 'Hang on a second, hang on a second! That sounds really good, doesn't it?' I said, 'It's a bit weird,' and he said, 'Yeah, but if we just take a bit out here and a bit out of there we might be able to use it...' We recorded a few bars of that odd squelching noise, and then it morphs into the song, at which point the bass become the bass part and just the Juno, LinnDrum and DX7 provide the overall landscape."
Michael himself had a similar recollection:
"So what happened was, we were writing a much faster Pop song that I did have in my head, called Johnny Sex. We needed to trigger a sound off the Juno 106, and in order to do it we had to take the drum pattern down to half speed. It didn't quite work, but it accidentally set the Juno off to a random pattern, which became the pumping noise at the bottom of I Want Your Sex. I thought it sounded really good, really tribal, and it gave me a totally different idea which I worked around, I just played the other stuff and had it sequenced."
Parts 2 & 3 were recorded the following year during sessions at PUK Studios in Denmark as extensions to Part 1 (which had been selected for the first single), with Part 2 being the one with a "more New York club sound" (having been recorded with a seven-piece brass section), while Part 3 was the "romantic" and "altogether smoother" counterpart. For the crossover points, the 56-channel SSL console (with 28 channels on either side) at the PUK facility would be used to bounce from the original multitrack on one side of the SSL onto the new multitrack slave on the other, and George would rehearse the musicians on a particular part before dropping them in on the new track.
The music video, directed by Andy Morahan, featured Michael's girlfriend Kathy Jeung to emphasize that he was in a monogamous relationship; at one point, he is shown using lipstick to write the words "explore" and "monogamy" on her back, which is photographed and retouched at the end of the video to reveal the phrase "explore monogamy". A Spanish model was also used for naked scenes in a way that allowed the audience to assume they were the same woman; these shots are interspersed with intentionally blurred footage of George Michael dancing and singing the song.
In a 2004 interview with Adam Mattera for UK magazine Attitude, Michael reflected: "It was totally real. Kathy was in love with me but she knew that I was in love with a guy at that point in time. I was still saying I was bisexual...She was the only female that I ever brought into my professional life. I put her in a video. Of course she looked like a beard. It was all such a mess, really. My own confusion and then on top of that what I was prepared to let the public think."
The video generated controversy over its sexual themes. In 2002, MTV2's countdown of MTV's Most Controversial Videos Ever to Air on MTV included the video for "I Want Your Sex" at number 3. The original video cut appears on the Twenty Five compilation 2-DVD set.