As we’ve seen way too many times this year, people are personally memorializing the death of a pop cultural iconoclast. As with Bowie, Prince, and Leonard Cohen, they’re doing so by getting reacquainted with his work. Billboard reports that following George Michael’s death (in his sleep, of cardiac arrest, according to his manager) on Christmas at 53, there’s been an immense surge in streams of his solo music, with Spotify reporting a 3,158 percent increase across the globe.
This certainly isn’t to quantify the sadness of a death, or the importance of a life, but the number does show a collective remembrance for a figure who left a major mark on pop music, who toyed with socially calcified notions of masculinity through his performances, and who responded to the prejudice he experienced — following his arrest for a “lewd act” in 1998, and his coming out — with gleefully acerbic pop celebration:
According to Billboard, the songs that people have been streaming most are Wham! tracks including “Last Christmas” (1986) and “Wake Me up Before You Go-Go” (1984), as well as his solo tracks, “Careless Whisper” (1984), “Faith” (1987), and “Freedom! ’90” (1990).
George Michael’s boyfriend, Fadi Fawaz, found the musician’s body at his home in Oxfordshire on Christmas morning.