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There is a chance that you have come across a song (or two, or so many more) that you enjoy and did not realize that it's either been covered by someone else or is a cover itself. We hope that this series allows you to appreciate both the original and the covers they have inspired, and to seek out and enjoy new music in the process.
Around the mid-’80s George Michael split from his Wham! partner Andrew Ridgeley and successfully proved he could make it as a solo act. The title track to his debut album is a fun, flirty pop number that channels ‘50s Elvis-style rockabilly through a solid Bo Diddley-esque rhythm.
The song was cemented in ‘80s lore by the iconic video of Michael working his guitar and his hips in sunglasses and a leather jacket, a stark contrast to the day-glo bubble gum image he was known for in his old band. And at a time when the music industry was still reluctant to have a star openly declare that they’re gay, the song used just enough vague, gender-neutral lyrics to keep the tabloids and morality police guessing.
This track became one of a string of hits for Michael, including “Father Figure,” “I Want Your Sex,” “One More Try,” and “Kissing a Fool” (one of the greatest pop vocal performances of all time, BTW). “Faith” went to #1 on the Billboard charts, where it stayed for four weeks.
If there was ever a case of a cover song openly mocking its source material, it’s this one. Limp Bizkit, the band best known for its single “Nookie,” had been playing a version of “Faith” live on tour before eventually deciding (presumably between bong hits) to put out their own take on George Michael’s song. The sound fits the band’s persona, basically a series of loud, crunchy riffs and a howling chorus.
Delivering the lyrics with all the nuance of a drunk groomsman at a karaoke mic, Fred Durst leads the band with the kind of boring swagger that put them on top of the American pop music hill for a hot minute. While George Michael hated this version of the song he wrote (and it’s not hard to hear why), Durst was very proud of how his band was able to get more exposure and make more money by putting it out. In doing so, they gave the world another taste of the kind of bro-tastic cis hetero white male aggression that would define much of American culture during the 2000s.
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