By Hayden Wright
“Smooth,” Rob Thomas’ collaboration with Santana, holds the distinction of being the final Billboard Hot 100 song of the 20th century. According to an essay Thomas wrote for Billboard, it was also written with George Michael in mind.
“When we finished the song, which we called ‘Smooth,’ the conversation came around to who should sing it. My first thought was George Michael. In fact, I’d had George in my head when I recorded the vocals in the first place. If you listen to the melody and the cadence, it’s an attempt to emulate his style.”
Thomas added that Michael’s solo success after Wham! encouraged his own foray into solo recording after Matchbox-20.
“That trend was long-standing,” he writes. “I’d always admired George. My first solo album was my shift from Wham! to Faith. My first solo video had pieces of George all over it: the close-up on the boots, the dance… Even my most recent album cover was a lift from the Wham! ‘Bad Boys’ video.”
Thomas ended the essay on a poignant note: “I’ll never be George Michael, but without George I’m not sure I would have been Rob Thomas, either.”