Chart Beat

Rewinding the Charts: George Michael Sexed Up the Hot 100 In 1987

George Michael’s “I Want Your Sex” was both a sizzling hit and a controversial moment in pop culture. Released as the AIDS epidemic was making headlines worldwide, the song’s frank lyrics made some radio programmers anxious.

Although the London-born Michael, who was 23 at the time, explained in Billboard that the tune “is all about sex with one person, which is a perfectly normal thing,” the BBC banned the track, as did some U.S. stations. Others aired a sanitized version titled “I Want Your Love.” And, thanks to a scene featuring a near-naked Michael and his female co-star, MTV twice sent back its racy music video for editing.

Despite -- or because of -- the controversy, “I Want Your sex” reached No. 2 on the Hot 100 on Aug. 8, 1987. Until then there had been top 10 hits with “sexy” and “sexual” in their titles, but Michael’s was the first to reach such heights with just “sex” in its name. Although it was one of his biggest hits, in 2008, he told the Los Angeles Times, “I hate that song,” and likened it to “bad Prince.” He last performed it live in 1989 and omitted it from two best-of sets.

News of George Michael's death from heart failure broke on Dec. 25, 2016. He was 53.