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How George Michael transformed pop music

George Michael, who passed away over the weekend at the age of 53, was a pop star who could only have been incubated during the 1980s. The mix of ideas and institutions that were in the process of figuring themselves out during that chaotic decade — MTV, gay rights, the function of pop stars in an increasingly celebrity-soaked culture — all became intrinsic to Michael's cross-generational, cross-demographic appeal, igniting his songs and helping to solidify him as an icon.

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