British pop star George Michael appears on the BBC's Top of the Pops program on Friday for the first time in 17 years, but the studio filming of his antiwar song did not go off without a hitch. A spokeswoman for the pop star said Michael recorded a cover of Don McLean's "The Grave"--first released during the Vietnam War--for Friday night's show. But it was Michael's four female background musicians who attracted the most attention, the spokeswoman said.
They all sported antiwar T-shirts with "No War, Blair Out" messages on them, the same as those shown by British designer Katharine Hamnett during last month's London Fashion Week. "The producers asked them to take them off, which caused George to have a heated argument with the producer, and the girls did wear the T-shirts in the end," the spokeswoman said. "But this evening on the performance they will probably be bleached-out or blacked-out in some way."
A Top of the Pops spokeswoman said, however, that while producers were not happy with the T-shirts, Michael and executive producer Chris Cowey did not argue and the atmosphere was very friendly. "At the end of the day it's a slightly tricky issue having big T-shirts with slogans on them saying 'No War, Blair Out,' but having seen part of the editing process today, you can't see the T-shirts on the show anyway," she added. "If you could have seen them, we would have worked around them. They were cellists anyway, and the instruments were covering half of the shirts."
Michael chose McLean's 1971 song "The Grave" to express his feelings about a possible U.S.-led war on Iraq, something he has done before. Last year he angered many with a single called "Shoot the Dog," mocking President Bush and his "war on terror." Earlier this year Michael allowed Brit award winner Ms. Dynamite to rework his hit "Faith" to include an antiwar rap during her performance of the song at the Brits, the annual awards ceremony for the British music industry.
McLean said, "I am proud of George Michael for standing up for life and sanity. I am delighted that he chose a song of mine to express these feelings." Michael shot to fame in the 1980s as part of the band Wham! He last appeared on Top of the Pops with Wham!'s number 1 hit "Edge of Heaven" in 1986. Top of the Pops airs in the United States, with a one-week delay, on the cable channel BBC America.