George Michael Defends Controversial Olympics Closing Ceremony Performance

Michael criticized for performing new single

George Michael has defended performing his brand new single in front of an audience of millions across the globe at the 2012 Olympics Closing Ceremony in London on Sunday.

"Had a GREAT time at the closing! I hope you are not bothered by the press reports of my scandalous 'promotion,'" Michael Tweeted on Tuesday.

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"Please join me in telling them to [expletive] off," the pop star continued of the criticism he received for performing the cut "White Light." "It was my one chance on tv to thank you all for your loyalty and prayers, and I took it."

Michael performed "Freedom! 90" at the Olympics Closing Ceremony. He then followed it up with "White Light," which aired online stateside when the show streamed live on the internet. (Michael's second song did not make the NBC television broadcast in the U.S.).

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Other artists at the event performed well known (in the UK at least) hits. Britain's The Kaiser Chiefs even ended up doing a song by The Who ("Pinball Wizard") instead of one of their own numbers, while Russell Brand, the actor and comedian, covered "I Am The Walrus" from The Beatles.

A critic for the UK's Guardian suggested Michael brought the mood down with the tune.

"Only George Michael favoured the watching world with a new song, thus answering at a stroke the question of what it would take to dampen the spirits lifted by the preceding fortnight's events," Alexis Petridis wrote.

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Another writer, Bernadette McNulty, for Britain's Telegraph newspaper, called throwing in the second number, "a wasted slot."

A rep for the singer told the Telegraph that Michael's new song was inspired by his hospitalization with pneumonia last year, and he performed the unknown-at-the-time song because he thought it fit the end of the games.

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"White Light is about the fact he nearly died last year," his spokesperson told the paper. "It's the first song he wrote after it all happened and he wanted to perform it for fans as a celebration that he's alive. It seemed quite appropriate.

"He doesn't need to plug his new single — it was just nice for him to sing it. It's a bit of a shame that it's got this response because he was so excited to perform it," she added.

-- Jolie Lash

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