Never Gonna Dance Again



We lost way too many artists in 2016 and I wanted to begin an indefinite process of commemorating their work. George Michael was, in my opinion, an underrated performer who had a reputation for giving audiences electric and memorable live shows.

In this visualization, I used setlist.fm data to determine where he had played, either solo or as a member of Wham! I then wanted to match those performances with specific set lists to see how often certain songs were performed, and to see if, for instance, you had to be in England to ever see Last Christmas performed live, or if Wham! Rap '86 ever saw the light of day after its titular year.

I was surprised to discover how many cover songs he performed in his shows. Besides his duet "Knew You Were Waiting" with Aretha Franklin, his covers ranged across a wide variety of artists. He seemed to have a special affinity for Stevie Wonder songs, however.

Once I had the song list, I went to YouTube to find as many live performance clips as possible, to match one clip with each song. (Unfortunately, some songs were only performed once or twice and no videos exist.)

The most challenging part of this viz was in converting setlist.fm's JSON data, which was messy and inconsistent, into a usable format. My coworker Tony Stefano helped me create a workable data source, but it was a by-hand process. Ultimately I converted it to CSV for data blending purposes.

Also, there's a significant number of shows, probably 20-25%, that have no setlist information; there are probably a few more that have only partial information. I excluded the former and included the latter.

Careless Whisper was actually only the third-most played song at Michael's shows (Father Figure was number one), but I liked the lyric as a title for the viz so I selected it as the default song.


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