Picks and Pans Review: Pause Button

updated 02/05/1996 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/05/1996 AT 01:00 AM EST

>DREAMWORKS' OP. 1 TOO DREAMY

THOUGH THE FULL ALBUM WON'T BE out until spring, George Michael's first release since 1993, the single "Jesus to a Child," is already saturating MTV and VH1. A somber reflection on love lost, it comes after three years of legal wrangling between Michael and Sony over the validity of his recording contract and his contention that the company failed to support his image makeover from boy toy to serious music man. The song also marks the first release from SKG/Dream Works, the enterprise headed by Steven Spielberg, David Geffen and former Disney studio head Jeffrey Katzenberg that, along with Virgin Records, bought Michael out of his Sony contract.

Here, the singer covers the same Latin-inflected ground recently traversed by Madonna and Elton John. The song's melancholy beauty is mesmerizing, but Michael wears misery like a Versace blazer. Pain seems air-brushed out of his delicate tenor, and the production is as overmeticulous as his Caesar coif. Someone should wake him up before he go-goes on making this designer gloom.

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