And the hits just keep on coming: Yet another pop-culture icon is stolen from us, though we won't be so stupid as to assume or even hope it's 2016's last gruesome clutch at our hearts. George Michael, international superstar and jeans-wearer par excellence, died Dec. 25.
While Michael may seem to some just an '80s footnote, he was as huge in his day as Madonna, Cyndi Lauper or Michael Jackson. From the irrepressible fun of "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" (still a great song; fight me) in his Wham! U.K. days to his solo work, Michael provided a string of commercial hits that held special meaning to all kids of the MTV generation. Twitter lit up with the news Christmas night, from gay men who found the strength to come out in the lyrics of "Freedom 90" ("I think there's something you should know/ I think it's time I told you so / There's something deep inside of me / There's someone else I've got to be") to straight kids whose parents were forced to have The Talk with them after they saw the videos for "Father Figure" and "I Want Your Sex."
After serving four weeks in prison on drug charges in 2010 and surviving a coma brought on by sever pneumonia in 2011, Michael avoided the spotlight. But if there's any saving grace, it's the hope that he enjoyed his presence as an ongoing bit in Keanu, truly one of the most heartfelt tributes any pop star could hope for.