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Watch Kamasi Washington Shred "Careless Whisper" at the BET Awards

When you have to pay tribute to the smoothness of George Michael, you have to get El DeBarge.

by Phil Witmer
Jun 26 2017, 4:13pm

Sunday night's BET Awards were... well, they were what they were, though there were a few cool things that happened, namely a tribute to the many music icons who departed in the past year. Yeah, there was a Chuck Berry thing, but who cares about rock and roll when you have Kamasi Washington and El fucking DeBarge paying tribute to George Michael by performing "Careless Whisper," the smoothest song of all time?

It's good that Washington, who composes much more complex forms of jazz, is down to play this much simpler piece of sophisti-pop. However, it should be noted that the reason "Careless Whisper" is the smoothest song of all time (the SSOAT, if you will) is that its own composition is indeed airtight. Look at these chords:

D minor - G minor - B flat major - A minor

You'd expect the B flat to resolve to the dominant chord (C major) but nope, it goes down to what us dweebs call the "mediant," which is an extremely chill thing for a song to do. Also the sax riff and the specific keyboard patch speak for themselves. The crazy part is that even though "Careless Whisper" is the SSOAT, it's not even the smoothest song in George Michael's discography (that honour goes to Wham!'s "Like a Baby"). Watch the tribute above (starts at about 2:55).

Phil doesn't care if you find this uninteresting, you're gonna learn. He's on Twitter.