Aoife Finneran: George's new gig just proves we all love a bad boy

Aoife Finneran

Somebody should warn Santa Claus that George Michael has been a bad boy this year. After all, he's just had a stint in jail, so he hardly deserves any presents.

But if the rumours are true, the former Wham singer is about to receive the biggest gift ever by landing a job on the US version of The X Factor.

Surely there's no greater Christmas present than a massive platform from which to relaunch your career in front of an audience of millions. Santa, that's just not fair.

Seriously, what's a guy to do in order to destroy his reputation? After George's famous dalliance in a Los Angeles toilet in 1998, during which he was caught engaging in what is euphemistically known as a "lewd act", we might have expected him to slope off into the ignominy of early retirement.

Not our George. By 2004, he had clawed his way back to the top once more, enjoying a Number One album success. There followed another album hit in 2006, and later a world tour.

Along the way, he was once again caught in a rather compromising position when he chose London's Hampstead Heath for a spot of cruising.

This, surely, should have signalled the end. Instead, proving his mettle as a showman, George simply shrugged his shoulders and admitted that he openly cruises for anonymous sex and isn't one bit ashamed of it. And perhaps that's the secret. Everyone loves to support a bad boy as long as he's happy to share his story, warts and all.


Sure, we love to watch our brightest stars plummeting, but it's nothing when compared to the thrill of seeing them prosper again despite all the odds.

Perhaps that's why we always find ourselves rooting for the train-wreck that is Kerry Katona.

The poor girl has crashed so many times, always in the eye of the media, that we simply can't help wanting to see her rise to the top once more.

Yet Kerry and her ilk have plenty to learn from the master. Given his litany of arrests for drug possession, George Michael could be considered a pariah, a veritable untouchable in the eyes of music industry powerhouses.

And just when we thought his dubious CV couldn't take any more, George proved that he's the gift that keeps on giving.

Earlier this year, he was convicted of driving while under the influence of drugs and sentenced to eight weeks in jail.

For any other celebrity, this might just have been enough to bury them under a cloud of shame and render them utterly untouchable.

But no, once again Michael has executed a Phoenix-like resurrection.

The perma-tanned Simon Cowell is believed to have signed him up as a judge for the X Factor's US debut, no doubt prompting a major boost to his album sales.

The public, of course, will lap it up. Maybe it's a sign that we should ignore the squeaky clean pop stars in favour of the darker side. So let's all tell Santa, this year, we're putting the bad boys on our Christmas list.