Careless whispers were definitely not on the agenda when George Michael woke from a lengthy coma late last year. In fact, quite the contrary--the singer and former Wham! frontman scared his doctors by speaking his first words in an accent totally different from his usual dialect.
Michael, who normally talks like the London native that he is, found himself inexplicably using a distinctive burr from England's West Country for a couple days. Since he'd just spent three weeks in a coma due to a life-threatening case of pneumonia, medical staff feared this meant he'd suffered brain damage.
"My doctors were genuinely worried that I had this condition, it's a genuine thing where people wake from comas speaking French or some other language they learned at school," Michael explained to a London radio station.
"They were worried I could have spoken like that for the rest of my life...Not that there's anything wrong with the West Country accent--but it's a bit weird when you come from North London."
Michael noted that although his doctors were concerned, his family was just so relieved to have him awake that they found the bizarre accent hysterical. "They were just laughing away at me talking in this weird accent," he said. "I basically did two days' worth of stand-up comedy."
The star was rushed to an Austrian hospital last November in the middle of a European tour, forcing him to cancel all his remaining appearances. He's since rescheduled the tour and invited the hospital staff to attend one of the shows. His new music video, "White Light," which features model Kate Moss, references his near-brush with death.
As Michael noted, there's nothing wrong with a West Country accent--it's simply a colorful way of speaking that, like many distinctive accents, has been parodied in regional comedy over the years. To us Yanks across the pond, perhaps a reasonable equivalent would be if someone from Detroit suddenly woke up talking like a New York City cabbie or a country singer from Tuscaloosa.