As epic as Mary J. Blige and George Michael’s cover of Stevie Wonder’s ‘As’ was, electronic duo Waze & Odyssey enlisted Tommy Theo to transform the track into ‘Always,’ your new favorite dance anthem.
It’s been over 20 years since the late George Michael partnered with Mary J. Blige to cover Stevie Wonder’s “As” for the greatest hits collection, Ladies & Gentlemen: The Best of George Michael. The track was a top 10 hit in George’s home country, so it’s fitting that U.K. electronic duo Waze & Odyssey decided to give the track a refresher. However, they couldn’t do it alone, and they recruited Amsterdam-based DJ Tommy Theo to transform “As” into “Always.” It’s a mammoth house track, one built around the George and Mary’s vocal samples from the 1999 original. With a booming piano – seemingly an homage to the original, off of Wonder’s Sounds In The Key Of Life – “Always” ties the past to the present, creating an undeniable explosive track that will get anybody grooving on the dance floor.
“So this track’s got a few memories,” Waze & Odyssey tells HollywoodLife. “[We] remember doing the piano line in Ibiza in a villa and working out whether it was good enough to send off to Ministry of Sound. This track is about Ibiza memories, good times, piano lines in the sunshine.” For Tommy, the track also brings back good memories, but not of Ibiza. Instead, it’s a way to send love to three music icons – Stevie, George, and Mary.
“What I love most about the tune is how the very best of Stevie Wonder, George Michael, and Mary J Blige come together in a new way,” the D.J. tells HollywoodLife, “and it’s just so good to see the response of the audience whenever we play it live. It’s really amazing, and I hope you enjoy it just as much.” No need to worry – as fans will likely love this track always.
“Always” might be the first time that certain audiences hear this sample. George and Mary’s “As,” which was produced by the legendary Babyface, wasn’t released on the U.S. version of Ladies & Gentlemen. Jay Boberg, the president of MCA, pulled it and canceled its release as a single following Michael’s arrest for committing a lewd act in a public restroom at the time. “[Boberg] did not want to let George Michael, who initiated that original production, to use it as a single in the U.S. to launch his greatest hits album,” producer Kirk Burrows told Rated R&B in 2019. “It pissed everyone off at Sony. It pissed George Michael off. It pissed everyone off, but we couldn’t make Jay Boberg bend. He should have put it on the Mary album, but we couldn’t put it on the album in the states because he wouldn’t let George Michael put it on the Ladies & Gentlemen [album] in the states.”
So, this might be the first time some fans are hearing about this epic collab. For those not familiar with the house music circuit, Waze & Odyssey (aka Serge Santiago and Firas Waez) came together in 2011. D.J. Mag nominated them for Best Breakthrough Producers in 2012, and since them, they’ve played clubs and festivals across the world. In 2014, they had a Top 3 U.K. chart hit with a remix of R. Kelly’s “Bump n’ Grind.”