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It held the number one position on Billboard Hot 100 chart for four weeks and, according to Billboard magazine, it was the number one single of the year in the United States in 1988. The song also reached number one in Australia and Canada and number two on the UK Singles Chart. In 2001 it placed at number 322 on the Songs of the Century list.
Having disbanded Wham! the previous year, there was a keen expectation for Michael's solo career and "Faith" would go on to become one of his most popular and enduring songs, as well as being the most simplistic in its production. It was the second of six singles released from the well-received album.
As with the rest of the album, the track was written, arranged, and produced by Michael. It is claimed that the idea came from producer Dick Leahy's suggestion that Michael write a rock and roll pastiche. The song incorporates the famous Bo Diddley beat, a classic rock and roll rhythm. It begins with organ played by Chris Cameron, referencing Wham's song "Freedom", followed by guitar strumming, finger clicking, hand-claps, tambourine and hi-hat.
The official music video for the song was directed by Andy Morahan. It features Michael, with noticeable stubble on his face, wearing a black leather jacket with 'Rockers Revenge' and BSA logo, Ray-BanAviator sunglasses and a pair of Levi's blue jeans with cowboy boots, playing a guitar near a classic-design Wurlitzerjukebox. Writers Bob Batchelor and Scott Stoddart say the music video positions him as a "masculine sex object", breaking him up into individual body parts such as "stubbled" [sic] chin and butt.
The music video also features parts of two other songs by Michael. The jukebox starts by playing "I Want Your Sex", and then is interrupted by a pipe organ version of Wham!'s "Freedom" before starting into the song.
The song reached number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart and number two on the UK Singles Chart for two weeks in late October and early November 1987. It entered the UK chart at number 10 but was kept off the top spot by "You Win Again" from the Bee Gees.
On the Hot 100 chart, "Faith" rocketed from number 54 to number 37, the week of 31 October 1987, reaching number one on 12 December 1987 and remaining there for four consecutive weeks. Altogether, "Faith" lingered in the top 10 for nine weeks, the top 20 for 11 weeks and the top 40 for 15 weeks.
American rap rock group Limp Bizkit covered the song "Faith" in their live performances, using the cover to attract attention to the band. Word of mouth attendance and energetic live performances in which guitarist Wes Borland appeared in bizarre costumes increased the band's cult following. Audiences, in particular, were attracted to Borland's guitar playing and appearance.
Despite the success of the song in Limp Bizkit's live performances, producer Ross Robinson was opposed to recording the cover for their debut album, Three Dollar Bill, Yall$, and tried to persuade the band not to play it on the album. However, the final recording, which incorporated heavier guitar playing and drumming, as well as DJ scratching, impressed Robinson. "I love George Michael and decided to cover 'Faith' for fun. We like to do really aggressive versions of cheesy pop hits," lead singer Fred Durst told Billboard. "I didn't expect him to get busted in that bathroom but his misfortune actually helped us. We couldn't ask for more of a buzz."
Peter Berg directed a music video featuring a bizarre wedding monologue for the song in promotion for its appearance in his film Very Bad Things, but Fred Durst was unsatisfied with it and directed a second video which paid tribute to tourmates like Primus, Deftones and Mötley Crüe, who appeared in the video. Borland stated in an interview that George Michael, the writer of the song, hated the cover and "hates us for doing it".
Alvin and the Chipmunks covered this song as the opening track to their 1988 album The Chipmunks and The Chipettes: Born to Rock. In this version, they changed the lyric "If I could touch your body" to "If you could be my baby".
The Russian pop duo Smash!! produced a cover of this song on its 2004 album 2Nite and was later released as a single.