WHAM! – “Last Christmas” is available @ iTunes.
by Walter Price
If you’re a fan of 80’s pop songs, there was no better year than 1984. The world was abuzz with dandy ear treats from Tina Turner, Prince, Steve Perry, and Frankie Goes To Hollywood (to name just a handful). But let’s be honest here, there was one pop-duo making more waves than the others. That UK sensation was WHAM!, and they were cranking out the seductive day-glo tunes like no other.
Comprised of Andrew Ridgeley and the late beloved George Michael, they were making it big with hits like “Freedom”, “Everything She Wants”, and of course, the generation-defining “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go”. But, as this year, in particular, offered up a treasure trove of charity singles, WHAM! would offer us a track that would not only donate proceeds to the Ethiopian famine cause but a song that would forever be linked to Christmas. The song is obviously the seminal, “Last Christmas”.
Unless you’re dead inside or you’ve been living in an underground bunker your entire life, you know, and probably love this eternal classic. A tune Andrew Ridgeley recalls the inception of, telling The Mail On Sunday (2017):
“We’d had a bite to eat and were sitting together relaxing with the television on in the background when, almost unnoticed, George disappeared upstairs for an hour or so. When he came back down, such was his excitement, it was as if he had discovered gold which, in a sense, he had.
“We went to his old room, the room in which we had spent hours as kids recording pastiches of radio shows and jingles, the room where he kept a keyboard and something on which to record his sparks of inspiration, and he played me the introduction and the beguiling, wistful chorus melody to ‘Last Christmas.’ It was a moment of wonder.
“George had performed musical alchemy, distilling the essence of Christmas into music. Adding a lyric which told the tale of betrayed love was a masterstroke and, as he did so often, he touched hearts.”
Over the years, the world has continued its love affair with this seasonal staple. And it has inspired a near-endless collection of cover versions, with varying degrees of success. Capturing Michaels earnestness is a daunting task, after all. But I have spent the past week listening to as many as possible and, to save you from tears I have chosen three of my absolute faves. Check ’em out below (in no particular order).
Carly Rae Jepsen
Jimmy Eat World