Named by NME as a ‘Festive Classic’, Wham’s masterpiece is a guilty pleasure enjoyed by many, from pop, indie and rock stars, and of course the general public. People are loath to admit this because, in theory, it’s a cheesy pop song by a seriously cheesy pop group. But this is not actually the case. Delve a little deeper and it's actually a tune depicting heartbreak, bitterness, sadness and regret.
This is why it, since it’s release in 1984, it has struck a resounding chord with nearly three generations; one more chord than Andrew Ridgeley could manage however much he swears he learnt to play the guitar by listening to The Cure!
I shouldn’t be too hard on Andrew, he did co-write 'Careless Whisper' and has lived off the Royalties ever since, so who had the last laugh?
'Last Christmas' starts, as you (secretly) know with a seriously moody bit of synthesiser and guitar, then transforms into a bittersweet melody which unless you are deaf, or a Morrissey fan, you cannot get out of your head. Grown men and women will instantly start dancing and singing along when it’s played in a pub or at a party. Okay, they are usually drunk- it’s Christmas-but there is no shame. If you wake up the next morning and someone produces a clip of you dancing to the 'Birdie Song', doing the moves, now that can be mortifying, but swaying along to 'Last Christmas' is acceptable in most social circles.
It was released as a double A side with another great Wham song, ‘Everything She Wants’. If you want bitterness, that’s your tune. With hindsight it appears at the time George was pretty mixed up regarding his sexuality, and we all know the outcome of that.
It is the biggest selling # No. 2 selling single in Britain ever, originally fighting off Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s ‘The Power of Love’ for No.1, before being usurped by the mighty Band Aid. You may have heard of it. Of course Wham were part of that anyway, and also donated all the monies from Last Christmas/Everything she wants to the Ethiopian Famine appeal.
It has been covered by a wide range of artists, most recently The xx, who have made it their own. The Manic Street Preachers have been known to cover it, as well as a slew of other non-entities (and Whigfield!). It simply is a classic song whatever your feelings towards Wham and/or George Michael are.
The video plays like a mini film and represents the song completely, even Martin Kemp from Spandau Ballet is in it, probably as he was shagging one of the back up singers Shirley (who he later married). Andrew Ridgeley has a spectacular mullet, and as for George’s barnet, it put Lady Diana to shame. Everyone that I knew back then, including myself, tried to copy it, usually failing. We did get the two pierced ears and gold earrings though, better than nothing, as the Chemists had run out of Highlight Kits.
So when you find yourself this or next Christmas staggering around your office party singing this at the top of your voice, don’t feel like an arse; half of Britain will be doing the same at some point.