Behind the Lyrics: Last Christmas by Wham!

Last Christmas has a guaranteed place on any festive playlist worth its salt and is consistently voted one of the best yuletide hits of all time.

If you don’t hear it at least thirty times over the month of December, you’re not listening to the right music!

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The vast majority of people will be familiar with the beautiful song and the accompanying video – featuring peak 80’s hair and fashion at an idyllic winter resort.

But the story behind the lyrics is one that you may not know…..and it’s fascinating!

1. The song has nothing to do with Christmas

George Michael’s ode to unrequited love is mainly about a failed relationship, and coming face to face with that person a year later. Only the phrase ‘Last Christmas’ – when the relationship comes to a head – actually refers to the festive season.

2. The song, which was released in 1984, was produced, written by and arranged by George Michael

If anybody out there thought that George Michael was just a pretty face and a beautiful voice, they need to think again. According to an article in The Guardian, Michael’s engineer Chris Porter said that the then 21-year old “wrote, produced, performed and painstakingly played every single instrument on the track.”

3. He wrote the song in his bedroom

Andrew Ridgeley, his Wham bandmate, described George playing the opening bars of the song for the first time in his childhood home as ‘a moment of wonder’.
He said “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.”

4. The song was the subject of a lawsuit!

On behalf of the writers of the song ‘Can’t Smile Without You’ – made famous by Barry Manilow and The Carpenters – publishing company Dick James Music sued George for plagiarism in the mid-1980s, claiming that ‘Last Christmas’ lifted its melody. However, the case was later dismissed.

5. It’s the best-selling single to never reach #1 in UK charts

‘Last Christmas’ remains the highest-selling UK single never to have topped the charts. The song peaked at number 2 in 1984 when it was first released, blocked by the all-star charity single, “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” by Band Aid which George Michael also featured on, singing the opening lines of its second verse.

last christmas

6. It was the last time George Michael was seen without a beard

Despite the success of the song and video, the pop singer decided to go forgo his clean-image for a more stylized look. He was seen with facial hair in the video for ‘Everything She Wants’, and always had a beard of some sort for the rest of his life.

7. It’s the inspiration behind the 2019 film Last Christmas

The film, written by Emma Thomas and Bryony Kimmings, stars Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding. Despite being critically panned for its ludicrous plot and saccharine dialogue, it struck gold at the box office and the soundtrack, filled with Wham! tracks, reached no.2 in the charts!

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